People have been doing plenty more with cannabis, other than just smoking cannabis flower over the last few thousand years. One of the earliest processes involving cannabis, which dates back hundreds if not thousands of years, is the process of creating hash – a compression of cannabis trichromes which can be made, in its simplest form, by literally shaking trichomes off the plant flowers. Recently, however, cannabis and hemp flowers have been used as the basis for much more complex extractions which in turn have been used as the basis of a whole host of products from CBD vape oils through to CBD gummies. In this post we’ll look at how the two main types of cannabis extracts are made – doing this from the perspective of CBD products - which are made using high concentration CBD, low THC content hemp - which are more relevant to the products we stock here at Paso!
What is extraction?
Extraction is the process of extracting specific chemical compounds from a substance and leaving behind less desirable compounds. In the case of cannabis extraction – this would be the process of extracting the cannabinoids and terpenes you want to form the basis of your products and leaving behind bulky plant matter which we don’t and, in the case of 0% THC products like ours, also the THC.
Why do people extract?
The primary reason for extracting cannabinoids is that the resulting CBD extract is a much more concentrated version of the CBD flower (aka hemp flower) and which is also far more uniform in cannabinoids distribution than in the original flower. Extracts open up a huge world of possibilities: allowing the creation of different products such as CBD edibles and CBD vape oils which use the CBD extract as their basis, but also allow for these to dosed with precision, so that, for example, one CBD edible gummy is more of less identical in CBD content to another CBD edible gummy.
It is true that edibles were still created before modern extraction processes were invented largely by infusing fats, such as oil or butter, with cannabis flowers over gentle heat, but the result are far less effective at extracting cannabinoids than modern methods, and the ability to dose precisely almost impossible!
Modern Methods of extraction
Like with the best cooking, the foundation to cannabis / hemp extraction is to start with the best ingredients. If at the end of the process you want to create a high strength CBD oil vape cartridge with no THC, then choosing a cannabis strain, like hemp with high levels of CBD and minimal levels of THC, makes sense. Choosing organically grown hemp which hasn’t used any pesticides is also crucial to ensure a purity of final product.
In terms of equipment, safe extraction of high CBD content oil from hemp is more complex than simply cold or hot pressing hemp as you might press olives to get olive oil.
There are two main methods:
The first uses solvent extraction where hemp plant material is put into a container and a solvent such as butane or ethanol added. The solvent dissolves the cannabinoids and then is evaporated away, in theory, leaving behind CBD oil. Whilst this is one of the best ways of producing cheap CBD in the UK largely due to its simplicity and the absence of complicated equipment, it can leave traces of the solvent in the resulting CBD extract. We don’t think this is a price worth paying so we do not stock any products which use this method.
The second method is CO2 extraction – essentially using liquid CO2 (dry ice) to extract cannabinoids from hemp plant material. By varying pressure and temperature between a series of steel chambers holding plant material, cannabinoids and terpenes can be extracted from hemp plant material with minimal risk of contaminants in the finished product. One of the contributory factors of a higher quality, safe CBD oil is, therefore, the need to invest in the relevant equipment – a piece machinery called a “closed-loop extractor” costing close to $1 million - and acquire the relevant licenses to operate one.
One of the other benefits of CO2 extraction is its preservation of natural cannabis terpenes. If you are looking for as authentic a cannabis experience as possible but without the THC, terpenes are what make a “weed flavoured” e liquid or vape oil taste that way. Check out our post on terpenes if you are interested in finding out more!
All the CBD products which we stock use CBD extracts, extracted from terpene rich hemp via C02 extraction, as their base.
One of our most popular are our high concentration CBD vape oil cartridges - check them out and let us know what you think!