CBD Extraction Methods: Which One is The Best for Extracting CBD?

Cannabidiol, known as CBD, is an oil extracted from the Cannabis plant and used for different medicinal purposes, including pain and anxiety. Producing this oil is done using different CBD extraction methods. The importance of the extraction method is essential to determine how pure the end product is. We will find out which CBD extract method is the best.

How CBD Actually Gets Produced?

Organic hemp is planted and cultivated mainly for CBD extraction. Some companies grow their own organic hemp for their CBD oil products. Other’s buy from farmers who grow hemp to sell. To grow hemp legally in the USA, a farmer will contact the city, county, and local zoning agencies, regard all regulations, and codes, to be able to grow and extract hemp oils. The THC in hemp must be less than 0.3 percent, according to government regulations.

The farmer needs to apply for a permit and register as an industrial hemp grower with your state. To determine whether you need to register with your state and get a license before growing hemp, check with your state’s Department of Agriculture.

Hemp is usually grown from seed straight into the soil rather than in pots, after the final frost in May or June in USA zones. They are sown relatively close together, about ½ to ¾ inches apart. The hemp seeds germinate and emerge quickly into taller plants. The farmer will irrigate the plants sufficiently during the first six weeks, even though they are drought tolerant. The hemp plants are fully grown at 120 days, where they are harvested for CBD extraction.

There are a few extraction methods used which impact the quality and purity of the end product. These extraction methods involve isolating the CBD from the plant, which results in CBD isolate, one of three types of CBD. Some methods leave traces of harmful residues, while others ruin the extract’s quality due to excessive heat, which destroys the quality of all the chemicals in the hemp plant, while others are more effective.

Different Methods of Extracting CBD

CBD manufacturers use different methods to extract CBD oil from the hemp plant. Although the CO2 method is widely used, other methods include steam distillation, ethanol extraction, carrier oil extraction, and ice-cold pressure extraction.

CO2 Extraction Method

The most widely used method is the CO2 extraction method, and it is the best method used to extract CBD oil from the hemp plant.

There are three types of CO2 extraction methods: supercritical, subcritical, and mid-critical.

  • Supercritical is the most widely used, and this state characterizes both a gaseous and a liquid form. They add CO2 in a chamber that includes the hemp plant material, and the correct amounts of pressure and temperature are applied for CO2 to reach its supercritical state. At this point, CO2 acts as a solvent and causes the plant material to separate, producing full-spectrum CBD oil.

This method is safe and effective as they use no other solvents during the extraction process.

  • Subcritical CO2 extraction is the same type of process, but it uses less pressure and lower temperatures than supercritical CO2 extraction. The method is longer, less effective, and processes smaller amounts of CBD oil but protects essential oils, terpenes, and other sensitive chemicals found in the plant matter.
  • Mid-critical is when the process is between the supercritical and subcritical CO2 methods. The temperature and pressure differences result in very different cannabis products.

The supercritical extraction method is the most popular. Not only is it extremely safe, but the production is highly efficient and results in a high concentration of CBD of around 90%.

Extraction By Steam Distillation

Although popular, the steam distillation method to extract CBD oil is not as popular as the CO2 method. Due to the process and the heating of plant material, overheating can occur, which may destroy essential chemicals needed in the CBD oil extract. This overheating can also change the chemical properties resulting in a less efficient end product with less therapeutic benefits.

Extraction by steam distillation occurs when placing hemp in a flask with an inlet and an outlet. The inlet connects to a glass container underneath the flask, and the outlet connects to a condenser tube.

As the water is heated, steam travels upward into the plant flask. The heated steam causes the sacs in the plant material to open, releasing the oil while separating the oil vapors. These vapors condense, dividing them into oil and water. They distill the mixture to extract the CBD oil from the water. Even though the method has been tried and used for many years, it can still be much less efficient than CO2 extraction methods.

CBD Extraction Methods

Ethanol Extraction

Ethanol extraction has lost popularity; although the FDA has considered it safe to use, it doesn’t create the same residue. It also extracts more water-soluble molecules, which poses a problem, because it will pull more chlorophyll from the plant matter. When extracting the CBD oil, ethanol is dripped through a container, stripping the cannabinoids as it drips, and the CBD oil collects in a reservoir. Manufacturers can do this procedure in hot or cold conditions.

Another way of using ethanol is soaking the hemp. This method extracts the CBD oil and draws the cannabinoids out of the hemp; the ethanol is heated and boiled away, leaving the CBD oil behind. Due to ethanol extracting the plant waxes and other components and its high boiling point, the procedure is lengthy and not as effective as the CO2 method.

Carrier Oil Extraction

This process draws the cannabinoids out of the plant material and into the carrier oil. Carrier oil extraction may be a cheap CBD extraction method, but it’s not very effective as it yields low levels of active cannabinoids. Firstly, the hemp plant is decarboxylated, heating the plant to a specific temperature for a certain amount of time, which activates the chemicals inside the plant.

Secondly, they add the hemp plant to the carrier oil. MCT is the most common carrier oil which comes from coconut or palm kernel oil. This affordable method does not put the consumer at risk of consuming contaminants. The cannabinoids draw out into the carrier oil. This method is ineffective because it yields low levels of active cannabinoids. It also needs preservatives added, which undermines the purity of CBD oil.

Ice Cold Pressure Extraction

Cold press extraction is when the pre-cooled cannabis plant is cool pressed and crushed to squeeze CBD oil extracts from the plant. This method preserves the vital ingredients found in the hemp plant. Due to the cold pressing of cannabinoids at low temperatures, CBD oil extraction yields a low amount of CBD oil.

Which Extraction Process Offers The Best Result?

The CO2 extraction method is the most used and preferred by companies. It is undoubtedly the best method used to extract CBD oil. Not only is it completely safe, but it created very little waste. It is one of the purest ways and contains no harmful chemicals or contaminants. Therefore, it is essential to know the company’s extraction method when purchasing a CBD oil product. Reputable companies with brand value will always have the extraction method listed clearly on their website.


When summarizing the different CBD extraction methods, including the CO2 extraction method, the steam distillation method, the ethanol extraction method, the carrier oil extraction methods, and the ice-cold pressure extraction method, we concluded that most reputable companies use the CO2 extraction method. This is due to its pure, inexpensive, and undoubtedly the best extraction method to use.

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