CBD is a cannabinoid naturally occurring in hemp and cannabis plants. The mainstream media routinely refers to CBD oil as cannabis oil, but they are in reality two very different things. CBD oil is actually made from hemp, but how is CBD oil made?
How is CBD oil made?
The answer to this question depends on the kind of CBD oil. CBD oil falls into two distinct categories; CBD oil made from plant paste and CBD oil made from isolate.
CBD oil is made by diluting some type of CBD extract in a carrier oil, usually hemp oil.
CBD producers make CBD paste and either go on to dilute that in oil directly or process the paste further into CBD isolate and then dilute that into the carrier oil.
These two categories of CBD oil are very different products with very different effects.
The stages of production are similar but there are a few crucial steps that differ between the two. The results are two drastically different kinds of CBD extract.
How is CBD Oil made from plant paste?
CBD oil from plant paste is a less processed CBD product.
It is made by diluting CBD paste into a carrier oil, usually hemp oil.
The way that the paste is made depends on whether it is what is known as a full spectrum CBD paste or not.
What is full spectrum CBD paste?
Full spectrum CBD paste is a type of CBD extract that contains a full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes, fatty acids and flavonoids naturally occurring in the hemp plant.
Researchers have found that full spectrum CBD extracts are more potent when it comes to their medicinal power than CBD extracts that are not full spectrum.
This is because of something called the entourage effect.
What is the entourage effect?
The term entourage effect was coined in 1998 by cannabinoid researcher Dr. Raphael Mechoulam.
It refers to a unique synergy that occurs between the compounds found in hemp and cannabis plants.
Scientists discovered that in the body, cannabis compounds are more medicinally effective when they are taken together rather than isolated. They work in concert together to produce an overall effect.
To find out more about the entourage effect, check out our guide: What is the Entourage Effect? The Phenomenon Explained.
What is non-full spectrum CBD paste?
Non- full spectrum CBD paste is just the opposite – it is a CBD extract that does not contain a full spectrum of cannabinoids and the other compounds mentioned above.
At some point in the production of the extract, other compounds are also removed.
After the CBD extract is created, it undergoes further processing to remove unwanted compounds such as THC.
How is full spectrum CBD oil made?
Below is a step-by-step outline of how full spectrum CBD oil is made.
Step 1: The plants
Full spectrum CBD extract is made from CBD rich hemp plants. These differ from standard industrial hemp in that they produce more flowers and therefore more CBD.
These plants are also rich in other cannabinoids, but do not contain THC above the legal limit of 0.2%.
Step 2: Harvest
To ensure the extract is full spectrum, the whole of the hemp plant is harvested. This includes the buds, leaves, stalks and in some cases even the roots.
Different parts of the plant contain varying concentrations of important compounds, so using the whole plant ensures that all the good stuff the plant has to offer ends up in the extract.
It also ensures that the CBD paste contains other beneficial compounds like essential vitamins and minerals, chlorophyll and fibre.
The time of harvest is also very important. Hemp and cannabis plants contain different concentrations of cannabinoids throughout the growth cycle.
In hemp, CBD is at its highest during a 2 to 3 week period in the flowering stage where the buds have not yet become sticky.
Harvesting the hemp plants at just the right time maximises the CBD concentration and creates a more potent extract.
Step 3: Extraction
After harvest, the plants undergo a process called supercritical CO2 extraction.
Liquid CO2 is used as a solvent to separate the CBD from the plants. This process does not separate the CBD entirely, because a lot of organic matter is retained.
The result is a CBD rich plant paste. This process can produce up to a 16% CBD extract. This is very high for a natural product, since in the plant CBD levels rarely exceed 2%.
Step 4: Testing
Once the paste has been produced it must be tested.
In this stage a specialist lab tests the CBD paste for cannabinoid values. They test CBD concentration, and THC concentration to ensure it does not exceed the legal limit of 0.2%. They may also test concentrations of other cannabinoids.
They also test the paste for any harmful bacteria, a standard food safety procedure.
Step 5: Decarboxylation
Decarboxylation is a chemical process that involves heating the paste.
This is done so that the phytocannabinoids can be converted into classical cannabinoids.
In the plant CBD is found in its phytocannabinoid form, CBDa. This goes for all the cannabinoids, including THC, which naturally occurs as THCa. These are also known as cannabinoid acids.
To convert CBDa and THCa into CBD and THC, the extract is heated for a specific amount of time at a specific temperature.
CBD is more potent than CBDa, so this step is an important part of what makes CBD effective.
Step 6: Dilution
The CBD paste is now ready to be diluted into the carrier oil. CBD paste is naturally oil soluble, so this step is very straightforward.
Hemp oil is normally used but occasionally CBD sellers will use coconut oil or olive oil to experiment with taste.
It would be at this point that anything else is added. Some oils contain added sweeteners, flavours and other supplements such as cacao or turmeric.
How is non-full spectrum CBD oil made?
Non-full spectrum CBD oil is made from non-full spectrum CBD paste, diluted into a carrier oil.
The process follows the same steps as above, but has an extra step to remove unwanted compounds such as THC.
When the CBD is extracted using supercritical CO2 extraction, it undergoes further processing to separate out other compounds as well.
Usually non-full spectrum CBD paste has only had the THC removed, for legal reasons. But more organic matter is lost and many people believe that this compromises the efficacy of the product.
How is CBD isolate made?
CBD isolate is a pure CBD extract that comes in the form of a white powder or crystal.
It is possible to create a totally pure CBD extract by processing the plant paste further.
The same steps of production are the same, but before the CBD paste is diluted in undergoes a chemical process called chromatography.
Chromatography enables chemists to completely isolate a compound and remove all other organic matter.
The result is a white powder or crystal that is both oil and water soluble. This substance is then diluted into a carrier oil.
So, we have answered the question ‘how is CBD oil made?’, but there is more to the story.
Not all CBD oils are made equal, and the kinds of CBD oil we’ve talked about here have different pros and cons. You can learn more about different kinds of CBD and their effectiveness in our article: What is the Strongest Form of CBD? [2018 Update]
As we’ve discussed, full spectrum CBD oil contains a full spectrum of all compounds found naturally occurring in the plant. Non-full spectrum CBD oil only contains some. And CBD isolate is 100% pure CBD.
There is a long-standing dispute in the CBD community as to whether full spectrum CBD preparations or CBD isolate preparations are more effective.
Since the discovery of the entourage effect research suggests that full spectrum CBD is more medicinally powerful than CBD on its own. It contains a spectacular host of beneficial compounds that have disease preventative and disease fighting properties.
It should also be noted that THC has benefits of its own, even when in low concentrations. The synergy between CBD and THC is highly valuable to cannabinoid pharmacology.
However, for legal reasons some producers may choose to remove THC entirely, thus creating a non-full spectrum product.
This is beneficial because the CBD can be widely distributed without restrictions and without the risk of psychoactive side effects. In our opinion, keeping THC in our high-grade pastes and oils means our customers can get the benefits of a little THC, too.
And finally, we come to CBD isolate. Because CBD isolate in pure CBD it is ideal for targeted pharmacology.
Scientists can measure doses with absolute precision down to the milligram. They can also be sure than any effects found in clinical trials are down to the CBD and not some other compound in the preparation. CBD isolate also means oils can be produced that have very high CBD concentrations, and some people believe this is better.
But CBD isolate is severely lacking in terms of all the benefits these wonderful plants have to offer us. In our opinion, to keep things as natural as possible is just plain common sense – after all, nature designed it that way.
Buy organic, full-spectrum, totally natural, whole plant CBD oils, pastes, and edibles here. We are committing to selling the absolute highest quality products on the market, for prices that can’t be beaten.
To find out more about CBD paste, check out our article What is CBD Paste? All Your Questions Answered.
Learn more about the health benefits of CBD here.
If you have any questions regarding CBD oil, get in touch. We love to hear from you.