Cannabidiol, the trending product in the therapeutic industry is extracted from hemp plants and marketed by complying with the legal standards. Every CBD product undergoes multistage processing before it reaches its final stage.
In this session, we are having a detailed discussion about the various stages in the manufacturing of hemp CBD.
Although CBD can be extracted from all cannabis plants, its concentration differs according to the plant type. In addition to that, US law has selectively legalized CBD products that do not have THC content greater than 0.3%. Due to its high cannabidiol content and minimal THC content, hemp plants are used to extract CBD to make legal CBD products. Marijuana-derived CBD characterized by its high THC content is regulated as per the cannabis laws of the states in the US.
Hemp farming industry is subject to strict rules and regulations. Only certified seeds of low THC hemp are approved by the authorities. Before going ahead with the cultivation process, farmers have to get a permit from the authorities. The hemp must be free of pesticides, lest the quality of CBD derived from it will be low. The harvest process is quality controlled and failsafe storage procedures have to be employed.
Harvest can be done by hand labor or by using machinery.
After the plants are harvested, they are dried and stored in the warehouse. The dried plants are converted to powder form by milling. The powdering process has to follow all industry standards. After milling, the plant matter is transferred to the manufacturing facility.
Extraction And Separation
Extraction and separation processes are performed to remove debris and unwanted compounds from the plant matter. The step checks the degradation of natural molecules in the plant matter.
The purity and potency of CBD product depend on the efficacy of the CBD extraction process. Commonly used CBD extraction processes are CO2 extraction, ethanol extraction, butane extraction, etc.
In CO2 extraction, compounds are pulled out from hemp using pressurized CO2 that acts as a solvent in the process. It is regarded as the purest form of extraction. Three types of CO2 extraction are :
Supercritical CO2 extraction
This method of CBD extraction uses CO2 in supercritical state i.e state between liquid and gas to extract the hemp compounds. In the process of converting gaseous CO2 to a supercritical state, it is initially converted to a liquid state by increasing the pressure and decreasing the temperature below . After CO2 reaches the liquid state, it is converted to the supercritical state by increasing the pressure and temperature slowly.
Subcritical CO2 extraction
Subcritical CO2 extraction requires low temperature and pressure. It takes longer than supercritical extraction.
Mid-critical CO extraction involves pressure and temperature that are in between supercritical and subcritical extraction.
Cannabinoids are pulled out from the hemp plant matter by passing the CO2 solvent through it
Due to the unpredictable nature of the cannabis plants and inconsistencies in the percentage concentration of its phytochemicals, the distillation step is unavoidable in the making of CBD products. Short path distillation, fractional distillation, or a combination of both are used to produce pure CBD products.
In short path distillation, the plant matter is heated under vacuum, and after the compounds take the short path between evaporation vessel and condenser, they are cooled rapidly inside a chiller to condense the vapors.
In fractional distillation, the compounds are separated according to the difference in their boiling points. A combination of short path distillation and fractional distillation is used to check the degradation of CBD due to heat. In the process, short path distillation under low pressure is followed by fractional distillation.
Depending on the spectrum option you expect the final product to belong, you may or may not perform the step of isolation as the next step after distillation. Isolation gets rid of even the tiniest traces of the intoxicating compound, THC.
Internal And External Lab Testing
To analyze the quality and potency of the CBD product, every batch undergoes internal lab testing. If they pass the in-house testing, they are granted the Analysis and Quality Assurance certificate. External third-party lab testing has to be done every month to verify the quality assurance certificate.
Third-party labs test for pesticides, heavy metals, microbial, etc in addition to the percentage composition of cannabinoids and terpenes in the CBD product.
This is an optional step that is carried out to increase the bioavailability of CBD products. Nano-emulsification is performed using ultrasonic equipment.
Every step in CBD manufacture beginning from the cultivation of hemp to the final stage purification of CBD is decisive in the quality of the final product.