You may have heard of “full-spectrum”, “broad spectrum” and “isolates” when reading about CBD. What is this and why is it important for you to know? CBD or Cannabidiol is one of the hundreds of phytocannabinoids along with terpenes (which give a distinctive odor), flavonoids (antioxidants), chlorophyll, and other substances found in flax plants. By law, industrial hemp factories that produce CBD need to contain less than 0.3% THC to be sold as hemp-based CBD. So, after plants are harvested, plant substances must be extracted from dried plants.
There are two main extraction methods used:
Ethanol extraction (or other solvents)
– The traditional method for herbal extraction uses ethanol. Dried plants are immersed in ethanol and phytocannabinoids and other substances (including chlorophyll) dissolve in ethanol (or other solvents) and can then be separated from plant fibers.
– This is a cheaper but less selective method. Chlorophyll, for example, is extracted with ethanol and can give CBD oils a rather funky taste (at least for some).
– Ethanol is a safe solvent to use, but others, such as naphtha, petroleum, butane, or propane can be dangerous, especially if they are not evaporated efficiently. The result of ethanol or other solvent extractions is lower CBD concentrations compared to CO2
– This method uses CO supercritical2 to “pull” CBD, cannabinoids, and other constituents from the dry flax plant. Supercritical CO2 is CO2 which has fluid and gas properties and allows oil (which contains cannabinoids and other substances) to separate from fiber and other plant material.
– CO2 extraction is a safe and efficient way to purify CBD, but the costs are expensive. This is also a “clean” way to produce CBD because it doesn’t add anything to the mixture – CO2 used to separate plant constituents can be easily evaporated after the separation process is complete.
– PPK2 extraction methods can be very selective – the process can be adjusted so that up to 92% of the extracted material is CBD.
Steam distillation is sometimes still used but overall is less efficient – it also requires more plants to get the same amount of CBD.