It’s important to know how things are made, especially things we put in our bodies. As we try to monitor what foods we eat and things we drink, we should also pay attention to how our supplements are made. Especially new products like Cannabidiol (CBD).

After all, it doesn’t make sense to use a product to get healthier if the product itself is unhealthy.

If you’ve looked into the CBD market for any product, you probably have a lot of questions. Maybe even starting with, “How is it made?” We tackled the question, and went from the seed, to the plant, to the laboratory, to the bottle, to you.

Make sure to check out our FAQ section after, in case you have any questions.

Is it Just a Weed Plant?

No. The first thing to know about how CBD is made is that it comes from a plant related to the marijuanna plant, but genetically different. Just as the russet and the Yukon gold are both potatoes, but totally different to a chef, the plants that make CBD oil and the plants that make marijuanna are different to a chemist.

The plant that makes up the majority of the industrial hemp market, including CBD production, is called the Cannabis Sativa. This plant is among the roughly 170 plants under the blanket Cannabis. Recreational marijuanna is also in the species Sativa, but growing practices and breeding have created two very different plants.

The words marijuanna and cannabis are often used to describe the plants that have the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. This is the compound that gets someone ‘high.’ Hemp, meanwhile, is the word used to describe Sativa plants that are grown and bred for 0.3% or less THC. This level of THC is legal in Industrial Hemp, according to Federal Law, and can be used to make anything from paper and clothing to oils for supplements.

What is the Hemp Plant?

Hemp is a term used for Sativa plants that are grown to contain less than .3% THC. It is also the term used for those plants that are grown to make fiber out of their roots and stalks and for harvesting for CBD.

Something to keep in mind is that there is no chemical difference between the beneficial CBD derived from hemp and that derived from cannabis. The only thing to keep in mind is whether your CBD has any THC in it.

How is the CBD Actually Derived?

There are a number of methods used to extract CBD from the hemp plant, each with their own benefits and costs. A key difference between some of the methods is how much pure CBD they extract versus the other chemicals. We’ll break them down individually.

CO2 Extraction

This is highly technical and tightly controlled method that is often considered the very best. The process relies on manipulating CO2 from solid, to liquid, and then to gas form, using a combination of pressure and temperature.

Basically, the solid CO2 is exposed to the hemp plant, where it converts to a liquid and absorbs the flavonoids, terpenes, and cannabinoids. When the CO2 liquid with all the hemp extracts returns to a gas, only the hemp products remain. This process requires expertise, equipment, and training.

Liquid Solvents

This process is much more straightforward, and many people choose this method for its low start-up price. In this process, the hemp is steeped in high-grade ethanol, or some other liquid solvent like butane.

This method is effective, but many people complain that it leaves behind harsh byproducts, and that the waste can be toxic.

Oil Extraction

For years before legalization, this was the preferred ‘at home’ method. It’s also the method many people recognize for “enhancing” their cooking butter. Essentially, you heat the hemp and a given oil at a low temperature for a long period of time, until the extracts transfer from the plant matter into the lipids of the oil.

This can be done with vegetable oil, olive oil, or butter. It is effective, but cannot be relied upon to extract all of the CBD or other compounds from the hemp plant.

How the Oil Becomes a Product

Once the CBD and other hemp compounds are extracted, the manufacturer can chose to further refine it to make CBD isolate (no other cannabis chemicals), broad spectrum (all compounds except for THC), or full-spectrum (all the compounds from the hemp, including the 0.3% THC).

When that determination has been made, the manufacturer puts the oil into a carrier oil, like hemp or vegetable oil, and then makes a product with that carrier oil. This can be added to creams, roll-on salves, or put into chewable gummies or capsules.

End Product

From the seed to the gummy, it’s important to know where your CBD came from, and how the producers made it. Whether they chose to grow their own or buy it from a certified farm, most quality CBD manufacturers are upfront about where they get their product.

And the same should be true of their extraction methods. If a company isn’t proud of their methods, you can guess there’s a reason. We recommend researching your given CBD company and finding out what their extraction process is.

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Frequently Answered Questions

Can CBD Get Me High? 

No, unless you have an extreme sensitivity to THC. All legal CBD must have 0.3% THC, or less, and many products have none.

Will CBD Trigger a Drug Test?

Unfortunately, no one can say for sure. Some low-level screenings only look for specific cannabis markers, not the THC itself. For that reason, you should always exercise caution and be upfront with the persons screening you.

Does it Matter How I Take CBD?

Yes. It can matter a great deal. If you’re looking for joint or muscle relief, many people recommend creams or salves, while for mood or anxiety many people take gummies or capsules.

What Extraction is Best?

Most manufacturers we’ve researched claim that CO2 extraction is the best for purity and efficacy of the final CBD product.

What if I Can’t See How a Manufacturer Extracts the CBD?

The choice as a consumer is up to you, but for any product you ingest, we recommend having as many of the answers as you can get. If answers aren’t there, perhaps try another producer.

About the Author

Steven has been into health, nutrition, and fitness for over 10 years, and has a degree in Physical Education and Coaching. He is an expert in supplements and is devoted to helping his clients achieve their fitness goals and live their best lives.

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