Obtaining a botanical extract from the hemp plant is a complex process. There are three main methods in answer to the question how is hemp oil extracted?
Extraction Method by Supercritical CO2
It is the safest and most efficient extraction method for hemp, however, it is also the most expensive. CO2 extraction is commonly used in a wide variety of industries that include:
- Extracts of fruits and nuts
- Aromas of fruits and nuts
- Omega-3 oils
- Extraction of algae oil (As an alternative energy source)
How is Hemp Oli Extracted in Laboratories?
Laboratories have used state-of-the-art equipment to create phase changes in carbon dioxide, through changes in temperature and pressure. The CO2 is cooled and comprised up to more than 10,000 psi (pounds-force per square inch); in comparison, a car’s tire is pressurized to approximately 300 psi. When compressed to that extreme situation, the CO2 becomes “supercritical”, which means that it becomes a liquid when it is placed under this extreme pressure. In this supercritical state, CO2 possesses the properties of a liquid and a gas at the same time.
Afterwards, the CO2 is heated and passes through the hemp in a closed-circuit extractor, avoiding damaging the heat-sensitive nutrients such as enzymes or vitamins.
Ethanol and Canola Oil Method
Ethanol can be found in paint, markers, and personal care products such as mouthwash, perfume, and deodorant. In addition, ethanol is used as a preservative and additive with food. As it is soluble with water, ethanol is a good general purpose solvent.
While ethanol can be used to extract the full range of cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant, even pharmaceutical grade organic ethanol has its drawbacks.
First, ethanol is a polar solvent. This means that it can easily be mixed with water and dissolve any water-soluble molecule. This creates a great challenge for companies that use the ethanol extraction method because chlorophyll is one of the compounds that is also treated in an involuntary manner, thereby the chlorophyll in the concentration will trigger dark green colour and an unpleasant taste of bitter grass.
Chlorophyll can be eliminated by filtering the extract; however, this additional step increases the cost and eliminates a reduction in cannabinoids, which results in a more expensive oil and a lower concentration of cannabidiol.
Subsequently, the extraction of ethanol can reduce the concentration of cannabidiol in the oil due to the destruction of the waxes of the plant during the extraction process.
This method uses a hydrocarbon, such as butane, pentane, propane, hexane or acetone, to obtain the hemp extract. With a low boiling point, hydrocarbons such as butane can be easily purged at the end of the extraction process, resulting in a byproduct of hemp oil.
While the method of how to extract hemp oil is cheap and easy, it is also extremely dangerous and can cause explosions or fires. During the process, highly flammable fumes are generated and sometimes end in fires.
This method can also lead to products with a lower concentration of terpenes and other cannabinoids. Combine that with the unsure possibility of keeping the solvents that can interfere with the immune system of the person and you get as a result a method that might not be the best option for those looking for a cannabidiol rich oil.
Because of the purity and safety offered by the CO2 extraction process, this is the one chosen by many laboratories.
While other processes may seem simple, they could also be dangerous.