How is CBD extracted?

CBD can be extracted by a number of ways. If the plant contains only CBD, such as industrial hemp or a high-CBD cannabis strain, there are many simple extraction methods that can be used. However, if the plant contains THC as well as CBD, the extraction method will be more complicated. The most common type of extraction methods uses some type pf solvent, which can be either liquid, C02 or oil.

Liquid solvents

The liquids solvents are usually butane, isopropyl alcohol, hexane or ethanol. During this extraction method, the plant material such as flowers and trim are put into a container where liquid solvent is then poured on top of the plant to strip it of cannabinoids and then transferred into liquid. The solvent is then evaporated from the blend to leave only concentrated chemicals and flavours in the form of oil.

There are many benefits of this extraction method, the the main ones are it’s the simplest and most inexpensive way. However, solvents have the ability to leave traces of impurities in the finished CBD oil or even remove chlorophyll from the plant its self, meaning that the end product will be greener in colour and have a bitter taste. However, these effects can be conquered by adapting the extraction process.

C02 Extraction

C02 (Carbon dioxide) extraction is usually conducted with a piece of equipment called a closed loop extractor to keep variables such as pressure and temperature under control. The closed loop extractor has three different chambers. The first chamber holds solid pressurized C020 (dry ice), the second chamber holds the dry material from the plant and the third chamber separated the end product.

During the extraction process, the dry ice from the first chamber gets pushed into the second chamber to join the plant material. The pressure and temperature in the second chamber is specifically controlled which causes the C02 to act as a liquid so it can then go through the dry plant material and extracts the chemicals, very similar to the liquid solvent method. Finally, the C02 and cannabinoid blend is pushed into the third chamber where it is retained at an even lower pressure and higher temperature to make the C02 gas rise to the top of the chamber and let the oil which contains the chemicals and flavours collect at the bottom ready for consumption.

The C02 extraction method had many benefits, including the short evaporation process and the minimal risk of contaminating the finished oil. Due to the careful controlled pressure and temperature, this method can also be used to separate CBD from a cannabis plant which contains THC. This can be done as CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant at a lower pressure and temperature than THC, so by carefully adapting these variables it can isolate the specific cannabinoid you want to extract. This type of extraction is relatively expensive so usually this method is only used by professional CBD producers.

Oil Extraction

The method of extracting cannabinoids from hemp plants and cannabis plants using oils (especially olive oil) stems from the biblical era, or even earlier.

The majority of individuals who produce their own CBD products at home will be more then likely still utilize this extraction method. The first step is the process is to dicarboxylate or heat the raw plant material to a specific temperature for a particular amount of time to activate the chemicals within the plant. To extract the cannabinoids, the plant material is then added to the olive oil and heated to 100°C for between 0 and 2 hours.

The olive oil cannot be evaporated after the extraction process has taken place, meaning that users must consume higher quantities of this oil to get the benefits when compared to a highly concentrated oil which is produced by the other extraction methods. This extraction method is also highly perishable, so it must be stored in a cool, dark place. This isn’t a ideal method for individuals who produce CBD commercially, but is a simple and inexpensive process for CBD enthusiasts.


Currently these are the most common methods in which CBD is extracted from the cannabis or hemp plant, but due to technology constantly advancing, new extraction methods can be expected to be seen in the next few years as the industry evolves.