CBD can be extracted from its source in a variety of different methods, each with their own specific pros and cons. Determining what extraction method you would prefer your CBD product to have used in its manufacturing process depends on a couple of different factors, such as whether you desire the product to have a lower starting price point per milligram of CBD or the overall potency of the CBD product, as some examples.

Following are the common extraction methods that are currently used in the manufacturing process of CBD products, and after the short descriptions that we will provide for each, we will cover the various pros and cons when it comes to how CBD is extracted from its source material.

  • Ethanol Extraction: Also known as “Alcohol Extraction,” this extraction process is the oldest known extraction process for separating the CBD oils from its natural sources. CBD can be removed from the industrial hemp plant or the cannabis plant by soaking the flower in either ethanol or high proof alcohol;
  • CO2 Extraction: Uses liquid CO2 and is a clean and efficient way to remove CBD from the industrial hemp flower or the cannabis flower. Because of its overall efficacy and the purity of the end product, it is quickly becoming an industry standard. There are three types of this process, which are known as supercritical, subcritical and mid-critical;
  • Water Extraction: A few manufacturers use water, water vapor, or ice in a complicated extraction process to remove the CBD from its source. This extraction process is by-and-far the least common extraction method used in the manufacturing of CBD products;
  • Carrier Oil Extraction: For this extraction method, an oil — most commonly olive (but sometimes also coconut oil, hemp seed oil, or some other organic oil) depending on the manufacturer’s preference — is used in this method as a “carrier oil” to envelope the CBD. First, the plant material is decarboxylated. Next, the plant material is added to the carrier oil and heated again for several hours. This draws the cannabinoids out of the plant and into the carrier oil, allowing for further manufacturing;
  • “The Rick Simpson Method” Extraction: This extraction method was named after the man who first started using this particular process for the extraction of CBD oils from their source. This is the absolute cheapest and most straightforward method of extraction for the manufacturer; however, this is also highly regarded as being the worst possible means of isolating CBD. A hydrocarbon (such as butane, pentane, propane, hexane, or acetone) is used in this process, and the industrial hemp or cannabis plant material is fully submerged in the solvent. As the plant material is steeped for a period of time in this toxic tea, the compounds are harshly stripped from the plant material and are left in a liquid form which can be used in the manufacturing of the end product.

Overall, CO2 extraction is generally regarded as the best-of-the-best when it comes to CBD extraction, as it is the cleanest extraction method that is generally regarded as being the extraction process that keeps the most Phytocannabinoids intact at higher concentrations, which many regard as being the best way to achieve what is known as the “Entourage Effect.” This is a term used by CBD users and manufacturers refer to the perceived increase in the overall efficacy and potency of a CBD product when there are greater levels of phytocannabinoids, terpenes and amino acids present. The belief is that all of these compounds come together to form a symphony of beneficial organic chemicals which have a greater and more positive effect on your Endocannabinoid System.

This is, of course, not to say that water extraction methods or ethanol extraction methods are not worth your time. While water extraction methods are still a little unclear when it comes to the benefits versus drawbacks that they might have in comparison to the two more common extraction methods, the benefits of ethanol extraction are very well known and documented. Ethanol extracted CBD is still a highly efficacious health, beauty, and dietary supplement product because it is only losing out on a little of the overall amount of the various naturally occurring Phytocannabinoids and terpenes, and does not affect their quality. Ethanol extracted CBD products main appeal is the fact that it generally has a lower price point per mg of CBD, without sacrificing much of the efficacy and without sacrificing any of the purity or safety of the end product.

The two extraction methods used in the manufacturing process of CBD products that we would recommend to our readers the least is the carrier oil extraction method and “The Rick Simpson Method” for extracting CBD. The former extraction method produces CBD that is nowhere near as potent or efficacious in comparison to CBD products that were manufactured utilizing a different extraction method. Finally, the latter of the two, “The Rick Simpson Method” is generally regarded as being the absolute worst extraction method available today. This is not to discredit Rick Simpson’s contributions to the CBD market, but products that contain CBD that was extracted using this method is not only very weak in its potency, but it can also contain trace amounts (or even more than trace amounts in some cases) of harmful contaminants and residues.

So, in short, we highly recommend that you keep in mind that CO2 Extraction and Ethanol (Alcohol) Extraction methods are widely regarded as being the best possible extraction methods on the market today, due to their proven efficacy, potency, and overall purity. As such, we recommend that our readers buy CBD products that contain CBD that was extracted from the plant using one of these two extraction methods.

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