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Introduction to the CBD Extraction Process

 

When it comes to producing extractions from a hemp harvest with the goal of attaining a high-quality and potent CBD end product, there are a number of choices and considerations to be made by the grower.

Are you looking to obtain isolate or distillate? Do you have a preference for working with an extractor who uses supercritical C02, or do you prefer to work with extractors using ethanol? How important is it to you if your processor is USDA organic compliant?

One of our core values at X-Tract Vermont is transparency, which is why we’ve put together this post to share insight into the steps that your hemp goes through if you decide to partner with us for your extraction needs.

In this post, we'll be discussing the following:

Extraction

There are a number of ways to perform the extraction, but we prefer to use ethanol extraction methods rather than the other popular alternative, CO2 extraction.

Ethanol vs CO2 is an ongoing conversation in the CBD extraction space, and there are a number of reasons why any particular processor may work with one versus the other. The reason that we choose to work with ethanol comes down to two factors: price and potency.

The main argument people use for CO2 extraction is that it doesn’t cause degradation of the terpene profile of the product.

However, CO2 is also three to four times more expensive to work with due to practical considerations, and that cost affects how much a processor charges for services.

We use a method that utilizes certified organic ethanol for USDA organic certification. Ethanol provides for a higher potency end product when compared to CO2 extraction when being used for creating distillate, which results in a product with a subtle and mellow flavor profile that can be formulated in a variety of ways.

Winterization 

Winterization is a process that removes waxes and lipids from crude oil before it is distilled. It is one of the most crucial steps to the process, as it lays the groundwork for successful distillation.

The winterization process involves dissolving the crude extract in fresh ethanol, then chilling to sub-zero temperatures over a period of time, which will allow for the undesirable components to separate out.

If you have ever frozen a fatty soup or stew only to find when you remove it to re-heat that the fats have risen to the top of the container, you’ve experienced winterization in action.

Following the winterization process, the lipids and waxes are filtered out using a vacuum or other high-pressure system and a series of paper or metal filter screens, after which the waxes and lipids are collected and disposed of.

Distillation

After being filtered for wax and lipid removal, the crude oil then enters a distillation apparatus and a deep vacuum is achieved. One practice that we engage in that differs from other CBD processors is that we use fractional distillation.

Fractional distillation is a process that separates components by boiling point.  Most other distillation methods such as wiped film distillation distill a broader range of components due to their focus on throughput.

Fractional distillation can separate fractions into multiple usable fractions that have different cannabinoid profiles.

After distillation is complete, your refined product is transferred into containers for labeling and returned to you.

Conclusion

While it can seem overwhelming at first, the CBD extraction process can be broken down into easy-to-understand steps. The choices you make as a grower depend on a lot of different factors, and it’s important to understand the steps your harvest goes through to becoming the high-quality value-added end product you envisioned.

While we didn’t dive deep into the world of supercritical CO2 extraction in this post, we recognize it as a service that farmers are interested in and recommend this article from the Hemp Gazzette, which details the process.

 

If you’re looking to partner with a Vermont CBD processor with experience using ethanol extraction methods to produce a high-quality extract from your crop, visit our Contact Us page and submit any questions you may have or begin a conversation with our team.

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