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CBD Extraction Methods - Do They Compete or Complete Each Other?
No matter how you look at CBD - as a scientist, a buyer, or a wannabe grower - you'll want to learn more about its extraction process.

CBD extraction is one of the key manufacturing stages that determines the quality of the final product.

Obviously, the first requirement for premium CBD is a healthy, clean plant. But even the purest buds can be ruined or contaminated by improper extraction.

That's why it's critical to learn more about the technology used behind the label.

The problem is that most online resources embrace a single extraction method while being biased against other methods. As usual, the truth is somewhere in between.

To get back to the root of the problem, we spoke with Andy Joseph, founder of Apeks Supercritical, engineer, inventor of five patents, and skilled manufacturer.

As it turns out, he's not so biased on the matter.

First things first: what is CBD extraction?
As you probably know, the cannabis plant is rich in various compounds, the most famous of which are THC and CBD.

To create a product with a single active cannabinoid, a chemical process must be performed on the unprocessed plant to separate the material into separate compounds.

Simply put, if you want a bottle of CBD oil, you have to extract it from cannabis.

There are multiple ways to do this, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Mechanical and Solvent Extraction
In short, there are two methods for extracting CBD from the cannabis plant: mechanical and solvent methods. Each then has subgroups that differ in terms of effectiveness, cost and time management.

There are several procedures known as mechanical separation techniques - dry sieving (the Kief production process), ice water hashish, and bubble bags.

Essentially, they all boil down to the same procedure: cooling the raw material and mechanically breaking off the fragile trichomes on which most cannabinoids live.

The main drawback of this method is that it cannot be used for trimming. This is where solvent extraction comes in handy.

While there are many extraction solvents, some of them have dominated the cannabis industry in recent years: CO2, butane and propane (hydrocarbons), and alcohol/ethanol/isopropyl.

Regardless of the solvent used, the outline of solvent extraction is almost always the same: the unprocessed cannabis plant is mixed with a liquid that will remove the cannabinoids and subsequently remove them from the concentrate.

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CO2 Extraction - The Industry Gold Standard
What has become the most advanced extraction method in the cannabis industry is the use of high pressure CO2 to isolate cannabinoids from the plant, Supercritical CO2 Extraction machine website

This technique is safe and effective, but because it uses precision instruments, it can only be used for industrial scale production.

At standard temperatures and pressures, CO2 is present in the gas phase. When heated above 31.0°C (critical temperature) and 1,070 PSI (critical pressure), CO2 exhibits both gaseous and liquid properties and becomes a so-called "supercritical fluid" that acts as a solvent and is necessary to start the supercritical CO2 extraction step.

The supercritical fluid then passes through a chamber containing the cannabis material, gently dissolving the membranes of the trichomes to capture their active compounds.

Next, the compound-rich solvent enters another pressurized separation vessel. As the pressure and temperature fluctuate, compounds such as cannabinoids and terpenes are separated out.

Finally, the remaining CO2 is transferred to a condenser vessel where the temperature and pressure allow the fluid to stabilize back into the gas and leave the extract.
Advantages of CO2 Extraction
From a manufacturer's perspective, the biggest advantage of CO2 extraction is that it is a tunable solvent, says Andy Joseph.

"This means that simple changes in the operating parameters [usually temperature and pressure] during the extraction can make it weaker or stronger. This then allows you to take out different target elements with different molecular weights," he explains.

In essence, this CBD extraction is highly scalable and you can operate it as you intend.

From the customer's perspective, the advantage of CO2 is that it wants to be a gas at room temperature, Joseph continues.

"You're left with pure extract. There's no residual solvent," he emphasizes.

"Think of it like beer or soda. When you let them sit out, all the carbon dioxide that makes them froth and foam up disappears after a few hours. The same thing happens when you use carbon dioxide as an extraction solvent. Once the material is extracted, just let the material out of the gas and the CO2 is out," he explains.

The best thing is that you are left with a pure representation of the oil in the original material plant.


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