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The world of wellness is abuzz with excitement about CBD. From chocolates to melatonin-based sleep tablets, from beauty serums to cleansing body bars, from vape oils to gummy bears – everything seems to come with CBD in it. But what is CBD? And how is it extracted?
CBD, an abbreviation for cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. CBD oil is the concentrated liquid extract of the plant. It is a naturally-occurring substance that is used in an assortment of products to give a sensation of relaxation and calm. The psychoactive element of the cannabis plant is tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC), and is removed from CBD products. The biggest difference between THC and CBD is: THC gets you high, CBD doesn’t.
CBD oil can be derived from two sources: hemp and marijuana. Hemp is a cannabis plant whose seeds, stalks and flowers are commercially harvested. Hemp has a very high concentration of CBD and virtually no THC (below 0.3%). Marijuana is a cannabis plant grown for its euphoric, psychoactive, and relaxing characteristics. Its extremely resinous flowers contain an abundance of cannabinoids. Most importantly, compared to hemp, marijuana is significantly higher in THC content, up to 30% THC per dry weight.
Extraction of CBD oil from cannabis or hemp happens in two main steps: winterization and short path distillation.
The process of winterization involves eliminating undesirable elements that were extracted from the plant: fats, waxes, and lipids. When the oil has been extracted at high temperature/high pressure, the intense extraction results in taking out everything from the plant, including unnecessary material. This makes the extracted oil a crude oil, which needs to be refined. In this situation, winterization is required.
The crude oil is combined with 200 proof alcohol and stirred until completely mixed. This is followed by placing the mixture in a deep freezer overnight. The next day, the cloudy mixture created can be run through a filter paper into an extraction jar. After the filtration is complete, the alcohol is removed by warming the extraction. Since alcohol’s boiling point is lower than that of oil, the alcohol evaporates, leaving the final filtered extract.
Winterization only eliminates some undesirable elements. The extract is still left with compounds other than CBD. However, each of these compounds have different boiling points. By heating the extract, the compounds can be isolated. This process is called short path distillation.
By understanding what CBD oil is and how it is extracted, one can understand what this compound is without getting blindly caught up in the hype. Thereafter, this can help make informed choices about whether CBD oil is truly the right product for you or not.