Cannabidiol is one of the many cannabinoids, or natural compounds, found in the hemp plant.  Hemp seems to be on everyone’s mind these days, including chewing gum. From A-list celebrities to your closest friends, everyone is using it for different reasons. Hemp is in edibles, vape fluid, chocolate bars, and just about any other product you can imagine. The possibilities are endless with this compound. 

Whether you're a newcomer to the Hemp world or you rely on it every day, the substance is still underrepresented in studies. Most of us don’t even know how Hemp products are made. Read on to learn more about hemp processing, Hemp extraction equipment, and the different methods.

The Basics of Hemp

The Basics of CBD

Before we get into how your favorite Hemp product is formulated, let’s go over some basics about Hemp. Cannabidiol or Hemp is one of the substances in the hemp plant. Hemp has gained a lot of buzz in recent years because of the therapeutic benefits users have reported experiencing. Many have reported it to be useful for easing anxiety, pain relief, sleeplessness, and a number of other conditions. Furthermore, the compound is FDA approved as a treatment for epilepsy conditions.

How Is Hemp Made?

The different Hemp extraction methods each have their pros and cons. Some of them cost more than others, and some of them yield purer products than others. 

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) 

One of the most practical extraction methods for Hemp extracts requires the use of CO2. This process takes advantage of CO2’s unique characteristics that enable it to function in liquid, solid, and gas states of matter. This process starts with a solid piece of CO2. That block of CO2 gets put in a second container containing cannabis materials. The container is then kept at a specific pressure to force the CO2 into a fluid-like state. Once it reaches that state, it begins to absorb the particles of the plant. Lastly, the new CO2-cannabinoid blend is pumped into another container where the CO2 is changed to a gas state, leaving behind a flavorful extract.

Liquid Solvents

The concept of using a liquid to absorb Hemp oil from the plant doesn’t stop at CO2. Substances that are naturally in a liquid state can also be used to formulate Hemp oil. Such substances include:

  • Ethanol 
  • Butane 
  • Hexane 
  • Isopropyl alcohol 

Though the process works much like the CO2 extraction, liquid solvent extraction is a more economical, more accessible way to extract Hemp oil; however, it has downsides. Some solvents may carry pollutants and chlorophyll from the hemp plant, which can give the final oil a greenish tint and an earthy, bitter taste. 

Oil Infusion

Oil infusion is one of the most straightforward, most ancient techniques for collecting Hemp oil. In fact, many home growers and manufacturers still use this method today. However, it does come with its disadvantages. 

Before the oil infusion process starts, the plant materials are decarboxylated or heated to a specific temperature to stimulate the particles. The mixture is then added to olive oil or similar carrier oil and again heated at 100 C for a couple of hours. One of the primary downsides is that olive oil can't evaporate out of the Hemp oil, so manufacturers have to use a lot of oil to get the same effect.

Winterization

An important part of formulating refined, quality Hemp oil is winterization. This process is used to remove unwanted substances from the extract, so you wind up with pure Hemp - free of other cannabinoids and terpenes. The critical difference is that winterization is used for harvesting Hemp isolate, not full-spectrum Hemp, which keeps most of the cannabinoids in the mixture.

Once the oil is extracted, it is mixed with 200-proof alcohol and frozen overnight. The next morning, the new blend is run through a filter, eliminating the fats and other substances. When the oil reaches the optimal quality, it's heated to the boiling point of alcohol (which is considerably lower than that of Hemp oil) and steam off the alcohol.

Distillation

When manufacturers want to further refine the oil they've gotten from any of the methods above, they run it through a process called short path distillation. This process takes advantage of the fact that the different Hemp oil compounds each have their boiling point. To get the finest Hemp oils, they boil off the various compounds that have a lower boiling point than the oil itself.

Short path distillation is initiated by slowly heating the Hemp mixture until most of the substances begin to evaporate. The gases produced by this process journey through a distillation tunnel until they reach cooling coils, where they condense. From there, they trickle down into another collection chamber, and the process proceeds until only the finest, purest Hemp oil remains.

Hemp Industry Standards 

Unfortunately, because of Hemp products’ ongoing legal actions, there are no consistent standards in place for the Hemp industry. This means there are many brands out there trying to sell potential buyers products that are either impure or tainted. It’s important to be cautious when you buy Hemp products and only buy from companies with positive reviews from certified buyers.

Organizations, such as the Foundation of Cannabis Unified Standards ( FOCUS) and American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), operate on devising conclusive standards for the Hemp industry. These standards include farming, extraction, lab conditions, safety, transparency, and more. As more and more states legalize cannabis products, we’ll likely see more sets of standards adopted in the future.

Takeaway

Hemp products are taking the world by storm, but the lack of industry standards can create some problems for users. Knowing how your favorite Hemp oil is made is important to ensure you get the good stuff and only the good stuff. Ask about what methods your go-to Hemp brand uses to get rid of pollutants to make sure you get a safe product.

You can also learn more about Hemp and the types of Hemp products available by visiting our Hemp collection page. You may also be interested in these related posts:

September 09, 2020