As we have mentioned in some out our other posts, the growth and extraction of CBD are critical to the quality of the final product. At Hemp Bombs, we use what is known as the “CO2 extraction method” for our CBD. To the lay reader, that probably doesn’t mean much of anything, even if you do recognize CO2 as Carbon Dioxide. This post is intended to give you insight into what CO2 extraction is, as well as the alternative extraction methods which Hemp Bombs chooses not to invest in.
Before we dig into the actual extraction methods themselves, let’s look at the plants that produce the CBD.
Industrial Hemp is a type of the plant species, Cannabis Sativa, the same plant which produces the THC compounds for marijuana. The big difference between the different strains of Sativa is use and THC content, the psychoactive chemical from the plant. Industrial Hemp has to have a concentration of THC less than .3%, according to the 2014 Federal Farm Bill. Industrial Hemp is used differently as well, primarily being purposed for paper, textiles, and clothing. “Marijuana,” on the other hand, is classified as Cannabis Sativa plants with THC content greater than .3 %, and whose main use is for recreational enjoyment.
It is also important to be aware of the different parts of the plant that produce the CBD, as that has a bearing on the legality of the substance.
Cannabis Sativa flowers have the highest concentration of resin found on the plant. It’s the resin that contains the greatest amount of active chemicals, including THC. Female plants have the greatest resin counts because they produce resin to try to catch pollen. Substances derived from Hemp flowers are illegal.
The leaves do not contain high chemical concentrations and are generally not used recreationally. However, extracts from leaves are illegal.
Stems have little to no psychoactive properties but have many industrial uses for rope, paper, etc…
Seeds have negligible amounts of psychoactive chemicals but are loaded with nutritional value. Extraction from seeds is fully legal.
Trichomes are the layer of “resin” on the cannabis bud, high in aromatic oils called terpenes as well as THC and CBD. Trichome extracts are illegal.
The roots do not contain significant psychoactive elements and are not typically ingested.
This part of the plant is low in psychoactive chemicals but is extremely valuable in terms of its functional use for textile and material production. Extracts from Hemp stalks are legal.
Now that we have a better understanding of the anatomy of the Hemp plant, it’s time to understand CBD extraction processes, particularly CO2 extraction.
The original distillation process for CBD was created by a gentleman named Rick Simpson. In his method, you soak the plant in a solvent like grain alcohol. After the soaking period, you are left with a CBD saturated liquid. You then evaporate the solvent and byproduct for pure CBD extract. The downside to this process is that it destroys plant waxes, which may be rich with health benefits.
Believe it or not, natural food oils can be used as solvents for the CBD extraction process. Plant fats and oils are great at extracting resin, and create a natural CBD oil byproduct. This method for extraction has low risk and is inexpensive. However, the resulting oil is perishable, so should be stored in a cool, dark space for use.
CO2 Extraction is the method that Hemp Bombs uses for its CBD products.
In Supercritical CO2 extraction, machinery freezes and squeezes CO2 gas into a cold liquid.
Under normal conditions of temperature and pressure, CO2 takes the form of a gas. This gas can be easily transformed into a solid, dry ice. However, you need special equipment to turn CO2 gas into a liquid. To do this, machines apply pressure (75 PSI) and drop the temperature below -69 Fahrenheit. Liquid CO2 is the basis for the extraction.
After CO2 is captured as a liquid, temperature and pressure are increased so that the CO2 becomes “supercritical.” In its supercritical state, CO2 has the properties of both a liquid and a gas simultaneously.
This state is great for extraction because it is less volatile than other extraction methods while being more precise. For example, CO2 Extraction can focus on select chemical compounds rather than all compounds with minor adjustments. This could be very useful for future scientific study and a more nuanced understanding of all CBD compounds.
In this diagram, you can see how the process begins with the liquid CO2 in the top left corner. A compressor then then raises the pressure of the liquid before being passed onto a heating device. The supercritical CO2 through an extractor with Hemp to extract the resin, oils, and waxes that are dense with CBD from the plant for production.
The remaining solution is moved through a separator to be filtered into constituent parts. The CBD extract is collected and the CO2 is turned back into a liquid to be recycled and used again.
The Best Products
Like our sourcing protocol, Hemp Bombs goes to great lengths to make sure the customer receives the best product possible. Our meticulous use of CO2 extraction is the most effective and cleanest way to extract CBD. If you would like to experience the difference that CO2 extraction can make, we encourage you to look through our product selection today.