More on CBD: How is CBD Extracted?

January 19, 2024

Written By: Earth Buddy Team

Bottle of Earth Buddy’s best CBD oil for dogs with dropper of full spectrum hemp extract dripping back into the bottle.

The surge in popularity of CBD oil for dogs and cats, and the expansion of the cannabis industry as a whole, has sparked curiosity and questions among consumers, especially regarding its production process. A key inquiry that arises is ‘how is CBD extracted?’ Understanding the extraction process and how CBD oil for cats and dogs is made is crucial as it directly impacts the quality and purity of the final product.

Various methods are employed by companies to extract CBD from the cannabis plant, each with its own set of techniques and outcomes. It’s becoming important to learn which pet CBD companies use specific methods so you get exactly what you’re looking for.

Quality Hemp Crops for CBD Extract

Woman giving a jack russell one of Earth Buddy’s best calming treats for dogs with CBD. Learn more about CBD extraction.

The production of CBD oil for dogs and cats is a detailed and precise process that starts right from the selection of premium hemp crops. The choice of hemp is critical because the quality of the plant directly affects the quality of the CBD oil. Hemp farmers focus on cultivating hemp that is specifically bred for its high CBD content and minimal THC levels. This cultivation process requires careful attention to factors such as soil quality, climate, and sustainable farming practices, ensuring the hemp plants grow healthy and potent.

As the hemp plants mature, special attention is given to the development of resinous trichomes. These trichomes are tiny, crystal-like structures on the surface of the hemp leaves and hemp flowers. They are the plant’s natural way of producing and storing cannabinoids like CBD, along with other beneficial compounds such as terpenes and flavonoids. The health and abundance of these trichomes are essential, as they determine the potency and purity of the CBD oil for dogs and cats.

When the hemp plants reach their flowering stage, they are ready for harvest. The timing of the harvest is crucial; it needs to be done when the trichomes have reached their peak cannabinoid content. Post-harvest, the focus shifts to the extraction process. The resinous trichomes, now rich in CBD, are carefully extracted from the plant material.

How is CBD Extracted To Oil Form?

The most common methods of extraction, for both hemp and cannabis plants, for creating the best CBD for dogs and cats are CO2 and ethanol extraction due to their high purity levels and safety.

Supercritical CO2 Extraction is the Preferred Method for Quality Hemp Extract for Cats & Dogs

The supercritical CO2 extraction method, employed by Earth Buddy Pet for their full spectrum hemp extracts for dogs and cats, represents the pinnacle of safe and clean CBD oil extraction techniques. This method stands out for its ability to produce premium, high-quality CBD extracts while minimizing the risk of contamination during hemp extraction (it’s also sometimes used to extract olive oil). Utilizing carbon dioxide in its supercritical state – a unique phase where it behaves both as a liquid and a gas – this method efficiently extracts the desired phytochemicals from the hemp plant material.

Co2 cannabis extraction facility that Earth Buddy works with to provide the best cbd oil for dogs and cats in the world.

The process is intricate, requiring precise control over temperature and pressure to reach the supercritical state. In this state, CO2 possesses solvent-like properties, enabling it to effectively extract CBD and other beneficial compounds from the plant material. The procedure starts with placing the cannabis flower in a pressurized chamber. Carbon dioxide is then pumped into this chamber, where it becomes pressurized and begins the extraction of phytochemicals.

One of the significant advantages of supercritical CO2 extraction is its ability to isolate and separate individual compounds from the cannabis plant or hemp plant. This selectivity not only eliminates the need for additional purification processes but also allows for more targeted extraction of specific cannabinoids. Consequently, this method is particularly efficient in isolating desired compounds while leaving out unwanted elements.

The purity of the extract obtained through this method is noteworthy. The extracted CBD is free from any residual solvents, a common concern in other extraction methods. This purity makes supercritical carbon dioxide oil extraction a highly sought-after method for producing high-quality CBD oil for dogs and cats.

Despite its numerous advantages, supercritical CO2 extraction is not universally adopted by all companies. The primary deterrent is the cost involved. The equipment required for this method is sophisticated and expensive, leading to higher operational costs. As a result, some companies opt for alternative extraction methods that are less costly, albeit often less effective in terms of purity and safety.

In summary, supercritical CO2 extraction stands as a gold standard in the pet CBD industry, offering a clean, safe, and efficient way to produce high-quality, hemp-derived CBD pet products. Its ability to minimize contamination and extract specific compounds effectively makes it a top choice for premium CBD products, despite the higher cost associated with this advanced technology.

*Note: Earth Buddy works with the most advanced, state of the art Co2 extraction technology in the world that is cGMP and certified organic.

Ethanol Extraction for Extracting CBD

Ethanol extraction, a popular method in the production of CBD, involves several key steps: soaking the plant material in ethanol (a chemical compound), filtration, chilling, and evaporation. This process is designed to extract CBD effectively while ensuring the purity of the final product. Here’s a detailed look at each step:

Soaking in Ethanol: The process begins with submerging hemp in an ethanol solution (the solvent commonly used). Safety protocols are established beforehand to ensure the purity and safety of the product. During this phase, the ethanol acts as a solvent, penetrating the plant material and dissolving the cannabinoids and terpenes.

Filtration: After sufficient soaking, the plant solids are filtered out, leaving only the cannabinoid-infused ethanol solution. This step is crucial as it separates the desired liquid extract from the plant matter.

Chilling: The ethanol is then chilled to a temperature of -40 degrees Celsius or lower. This cold temperature is critical for removing lipids (fats and waxes) from the hemp extract. If this chilling phase is skipped or inadequately done, the resulting product will contain impurities, significantly reducing its purity.

Evaporation: In the final stage, the majority of the ethanol is evaporated. This is done under controlled conditions to ensure that the ethanol is removed effectively while preserving the cannabinoids and terpenes. Although most of the ethanol is removed, trace amounts may still be present in the final product.

Ethanol extraction is generally considered safe, but it does come with potential drawbacks. One such concern is the risk of extracting chlorophyll and other impurities, which can affect the quality and taste of the CBD extract. Therefore, this method requires meticulous control over the extraction process to minimize the extraction of unwanted compounds.

Another advantage of ethanol extraction is its efficiency in extracting a wide range of cannabinoids and terpenes. This contributes to the full spectrum nature of the final CBD product, which many users prefer for its entourage effect. However, the post-extraction processing is critical.

Removing any residual ethanol and other impurities is essential to ensure the extract’s purity and safety for consumption. But it’s still important to note; this method likely won’t yield in the level of purity that supercritical CO2 offers, but it tends to be a better option than others.

CBD Extraction with Solvent for Hemp Oil

Solvent extraction is a common technique in the extraction of CBD from the hemp plant, utilizing specific solvents to isolate CBD effectively. Despite its efficiency, this method is accompanied by significant concerns, particularly regarding the possible remnants of solvents in the final product, which could pose health risks.

This method includes using solvents such as butane or propane in hydrocarbon extraction processes. These solvents are known for their ability to dissolve the plant’s compounds, thereby releasing the CBD and other valuable cannabinoids and terpenes from the hemp plant material. The process involves soaking the plant in the solvent, which then absorbs the desired compounds.

While solvent extraction is adept at producing high yields of CBD, and can often do so more quickly and inexpensively than other methods, the critical issue lies in the potential for solvent residues to remain in the final CBD extract. The presence of these residues is not just a minor concern; it can significantly impact the safety and purity of the CBD oil, potentially leading to health hazards if ingested.

To mitigate these risks, stringent purification processes are necessary following the initial extraction. These processes are designed to remove any residual solvents thoroughly. The importance of this step cannot be overstated, as any solvent remnants must be eliminated to ensure the extract’s safety for consumption.

Quality control measures play a pivotal role in this stage of production. Rigorous testing is required to verify that the final CBD product meets safety standards and is free from any harmful solvent residues. This includes lab testing, which should be conducted by third-party organizations to ensure impartiality and accuracy.

Extracting CBD With Water or Dry Ice

Zoomed in image of cannabis trichomes that Earth Buddy uses by extracting with dry ice and preserving the purest CBD oil

Water-based extraction of CBD oils is an intriguing method that leverages the solvent properties of water. This method is particularly appealing to some manufacturers due to its relative simplicity, cost-effectiveness, and ability to maintain natural hemp.

The use of water vapor or ice in extracting cannabinoids from the hemp plant is a process that can yield high returns when executed correctly. However, it is important to note that this method is not only labor-intensive but also time-consuming. Here is a detailed look at how this process is carried out:

Preparation of Plant Material: The initial step involves preparing the hemp plant. Manufacturers start by chopping the plant trimmings or “buds” into fine pieces. This increases the surface area of the plant material, making it easier for the water or ice to extract the cannabinoids.

Mixing with Dry Ice or Ice: Once finely chopped, the plant material is mixed with dry ice or regular ice. The purpose of the ice is to freeze the resinous trichomes on the hemp plant. These trichomes contain the cannabinoids, including CBD, that are the target of the extraction process.

Agitation: After mixing with ice, the mixture is agitated. This agitation is a crucial step as it helps mechanically separate the frozen trichomes from the plant material. The trichomes become brittle due to the cold temperature and break off easily when the mixture is shaken or stirred. (*Both the dry ice and agitation process is used for Earth Buddy functional mushroom capsules for dogs and cats, along with our Maxx Life and Gut Health.)

Adding Water and Straining: Water is then added to this mixture. The addition of water helps to further separate the trichomes from the plant material. The mixture is then strained multiple times using a mesh bag. This straining process helps to remove the plant matter, leaving behind only the cannabinoid-rich water.

Separation and Drainage: The cannabinoid-infused water and crude oil are then allowed to settle. Over time, the extract, which is heavier, settles at the bottom of the container. The excess water, which is lighter, remains on the top and is carefully drained off, leaving the concentrated hemp oil extract.

Graphic detailing the cannabis extraction process Earth Buddy uses to make a pure plant form of the best cbd oil for dogs

While water extraction can be an efficient and safe method to extract CBD, it requires precise control and patience. The time taken for the extract to settle and the careful separation of the extract from the water are critical to the success of this method. Additionally, this method of hemp extraction may not be as efficient in extracting all the beneficial compounds from the hemp plant as other methods, such as CO2 or solvent extraction.

Despite these challenges, water extraction remains a viable option for manufacturers looking for a more natural and less expensive extraction method. It illustrates the versatility in the CBD extraction process and the ongoing innovation within the industry to produce high-quality CBD products for dogs and cats.

*Note that this extraction method preserves the purest form of medicinal oil without damaging the over 400 chemical properties found in Earth Buddy’s organic hemp. By keeping the hemp trichomes perfectly intact, Earth Buddy is able to incorporate the full spectrum of bioactive compounds into a number of different supplements for dogs and cats. This form of CBD for dogs and cats is labeled as Whole Plant Hemp Extract in our Gut Health Colostrum supplements, Hemp Essence Trinity in Maxx Life – Glutathione capsules, and CBD Kief in our Focus+Immune Functional Mushroom capsules.

Steam Distillation to Extract Cannabinoids

Steam distillation is a traditional method used for extracting essential oils, including CBD oil, from plant material. The process involves using steam to vaporize the plant’s compounds, then condensing the vapor back into a liquid form. Here’s a step-by-step overview of how steam distillation is used to extract CBD oil:

Preparation of Hemp Plant Material: The process begins with the preparation of the hemp plant. The plant material, including leaves, stems, and flowers which contain high concentrations of CBD, is harvested and dried. It’s often ground or chopped to increase the surface area for more efficient extraction.

Heating and Steam Generation: The prepared hemp is placed in a distillation tank. Steam is then introduced into the tank. This can be done in two ways: either by boiling water beneath the plant material (direct steam distillation) or by passing steam generated in a separate boiler through the plant material (indirect steam distillation).

Vaporization of Compounds: As the steam passes through the plant material, it causes the volatile compounds, including CBD and other cannabinoids, to vaporize. These vaporized compounds are carried by the steam as it moves through the system.

Condensation: The steam, now carrying the vaporized compounds, is then led into a cooling system, such as a condenser. In the condenser, the steam and the vapors are cooled, leading to their condensation into a liquid form.

Separation of Oil and Water: The resulting liquid is a mixture of water and the extracted oils, which includes CBD oil. Since oil and water do not mix, they naturally separate into layers. The essential oil, being less dense, typically floats on top of the water. This allows for easy separation of the CBD oil from the water.

Collection and Refinement: The CBD oil is then collected and may go through further refinement processes to remove any impurities or to isolate specific cannabinoids, depending on the desired end product.

Steam distillation is regarded as a relatively safe and effective method of extraction. However, it has some limitations when it comes to extracting CBD oil. Some cannabinoids are sensitive to high temperatures, so they may be removed during this process. It also yields lower concentrations of CBD which means it will require more plant material.

Different Forms of CBD Extracts and Pet CBD Products

Yellow lab taking a dropper of Earth Buddy’s best CBD oil for dogs in a 1000mg size bottle that is Co2 extracted hemp.

The world of CBD extracts is diverse, with three primary types available: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and CBD isolate. Each type offers different characteristics and benefits, catering to various user preferences and needs.

Full-Spectrum CBD

Full-spectrum CBD is known for its comprehensive profile of compounds extracted from the hemp plant. This type of extract includes not only CBD but also a full range of cannabinoids, including THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), albeit in legal and typically low concentrations. All of Earth Buddy’s full spectrum cat & dog supplements are below 0.3% THC per the 2018 Farm Bill.

In addition to cannabinoids, full spectrum CBD contains terpenes, flavonoids, and other naturally occurring compounds found in the hemp plant. The synergy of these compounds working together is known as the “entourage effect.” This phenomenon suggests that the impact of the whole plant is greater than the sum of its parts. Full spectrum is the best CBD for dogs and cats and has proven to show that the entourage effect can enhance the efficacy of the extract.

Broad-Spectrum CBD

Broad-spectrum CBD takes the full-spectrum CBD a step further by removing all traces of THC. This process involves additional refinement to ensure that the THC is completely eliminated, making it an ideal choice for those who want to avoid THC altogether, whether for personal, professional, or legal reasons.

Broad-spectrum extracts typically contain around 80-90% CBD, along with a reduced spectrum of other cannabinoids and compounds compared to full-spectrum CBD. While it still offers a range of cannabinoids and terpenes, the absence of THC means it may not provide the full entourage effect.

CBD Isolate

CBD isolate represents the purest form of CBD. In this extract, CBD is isolated from all other cannabinoids and plant compounds, resulting in a product that is nearly 100% pure CBD oil. This isolation process involves multiple stages of refinement to strip away all other components, leaving only CBD in its purest form.

CBD isolate is pure CBD, completely free of THC, making it an excellent choice for CBD users who want to avoid THC and have what they consider a natural extract. It’s also a good option for those who want to experience CBD’s effects without the influence of the hemp plant’s other natural compounds.

Choosing Among Different Cannabis Extraction Methods

Each of these extracts has its unique advantages and uses. Full-spectrum (in our opinion) is the best CBD oil for dogs and cats and is often chosen by pet parents who want the full range of hemp plant benefits, including the entourage effect. Broad-spectrum CBD is preferred by those who want the benefits of multiple cannabinoids without THC. CBD isolate is ideal for individuals who want the purest form of CBD without any other hemp compounds or for those who are sensitive to other cannabinoids.

Check the Results of the Hemp Extract

Regardless of the CBD extraction methods used, it’s important to check the lab results or certificate of analysis to determine the amount of each compound that’s in the tincture along with safety and its level of purity.

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