CBD Extraction Methods to Extract the Best CBD Oil
Hemp extraction is the crucial step in creating familiar CBD extract products like tinctures, topicals and vapor products, and there are several methods by which producers do this. The end result is an extracted CBD distillate, but there are variables to each method that should be taken into account when learning how to make CBD oil. Let’s take a deeper look at the methods by which hemp extraction is done successfully from start to finish.
Hemp Extraction Services from Plant to Product
In order to extract CBD from hemp there is a process that should always be followed for the best extraction process. Let’s take a look at each step to find out how to make CBD oil.
CBD & THC Extraction Procedure
To begin, the first step on the road of hemp extraction is to shuck and grind the biomass. This entails separating the high cannabinoid containing flower of the hemp plant from the remainder of the plant and grinding it to a preferred consistency for ideal CBD extraction throughput.
This process uses vacuum ovens to convert the raw, acidic cannabinoid of CBD-A to the neutral, usable form of CBD. Through heat and time, the extra COOH molecular compound is shed to create CBD which can then be extracted. This is also a great time to capture valuable terpenes.
After preparation through grinding and decarboxylating, the hemp material is ready for CBD extraction. There are a number of methods to do this, but among most common methods, a solvent is combined with the hemp material to create a solution that contains CBD, terpenes and could contain waxes, fats and chlorophyll depending on the method. The next step is to remove those extra materials from the CBD mixture through winterization.
This process uses a combination of ethanol, very cold temperatures, and filtration to remove any remaining fats, waxes and other undesirable compounds from CBD. The solvent/CBD solution is chilled down to roughly -80C temperatures to do this because the CBD will remain soluble at low temperatures, but the waxes and lipids will solidify and be removed from the CBD solution through vacuum filtration. Next, it’s time to remove the solvent from the CBD.
This process separates the remaining ethanol or other solvent from the CBD in large quantities. This is accomplished by applying heat to the CBD solution in a vacuum so as to lower the temperature by which the solvent will volatilize and separate from the cannabinoids without risk of damaging the CBD. While this will remove a majority of the solvent from the CBD, there is one final step to pure, golden CBD extracts.
Through some of the same principles as evaporation, distillation is performed when heat is applied to the CBD oil in a vacuum as to lower the boiling point of any remaining solvents or other residuals. To further remove those undesirable impurities, a thin film of CBD oil is created either by a wiper or by a falling film distillation apparatus that increases the purity of the intended CBD oil. What’s left from the distillation process is a golden distillate CBD extract that contains up to 90% pure CBD extract oil.
Recommended Hemp Extraction CBD Equipment
Now that we’ve looked at the entire process of collecting CBD via hemp extraction, let’s take a minute to go over the important hemp extraction equipment needed to create a final CBD extract:
This equipment is very important to remove the flower from the remainder of the hemp plant. While the stalk and stems may be used for industrial hemp, the flower of the hemp plant contains the vast majority of desired cannabinoids like CBD. This allows the grinded hemp biomass to have predominantly more CBD yield later in the extraction process.
Vacuum Decarb Oven
There are a number of methods for decarboxylation, but the most efficient is to use a vacuum oven. Vacuum pressure decreases the temperature needed to convert CBD-A to CBD while also lowering the risk of damaging terpenes and other valuable compounds used in product formulation.
The range of different hemp extraction equipment follows the various methods of CBD extraction. For example, extraktLAB’s extractors series are optimized for supercritical CO2 extraction while other extractors may be best suited for ethanol or hydrocarbon extraction. We’ll go into these extraction methods in more detail shortly.
Filters are necessary to remove the fats waxes and other plant byproducts from the CBD/solvent solution after the winterization process. Some of these filters may be similar to Büchner funnels that simply use gravity and time to filter out the solution, others use vacuum filtration that assist the process making it more efficient and less time consuming.
This equipment is necessary to remove a majority of solvent from the CBD solution. This is often accomplished using a rotary evaporator or falling film evaporator to volatilize or boil-off solvents like ethanol while leaving the CBD intact before heading to the distillation process.
Some form of still will be needed to remove the last remaining solvents, terpenes, and other unwanted compounds from the CBD extract to increase purity and consumer demand. A common and effective equipment used for this is wiped film evaporator capable of handling the increased viscosity of the remaining CBD oil, remove the residual byproducts and leave the producer with a clean, potent CBD extract that is ready for product formulation.
Supercritical Extraction Machine
We have the perfect machine for small, medium and large producers. Our model line makes it easy for you to scale your operations while keeping your operating costs at a minimum.
CBD and THC Extraction Methods
With all this talk about how to make CBD oil and the various methods by which it’s accomplished, let’s take a look at three of the most common CBD extraction methods and discuss which of these is the superior option for purity, cost efficiency and overall quality in a CBD extract:
Hydrocarbon Extraction Method
This CBD extraction technique entails a solvent like propane or butane to extract the cannabinoids like CBD. The solvent is removed from the CBD after the process through heat application which results in a CBD oil that is “safe” and usable.
There are numerous concerns to consider using this CBD extraction process – the primary being the explosive trend of these solvents. Hydrocarbon CBD extractions do go wrong, however, and can often lead to fires and explosions. This CBD extraction method can be dangerous for manufacturers and their employees if not performed perfectly.
On the market, there is no absolute means to get rid of the entirety of a hydrocarbon solvent in a CBD product. This means that hydrocarbon extracted CBD will likely have those residual quantities of butane or propane in them. It is possible that unknown issues from daily usage of CBD goods with trace quantities of hydrocarbons inside them could be potentially harmful
Ethanol Extraction Method
Ethanol CBD extraction is a process that is commonly used in many industries, but there are some discrepancies between the hemp and cannabis extraction industries that are of some concern.
To be considered a truly safe CBD product, food grade ethanol can be used that is unadulterated and has zero additives – also making it an organic substance. However, this is a rare extraction application in the CBD industry who likely turn to a cheaper option: denatured ethanol.
Denaturants like methanol are added to ethanol to make products used for industrial applications and making it dangerous for consumption. While this makes the solvent cheaper for CBD producers, it does raise some concerns about consumer health. Though most regulations tend to count residual denaturants as negligible, there is little research conducted to validate the safety of continued ingestion of residual denaturants.
Denatured ethanol might have a selection of chemical contaminants that will inevitably wind up in a CBD distillate at a certain level that could comprise ketones, isopropyl alcohol, methanol and many others. This begs to questions whether or not this is a safe CBD extraction method.
Supercritical CO2 CBD Extraction
The last common CBD extraction method used in a number of industries for years is supercritical CO2. Non-volatile and free of denaturants and other chemicals, supercritical CO2 extraction allows for CBD producers to create a safe, organic product for a fraction of the cost of other CBD extraction methods.
Other hydrocarbon-based solvents like ethanol may appear to need less overhead cost, but the operating costs grow dramatically when scaling up production. Ethanolic CBD extracts also need more processing to reach the same quality as CO2.
Plus, supercritical CO2 CBD extraction is your norm to be used in the food and beverage market. Thus, it is logical to steer clear of any future regulations and red tape by adhering using a CBD extraction method that’s tried-and-tested, particularly if you’re considering generating CBD extracts for human ingestion.
Advantages of CO2 Hemp Extraction & Services
Clean and Green
With continued concerns for environmental friendliness in production, supercritical CO2 CBD extraction employs the use of organic solvents which are clean, and leave a lower amount of residue in CBD products compared to conventional solvents. It is drawn from the environment, and then returned to the environment, and it does not contribute to the greenhouse effect, making it a “green” option for producers to extract their CBD from hemp biomass.
Compared to hydrocarbon or denatured ethanol CBD extraction, CO2 CBD extraction is a far healthier solution for consumers. Denatured ethanol is a mixture of denaturants and pure ethanol. Chemical companies add the denaturant to pure ethanol so that they will not be consumed as a food.
Denatured recipes are published by the TTB that is administered by the National Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. There are many different recipes. One of the most common denaturants used in ethanol CBD extraction is heptane. However, there are other substances that may be used including acetone, isopropyl alcohol, methanol and other longer chain alcohols. There is very limited data on the safety of heptane over the long term exposure.
The operating cost for CO2 CBD extraction is dramatically less than the operating costs associated with ethanol CBD extraction. Where one pound of food grade ethanol purchased in bulk is roughly $4.71/lb, A pound of food grade CO2 when purchased in bulk is about $0.04/lb at current price.
Ethanol CBD extraction is a CBD extraction process that is typically run at low temperatures. First the ethanol is cooled to below -20 degrees celsius before it is introduced to the hemp. Cooling the ethanol reduces the amount of extracted chlorophyll and waxes. If you account for the energy required to chill the ethanol down to those low temperatures and then also evaporate after use, the energy bill for ethanol CBD extraction is approximately 3-6x the cost of extracting with CO2.
However, the energy cost is really not the key driver in the overall operating costs.
Ethanol CBD extraction requires a significant amount of ethanol to be used per pound of hemp. In fact, about 1 to 1.5 gallons of ethanol must be used per pound of dry hemp in order to extract CBD. Hemp is a very absorbent biomass material and the ethanol must fully saturate the hemp plant before any CBD extraction can take place. For this reason a large volume of ethanol is needed to extract CBD from hemp.
The key cost driver or ethanol CBD extraction is recovery of that solvent from the biomass. Even though many ethanol based hemp extraction equipment companies provide centrifuges and or presses to eliminate the amount of ethanol left over in the biomass, the best equipment will provide only a 90 to 95% recovery of the ethanol. This 5 to 10% loss in ethanol is a huge cost driver for ethanol CBD extraction.
For example, suppose you wanted to process 1000lb of hemp. You would need 1000 gallons of ethanol to start out at a cost of $16-33 per gallon for food grade ethanol for a total cost of $16,000 to $33,000. If you recovered 90% of the ethanol the ethanol loss would be $1,600 – $3,300 per 1000 lbs. Furthermore if you process 1000 pounds per day, this would be your daily loss.
In contrast, you will lose the equivalent of about $70 per day for CO2 extractions for the exact same process.
Besides energy and solvent usage, there are many other hidden costs related to ethanol CBD extraction including solvent reuse costs, insurance cost, increased facilities cost, and testing costs.
When it comes to CBD extraction, there are a number of important factors to consider. Whether a CBD producer is making products like CBD tinctures, CBD vaporizer products, or CBD topicals the correct extraction method, equipment and methods all contribute to create quality CBD products. From seed to final product, every step in the CBD extraction process is equally critical in order to make a profit in the CBD industry.
With years of expertise in the CBD extraction industry, extraktLAB creates the highest quality equipment from extraction to distillation and every step in between. Whether you are creating your first CBD extraction startup or looking to grow and improve your business, quality products are the result of quality machines in the CBD industry – and we can provide them. Contact us to speak with one of our professionals and see where your CBD business can take you today.
Calculatae Your Cannabis Business Operating Cost
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the solvent loss for ethanol extraction?
Hemp and cannabis biomass is an extremely absorbent material. As a consequence, a large amount of solvent volume must be added to the biomass to first solvate the biomass and then fluidize it. For ethanol extraction, approximately one gallon of ethanol is required to extract 1 lb of hemp. Solvent loss comes from the incomplete recovery of that solvent from the hemp.
The following table details the estimated solvent loss from ethanol extraction as a function of volume of hemp processed:
|Lbs processed per day||Daily requirement of
|Daily Loss of ethanol (gallons) at 90% recovery of ethanol||Max Cost of Solvent Loss per day:
$16-30/gal food grade ethanol
$6-8/ gal denatured
Calculated at $30/gal
Another source of solvent loss is incomplete recovery of solvent from the CBD hemp oil.
How many times can I recycle or reuse ethanol from an ethanol extractor?
In guidance published by the FDA in 2010, plans for the reuse of solvents must be accompanied by a Declaration of the maximum number of times the solvent can be reused.
the FDA has recognized that contaminants buildup in the solvent over time as they are recovered and reused
As a consequence, the FDA guidelines recommend that the solvents be brought back to a suitable state before Reuse. A suitable reuse is defined by the original specifications for the solvent that is being used.
In keeping with a risk-based approach to process validation, the key risk to address with solvent reuse is cross-contamination. Cross-contamination could happen when a solvent dissolves a low level contaminant from the biomass being extracted. As the solvent is removed, the contaminant can become magnified and concentrated in either the oil or the solvent during solvent recovery. Cross contamination then occurs when a contaminated solvent is used to extract a non contaminated batch.
Contaminants are typically identified during incoming inspection but may show up later during processing as the oil becomes more refined. Hemp is typically sampled at receiving by quality assurance and a series of tests are conducted on the Hemp biomass in order to determine if the incoming material is contaminated with pesticides, solvents, heavy metals or if it has significant microbial content. Contaminants that are identified in the quality inspection should be tested for build up in the extraction solvent during validation.
Other sources for contamination include carbon black or activated carbon that is typically used in ethanol extraction to remove chlorophyll from the ethanol. Combustion byproducts that are incorporated into the structure of carbon black can dissolve in the ethanol and contaminate.
According to FDA guidelines, the number of times ethanol solvent can be reused must be validated according to a validation protocol. Once the method and process has been validated, the requirements for testing each reuse batch may not be required depending on the risks identified during the validation study.
As a general rule of thumb, a solvent may be reused successfully 20-50 times. Whatever your company’s current practice is, it is important to define the process, validate the process, establish specifications for reuse, and also set up a testing program to measure for contaminants. In all likelihood, a solvent changeover is probably in your future and it’s cost should not be neglected in your overall operating cost model. It is easy to estimate the cost of solving change over as it is the same as the start-up cost:
|Lbs processed per day||Daily requirement of
|Cost per gallon:
$16-30/gal food grade
$6-8/ gal denatured
Calculated at $30/gal
The solvent changeover cost on a 60 day change over cycle can then be estimated on a per year basis according to the following table:
|Lbs processed per day||Change Over Frequency||Cost of Changeover||Max Annual Cost|
By extension, the solvent testing costs will also be important to address:
|Lbs processed per day||Change Over Frequency||Cost of Testing
Unknowns testing can be 5-10k USD per unknown.
|Max Annual Cost|
It is important to insist that unknowns be flagged by your laboratory.
What is supercritical CO2 extraction?
Supercritical CO2 extraction is used in hemp processing in hemp extraction for extracting CBD oil from hemp biomass. You can also be used to extract any Botanical oil from any plant material.
The co2 extraction typically takes place above the supercritical pressure and temperature for CO2. Is 1,070 PSI and 31 degrees Celsius.
Under supercritical conditions, the CO2 behaves much like hexane in terms of its solubility selectivity.
Does ethanol extraction have a greater throughput than CO2 extraction?
Hemp processing equipment can be scaled for 1 to 5 tons of extracted hemp per day. It’s generally not a fair comparison to compare the throughput on an instrument from two different companies. What is fair is to specify the throughput At the tonnage process per day and then look at the operating cost for that process. You can also look at the equipment and Facilities cost to accommodate that level of Production. after you have all of your costs accounted for including the hidden costs, then you can calculate the net present value for each investment.
How much hemp can be processed per day with CO2 extraction?
CO2 extraction facilities have been scaled to do hundreds of tons per day of biomass extractions. These facilities are very safe compared to the equivalent extraction facilities that use Flammable solvents.
In Terms of extraction facilities for processing hemp, we have built facilities that will process 5 tons of hemp biomass per day in a safe, low cost, low energy, small footprint operation.
Does it cost less to process hemp with Co2 compared with Ethanol?
In fact the operating cost for CO2 extraction is dramatically less than the operating costs associated with ethanol.
Extraction with Ethanol is a process that is typically run at low temperatures. First the ethanol is cooled to below -20oC before it is introduced to the hemp. Cooling the ethanol reduces the amount of extracted chlorophyll and waxes. If you account for the energy required to chill the ethanol down to those low temperatures and then also evaporate after use, the energy bill for extracting ethanol is approximately 3-6x the cost of extracting with CO2. However, the energy cost is really not the key driver in the overall operating costs.
Ethanol extraction requires a significant amount of ethanol to be used per pound of hemp. In fact, about 1 to 1.5 gallons of ethanol must be used per pound of dry hemp in order to extract. Hemp is a very absorbent biomass material and the ethanol must fully saturate the hemp plant before any extraction can take place. For this reason a large volume of ethanol is needed to extract cbd from hemp.
The key cost driver or ethanol extraction is recovery of that solvent from the biomass. Even though many ethanol extraction equipment companies provide centrifuges and or presses to eliminate the amount of ethanol left over in the biomass, The best equipment will provide only a 90 to 95% recovery of the ethanol. This 5 to 10% loss in ethanol is a huge cost driver for extracting ethanol.
For example, suppose you wanted to process 1000 lb of hemp. You would need 1000 gallons of ethanol to start out at a cost of $16-33 per gallon for food grade ethanol for a total cost of $16,000 to $33,000. If you recovered 90% of the ethanol the ethanol loss would be $1,600 – $3,300 per 1000 lbs. Furthermore if you process 1000 pounds per day, this would be your daily loss.
In contrast, you will lose the equivalent of about $70 per day for CO2 extractions for the exact same process.
Besides energy and solvent usage, there are many other hidden costs related to extraction with ethanol including solvent reuse costs, insurance cost, increased facilities cost, and testing costs.
What is the highest yield you can expect from hemp extraction?
Industrial Hemp extraction typically has a CBD content of 5 to 15% by weight. The THC content of the Industrial Hemp is required by law to be less than 0.3% by weight in the flower that is sold.
Does raw hemp moisture affect yield?
Yes, moisture content will affect weight yield. For example, if 10% of the hemp To be extracted was water, and that water was removed during CO2 extraction, the denominator would be larger in the yield calculation, thereby giving a smaller yield number. By extension, if the same hemp was extracted but had zero water in the hemp, the overall weight percent yield of the extract would be a greater percent of the weight.
One thing to note is that in ethanol extraction, water that is in the hemp will dissolve into the ethanol. If the ethanol is removed from the CBD oil with a falling film evaporator, some of the water will be Co evaporated with the ethanol, thereby increasing the amount of water in the ethanol for each extraction cycle. Some of the water will stay in the extract and is typically removed in a secondary stirred reactor before wiped film evaporator and distillation.
Do you offer training on hemp processing and hemp extraction?
We Have taught hundreds of customers how to extract CBD oils from hemp and THC oils from cannabis. Our training package typically includes installation of the equipment, standard operating procedures, commissioning of the equipment in the facility, and training of operators on the procedures that are provided.
We also offer advanced training and quality management system implementation services for those companies who wish to achieve GMP certification.This training dresses all aspects of the quality management system, laboratory information management, batch record system, and Manufacturing execution.
What kind of employees do you need for hemp processing or hemp extraction?
There are basically four different employees that you need to have in order to run a hemp processing or hemp extraction facility. These are as follows:
- Shift manager
- Optionally analytical operators.
If your goal is to produce a quality product that complies with GMP requirements, you are going to need to have staff that can help you comply with those requirements.That typically means you need to have a quality assurance manager that is aware of the requirements And can Implement those requirements in your facility.
It is also necessary that you have a shift manager. This is someone who is organized and can schedule operators at each station and track the production output. This person will also ensure that operator training has occurred, ensure that yields are met, and also manage the workforce. They are also responsible for producing products that can form with the quality requirements of the end product.
Operators typically execute on the production plan by following standard operating procedures. They are typically trained on how to use the equipment and how to move materials in and out of the process. It is their job to record the data for the quality management system. The Operators typically will be successful if they are Hands-On and are able to follow instructions. It is also a big Advantage if the operator can conduct basic maintenance on the equipment. This requires someone who is Hands-On and has the physical strength to do simple maintenance tasks. This is important for the proper running in the efficiency of a hemp processing facility.
Last but not least, analytical operators or quality control technicians are important for providing yield and in-process testing to the manufacturing facility. They will work with quality assurance directly to ensure that incoming raw hemp biomass conforms to purchasing specifications and to Quality specifications. Quality control technicians are typically chemists and have a laboratory background.
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