When shopping for a CBD product, it’s important to pay close attention to how it was produced. A lot of people overlook important factors like how the hemp was grown and extracted, which puts them at a disadvantage, as these implications have a very large role in the ultimate quality and bioavailability of the resulting formula. Basically, how the compounds of the hemp plant are extracted from the plant material is, in fact, very important as you will soon find out.
Different Types of Hemp Extracts
Before we cover extraction methods, let’s get into the different kinds of hemp extracts that are on the market, as this is technically part of the extraction process. Compounds in hemp can be extracted via various means. And, once the process is complete, companies may isolate specific compounds. They can either concentrate them to produce isolates, or discard them from the initial extract, which is most common with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
- Full Spectrum: The natural result of the initial extraction process, in that the extract produced from hemp naturally contains the full variety of compounds in the plant material, including a wide variety of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and even phytonutrients. It does contain a trace amount of THC, as this compound naturally occurs in hemp. This trace amount is considered legal.
- Broad Spectrum: An alternative to full spectrum hemp for those who want to completely avoid the THC compound, as it has been isolated and removed from the final product. But, still experience all the other compounds in hemp.
- CBD Isolate: Refers to a concentrate of pure cannabidiol. It’s produced by extracting the hemp compounds from the plant and isolating the cannabidiol compound before concentrating it.
Why Does the Extraction Method Matter?
Essentially, because different extraction methods expose the plant material to unique conditions, some conditions can destabilize, degrade, or damage the compounds that you’re trying to consume.
CO2 extraction has been the standard method for quite some time. It yields a pure and stable product, which is what hemp consumers want. The less stable the product, the sooner it’ll expire and lose its potency, and the less pure the product is, the less potent it is. Also, besides that, it means that you’re putting some type of impurity into your body.
CO2 extraction involves pushing pressurized CO2 onto the raw plant material, with the resulting extract being forced into a separate chamber that collects the compounds in a concentrated form. CO2 extracts are clean and potent, which is why this practice is so common.
A newer method that’s quickly picking up steam is the dual extraction method. This is an ultra-advanced method that relies on high-end technology to produce a very clean and pure product. It involves two steps:
- The use of a CryoPress, which exposes the compounds to extremely low temperatures.
- Followed by the use of liquid chromatography. This extracts the compounds using high-pressure liquid that successfully, yet gently dissolves the product so that the desirable compounds remain stable once separated from the plant material.
Main reason why dual extraction is becoming popular is because it seems to best preserve the bioavailability of hemp’s compounds. Meaning, their chemical integrity is maintained throughout the process. Which then in turn, allows them to absorb more easily into the body to ultimately deliver more effectiveness. It also seems to do a better job at retaining the overall nutritional content of the hemp plant.
Solvent-based methods use some type of chemical solvent to extract the compounds from the raw plant. The solvent is poured over the plant until the compounds are successfully extracted. Solvents can include butane, ethanol, and alcohol. The benefits of this type of method are that it’s fast and easy. The downsides outweigh the benefits, however. For one thing, solvent-based methods are extremely dangerous due to the flammability factor. Also, using a solvent doesn’t yield a super high-quality end result. Why? Because solvents can destabilize the compounds, while allowing impurities to end up in the final product. In other words, you may not enjoy having some butane in your CBD product.
Distillation is a method that is used for cannabinoid isolates, such as CBD isolate. It relies on steam distillation, which successfully separates the compounds from the plant. This method is done repeatedly until the desired cannabinoid is isolated, since the process slowly removes the other compounds. Any CBD product with the term “distillate” was produced using this process.
How Do You Know Which Extraction Method was Used to Make a CBD Product
Most companies do volunteer this information on their website. It’s either in the product descriptions or in an “about” or “FAQ” page. If you can’t find this information, we recommend that you contact the company directly and ask them about their extraction method. Because of how crucial this information is, a company should be able to tell you exactly the method that they use. If they can’t provide this information, it’s natural to be suspicious. It could imply that they’re using a low-quality extraction method to save themselves money, and don’t feel comfortable disclosing this to consumers.
Ultimately, you’ll want to find a company that uses either the dual extraction method or CO2 method, with the exception of distillate products that rely on distillation. This again gives you a clear idea of the purity levels and bioavailability of the product you would like to buy.