Get to Know the Most Common Cannabis Extraction Methods

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If you like to use CBD (cannabidiol), you may be curious about how cannabis extraction is leveraged to isolate CBD. Below is more information about these cannabis extraction methods and concentrate extraction services. For small-scale cannabis extractions in a laboratory setting, Aurora also offers automated sample preparation systems, for both liquid-liquid extraction and solid-phase extraction. These systems can prepare samples for further analysis of cannabinoids, mycotoxins, and terpenes.

Liquid Extraction – Straightforward and Effective

This cannabis extraction method uses liquid solvents, such as alcohol, to extract the CBD and other desired properties from the hemp. Alcohol is very efficient for dissolving cannabinoids. Some of the most common solvents in this CBD extraction process are isopropyl alcohol and grain alcohol.

One of the benefits of this extraction method is that it is inexpensive and does not require expensive equipment. The typical chemistry or microbiology testing laboratory would already have the equipment required for this procedure. If more efficient liquid extraction is required, an investment in a distillation set-up would be desirable.

Food-Safe Oil Extraction – A Comfortable Middle

This cannabis extraction method involves taking out terpenes and CBD using plant oils for solvents. Hemp seed oil, coconut oil, and olive oil are good for extracting CBD. This extraction method is often used by amateurs, as well as smaller production facilities and testing centers, as the process is gentle and does not require harsh reagents or additives. You don’t have to worry about dangerous residues being left over.

But you should know that food-safe oil extraction is not as effective or aggressive, so it takes longer to finish the process. As a result, the isolated product does not have the highest concentration of the desired CBD oil, meaning that plant oil extractions are like tinctures as opposed to a pure oil. Another disadvantage is that the oil will degrade faster over time and needs to be stored properly.

Supercritical Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Extraction – The Gold Standard

This extraction method uses supercritical carbon dioxide to take out the needed molecules from cannabis. CO2 is typically encountered as a gas, but it can be made into a liquid-gas hybrid (the supercritical phase) when exposed to the right temperature and pressure. Due to its combination of gas and liquid properties, supercritical CO2 can efficiently go through any plant material and extract out the desired CBD oil.

However, such efficiency comes at a high price, as this is the most expensive CBD extraction method. It is a great choice for the large CBD producer, but the average consumer would most likely not invest in this type of equipment.

Which method is for you?

As far as which process is best, it depends on what your intentions and budget are. If you want to start a serious CBD operation, you need to buy CO2 extraction equipment. But if you want to do CBD extraction on a limited basis, liquid extraction or food-safe oil extractions would be your best bet. As an alternative to buying equipment, concentrate extraction services exist that can perform the CBD extraction for you.

Automated Liquid-liquid and Solid-Phase Extraction for Cannabis Extraction and Testing

Aurora offers automated sample preparation systems for the analysis of a diverse set of samples, including cannabis. Check-out our article on analytes of interest in cannabis testing, and how our open systems can be used to automated your cannabis sample preparation procedures.