From a Hemp Plant to a Hemp-Derived CBD Product: The Process

Ever wonder how CBD products are made? All those delicious gummies and pet treats that people have been raving about have a common foundation. They all come from a plant- the hemp plant.

What Is a Hemp Plant?

There are many different species of the cannabis plant, and hemp is one of them. Also referred to as industrial hemp, this species is non-intoxicating, as it contains no more than 0.3% THC (the intoxicating cousin). A lot of people confuse THC and hemp. While it’s true that both of them originate from the same plant, they are genetically different and are further classified by application, chemical composition, and cultivation practices.

Fun fact: The discovery of material produced from hemp over 10,000 years ago is evidence that hemp was the first crop ever cultivated by mankind. So, CBD products might be new, but the cultivation and harvesting of hemp certainly are not.

Cultivation and Harvesting

The interest of growing industrial hemp for CBD production is quite new. Historically, people didn’t cultivate hemp in order to infuse it in their CBD products. Hemp plant uses included:

Building Materials
Clothing
Paper
Crop and Textiles
Food

Harvesting hemp is a significant step for CBD production. The presence of mildew and mold on the leaves of the hemp hinders photosynthesis, slowly causing the plant to die from deficiency of energy. That being said, the timely harvest is crucial. When the trichomes on the plant’s bud shift from white to milky-white, it’s a clear sign that it’s time to harvest.

Another important factor in determining when to pull the harvest trigger is the weather. Coincidentally, harvest time usually happens during hurricane season. Unfortunately, harvesting requires substantial labor. Most growers for the CBD market rely on labor to cut the stalk and load the biomass (the residual organic material after the flowers and/or seeds have been harvested from the plant). This process necessitates a lot of time and physical effort.

Extraction Process

CBD Extraction is the initial step to separate the wanted natural products from the tested raw materials. While solvent extraction is the most popularly used method, CBD extraction companies are not tethered to this only option. When it comes to extracting CBD, there is more than one method.

Distillation Method
Extraction
Pressing and Sublimation
Maceration
Percolation
Extraction
Pressurized Liquid Extraction
Ultrasound-Assisted Extraction

Types of Extraction Process

1. Alcohol Extraction

The first method used to extract CBD from hemp was through the use of alcohol. Drenching certain plants in alcohol can alter their biochemistry, structure, and character. Before CBD, alcohol extraction was used primarily to produce herbal tinctures for medical use.

When alcohol is utilized and left for a specific amount of time, it brings out the cannabinoids like CBD and other flavonoids in the plant. Alcohol extraction typically uses a base element such as ethanol, (high-proof grain-based alcohol) that provides minimal loss of the cannabinoids, while also dissolving them in a liquid that prevents them from further damage like oxidation.

2. CO2 Extraction

The second method we’re going to look at is the supercritical (or subcritical) CO2 method.  This technique employs carbon dioxide under tremendous pressure and extremely low temperatures to separate, conserve, and maintain the purity of the oil. This method calls for costly CBD extraction machines and skilled operatives. However, when executed properly, the end product is pure and potent.

3. Steam Distillation

Steam distillation is one of the most common methods used to extract and isolate essential oils from the hemp plant. This process is relatively simple compared to the others and calls for much less expensive pieces of equipment and labor. Steam distillation occurs when the steam evaporates the plant material’s compounds, which go through a condensation and collection process to eventually obtain the oil.

Initiate Raw Materials Testing

Before manufacturing is in effect, all raw materials need to be examined for purity as well as quality. Depending on the type of CBD product being manufactured, as few as 20 to as many as 55 raw materials may be required for further development. Although this step sounds extremely important, the extent of raw material examination is defined by the manufacturer. That being said, not all manufacturers put that much importance in testing their raw materials.

Product Formulation

Moving on to CBD product formulation. Product formulation is producing a new product and later introducing it to the market. Once CBD products have been formulated, companies can either manufacture them in-house or by a CBD contract manufacturing company. The completed and tested products are then set for distribution.

Designing a new product formulation is really expensive, time-consuming, and requires a lot of effort on the development teams’ end. Why would companies go through all this trouble, you ask?

There are hundreds of different CBD products available – many of them not so different from each other. This means that if a company launches a new dull, CBD oil flavor brand onto the market, the chances of making an impact is really low. To be different, companies want to make sure their CBD product is specially produced to resolve a new problem.

Product Is Tested By a Lab (Third-Party Testing)

The next step in the process is CBD lab testing. Independent laboratory testing means that the labs testing the finished goods are not affiliated with the manufacturer or the brand. Their mission is to examine the potency and purity of the products to provide transparency and quality control.

We are happy to present this collaborative post to offer valuable information to our readers.

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