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When we go to buy a new CBD product, most of us are looking for certain signs that what we’re about to buy is legitimate, high in quality, and capable of meeting both our needs and preferences.  We look at the company to see if they are reputable, we search for the milligram strength, we check to see if the ingredients are favorable, and we make sure to purchase the right size.

However, there is another important factor that’s often overlooked, the extraction method that was utilized.  This refers to the way in which the hemp compounds were removed from the plant.  It may not sound that important, but once you’re done reading this article, you might think otherwise. Why? Because making sure that you’re getting a CBD product that was made using the best extraction process available is crucial.

What is CBD Extraction?

As you know, all CBD products start with the hemp plant.  However, the standard commercial products that you see in stores and online don’t contain the raw hemp plant material.  Instead, they contain a hemp extract.

The female hemp flower is where all of those wonderful chemical compounds can be found, including, of course, CBD, as well as other cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and so on.  But you can’t just grind up the CBD flower and mix it with some oil and expect it to deliver the right effects.  For one thing, way too much plant material would be required to be useful to the body.  Furthermore, it’s a messy and time-consuming process.

So, companies extract the compounds out of the plant material using one of a number of methods.  One huge benefit of making a hemp extract is that you can get a stronger potency level with less product.  Because a hemp extract is a super concentrated extraction, it contains the level of compounds found in an incredibly high volume of plant material, condensed into a single milliliter of oil.

In short, the process of making a hemp extract involves exposing the plant material to specific conditions that force the compounds out of the plant and leave the plant material behind.  This can be achieved in a number of unique ways.

Why the Extraction Method Used is So Important

So, here’s where things get tricky.  There are good extraction methods and bad extraction methods, generally speaking.  Basically, there are three key factors that companies should prioritize when choosing an extraction method.

Factor #1: Bioavailability

Bioavailability refers to the ability that the compounds have to absorb into the body.  The more bioavailable, the more the compounds will fully absorb.  Products with low bioavailability may have high concentrations, but those compounds don’t really absorb completely through the bodily tissue, and so you’re only getting part of the chemical composition.

In its natural form, hemp is very bioavailable.  But, disrupting the chemical integrity using harsh extraction methods can interfere with bioavailability.

Factor #2: Purity Level

When talking about purity, we’re referring to the presence, or lack of, impurities.  Some extraction methods rely on foreign substances that help assist in the process of lifting the compounds from the hemp plant.  But these foreign substances end up in the resulting extract, which makes the product impure, as it no longer contains 100 percent hemp compounds.

Factor #3: Chemical Stability

Chemical stability refers to the chemical composition being capable of sustaining itself rather than destabilizing, which renders the compounds ineffective.  Harsher extraction methods can damage the chemical stability of the hemp extract, which means that it can be lacking in adequate potency levels.

Most Popular Methods for Extracting CBD

Now, let’s break down these main methods of CBD extraction that are commonly used throughout our industry.

Extraction Method #1: The Solvent Method

This involves using a solvent to break down the plant material so that the desirable compounds are easily separated from the actual plant.  The solvent method uses some type of solvent, such as ethanol, butane, alcohol or propane.  It’s a fairly dangerous method as most common solvents are, in fact, highly flammable.

And, it’s not the best method, either.  For one thing, it’s easy to mess up, which can result in a damaged chemical structure.  And, this method almost inevitably leaves trace amounts of impurities, as in, the solvents, in the resulting extract.  And, who wants to consume small amounts of butane with their daily dose of CBD?

Further, solvent methods do not yield the most chemically stable plant, because they’re fairly harsh processes.  This means that the CBD may break down soon after you purchase it, decreasing in potency before you get to use up the product.

Extraction Method #2: The Olive Oil Method

The olive oil method is another popular method, and the simplest one of all.  It simply involves putting the hemp plant in olive oil that is heated to a particular temperature and allowing it to sit for a while until the compounds have been properly removed, and infused into the olive oil.  Then, the remaining plant is discarded.

This method sounds great, because it’s totally natural, and can easily be done at home.  But, again, it’s really not the best.  The biggest issue with the olive oil method is that it results in a chemically unstable product due to the compounds in olive oil mixing in with the compounds in the hemp plant.

Extraction Method #3: The CO2 Method

The CO2 Method is the best method by far, and the one used the most by legitimate hemp companies.  It relies on pressurized CO2 to force the compounds away from the plant material.  It does not add any impurities to the plant material, nor does it interfere with chemical stability or bioavailability. 

How to Know the Extraction Method Used by a Company

So, now that you know the three extraction methods, let’s talk about how to know which one you’re getting when you buy a CBD product.  A CBD company should make this information easily available to consumers.  Most companies will state “CO2-extracted” somewhere on their website, product label or product description.

But what happens if that information is nowhere to be found?  Well, you can ask them.  CBD companies that are using top-notch methods should be proud to share this information with you.  So, feel free to contact them and ask how they extract their CBD.

How to Verify that a Company is Being Fully Transparent

Maybe a CBD company said that they use the CO2 method, but you’re still not convinced.  One way to verify this information is to look at their lab reports.  These lab reports are unbiased as they come from third-party testing facilities, and you’ll clearly see whether or not there are any impurities by looking at this paper.  Certain impurities clearly indicate that another extraction method was used by the company, as companies cannot lie on or forge lab reports. 

Final CBD Extraction Method Thoughts

As you can see, the extraction method used to make a CBD product is just as important as every other factor that goes into the process.  The CO2 method is easily the best one that’s available, and for good reason, as it produces a better-quality product overall.  This means that the next time you shop for CBD, you should go to the lengths required to figure out how the CBD was extracted, to ensure that you end up with a superior product.