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4 Modern Methods To Extract CBD | Is CBD Illegal In Australia?

Hempco LogoHempco Admin
6 Mins. Read

Did you know it's not as hard to extract CBD as some may think?

Okay, sure - some methods are more complicated than others. But for years now, people have done it at home so they can self-medicate (even when it's against the law!)

CBD is currently a hot topic due to the recent amendments to legislation and significant recognition for its medicinal properties worldwide.  Today we want to dive into the different ways people around the world have been extracting CBD. 

Please keep in mind that it’s still highly illegal to perform all or most of these techniques in many countries worldwide.  However, we believe it’s essential for people to know the different options available now or in the future. 

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4 Modern Methods To Extract CBD - Margaret River Hemp Co. Original

Where Does CBD Come From?

CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is one of the numerous cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Hemp is the form of cannabis that contains more CBD, while marijuana has more THC. CBD does not induce a high in consumers.

CBD is derived majorly from the leaves, resin of the flower, stalk, and stem of the cannabis plant. It is also important to note that the female hemp plant produces more CBD than the male. 

Is CBD Legal In Australia?

The legal status of CBD in Australia is still strict. In Australia, a medical doctor may prescribe high-dose CBD if it benefits a person’s health.

However, low-dose CBD is available for purchase over the counter with or without a prescription from 2020.

CBD is only legal if the CBD concentrates are more than 98% of the total cannabinoids, with the rest accounting for less than 2% of the plant

Common Uses Of CBD

Although more research is needed into how CBD reacts with the brain and body, CBD has some physical and mental benefits. 

  • CBD has shown positive effects in treating rare forms of seizures, especially those that do not respond to conventional therapy. In 2018, the drug Epidiolex, which is made from CBD, was approved for treating seizures. 
  • CBD has mood-altering effects, hence a potent drug for treating depression.
  • Individuals suffering from chronic pain and cancer pain have benefited from the use of CBD.
  • CBD has anti-inflammatory properties. These properties make it an excellent choice for any inflammatory condition, including those of the joints. It is also great for multiple sclerosis.
  • CBD has a calming effect on the mind, hence its use in combating anxiety. 
  • It is also helpful for those with insomnia. It makes them more relaxed so that they can sleep better. 
  • Addiction is a severe health issue, and it causes people to seek drugs to the detriment of their health. CBD can significantly reduce drug-seeking behaviours, hence aid in treating addiction. 

How Do You Extract CBD?

CBD extraction is the process of generating pure CBD from a cannabis plant. There are a range of processes that can accomplish this, but there are four common methods

Extract CBD with solvents

One of the most popular methods of extracting CBD from the plant is using a solvent. Ethanol is the most used solvent, although butane and alcohol can also work.

Most people who extract CBD at home use the solvent method. In this process, you can mix the hemp plant with the solvent until it dissolves.

On dissolution, the cannabinoids are then isolated into the solvent. Once this is done, the solvent is then eliminated by evaporation so that a CBD concentrate is left behind.   

Advantages of Solvent Extraction

  • It is a cheap method that does not require technical machinery
  • This method produces a higher concentration of CBD
  • CBD isolate can be derived from oil produced from this method.

Disadvantages of Solvent Extraction

  • The solvents used are highly flammable, and this could be a source of a fire or explosion.
  • There is a risk of reduced potency of CBD produced.
  • The solvent residue may alter the purity of the CBD.
  • There is a possibility that the taste may become bitter due to chlorophyll extract. 

Extract CBD with Olive Oil

CBD extraction using olive oil is possibly the oldest method available. The extraction may also use other oils, but many prefer olive oil for its taste and consistency. The first step involves decarboxylation, which involves heating the hemp plant.

This process is vital to activate the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. The next step is to add olive oil. The mixture is then heated for 120 minutes at a temperature of about 101.6 degrees Celsius.

This temperature is when the CBD is extracted. It is important to note that patients and manufacturers must store CBD extracted with olive oil in the dark.

Advantages of Olive Oil Extraction

  • It is a safe method that you can use at home.
  • This method poses little or no technical difficulties
  • It is ideal for the small scale production of CBD
  • You can use simple tools to get it done

Disadvantages of Olive Oil Extraction

  • The CBD produced is highly perishable
  • You cannot use it to produce CBD on a large scale.
  • The purity of CBD produced is not 100%

Extract CBD through Steam distillation

This method of extracting CBD involves the use of steam to separate CBD from the plant. A glass flask with an inlet and outlet is used in this method. The plant is placed in a flask with the channel connected to another flask with boiling water.

The outlet leads to a tube for condensation. The steam from the boiling water extracts the CBD from the plant.

The mixture of the CBD and vapour condenses in the condenser tube into oil and water. The CBD oil and water mixture is then separated using the distillation method.   

Advantages of Steam Distillation

  • There are fewer impurities.
  • The distillation process produces a quality product

Disadvantages of Steam Distillation

  • It is time-consuming to Extract CBD through the steam distillation process
  • Overheating of the hemp plant may lead to reduced potency
  • More plant quantity may be required for this process
  • It requires technical knowledge and skill
  • It may be not easy to measure the exact concentration of CBD

Extract CBD with CO2 Extraction

CO2 extraction, as the name implies, involves the use of carbon dioxide. Supercritical CO2 (i.e., carbon dioxide held at high pressure and low temperature) can exist in liquid or gaseous forms. This method involves specialised tanks and chambers that can withstand extremely high pressures.

The process begins with one chamber holding the supercritical CO2 while another has the hemp plant. As the supercritical CO2 passes through the chamber hemp plant, the extraction begins.

The third chamber then receives the extract and CO2. The CO2 is eradicated from the oil by an evaporation method.

Advantages of Co2 Extractions

  • It produces an extract with consistent taste
  • The CBD produced is very potent
  • It is a safe method
  • It is reliable and efficient

Disadvantages of Co2 Extractions

  • A lot of money is required because it is expensive to set up
  • It requires advanced skills to carry out the extraction successfully
  • It requires specialised machinery, pressure chambers, and tanks.

Wrap-Up/Final Words

Extracting CBD without contaminants is an extensive and expensive process, but using a technique like Olive Oil extraction can still do the trick.

Once again we'd like to mention that if you live in Australia, this is all 100% illegal to do yourself, and we do not encourage trying to extract CBD in any way. If you want to get more of an understanding of the legal status of CBD in Australia, you can check out this blog from Pondering Pot!

Have you been looking into different ways that your legal CBD products have been made? If so, we hope this discussion gave you an insight into the various methods used to extract CBD.

If you don't know too much about the benefits of CBD, you should check out our blog about it here!

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Cannabis with Cannabidiol (CBD) extract in a bottle