How CBD is Extracted From Hemp: Common Methods

Cannabis is one of the world’s most versatile plants. It has numerous medicinal properties, which are provided by natural compounds called cannabinoids. Some sources claim the existence of dozens of these compounds, while others say there are thousands. It’s hard to say for sure, but there are quite a few.

Cannabidiol, which is commonly known as CBD, is just one of these chemicals. It’s non-psychoactive and has no serious side effects, but it has numerous health benefits. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn how cannabidiol is extracted, refined, and turned into today’s CBD creams and other products.


CBD Topicals


Where CBD Comes From

Cannabidiol’s benefits are extensive and well-known. It can fight chronic pain and anxiety, promote brain health, and aid in weight loss. How does it work? The cannabinoid works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system and maintaining balance within the body.

Most of the cannabidiol used in CBD roll-on and CBD gummies comes from industrial hemp, which is a cannabis strain that has less than .3% THC. This compound, also referred to as tetrahydrocannabinol, causes the euphoric high associated with the consumption of marijuana. The lack of THC makes cannabidiol-based products like CBD gel a safe, legal, and all-natural treatment for a variety of conditions.

CBD Extraction: What Is It?

Extraction is the method by which CBD is isolated from the other cannabinoids present in the whole plant. It’s done in several ways, with some being more effective than others. The method of extraction significantly impacts the purity and quality of a CBD tincture. These approaches include:

  • CO2 extraction
  • Carrier oil extraction
  • Alcohol extraction
  • The Rick Simpson method

Some extraction processes leave harmful residues and traces of other cannabinoids, which compromise its efficacy. Of all the factors to consider when buying CBD creams, the extraction method is one of the most crucial.

We’ll explain these techniques in detail in the sections below.

CO2 Extraction

Carbon dioxide or CO2 extraction is a common and effective process that’s quickly become the industry’s standard. It’s done in three different ways:

  • Supercritical
  • Subcritical
  • Mid-critical

Carbon dioxide works as a solvent when used at the right pressure and temperature, and it creates a pure and clean CBD tincture.

Mid-critical and subcritical extraction are gentler and won’t remove some of the largest molecules. Either technique can be used in the creation of CBD roll-on, full-spectrum oils and CBD gummies, which contain a range of other cannabinoids.

Supercritical extraction is the best method, as the CO2 that’s passed through the plant matter strips all the active ingredients and prepares them for further refinement. Here, the carbon dioxide can be captured and reused. That makes this process a great choice for large-scale CBD gel producers.


CBD Roll On


Carrier Oil Extraction

This method is very straightforward, and it’s popular among those making CBD topicals. Ingredients such as coconut, olive, and hemp seed oils are used. The plant matter is decarboxylated to remove the active compounds. Decarboxylation occurs when the plant is heated to a specific temperature for a certain length of time, baking it in a way that activates the cannabinoids within.

Next, the cooked plant materials are added to a carrier oil and reheated for a few hours, drawing the cannabinoids outward. The oil extraction method is affordable and creates pure CBD topicals, but it’s not very effective when compared to some of the other methods on this list.

Alcohol Extraction

Ethyl alcohol or ethanol extraction is another common approach, but it’s declining in popularity as other, more effective methods are found. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers it safe enough to include in some of the personal care products we use every day, including our CBD cream.

Alcohol extraction works much like the other solvent methods in this list, but it’s more effective for several reasons. First, it’s safe for human consumption and does not create the same contaminants or residues as some solvents may, so it creates purer and more effective CBD gummies.




Being a polar solvent, ethanol is effective at removing water-soluble molecules. This might be a problematic approach, though, as it can strip away a lot of the plant’s chlorophyll as well. With this approach, the plant material is decarboxylated before it’s packed into airtight containers. Ethanol is dripped through each container, removing the vital compounds before it drips into collection reservoirs. Ethanol extraction can be done in heated or cooled environments.

Another ethanol-based CBD extraction method entails soaking the plant materials in alcohol until the cannabinoids have been removed and the liquid has boiled away. However, because of the way the alcohol strips other components, as well as its elevated boiling point, this process is so lengthy that it’s not recommended for the manufacturing of certain products such as CBD topical ointments