If you’re interested in crafting your own CBD oil, you’re not alone. Thousands of people around the globe are interested in the same. It’s possible to do, but you want to be extra careful since the process uses highly flammable and toxic solvents.
The methods used by large companies are different than the ones used by home extractors. It’s just too costly to invest in $50,000 machines just to make a few batches of oil every year. You would be upside down forever. That’s why homemade oil uses less expensive, but dangerous solvents.
How Large Companies Produce Extracts
The industry standard for producing CBD oil is via CO2 extraction. This process is often called supercritical extraction or supercritical CO2 extraction as well. It’s used because CO2 is a harmless solvent that can extract the full range of cannabinoids without causing extensive damage.
Here’s a very brief overview of how the process works. CO2 is a compound that can be manipulated between it’s liquid and gaseous state without too much difficulty. It would be difficult for us to do, but an industrial machine can manipulate the compound with ease. When CO2 is in a state of flux between a liquid and a gas, this is known as “supercritical.” Supercritical CO2 is what’s used to extract the CBD and other cannabinoids from the plant material.
Ground up hemp material is placed in a chamber, within an industrial extraction machine. The machine also has a cannister of CO2 connected to it. To start the process, the temperature and pressure of the CO2 is manipulated until it reaches the supercritical state.
Once it’s in the supercritical state, it’s then forced through the ground hemp. As it passes through the hemp, it the CBD and other cannabinoids latch on to it. This is where the extraction happens. The genius of this process is in the end. With other methods, you have to try to burn off the toxic solvents. With CO2, the machine just manipulates the temperature and pressure to turn it back into a gas. The cannabinoids are left behind in their oily form. Even if some of the CO2 was left behind, it’s not a big deal since it’s harmless. But these machines do a great job of turning it back into a gas.
All of this is done automatically by the machine. The company just has to maintain the machine and collect the extract from the reservoir at the end of the process.
How Homemade CBD Oil Is Produced
I’m assuming you have access to cannabis plant material, because you’ll definitely need it to make an extract. To start you will need a bucket, some solvent (ethanol, Everclear), and the ground plant material. You will also need something to mix them together with.
Put your plant material inside the bucket or bowl. Make sure it’s fully covered. Gently mix it with to make sure it’s fully soaked in the solvent. You don’t want to use an electric mixer because you would be at risk of generating a dangerous spark. One spark could set the solvent ablaze. Stir your mixture for a few minutes, then separate your plant material from the solvent by using a seethe or mesh strainer.
To make sure you get all the plant material, run the mixture through a coffee filter, muslin bag, or cheese cloth several times.
Ditching The Solvent
During this part of the process, you need to be extremely careful. You have a mixture of cannabinoids and a highly flammable solvent. It’s essential that you handle it with care.
You can complete this step in several different ways. You just need to heat your mixture up enough to evaporate the solvent. It can be done with a pot on a hot plate, preferably an electric one. If you use this method, make sure you have proper ventilation for the flammable gas. It’s best to do this outside. Gently heat the mixture until the solvent evaporates completely.
You can also do it with a water distiller, which can be done inside. Just pour the mixture into the distiller and it will spit out the pure solvent which you can reuse. Other things you can use to accomplish this step are rice cookers, crock pots, or anything that can heat your mixture slowly and safely. Once the solvent has fully evaporated, you’ll be left with a cannabinoid-rich oil.
Testing For Solvents
After you have finished your batch, you need to test it to make sure you don’t have any residual solvents left in your oil. Doing this is simple, but important. Be sure not to overlook it.
You’ll need a lighter and a paper clip or something similar. It needs to be a piece of metal that’s a couple inches long. Dip your paper clip into your oil. Pull it out and move away from any flammable material. Using the lighter, put the paper clip up to the flame. If the flame reacts to the oil, enlarging the flame or making a spark, you still have residual solvents in your oil.
It’s an absolute necessity to clear your oil of all solvents. You don’t want to ingest ethanol. Always test your CBD oil before consuming it. If you buy CBD products made via this method, you can test them yourself for solvents using this same paper clip method.
Which Method Is Better?
The way to make CBD extract at home is kind of similar to the industrial method, but also drastically different. It’s similar in the regard that you have to use a solvent to extract the cannabinoids and turn it into a gas. But it’s vastly different because it’s much more abrasive, dangerous, and doesn’t extract the full range of cannabinoids.
Alcohol based solvents are rough on some cannabinoids. CBD and THC will be able to withstand the solvent mostly in tact, but other phytocannabinoids will not make it into your oil. This is the main drawback of the at-home method. Of course, I’m making the assumption that you are able to do the process safely and get all the solvents out. If you mess up either of those, then trying to do it at home just isn’t worth it.
There’s definitely more risk involved, but it’s cheaper. If you absolutely cannot afford to buy legit CBD oil, then making it yourself could be a viable option. But if you can afford real cannabidiol products, then it’s much safer to just buy them. Also, you’ll get the full spectrum of cannabinoids.