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How are Cannabinoids Extracted from Hemp Plants CBD Extraction Methods Explained
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How are Cannabinoids Extracted from Hemp Plants: CBD Extraction Methods Explained

 One of the significant concerns about buying CBD products and other cannabinoids is purity. A recent study by Doctors Spindle, Sholler, and Cone found that many manufacturers mislabel their products. CBD gummies and lotions labeled as 100% contained less CBD than disclosed in the product information. 

The occurrence of this false information and mislabeling can be a cause for concern. People who incorporate CBD into their daily routines may buy subpar products. What causes companies to mislead their customers? A look at how Cannabinoids are extracted will give you a glimpse at what goes into producing cannabinoid products.

We’ll go over each process and do a short but deep dive on CBD extraction methods explained. Hopefully, it will cast a light on why mislabeling incidents happen.

Key Takeaways

  • Reason for cannabinoid extraction
  • Different types of cannabinoid extraction
  • The best extraction method

Why Do We Need to Extract Cannabinoid Compounds?

Why Do We Need to Extract Cannabinoid Compounds

Cannabinoid compounds, like all extracts, need to be chemically or mechanically taken out of the hemp plant. Hemp flowers and leaves contain large amounts of cannabinoids, hence the need to draw them out. This process is very different for, let’s say, fruit extracts that contain high amounts of water. 

Let’s look at a typical rose oil to give you a clear picture. A 5 ml bottle of rose oil requires approximately 8000 flowers to be made. In the same way, extraction of cannabinoids from edibles like flowers and leaves requires lots of material in order to create products such as CBD capsules, tinctures, and even water-soluble powders

Different Cannabinoid Extraction Methods Currently Being Used

Different Cannabinoid Extraction Methods Currently Being Used

Many methods exist to extract CBD and other compounds from industrial hemp plants. Some require another medium to separate CBD from the plant matter. Others require simple materials like water and air.

Cannabinoid Extraction Techniques

  1. Solvent Extraction 

Solvent Extraction uses another substance called solvent to separate a compound from the source plant. This process is also called “Liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) “because the solvent used is typically liquid based. Solvent extraction is the most common method used to get cannabinoids out of hemp plants.

Most companies use solvents because the yield is high and the cost of using the process is low. But, since this uses another material to draw out cannabinoids, the risk of contamination is also high. Examples of solvent-based processes are Ethanol Extraction and BHO (Butane Hash Oil or Butane Honey Oil) Extraction.

  1. Distillation Method

The distillation process uses steam to separate the desired compounds from the plant matter. The hemp leaves or flowers are put into a sealed container called a still. Pressurized steam is then let into the still, which kicks off the evaporation process. 

The hot steam causes the compounds to separate from the leaves. The steam then travels through a tube and condenses. This newly condensed liquid then drips into a container at the end of the tube. Distillation is a preferred method for creating CBD oils. 

The C02 Extraction process is a type of distillation, but it uses pressurized carbon dioxide instead of steam.

  1. Cold Pressed Extraction

In cold-pressed extraction, the hemp leaves and flowers are placed in a machine with spikes. These spikes within the container then puncture the leaves or flowers slowly. Using centrifugal force, the machine separates the compounds from the plant material. 

From the material collected from the hemp plant, various products are produced. Examples of such products include CBD oils or tinctures, balms, and capsules. 

  1. Solventless Extraction

Solventless Extraction, as the name implies, uses no solvents to get the compounds out of the hemp plant. This type of extraction offers a safer way to draw out cannabinoids without compromising the integrity of the compound. It is also more practical and yields higher quantities of cannabinoids.

There are three types of solventless extraction done in the market. These are Hash, Rosin, and Cavitation.

  • Hash – This extraction starts by drying hemp leaves and plants under direct sunlight. These dried leaves pass through screens in a shifting process. The filtered material turns into blocks using pressing force and heat.

Another form of hash is Bubble Hash. To create this hash, leaves and flowers undergo an ice bath inside a container. The plant matter becomes agitated using force until the trichomes separate from the leaves. The hash undergoes filtration until only fine particles remain.

  • Rosin – extraction uses heat and pressure to release the oils from the hemp leaves and flowers. It is a simple process; you take hash or kief, finely chopped plant material, and heat press it. Heat is vital to getting the extracts out of the hash.
  • Cavitation Extraction – cavitation is a new process, and currently only Stirling, CBD uses this method. Hemp biomass is put in 33-degree distilled ice water. This freezes the trichomes and crystallized them. The biomass is then run past an impeller which spins at 22,000 RPM, creating micro bubbles that burst upon impact with the crystallized Tricombes. The process causes the trichomes to burst open, releasing the compounds. The ice water with the Cannabinoid compounds is then run through a 40 Micron Screen Filter, and only pure cannabinoids are left to get the final extract.

Stirling’s latest line of CBD energy gummies, CBD lotions, and gels are a byproduct of this easy harvesting process.

What Is the Best CBD Extraction Method?

What Is the Best CBD Extraction Method


In terms of practicality, scalability, and overall yield, Cavitation extraction is the best method to use. Cannabinoid extraction solvents expose the material to other substances increasing the chances of contamination. Distillation and pressing, on the other hand, is labor intensive and produce minimal yield. 

On the other hand, non-solvent extraction like hash and rosin exposes the plant matter to environmental factors. These alter the chemical makeup of the material. It also leaves loopholes for the addition of other substances comprising the hash purity.

Cavitation requires only three simple steps:

1) Place the plant matter into ice water 

2) Use a patented machine to throw billions of bubbles into the compound. 

  • This process causes the trichomes to burst. 

3) Filter the Mixture using 40-micron filters.

The result is a pure, unaltered extract with a high yield. The large output lowers the cost and leaves plenty of room for scaling to a bigger production.

The finished extract can now be used to create products like balms, immunity-boosting gummies, delta-8 sleep aids, and even water-soluble powders. The versatility of Cavitation harvested CBD allows entrepreneurs to focus less on cost and more on innovation.


Cannabinoid compound extraction greatly affects the purity and potency of the products created. The more alteration and chemicals used during the extraction process, the fewer cannabinoid benefits you will get. Products that claim to be 100% pure may only sometimes be. That’s why it’s vital to know a company’s extraction method before buying any CBD product online.

An informed buyer makes wise purchasing decisions. When well-informed, you are also less likely to pay for a product that delivers less than it promises.

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Picture of Joe Kryszak
Joe Kryszak
A leader in the Hemp Industry since 2014, Joe has been at the forefront of the Hemp Industry's innovation and growth. He is passionate about creating an atmosphere of collaboration and education in the Hemp Industry through the growth of Stirling Oils. Prior to this, Joe led strategic growth teams and initiatives at HP, Lenovo, and Amazon. With a degree from SDSU and an MBA from Pepperdine, Joe guided numerous businesses beyond the $1b threshold.

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