The highest quality CBD comes from companies who perform rigorous tests on their product throughout their production process. The three typical stages are below:
- The third party tests the raw hemp received from their farmers for pesticides, heavy metals, mould and mildew.
- A full-panel third party lab test is also carried out on the Phytocannabinoid oil that is processed. This test includes solvents, mycotoxins, heavy metals, microbial, potency and pesticides.
- The lab tests each batch of end-product for accurate potency readings prior to selling. We publish the results from each batch test for those who wish to see.
Food grade ethanol is used for extraction and pharmaceutical-grade molecular distillation equipment is used for post-processing to make Phytocannabinoid Oil in the FDA laboratory before the finished product goes through further testing in a UK lab to further ensure UK regulations are met.
- Hemp extraction starts with a cold food-grade alcohol cleanse using all parts of the hemp plant.
- After all compounds and molecules are removed from the plant, the alcohol is removed leaving a thick dark crude oil.
- This oil goes through a decarboxylation process to transition the cannabinoid acids in the oil to active, non-acidic cannabinoids.
- Finally, the molecular distillation equipment is used to remove the dark colour and bitter taste. Effectively, this is where unwanted lipids and plant chlorophylls are removed.
Ethanol has seen a rise in use as a solvent in the manufacture of cannabis and hemp derivatives. In fact, it has become the most popular solvent to be used in the large-scale extraction of cannabinoids, like CBD.
As recognised in (Delta Separations, 2021), when extracting cannabinoids using ethanol, temperature is a critical factor. If the temperature is too warm, you risk extracting undesirable and unwanted compounds. On the flip side, if the temperature is too low, your efficiency may be significantly reduced. When weighing up both options, it is clear that cold ethanol extraction is often the preferable method with an optimal temperature range ideally between -30°C and -40°C.
Ethanol is the perfect solvent for hemp extraction because its chemical structure means it can extract or dissolve most polar as well as non-polar materials. Furthermore, ethanol exists as a non-viscous liquid at ambient temperatures and pressures, so it can extract the molecules very quickly and easily.
There are three main steps to hemp extraction and a few other minor processes. These main ones include Extraction, Evaporation and Distillation.
- Ethanol extraction has now become established in the industrial processing of the cannabis plant. This procedure combines the high efficiency of hydrocarbon extraction with the high level of safety of carbon dioxide extraction. There is also no need for winterisation. Since ethanol is a very effective solvent that also extracts undesirable substances from the biomass, extraction is carried out with supercooled (cryogenic) ethanol and under vacuum at absolute pressures of 0.001 to 1 mbar (Fig. 2). The desired extraction properties are thus achieved. The intermediate product of the extraction is always a mixture of cannabis oil and ethanol.
- The cannabis oil/ethanol mixture is then fed into an evaporation process to remove the ethanol it contains. Due to ethanol’s low boiling point, this can be done in lab or pilot scale processes through a rotary evaporator at room temperature or with modest heat addition and a rough vacuum of 50 to 100 mbar. Liquid ring vacuum pumps operated with ethanol as operating fluid are used for this. The ethanol can be liquefied again via a condenser and fed into the cycle. For industrial scale operation, thin or wipe film evaporators can be used to efficiently remove the bulk of the solvent producing the crude oil, working on a higher vacuum level. After vacuum evaporation, the crude oil with a THC/CBD concentration of 60 to 80 percent is obtained.
- As well as the cannabinoids, the cannabis crude oil contains terpenes as aromatic oils and flavonoids as bioactive flavor carriers. They need to be separated in a distillation process.
- One of the most efficient distillation processes is the so-called short path distillation. This involves taking the different boiling points of the individual components of the oil under certain temperatures and pressures into account for the separation. While THC begins to evaporate at an atmospheric pressure of 157° Celsius, CBD evaporates at 160 to 180° Celsius. Individual terpenes and flavonoids have lower boiling points. By carrying out the distillation under vacuum, it allows for the reduction of the temperatures required to boil the various cannabinoids. Short path distillation works with a vacuum level of 0.001 to 1 mbar (Fig. 3). The oil is slowly heated, and the vacuum level is adjusted so that terpenes and flavonoids evaporate selectively and can be obtained by condensation. What remains as concentrate is a liquid containing the cannabinoids THC and CBD in a purity of 99 percent.
- In a second distillation step, the THC is separated from the CBD in a thin film evaporator. Thin film evaporators operate similarly to short path distillators with vacuum and different temperatures. In principle, distillation is carried out with rough vacuum levels of around 1 mbar and higher temperatures.
In this last process step, pure CBD is finally obtained, which can now be further processed as an active ingredient for various applications.
Then, organic-certified MCT oil is used as the carrier oil. It is combined with the CBD Phytocannabinoid Distillate Oil. The MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil is usually made from coconut or palm kernel oil, and has smaller molecules than in most other fats, making it easier to digest and quicker to absorb into your bloodstream.