Hemp Extraction

Hemp Extraction: Everything You Need to Know

A study predicts that CBD sales in the US will reach 1,918 million dollars by 2022. So, what happens behind the scenes of this popular product? In this article, you’ll learn about the various hemp extraction techniques for the products you enjoy.

And with this information, you’ll be able to choose an excellent hemp extraction company to buy CBD from. Also, your informed decision will help you consume safe CBD and enjoy its full range of effects. 

Companies source CBD from either cannabis or hemp. However, hemp is the preferred option because it contains CBD in high concentrations.

The extraction methods include ethanol extraction, CO2 extraction, hydrocarbon extraction, oil extraction, among others.

Read on for deeper dissection of each, but first;

What Are the Hemp End Products?

After harvesting hemp, the end-product required determines the method and hemp extraction equipment companies will use.

There are three types of CBD resulting from the hemp biomass; Full Spectrum CBD, Broad Spectrum CBD, and CBD Isolate.

  • Full Spectrum CBD contains 60-70% CBD with all the cannabinoids, including THC.
  • Broad Spectrum CBD contains all the cannabinoids except THC. 
  • CBD Isolate has 99.5% CBD, with removed terpenes, waxes, and other cannabinoids.

1) Ethanol Hemp Extraction

Ethanol is a volatile liquid with a low boiling point. The solvent is easy, efficient, and safe for use in hemp extraction as the food industry has also used it for a long time. 

Ethanol, which works best at a low temperature, is good for full-spectrum CBD extraction. The solvent leads to a high concentration of terpenes and other cannabinoids without contaminating the end product if handled well.

Extraction Process

Companies using this technique soak the hemp biomass in chilled ethanol. That extracts the cannabinoids and terpenes. The mixture then enters a separation chamber where ethanol evaporation takes place, leaving a crude extract.

The concentrated extract then undergoes decarboxylation to convert the acidic cannabinoids (THCA and CBDA) to more consumable molecules (THC and CBD) and releases CO2. At that point, the resultant crude oil contains 50-60% CBD and can produce edibles, sublingual drops, or topical products.

The distillate can also undergo a remediation step. That is where it’s refined further using chromatography to separate the product into isolated THC or CBD.

Refining the distillate also helps maintain THC levels below 0.3%, which is the legal standard.

2. CO2 Hemp Extraction

CO2 is a non-toxic, non-flammable gas found naturally in the atmosphere. The CO2 gas method produces pure, highly potent, and chlorophyll-free CBD. That is because the technique is solvent-free and favors the preservation of the delicate terpenes.

CO2 extraction is also environmentally friendly. However, the method requires advanced hemp extraction equipment and expertise to operate. 

Extraction Methods

There are three types of CO2 extraction; supercritical, subcritical, and midcritical. 

  • Supercritical CO2 extraction uses high pressure and low temperature, ideal for extracting CBD isolate.
  • Subcritical CO2 extraction uses low temperature and low pressure, good for full-spectrum CBD. But it takes more time and produces a lesser yield.
  • Amid critical CO2 technique uses temperature and pressure levels between supercritical and subcritical. It’s good for full-spectrum CBD extraction. 

Extraction Process

Supercritical CO2 extraction uses three chambers.

The first vault’s temperature is kept below -56°C and pressure-tuned to over 75 pounds psi. At that point, the gaseous CO2 becomes a liquid.

Thereafter, the pressure and temperature are slowly increased until CO2 reaches the Supercritical point. In that condition, the CO2 can maintain both liquid and gaseous properties, ideal for cannabinoid extraction. 

Workers then infuse supercritical CO2 into a second chamber. Inside that vault containing hemp biomass, it helps harvest CBD oil. The oil and CO2 then enter the 3rd vault, where separation takes place.

The CO2 evaporates, leaving behind a highly concentrated CBD oil. The companies then condense CO2 and recycle it as a liquid using the closed-loop extraction method.

3) Hydrocarbon Hemp Extraction

The hydrocarbon hemp extraction technique has been used for over 50 years with a high purity standard. It also has a fast turn-around time of about an hour or so.

Furthermore, the technique uses less expensive equipment and produces a great yield from the hemp biomass. 

Hydrocarbon extraction is suitable for processing potent end products for dabbing, e.g., honeycomb, crumble, or wax. 

Extraction Process

Hydrocarbons used for extraction include butane, propane, or a mixture of both. Butane maintains the integrity of heat-sensitive terpenes due to a low boiling point of -1°C.

When companies use propane, they can extract and preserve more compounds due to its lower boiling point of – 42°C.

Companies store cold liquid butane in a solvent tank. They then channel it into a second tank containing the hemp biomass. In that chamber, the solvent dissolves cannabinoids, terpenes, plant waxes, and lipids. 

Firms then refine the extracted mixture further using either dewaxing, centrifugation, or winterization. However, one should take care when using the winterization process, which separates lipids and waxes from the extract using alcohol, as the ethanol may degrade terpenes.

Artisans then separate the end product from the butane solvent using heat and vacuum techniques.

4) Oil Hemp Extraction

This technique is suitable for users who would like to make their own CBD at home. That is because it’s easy, and the working principle is a more natural alternative in comparison to chemical-based methods.

However, the oil produced has low potency and a high rate of deterioration. So, store the end-product in a cool, dark place or use inert nitrogen for preservation.

Extraction Process

The technique involves CBD extraction from hemp by heating the hemp flower in edible oil.

You can heat the hemp raw material in an oven at a temperature of 140°C for 30 minutes or at 120°C for 60 minutes. However, the temperature and time taken are dependent on the oven’s efficiency. You then add the heated material to olive oil or coconut oil, heat it at 100°C, and leave it for 1-2 hours. 

During that heating process, cannabinoids bind to the oil. Thereafter, you separate the plant material from the oil mixture containing oil, cannabinoids, waxes, and terpenes. However, don’t separate the oil from the cannabis compounds. 


When looked at closely, hemp extraction is not as complicated as it might seem. Each method discussed is efficient in the production of either full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or CBD isolate. 

You can therefore vet a good hemp extraction company like Airmid Hemp Extracts to buy from based on their preferred techniques and your desired product. That ensures that you get value for your hard-earned money.