How Is CBD Oil Made?

Published on June 12th, 2019

Last updated on June 21st, 2019

There are a lot of misconceptions about how CBD Oil is made, so let’s breakdown the facts.

With the rapid growth of the CBD industry over the last several years, more and more people are wondering exactly how CBD oil is made. It’s a fair question given how different oil is from the plants it’s derived from.

Cannabidiol oil is an entirely natural substance which is generally made from the hemp family of cannabis plants. A growing pile of research is shedding light on the multitude of benefits CBD oil provides via regulation of our complex endocannabinoid system.

But with all the different products out there, it can be hard to know if you’re getting the best quality CBD. So today we’ll go over the most common ways CBD oil is made and processed before it finds its way to you.

Cultivating The Right Plants

When manufacturers are looking to produce high-quality CBD oil, they almost always start with a variety of hemp plant. Hemp is well known for its many uses, but it’s especially useful for CBD oil production because it’s very high in CBD, while being equally low in THC, meaning it isn’t psychoactive.

High CBD, Low THC cannabis plants are ideal for making CBD oil, as it not only increases the yield of oil, but also the potency. That said, CBD/THC makeup can vary considerably even between different types of hemp, so manufacturers are always experimenting with new strains and combinations.

In fact, more well-established brands will usually opt to develop their own personal strain of high CBD hemp. This helps them further distinguish themselves from the competition, as well as optimize the plant for their future applications.

Once fully mature, farmers typically use specialized equipment, such as combine extractors, to get the highest quality yield possible.

Types Of Extraction

After the plants have been harvested and cured, the extraction process can begin. It’s worth noting here that there are two main categories of CBD extraction, whole plant extraction, and CBD isolates.

Whole plant extraction, as the name implies, uses the entire plant to create the oil. Many experts believe this method is ideal for medicinal purposes, as it keeps all the other active substances together which, they believe, helps better stimulate the endocannabinoid system.

This has sometimes been referred to as the “entourage effect.”

Isolates, on the other hand, are a pure crystalline form of CBD which removes all the extra plant material and other compounds. CBD Isolate is just CBD oil which has been hyper filtered until only CBD is left. This may seem ideal, but the jury is still out on the full impact.

So for our purposes, we’re going to stick with whole plant extraction methods.

Alcohol Extraction

The oldest and likely most common extraction method for CBD is known as alcohol extraction. It’s a relatively ingenious process which does require some delicate attention.

Hemp plants are first soaked in an alcohol solvent, typically ethanol. After soaking for an extended period, the CBD and other active cannabinoids have effectively transferred from the plant material to the alcohol.

At this point, the solution is evaporated until only the CBD oil remains.

Many manufacturers use what is known as a Roto-Vap to expedite the evaporation process. This machine rapidly heats the solution and separates the CBD oil. They can even recapture the ethanol for reuse at another time.

Once this process is complete, the CBD oil is ready for use in all types of different products.

CO2 Extraction

While alcohol may be older and more common, the undisputed champion of quality is CO2 extraction. However, these Supercritical CO2 machines are costly and only used by the best brands.

This extraction method is rated as GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) by the FDA and applied all the time in commercial food production.

A series of CO2 chambers are precisely controlled for pressure and temperature, while the CO2 is forced through hemp. The machine facilitates the breakdown and separation of different substances within the plant material, which allows manufacturers to pick and choose which substances are in their final product.


As you can see, the process of making CBD oil is a bit confusing, but nothing too mysterious. That said, you should always take care to ensure wherever you’re getting your CBD oil from is somewhere you trust.

Testing standards are currently left up to the manufacturer in most cases, and while most companies willingly ensure a safe and effective product, there are fakers out there.

Any reputable maker will be testing their CBD oil for the stability and purity before being sold to anyone, including having a trained tech check for any damage, wear, or contamination. So be on the lookout for these standards.

We hope this short guide answered any questions you have about the CBD oil production process. If you have any more questions or comments, feel free to leave us a comment below or on social media!

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