There are several different techniques and they all have pros and cons. Nothing yields a perfectly preserved amount of nutrients from the original plant, but this is to be expected, as typically any time you attempt to extract and distill something from its original source, whether from the hemp plant or any other plant, you’re going to sacrifice some of the original material in the process.
The main extraction techniques used with hemp are:
- CO2 extraction
- Ethanol extraction
- Olive Oil extraction
- Water extraction
Let’s take a quick look at some of the details, and recommendations, behind the different types of extraction techniques. Which one sounds like it’s right for you?
CO2 Hemp Oil Extraction
CO2 extraction, or super critical CO2 extraction, is currently the most popular technique. Many extracts out on the market today are using this process. It yields a really good amount of CBD however, I personally prefer the ethanol extraction technique, as ethanol is a stronger solvent and yields way more of the other nutrients, like the potent antioxidant Vitamin E, as well as the terpenes and other cannabinoids. CO2 is great for CBD though.
In the CO2 hemp oil extraction method, carbon dioxide is used at an extremely low temperature to isolate and preserve the oil from the hemp plant. This is a very safe and clean method of getting the extract. Many people tout an added benefit of ridding the extract of chlorophyll, since it typically has a green color and strong plant smell, however I’m not “sold” that this is a good thing. The jury is still out.
Ethanol Hemp Oil Extraction
Like I mentioned above, the ethanol extraction technique is my favorite, since it’s fast and super effective at not just getting the CBD out of the plant but also extracting all of the other great compounds from the plant like the terpenes, CBN, and Vitamin E. I like the full spectrum aspect and the potency of all of these things together. I think it makes for a better extract overall.
In this method, you use a high quality alcohol as a solvent to extract the nutrients and cannabinoids from the hemp.
Olive Oil Hemp Extraction
Olive oil is similar in effectiveness at extraction terpenes as the ethanol method, so in general people consider ethanol and olive oil extraction to be the most effective.
In a study looking at four big cannabis oil extraction techniques, a European team of researchers found that the ethanol and olive oil got the most terpenes and other nutrients. The naptha technique had the least CBD and terpenes, but the highest amount of THC.