What is the CBD Extraction Process?

How is CBD Extracted? So, you know CBD comes from the cannabis plant, but what exactly is CBD? And more specifically, what is the CBD extraction process? How does it get from the plant to the products you see before you? 

If you’re here, we can only assume that you’re not scared of a bit of science, so let’s get into it, and study the extraction of CBD. 

What is CBD

Let’s start at the beginning. CBD stands for cannabidiol and is it a phytocannabinoid, which means its a cannabinoid that is extracted from plants. 

CBD is not prevalent in marijuana plants, which are high in THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). However, industrial hemp plants are the opposite, the THC content in these plants is low, but they’re dripping with CBD (‘dripping’ is probably not the technical term, maybe don’t use it if you happen to get into a complex scientific discussion about CBD extraction). 

So, how does CBD get out of the hemp plant and into your living room? (We’re assuming you’re in your living room, feel free to replace that with the room or other location you happen to currently be in, we’re totally cool with wherever you happen to be reading this). 

The Four CBD Extraction Methods

As the title above probably gave away a little, there is four extraction method for CBD. The Olive Oil Extraction Method (which is also how Popeye saves his wife from traps), and the Dry Ice Extraction Method, while the two coolest sounding, is not widely used, so we’ll not go into those too much. 

Instead, we shall take the time to examine the two most commonly used methods of CBD extraction, the Alcohol, or Solvent Extraction Method, and the CO2 Extraction Method. 

The Solvent CBD Extraction Method

The Solvent Extraction method is perhaps one of the simplest but is not without its downsides. 

Basically, all that is done is butane, ethanol, or low-grade alcohol is added to the plant, the liquid will pull away from the cannabinoids and flavour from the plant. However, it will also bring chlorophyll with it. To avoid side effects, the chlorophyll must then be filtered out, which can lower the potency of the oil. 

This method is often used for CBD vaping cartridges, using high-quality alcohol which sidesteps the side effects. 

We must be very clear here, the materials used in this extraction method are highly flammable. Do not try this at home. Setting fire to your house is a side effect of CBD extraction that is well worth avoiding. 

The CO2 CBD Extraction Method

There are three subsections of this method, subcritical, mid-critical, and supercritical. Here we will focus solely on supercritical, which is not only how we all describe our school science teachers, but is also the most commonly used form of cannabis extraction. 

The popularity of this method is because it is not only the safest but also produces by far the best quality product. 

Pressurised carbon dioxide (CO2) is used to pull CBD from the plant, acting as a solvent at a certain temperature, but without any of the plausible side effects listed in the above method. 

This is the most popular method amongst industrial CBD suppliers, and it is why the products from trusted sources are the ones we will always advise purchasing. They are extracted safely and are free from chlorophyll or any other substances that can cause side effects. 

The reason someone extracting CBD in their garage is unlikely to use this method, therefore likely to be creating an inferior product, is simply because the equipment is outrageously expensive, and the method requires a lab to accomplish properly. 

Those who do extract at home, when they don’t use the solvent method, will use the Olive Oil Extraction Method, which involves heating the plant, then using the olive oil to extract the CBD. 

While this method is simple, it creates low-quality, very perishable CBD oil, so is rarely worth the effort. 

We won’t even bother getting into the Dry Ice Extraction Method, because for that you’ll need dry ice, plexiglass, a knife, a big bucket, mesh bags, and various other tools and you’ll end up with a low-quality product anyway. It’s a cool method to see, but basically useless in the end. 

So there you have it, in the simplest terms we have available, these are the four methods available for extracting CBD from hemp plants. 

All you really need to know is that doing it at home probably isn’t worth it, and can be hella dangerous (another technical term for you) when using certain methods. 

So your best bet is to find a product made by a supplier who uses CO2 extraction, it saves a lot of time and effort, and the product will be better quality anyway!


The products we sell do not have proven health benefits. While research is being carried out, these products are not, and should not, be considered to be medical products.

Any information we give in these articles is taken from scientific research, but should not be considered as a statement of fact. Links and information included in these articles do not reflect the opinion of Plant & Hemp. Any link to scientific studies is for information only, and not intended as a proof of any specific fact, or to validate any specific opinion.

We are simply bringing you the information needed to make an informed decision on what you want to use CBD for, and what you are comfortable using our products for.

CBD products should not be used as a replacement for any prescribed medication, under UK and International Law.

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