The Complete Guide to CBD Extraction Methods

The Complete Guide to CBD Extraction Methods

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring compound found in the cannabis plant. However, it must be extracted from the plant material to create consumable CBD products. The extraction method used plays a crucial role in determining the quality, purity and safety of the final CBD product.

CO2 Extraction

One of the most popular and effective methods for extracting CBD is CO2 extraction. This process uses supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2 that is a liquid and gas simultaneously) or subcritical CO2 to pull out the desired compounds from the plant material.


  • Safe and efficient process that leaves no toxic residues1
  • Able to extract a wide range of compounds including CBD, terpenes, waxes, etc.
  • Produces high-purity CBD oils and isolates suitable for many product types
  • Requires expensive equipment and technical expertise to operate
  • May not extract some larger molecular compounds as effectively

CO2 extraction is considered the gold standard for producing high-quality CBD oils and isolates for use in tinctures, capsules, vape products and more.

Solvent Extraction

Solvent-based extraction uses liquid solvents like butane, propane, ethanol or isopropyl alcohol to extract CBD and other cannabinoids from hemp or cannabis.


  • Relatively inexpensive equipment and materials required
  • Can extract a wide range of compounds including CBD, terpenes, waxes, etc.
  • Efficient for producing full-spectrum CBD extracts containing multiple cannabinoids
  • Potential for toxic solvent residues to remain if not properly purged
  • Extracts may have lower purity levels than CO2 extraction
  • Some solvents like butane and propane pose flammability risks

Solvent extraction is commonly used to produce full-spectrum CBD oils containing not just CBD but a range of cannabinoids and terpenes from the source plant.

Olive Oil Extraction

A more natural and safer method is to extract CBD using olive oil or other food-safe oils and fats.


  • Simple process using natural, non-toxic ingredients
  • No risk of harsh solvent contamination
  • Produces CBD-infused olive oil ideal for edibles, topicals, etc.
  • Lower efficiency than other extraction methods
  • Limited to producing oil-based CBD extracts only

Olive oil extraction is best suited for small-batch production of CBD-infused olive oils and other edible or topical CBD products.

Other Extraction Methods

There are a few other less common CBD extraction methods including:
  • Vegetable oil extraction using oils like coconut, hemp seed or avocado oil
  • Dry ice or freeze extraction to isolate trichomes from plant material
  • Liquid extraction using ethanol or other solvents

These tend to be less efficient, more labour-intensive or limited in the types of CBD products they can produce compared to CO2 or solvent extraction.

How to Choose an Extraction Method

The ideal CBD extraction method depends on several factors:
  • Desired purity and potency levels of the final product
  • Types of CBD products being manufactured (oils, edibles, topicals, etc.)
  • Production volumes and budget for equipment/materials
  • Compliance with regulations around solvents, residues, etc.

Regardless of the extraction technique, third-party testing should be done to ensure no contaminants like residual solvents, heavy metals or pesticides remain in the final CBD extract.

There are pros and cons to the various CBD extraction methods available. CO2 extraction is considered the gold standard for producing pure, potent CBD oils and isolates. Solvent extraction is efficient for full-spectrum products containing multiple cannabinoids. And olive oil extraction offers a simple, natural option for edibles and topicals.Ultimately, the extraction process is a vital step in transforming the raw hemp or cannabis plant into safe, consumable CBD products. Choosing the right method based on your desired outputs and testing for purity is essential for manufacturing high-quality CBD.

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