How is CBD oil actually produced? What are the processes and methods? Take a look behind the scenes of our CBD production in Switzerland.

Table of content

How is CBD oil produced?
How is CBD grown and harvested?
What are the extraction methods for CBD oil?
3.1 Oil extraction
3.2 Solvent extraction
3.3 What is CO2 extraction in CBD oil production?
3.3.1 Supercritical CO2 extraction
3.3.2 Medium-critical CO2 extraction
3.3.3 Subcritical CO2 extraction
3.3.4 Total CO2 extraction
How is the THC removed from a full spectrum CBD oil?
What comes after CBD oil production?
Criteria for good CBD oil

How is CBD oil produced?

You can now buyCBD oils in many online shops or in stationary retail shops. However, very few people know how CBD oils are actually produced. Since we at ALPINOLS have the entire production in our hands, we have the knowledge to inform you about hemp cultivation and the production of CBD oil.

With the amount of CBD oils on the market, you as a customer have to look closer if you want to buy a high quality CBD oil. The best CBD oil should not only be grown in organic quality, but also produced as gently as possible. A good CBD oil is therefore not easy to find, as many suppliers do not reveal anything about the manufacturing processes and the production of the oils.

At ALPINOLS, everything takes place under one roof. From the hemp seedling to the hand-picked hemp plant to the finished CBD oil, we want to make the entire value chain as transparent as possible for you.

How is CBD grown and harvested?

Our hemp for CBD is grown in Switzerland. CBD , also known as cannabidiol, comes from the hemp plant. The following points are very important for cultivation and harvesting:

  • Seeds
  • Growing method: greenhouse, indoor or outdoor
  • Soil according to organic guidelines
  • Climate
  • Hand harvesting
  • qualitative selection of hemp leaves
  • Extraction process (more on this below)

Detailed knowledge on this can be found on our page Cultivation of hemp.

What extraction methods are available for CBD oil?

The different parts of the plant are processed after harvesting and are placed in an oven where the biomass is then dried. In this way, the CBD, which is still present in the plant as CBDA, can be converted to CBD . This is also called decarboxylation.

The CBD, which has now formed, and other cannabinoids, terpenes and plant substances must now be extracted to obtain the CBD oil. The method chosen will determine the degree of purity and quality of the finished CBD oil. We present four extraction methods and tell you how CBD oil is extracted at ALPINOLS.

Oil extraction

Oil extraction usually uses a vegetable oil to extract the cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are fat-soluble, so you can mix them with an oil and heat it up to about 100°C. The cannabinoids will then dissolve in the oil so that it can be used further. However, vegetable oil is quickly perishable and the CBD content with this extraction is also low.

Solvent extraction

In this extraction process, the CBD is dissolved with solvents such as ethanol. The finely chopped leaves containing the CBD are mixed with the solvent and then heated until only the CBD extract remains. However, not only CBD is extracted, but also the chlorophyll, which can be harmful to humans in large quantities. In addition, residues of the solvent may be present, which would be very harmful to health.

Therefore, inform yourself very carefully which CBD extraction is used by a provider. Reputable providers use CO2 extraction.

What is CO2 extraction in CBD oil production?

As the name suggests, carbon dioxide is used in CO2 extraction. That doesn't sound so good at first, if you know CO2 more as exhaust gas. We will explain to you why CO2 extraction is the highest-quality extraction process.

Carbon dioxide offers an important advantage: it is completely gaseous at normal room temperature, but under high pressure it becomes liquid. For CO2 extraction, the CO2 therefore flows over the biomass in liquid form under high pressure to dissolve the various components. In this form, CO2 acts as a solvent for the CBD.

It then becomes completely gaseous again at normal temperature and no residues remain in the extract, as is the case with solvent extraction, for example. What remains is the pure CBD extract with all other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids.

However, CO2 extraction is a very expensive and complicated process. Therefore, it is not yet used for every CBD oil - despite the high quality. Expensive machines and expert knowledge are needed to be able to use the high-quality extraction process.

There are three different categories of CO2 extraction for CBD oil production: supercritical, subcritical and medium-critical CO2 extraction.

Supercritical CO2 extraction

Supercritical CO2 extraction, also called supercritical CO2 extraction, is a form of extraction in which the CO2 is still gaseous above a critical point, but is as densely compressed as it would be in liquid form. So in simple terms, the CO2 is still gaseous, but already so densely packed that it almost becomes liquid. This short moment before the CO2 is liquid is called the critical point.

To maintain this critical point, certain pressure and temperature conditions must exist. The pressure must be above 73.75 bar and the temperature above 30.980°C in order for the supercritical carbon dioxide to be produced.

This form of extraction for CBD oil production gives the highest yield, as larger molecules such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are also extracted. However, this form of extraction also destroys other components that are more sensitive. Terpenes and phytocannabinoids do not survive supercritical CO2 extraction.

Medium critical CO2 extraction

Medium-critical CO2 extraction, as the name suggests, takes place in the middle of the temperature and pressure ratios of supercritical and subcritical extraction. However, supercritical CO2 extraction remains more frequently used.

Subcritical CO2 extraction

Subcritical CO2 extraction is also called cold extraction. A lower temperature is used than in supercritical extraction at the same pressure, so that the CO2 becomes liquid but does not completely lose its properties as a solvent. The pressure is therefore above 73.75 bar and the temperature below 30.980°C.

Because of the cold extraction, the process takes longer overall than with supercritical extraction, but it has a decisive advantage. The lower temperature also preserves sensitive components of the hemp that would be lost at too high a temperature.

Total CO2 extraction

A CO2 total extraction uses both supercritical extraction and subcritical extraction. Here, the sensitive components of the hemp plant, such as terpenes and plant cannabinoids, are first extracted via subcritical extraction. This is followed by supercritical extraction of the same hemp mass, which filters out larger and less sensitive components. In the end, both extracts are mixed to a common CBD extract.

How is the THC removed from a Full Spectrum CBD oil?

The CBD extract can now be further processed into a CBD oil. However, it is also possible to turn a full spectrum CBD oil, which also contains THC, into a broad spectrum CBD oil without THC.

This requires a filtration process called winterisation. Winterisation means that the CBD extract is placed in a freezer together with ethanol. The vegetable fats of the hemp dissolve. The mixture is then filtered and distilled.

The remaining CBD extract is then sent through a flash chromatograph. In this device, the THC is separated from the remaining hemp extract with different pressures. Due to the different molecular size of the different cannabinoids, such as THC, the THC can be squeezed out by different pressure.

The ethanol is then distilled under vacuum so that it dissolves again. The solution is not heated above 40 degrees by the vacuum and thus protects the important components of the CBD extract.

What comes after the CBD-oil production?

After the CBD extract has been extracted from the biomass, the CBD extract must be mixed with a carrier oil. In this way, an CBD oil with a certain concentration can be produced. At ALPINOLS, for example, organic sunflower seed oil is used to bring the CBD extract to the desired concentration.

When the carrier oil has been added and the CBD oil with the desired concentration is ready, it has to be filled into vials and labelled. Packaging is also added. After that, the CBD oils are ready for shipment.

To ensure high quality and to be as transparent as possible, every supplier should have his CBD oils tested by an independent laboratory. We at ALPINOLS, for example, have also had our terpene profile analysed to verify the high quality of our CBD oils. You can view this here.

Criteria for good CBD oil

The production of a high quality CBD oil is an important part of finding a good CBD oil. Not only the harvest, but also the extraction method, testing and the carrier oil are important to assess the quality of an CBD oil.

Read more in the blog article ""How can I recognize good CBD oil?"

The following criteria are important:

  • Organic certification: An EU-certified hemp variety, which is grown according to strict organic guidelines.
  • Environmental protection: Environmentally friendly CO2 extraction of the ingredients as well as the other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids.
  • Hemp extract:Select a Full Spectrum or a Broad Spectrum CBD oil.
  • Laboratory testing: Independent laboratory tests according to ISO standards ((laboratory test example) to check the CBD oil for quality and THC content.

The choice of CBD oil should therefore be well researched to ensure that you get a high quality CBD oil.