CBD and THC Extraction Turns Cannabis Plants into Gold
Cannabis is a pretty valuable plant these days. It is so valuable that it is considered gold to the people who produce, process, and sell it. Fortunately for them, there are multiple ways to take the cannabis plant and turn it into a product people are willing to pay for. It is all about extraction.
The extraction process is designed to separate cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis biomass. What you extract can be sold as-is or used as an ingredient in other products. The more you can extract from biomass, the more liquid gold you have to work with.
The Top Two Cannabinoids
The foundation of extraction are the cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. Note that both marijuana and hemp are strains of cannabis. Hemp contains more CBD whereas marijuana contains more THC. Both types of plants are bred to enhance these two cannabinoids.
Marijuana has an advantage in that it does not necessarily have to be processed. It can be harvested, separated, and then smoked. Hemp is another story. There is no value in smoking it. Therefore, deriving any benefits from its cannabinoids requires extraction.
Processors still extract THC from marijuana for the simple fact that there are some people who just don’t want to smoke weed. And in some states, where cannabis can only be used medically, smoking is not even allowed. That makes THC extraction a necessity.
3 Was to Extract
CedarStoneIndustry is a Houston company that manufactures cannabis and marijuana extraction equipment. They say that the three most popular ways to extract cannabinoids are steam distillation, solvent extraction, and CO2 extraction. Here is a little bit more about each one:
Steam distillation exposes cannabis biomass to heat, steam, and pressure in a controlled environment. Heat and pressure release cannabinoids from plant material while steam carries them away. The steam condenses and falls as it leaves the distillation tank. The result is a crude oil that can be sold as-is or put through additional processing.
Solvent extraction releases cannabinoids using either a chemical or natural solvent. Ethanol and butane are pretty common chemical solvents. Olive oil is a typical natural solvent.
Soaking biomass in solvent breaks down the plant material to release cannabinoids. After all the plant material is broken down, the resulting mixture is filtered, and you are left with crude oil. From there, crude oil is distilled to separate its various components.
CO2 extraction combines carbon dioxide and high pressure to release cannabinoids. It is similar to steam distillation in principle, though quite different in practical application. This particular method yields the highest quantities and the greatest consistency. It is also the most expensive extraction method.
Making Cannabis Products
Extraction turns cannabis into gold by giving processors valuable cannabinoids and terpenes that they can work with. From the processor’s perspective, there are two separate markets: CBD and cannabis. Even though both hemp and marijuana are strains of cannabis, the industry almost always refers to marijuana as cannabis and hemp as hemp.
A processor interested in the CBD market would concentrate mainly on industrial hemp. Another processor looking to serve the THC market would concentrate efforts on cannabis. Some processors do both.
Either way, extracted cannabinoids become ingredients for retail products. Your typical CBD oil is primarily CBD. But there may be other cannabinoids and terpenes mixed in. And of course, there are ancillary ingredients that make the product usable.
Extraction turns cannabis plants into gold. If it did not, companies wouldn’t put the time and effort into it. But they do because there is money to be made.