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How to extract CBD oil in your home kitchen

Non-psychoactive and increasingly popular as a relaxation drug, CBD can also be a DIY extract

By Sandra Hinchliffe
March 10, 2019 2:00PM (UTC)

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Excerpted with permission from CBD Every Day: How to Make Cannabis-Infused Massage Oils, Bath Bombs, Salves, Herbal Remedies, and Edibles by Sandra Hinchliffe. Copyright 2019 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.

Cannabidiol (CBD), an extract that many use as an anti-anxiety or relaxation tool, comes from the Cannabis sativa plant and cannot be divorced from this original source. Cannabis sativa has many different variations, and not all of these contain significant amounts of CBD. Prior to the gradual ending of cannabis prohibition in many locales, CBD was practically eliminated from the commercial black market to maximize profitability of the psychoactive cannabinoid content of the plants through selective breeding, according to many of the black-market growers I have spoken with throughout the years. The reason CBD is now widely accessible is most assuredly due to the change in social perceptions of this once-outlawed plant and the legalization of this plant in many locales. Without cannabis legalization, CBD would be difficult to acquire—and there would be no testing to ensure that consumers receive the product they are paying for.

In the process of developing recipes, I spent much of my time talking to CBD farmers and exploring their lush farms. I am forever grateful to my friends at Feather Canyon Farms in Del Norte County, California, for introducing me to some of the most impressive plants I’ve ever seen in my life. Beforehand, my experience with these plants had been limited to small indoor grows and the product offerings of our legal cannabis dispensaries.

One of the things I learned from the CBD farmers is that CBD can be an unstable and fleeting trait in cannabis plants. CBD production doesn’t just depend on the genetics of a plant, but the methods of growing, and what is also recognized in grape and wine production as the terroir. New strains of CBD-rich cannabis are being developed for the legal market all the time. I haven’t been able to try them all, but I’ve had the privilege of trying some of the most well-known strains, such as Harlequin, Harle-Tsu, ACDC, Cannatonic, Charlotte’s Web, Sour Tsunami, and a rare crop of Golden Goat, which expressed more than 8% CBD. This list is by no means complete in terms of CBD-rich cannabis strains available.

Hemp, the low-to-no THC variety of Cannabis sativa grown for the oilseed and fiber it produces, can also produce CBD in varying amounts. Both wild hemp and cultivated hemp can produce CBD in their resins. No matter what variety of Cannabis sativa produces CBD, the molecule is always the same.

Farmers, Plants, and Test Results over Brands: How To Select CBD Products

I believe that quality, whole-plant infusions and extractions matter. Epidiolex, the FDA-approved drug, is a whole-plant extract of CBD, purified, standardized, and manufactured for consistency. It’s rare as far as pharmaceuticals go; GW Pharma grows and processes their own cannabis to make therapeutic pharmaceuticals. Whether you are in need of a pharmaceutical treatment or are using CBD as a home remedy or for pleasure, you should be using whole-plant infusions and extractions. The cannabis farmers I spoke with have expressed a similar belief.

I am often asked about which brands of CBD are the best and which products to choose. But the truth is that when it comes to CBD, brands do not matter. Farms and plants matter. Selecting quality CBD-rich cannabis plant products begins with the farm they are grown on. Before you purchase any CBD product, know the farm and farmer. This is an easy task in most of our state-legal cannabis dispensaries, as this information will be readily available and even used as a marketing tool. This information is harder to find if you are purchasing CBD products from the over-the-counter herbal supplement market.

CBD products sold over the counter in the mainstream herbal supplement market do not have the oversight and regulated testing that most of our state-legal dispensary systems have. If you choose to purchase CBD products in the herbal supplement market, you must rely on the information they provide to you in terms of acquisition of plant material and test results. You must also be aware that there is controversy (both legal and scientific) surrounding the purchase of CBD products over the counter through the mainstream herbal supplement marketplace.

Test results matter. The herbal supplement marketplace is largely unregulated and a bit like the Wild West. An exposé in the New York Times in 2013 detailed some very disturbing problems with the herbal supplement marketplace and the fact that consumers often do not receive the products they are paying for. As well, CBD supplement merchants in the over-the-counter herbal supplement market have been cited by the FDA for many violations around the labeling and distribution of their products.

Certainly, I am not saying that all herbal supplement products are bad. What I am saying is that it is a wise decision as a consumer to seek out information and verify it if you are purchasing supplement products of any kind. And you should also be aware that not all locales will regard the purchase of CBD products as a legal activity.

The functionality of this book is to show you how to seek, find, and enjoy CBD-rich cannabis. Facts and aesthetics both matter if what you seek is a quality product and a satisfying experience.

In the recipes that follow, the focus is on whole-plant CBD-rich cannabis extractions and infusions, as these high-quality, artisanal, and farmer-centric whole plants and whole-plant resins will unfold themselves with fragrant and delicious complexity in your kitchen. My wish is for you to enjoy and benefit from everything CBD-rich cannabis offers without missing anything.

CBD to THC Ratio Selection and Dosing

Selection and dosage amount of CBD or CBD: THC is a very individual process and an ideal dosage that works as a one-size-fits-all amount does not exist. If you have concerns about what is best for you, this is something you should discuss with your personal physician. There are also MDs and DOs who specialize in cannabis therapeutics who can guide you based on your current health situation. If you are considering CBD for therapeutic medicinal purposes, it’s a good idea to consult with a physician who has knowledge and experience in this area before you begin.

I’ve developed a checklist that you can use and that I hope will guide you to the products that are worthy of your consideration:

— Is the name of the farm or farmer disclosed on the product label or available from the company or merchant selling the product?

— Does the product have test results from a third-party lab independent of any brand or manufacturer? Can you verify these results independent of a company, merchant, or legal dispensary?

— Do the test results include more than just CBD and other cannabinoid content?

— Are there test results for pesticides, mold, and other contamination? (Cannabis is a powerful soil remediator and easily absorbs toxic chemicals from the soil it is grown in.)

— If the product you would like to purchase is raw plant material, have you scoped it to check for mold or insects? Most dispensaries have magnification scopes for their customers to use—take advantage of this.

— Does the product look fresh, and does it smell fresh and clean? Is the product or plant material dated with harvest time or an expiration date?

CBD Farmer’s Oil Recipe with Whole Flowers

When one considers flavors, textures, freshness, effects, and fragrances as the starting point of evaluating a quality CBD oil product, this recipe will produce a gourmet oil extraction that will impress even the most experienced connoisseur.

Farmers know best. And this oil recipe was given to me by one of the most hardworking and knowledgeable CBD farmers I have met, Mr. Jesse Davis of Feather Canyon Farms in Del Norte County, California.

I experienced many pleasant surprises while sampling this oil at home, and the process of making it was even more surprising. Rich in both CBD and the natural terpenes of the Harle-Tsu CBD-rich cannabis plant, this oil is a gorgeous emerald color with a sublime minty and herbaceous flavor that I have never experienced with a CBD oil previously. This oil was completely non-intoxicating, but it was very pleasant and relaxing.

This oil, processed in MCT oil (fractionated coconut oil) at a low temperature for 24 hours, produced a CBD oil product that has lab tested at 10mg CBD and less than 1 mg

THC per 1ml dose. How low was that temperature? 175°F (80°C)—a temperature much lower than what is typically expected for a complete decarboxylation. What made the difference? The slow processing of this oil over a 24-hour period. Decarboxylation takes place with temperature, time, or in this case, both time and temperature.

I am satisfied that the flavor profile of this oil was only possible due to the careful, low-temperature processing technique that retained the majority of naturally occurring terpenes in the whole cannabis flowers from the CBD-rich Harle-Tsu cannabis strain grown in the mountain region of Del Norte County. Flower quality really does matter when it comes to producing an exquisite CBD oil such as this one.

This makes approximately 10 oz. (296ml) of CBD oil, but you can increase or decrease the amount of oil or flowers depending on the CBD concentration you desire.

10 oz. (296ml) MCT oil or more (otherwise known as liquid fractionated coconut oil)

1 oz. (28g) or more whole CBD-rich, low-or-no- THC cannabis flowers, cured, dried, and chopped

  1. This recipe requires a slow cooker with a low heat setting to process this oil correctly. Add the chopped cannabis to the slow cooker.
  2. Pour the oil over the cannabis, making sure that all the flower material is covered. If you need to add a little extra oil to cover the flowers, you should do so at this time. Cover the slow cooker and set to the low or low cook setting (depending on your model).
  3. Within at least 3 hours, your slow cooker should reach the final processing temperature of about 175°F (80°C). Use a candy thermometer to verify the temperature and adjust if necessary. Stir the oil and plant material at this time and cover the slow cooker once again.
  4. Every few hours, stir the oil and flower material to evenly distribute the infusion throughout the process. Do not stir frequently, as this will allow more of the volatile terpenes to escape into the air. To preserve as many of the volatile constituents as possible, such as terpenes, leave the lid on the pot throughout the entire process. This can be left to process overnight without stirring.
  5. After the 24-hour period is over, cool the oil by unplugging the slow cooker and allowing the materials to remain in the pot and the oil to cool to room temperature a few more hours.
  6. Strain the oil from the plant material through cheesecloth and into a clean glass jar. The oil is now ready to use by itself in measured doses or in any recipe.

Store in a cool, dark, and dry area. Use within 6 months for freshest flavor

Sandra Hinchliffe

Sandra Hinchliffe is the founder of posyandkettle.com, a home herbalist, allergy chef, autoimmune disease survivor, and an inventor of pretty things for people of sensitive constitution. She uses her 30+ years background as a home herbalist and medical cannabis patient to create a repertoire of recipes designed to be both beneficial and delightful. She is the author of “The Cannabis Spa at Home, the first book to bring together cannabis, spa, and herbal healing, “High Tea,” a collection of gracious cannabis tea-time recipes for every occasion, and “CBD Every Day,” a farm-to-table CBD experience guide with a collection of allergy-friendly, preservative-free, artificial fragrance-free and dye-free CBD-infused edible and spa recipes.

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Non-psychoactive and increasingly popular as a relaxation drug, CBD can also be a DIY extract

The Best Cannabis Extraction Methods for Marijuana Concentrates

Extraction techniques are used to separate the components of cannabis and remove them from the plant matrix. Various methods can divide cannabis plant material into parts, or extracts, that contain different chemicals. With cannabis, extraction techniques are often used to isolate specific desirable compounds, and cannabis contains at least 113 cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). On the other hand, a producer may seek to create a single extract with many desirable cannabis compounds; sometimes called whole plant extracts. Including the better-known cannabinoids, scientists have identified more than 550 chemicals in cannabis in general including components like terpenes. Extraction techniques are also used to concentrate chemicals of interest.

This article goes over the most common methods of cannabis extraction. Before discussing these methods, readers should keep in mind that cannabis extraction is chemistry, not cooking. So, some skills in analytical methods plus real lab equipment is required to perform these methods correctly and safely. In many cases, the reagents and how they are used can create dangerous situations. Consequently, many of the techniques require safety equipment, like a fume hood. Just as important, the extraction process must be performed correctly to produce a safe product for human use, and the results should be confirmed independently with proper analytical testing.

Cannabis alcohol extraction

A cannabis tincture created using alcohol-based extraction.

This method can be performed at atmospheric pressure, but the temperature is carefully controlled, especially during evaporation. This process can also take time and must be done carefully to avoid danger as ethanol is highly inflammable. One of the biggest benefits of this form of extraction is that there is no risk of leaving toxic residual chemicals in the final cannabis extract and, it enables the co-extraction of all compounds of interest, chiefly cannabinoids and terpenoids.

CO2 cannabis extraction

Using a reagent of any kind can add cost and clean-up time, so various techniques should be considered, and one is CO2 extraction. Instead of using alcohol, this method removes cannabis components from the plant matrix with carbon dioxide. Here, though, high pressure and heat are used to turn the CO2 supercritical—meaning it is simultaneously like a liquid and a gas.

Cannabis CO2 extract being dispensed from a supercritical CO2 system following extraction. Credit: Eden Labs LLC.

The equipment cost for this method is orders of magnitude higher than alcohol extraction, but it produces higher yields and less valuable material is lost. Plus, this method can be adjusted to extract specific compounds by changing the temperature, pressure or runtime—more likely a combination of these. Moreover, one study found that different compounds get concentrated at different rates in the same process. So, the extract should be analyzed, especially where concentrations of specific compounds are desired.

A selection of supercritical CO2 extraction equipment available from Eden Labs. Credit: Eden Labs LLC.

Meet cannabis science experts

In addition, if any CO2 remains in an extract after the process, it just evaporates. That is especially important for any preparations for medical uses as a producer using this method can guarantee that absolutely no residual solvent will be present in the final product.

Despite the need for some financial investment in a CO2 extraction system, a manufacturer can consider various levels of equipment. For instance, Apeks Supercritical makes introductory through high-production extraction systems and even offers refurbished systems. This gives customers a range of prices to consider.

Cannabis butane or propane extraction

Using butane as the extraction solvent creates what is known as butane hash oil. To do this, the process starts with cannabis and liquid butane in a pressurized and heated system. By using evaporation under a vacuum, it is then possible to remove the butane solvent. The vacuum turns the butane from liquid to a vapor, making it easier to remove.

This kind of extract is also known as shatter, which is a clear material that typically includes THC, CBD and other chemical components, including terpenes. To really make shatter, which is a hard version of butane hash oil, terpene content must be kept low or it works like a solvent that makes the extract soft. The right starting sample can help to reduce the terpenes present in the final product, such as by starting with cured flowers. On the other hand, the butane hash oil can be heated to remove terpenes after extraction as they are more volatile than cannabinoids like THC and CBD.

Even without any added steps, this method includes some potential hazards. For one thing, butane burns easily in its gas phase. So, the temperature used must be managed carefully otherwise there is a serious risk of the gas exploding. In addition, a system should include circulators that remove and recycle the butane. The removal process should reduce any residual butane in an extract. In all cases, though, analytical testing should be done to ensure butane’s removal, because it is highly toxic to humans.

That danger can make this method a less desirable choice, especially for medicinal products. Increasing analytical testing and tighter regulations on acceptable residual butane levels could limit this method for many applications—unless, the user takes special precautions to limit any residual butane in the product and uses third-party analytical testing to confirm the safety of an extract.

Nonetheless, butane extraction has been a popular method for extract producers and enthusiasts for years, largely due to the relatively low equipment and running cost. And, the fact that it produces flavorful extracts with higher terpene content than can be achieved by CO2 extraction, for example.

Instead of butane hash oil, some manufacturers opt to produce propane hash oil. In this method, liquid propane is used in the place of butane. Here, high pressure keeps the propane liquefied and extraction occurs at a lower temperature, because propane’s boiling point is less than butane’s.

The extraction temperature impacts the components removed from cannabis. So, these two similar methods—butane and propane extraction—produce dissimilar extracts. In some cases, butane and propane extraction can be used in combination to create a product with a broader chemical profile.

Like the butane process, though, special care must be taken with propane extraction to remove as much of the chemical as possible and prove it.

Solvent-free extractions

It is worth mentioning that more basic techniques also exist for preparing cannabis and extracting desirable components from the plant matrix. Kief, for example, can be separated from cannabis buds simply by grinding and sieving. These crystalline formations make up part of structures known as trichromes which are found on many plants, including cannabis. Cannabis trichromes are primarily protective structures produced by female plants when flowering. Their intense bitter taste and strong aromas render the plant unpalatable to herbivores and, they are also believed to inhibit some fungal growth. When separated from cannabis inflorescence, kief looks just like a powder or pollen. And, as cannabinoids and terpenoid production is particularly concentrated in trichromes this powder can be added to cannabis preparations to boost potency or consumed alone as a standalone product.

Rosin has also become very popular over the last couple of years. Produced from flowers, hash or kief, rosin is a translucent substance typically with a sap-like consistency. It’s made by applying heat and pressure to the material you wish to extract from and results in a product that’s very similar to the more time-consuming, expensive and, solvent-based butane extraction. Analytical testing has demonstrated that this simple approach effectively extracts cannabinoids and terpenes with absolutely no risk of leaving behind toxic residual solvents like butane. The simplicity of this approach is without a doubt its biggest draw. Enthusiasts are able to produce highly potent rosin extracts with a hair straightener, some baking parchment, a collection tool and, some heatproof gloves. Commercial rosin presses are also available to process material on a much larger scale but the concept is essentially the same. A flat heat press mechanism is used to squeeze the material but at a specific heat and pressure and the extract is scraped off.

The Best Cannabis Extraction Methods for Marijuana Concentrates Extraction techniques are used to separate the components of cannabis and remove them from the plant matrix. Various methods can