• To produce a safe CBD product, manufacturers must consider using a cannabis plant extraction system that leaves no unwanted residues in the CBD extract(1). Thus, the CBD product’s quality and safety may depend on the extraction equipment.
  • No single extraction method works best for all manufacturing needs. CBD companies may choose a process depending on their preferences and desired production goals.
  • Manufacturers can mitigate the inherent risks of setting up an extraction facility by ensuring that the equipment has the necessary certifications and complies with safety standards.

CBD Extraction Equipment Overview

Manufacturers use various equipment depending on their preferred extraction processes and techniques when deriving cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabinoids and compounds from the cannabis plant.

CBD is a plant-based cannabinoid purported to have multiple therapeutic properties that provide anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, antioxidant, and anxiolytic (antianxiety) effects(2).

CBD is typically extracted from at least two cannabis plant varieties: hemp and marijuana. However, hemp has higher CBD content and contains less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)(3).

Different CBD processing equipment and extraction solutions may vary in efficiency, safety, and cost. Manufacturers must consider these factors when choosing equipment suitable for their needs and budget.

Choosing the Extraction Equipment

For manufacturers to create a safe CBD oil product, one of the essential things to consider is to use a cannabis plant extraction machine or system that does not leave harmful residues in the CBD extract(4).

Thus, the extraction equipment used may determine the CBD product’s quality and safety.

Another consideration is the equipment cost. Some types of cannabis extraction equipment are relatively affordable and easily procured by small businesses. Meanwhile, other equipment may be too expensive that only medium- or large-scale enterprises can afford.

Therefore, CBD companies should consider their financial capacity when deciding what extraction equipment to purchase and use.

After considering these factors, manufacturers have the option to choose among the following extraction equipment:

Solvent-Based Extraction Equipment

Solvent extraction is widely used for deriving natural products(5).

In this method, the solvent penetrates the solid material and dissolves the solute, which is then diffused out of the solid. Afterward, the extracted solutes are collected to create the end product.

The following types of equipment utilize one or more solvents for extracting CBD:

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Extraction Equipment

Carbon dioxide extraction involves a supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) process to derive CBD from the cannabis plant.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) defines CO2 as a noncombustible and odorless gas that is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for use as a food ingredient(6).

For example, manufacturers use CO2 in carbonated beverages like water or soft drinks.

CO2 takes a gaseous form at room temperature. However, the compound liquefies at high pressures and fluctuating temperatures, turning it into a “supercritical” state(7).

Supercritical fluids exist at temperatures and pressures that exceed critical levels where fluid density and fluid transport properties can significantly vary from gas-like to liquid-like values(8).

Some manufacturers consider CO2 a versatile compound to work with, allowing technicians to customize the amount of terpenes and cannabinoids extracted by changing the solvent’s solubility(9).

Terpenes are essential oil compounds that produce a distinct aroma in cannabis plants(10).

Because of the solvent’s flexibility, manufacturers can produce a wide range of products, from concentrates, such as waxes, saps, and crumbles (dry, powdery concentrate), to oils, such as topicals, edibles, and vaporizers(11).

Supercritical CO2 extraction requires expensive equipment, and technicians must undergo a steep learning curve to operate the system(12).

However, businesses selling CO2 extraction systems claim that this extraction method may minimize the risks and concerns associated with other solvents.

An alternative to supercritical CO2 extraction is the subcritical CO2 process. Unlike its supercritical counterpart, subcritical extraction involves low pressure and low temperature.

Some CBD companies claim that subcritical CO2 extraction produces smaller yields and takes more time. However, these companies believe this method retains more terpenes and essential oils than supercritical CO2 extraction.

CBD brands also claim to prefer CO2 extraction over other methods because carbon dioxide is non-flammable, non-toxic, and relatively inexpensive.

Co-solvent Extraction Equipment (Ethanol and CO2)

Co-solvent extraction combines two or more solvents to extract phenolic (plant-based) compounds. One of these combinations involves CO2 and ethanol.

Ethanol or ethyl alcohol is an industrial chemical with several applications, such as being used to synthesize organic chemicals, as an additive to automotive gasoline, and as a solvent. This chemical is also an intoxicating ingredient in alcoholic beverages(13).

A 2020 study published in Molecules analyzed the efficiency of co-solvent extraction of phenolic compounds from the kacip fatimah plant (Labisia pumila)(14).

Results showed that supercritical CO2 with 70% ethanol-water co-solvent may be more efficient in extracting phenolic compounds than the other co-solvents used.

Another study using co-solvents to extract plant compounds from grape marc (grape remains after pressing) showed that supercritical CO2 combined with water or ethanol may result in higher phenolic yield than methanol extraction(15).

Methanol or methyl alcohol is a toxic compound used as a pesticide, solvent, or alternative fuel source(16).

The studies mentioned above used different plants than cannabis. Still, researchers may utilize the results for further studies regarding CBD oil extraction using the co-solvent method, specifically supercritical CO2 and ethanol.

Notably, some providers offer upgrades to existing cannabis or hemp extraction equipment, such as CO2 extraction systems, to include a co-solvent injection module.

This module allows the introduction of co-solvents, such as ethanol, into the system. Providers claim this feature may increase the utilization of the plant biomass and improve operational efficiency during extraction.

Hydrocarbon Extraction Equipment

Extraction using hydrocarbons involves using butane, propane, hexane, or mixtures of such substances as solvents to extract CBD from cannabis.

Cannabis concentrates produced from hydrocarbon extraction are typically called “shatters” because they appear like tree sap or brittle candy with a glass-like appearance when they break(17).

Manufacturers consider hydrocarbon extraction as effective in separating cannabinoids and compounds from unneeded cannabis components like chlorophyll, provided that these companies implement this method in compliance with proper operating standards(18).

Chlorophyll is a plant substance that provides green plants their color. The compound also tastes bitter and gives concentrates a strong, grassy flavor(19).

However, hydrocarbons are neurotoxic, meaning they can cause adverse effects on the nervous system. These chemicals are also highly flammable and may cause explosions if not handled properly.

In a 2021 study on the processing and extraction of medicinal cannabis compounds, the authors noted significant petroleum hydrocarbon residues within the cannabis extract(20).

This result suggests that inefficient extraction processes using hydrocarbons can leave harmful residues if manufacturers do not wholly purge such chemicals from the final product.

However, providers selling hydrocarbon extraction equipment may offer closed-loop extraction systems. “Closed-loop” means the extraction occurs within a closed vessel, preventing hydrocarbon solvents from making contact with the outside atmosphere.

Cannabis industry experts claim that the closed-loop method is safer, more efficient, and produces a cleaner product than open-loop extraction.

Furthermore, one study using butane hash oil for extracting cannabis terpenes mentioned that closed-loop systems are often used because they are safer and provide more advantages than open-loop systems(21).

Vegetable Oil Extraction Equipment

Oils used as solvents in vegetable oil extraction include butter, olive oil, coconut oil, and other edible oils.

Some cannabis industry experts consider this method appropriate for beginners or home-based extractors who prefer producing their cannabis-based products without spending too much on extraction equipment.

This method does not require specialized equipment since individuals may perform vegetable oil extractions using domestic tools, such as pots, pans, and stoves.

Industry experts claim that the lack of special equipment compared to other CBD extraction methods means that vegetable oil extraction may produce a final product less potent than products made through CO2, ethanol, or hydrocarbon methods.

One study considered vegetable oils an alternative to petroleum-based solvents for extracting, purifying, and formulating natural and food products(22).

The study noted that ancient civilizations used vegetable oils as solvents, and manufacturers may use such substances as an ecological, economical, and sustainable option for hazardous solvents moving to the future.

The authors also mentioned that their findings may help develop scientific solutions using vegetable oils as solvents and functional ingredients in various industries.

Non-solvent Extraction Equipment

In non-solvent extraction, manufacturers use equipment and methods that do not use solvents to extract CBD from cannabis.

Methods such as rosin press and water extraction have been utilized for a long time. However, researchers found limited literature on these systems because such practices are considered outdated and not scalable despite having simple procedures(23).

Industry professionals claim that the solvent-free extraction method results in a purer, more natural product whose flavor and aroma are closer to the original plant.

Individuals who prefer this taste and smell may choose CBD products created from solvent-free methods.

Water Hash Extraction Equipment

In a water hash extraction method, an extraction machine mechanically separates the cannabinoid-rich trichomes from the cannabis biomass. Cannabis trichomes are sticky glands covering the flowers and small leaves of the plant.

Separation occurs when water or ice and agitational force break off the trichomes from the plant. Mechanical agitation is when particles are suspended in a liquid to promote a chemical reaction or mass transfer.

The separated and undissolved trichomes floating in the water are filtered and formed into hash “patties,” which are dried to produce a high-quality end product.

Hash, also called hashish, is a potent cannabis product made from compressed trichomes(24).

Trichomes produce a resin containing cannabinoids, including cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA)(25).

CBDA is the carboxylated form of CBD. Decarboxylation of CBDA, usually accomplished by applying heat, activating the cannabinoid, and transforming it into CBD. THCA is also converted to THC in the same way(26).

Rosin or Live Rosin Pressed Extraction

In the pressed extraction method, cannabis plant material is exposed to heat and pressure. A press is then used to squeeze the cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis trichomes, producing rosin.

Rosin and live rosin are cannabis extracts with a waxy appearance. Although live rosin is typically produced similarly to rosin, the plant material is first frozen after harvest to retain the plant compounds.

Experts assert that this cannabis extract form has a high purity level despite not using solvents, making it a popular product to some users.

Industry watchers also claim rosin pressed extraction is becoming a popular method because of its perceived safety, low cost, and fast learning curve despite being considered a small-scale extraction system.

However, this method cannot achieve low temperatures and high pressures, causing terpene retention to be limited(27).

Cold-Pressed Oil Extraction Equipment

Cold pressing involves chilling the plant material and placing it under high pressure to squeeze the cannabis oil or hemp oil from the biomass.

A cold-pressed oil extraction equipment comprises a basin with a large rotating screw inside. The plant material is placed inside the basin, then the screw rotates. Next, the biomass is crushed, extracting the oil from the trichomes.

Afterward, the oil goes through tiny holes at the basin’s bottom and is collected for use in the CBD product.

One advantage of cold press oil extraction is that it requires less energy than other extraction methods(28). Another benefit of cold pressing is that it is environmentally friendly since this method does not use chemicals or solvents.

Screens and Presses Extraction Equipment

Screens and presses are tools to make handmade cannabis kief or hash.

Kief comes from the cannabis trichomes gathered after the plant material is sifted through a screen and has a powdery appearance.

Small-scale or home-based cannabis producers may choose from various equipment such as screens, grinders, or dry sifters for this extraction method.

For large-scale operators, equipment such as an ice water hash-making machine is available for producing kief or hash. This equipment is typically made from stainless steel and may be operated manually or through automation.

In the food production industry, stainless steel is the most preferred material for designing, constructing, and fabricating food processing equipment(29). This preference is due to the material’s high corrosion resistance, ease of machining, and relatively low production cost.

Equipment for Ethanol Extraction

Ethanol extraction is a process that comprises several steps, where each step utilizes a specific piece of equipment.

Equipment providers that manufacture and sell ethanol extraction equipment often claim that ethanol is safe for extracting cannabinoids and other compounds from cannabis, hemp, and other plants.

The FDA considers ethanol an antimicrobial agent and has listed the substance as generally recognized as safe (GRAS)(30).

Thus, manufacturer claims regarding ethanol’s safety may be substantiated.

Ethanol extraction processes may vary between manufacturers, depending on preferences or available equipment.

For example, one CBD producer may follow a cold temperature extraction process, which some manufacturers claim may help reduce the need for additional post-processing steps.

The following equipment may help individuals interested in CBD oil manufacturing become familiar with the ethanol extraction process associated with each machine. These types of equipment may vary among manufacturers.

Inline Chiller for the Chilling Stage

The ethanol solvent is pre-chilled in an inline chiller to the desired temperature during this first stage. Companies selling inline chillers claim that this step may reduce the need for post-extraction procedures.

An inline chiller is a refrigeration system using low temperatures for processing fluids.

Some manufacturers may prefer using ethanol at room temperature. However, industry professionals claim this method may require additional steps to produce a high-quality final product.

Centrifuge Utility Platform for the Extraction Stage

Next, the biomass is soaked and agitated in the chilled ethanol solvent using closed-loop mechanical centrifugation equipment known as the centrifuge utility platform (CUP). At this stage, the CUP extracts the cannabinoid compounds from the biomass.

Some types of extraction equipment are automated, meaning individuals can input programmable sequences according to the desired final product.

For example, manufacturers targeting a specific set or amount of cannabinoids to extract may program the CUP to derive those compounds automatically and consistently without manual intervention.

Particulate Filter for the Filtration Stage

In this stage, a particulate filter removes the suspended particulates in the ethanol solution, allowing the extraction system to perform solvent recovery.

Recovery enables the manufacturer to reuse the ethanol for multiple extractions. This feature may allow the business to optimize the solvent and help maximize efficiency. In turn, filtration may provide an opportunity to increase profitability through cost reduction.

During the extraction process, the ethanol solvent is saturated with cannabinoids. Some manufacturers claiming to be capable of maximizing this process may minimize the amount of ethanol to be evaporated later, allowing the reuse of more ethanol.

The end product of the filtration stage is a saturated ethanol solution, also called crude oil, that is ready for the next step.

Falling Film Evaporator for the Evaporation Stage

Evaporation is the process of separating the ethanol solvent from the crude oil containing the extracted cannabinoids and terpenes. This step utilizes an evaporator, which may vary among manufacturers depending on the evaporation technique used.

For example, in a falling film evaporator (FFE), heat travels across a shell and tube heat exchanger to evaporate a component, such as solvents, of the fluid being processed.

The fluid is pumped to the top of the evaporator and flows evenly down inside the tube’s walls, causing the fluid to appear like a “falling film,” hence the name of the equipment.

Industrial experts claim that an FFE is an effective and efficient heat exchanger compared to other types, provided that this evaporator type is adequately designed to maximize thermal performance.

Once the evaporator removes the solvent, the processed fluid is sent to a decarb vessel for decarboxylation.

Decarb Vessel for the Decarboxylation Stage

Decarboxylation converts the acidic cannabinoids, such as CBDA and THCA, into their activated forms, such as CBD and THC. When performing the step, one factor to consider is the choice of decarb vessel.

For example, some industry experts recommend glass vessels to easily monitor the crude oil while it is heated to release CO2. Other producers may suggest steel containers because these vessels are sturdier than glass.

Meanwhile, some manufacturers may also recommend liquid jacketed reactors, allowing complete visibility of the fluid being processed while giving operators more precise control over the heat level through incremental temperature adjustments.

However, operators should be wary of low-cost reactors as some of these types of equipment may be inaccurate and cause the heat to overshoot the target heat levels.

If the operators do not handle the decarboxylation process carefully, overheating can happen and carbonize the cannabis oil.

After the crude oil is decarboxylated or “decarbed” and the manufacturer achieves their desired product, the processed fluid is then prepared for distillation.

Short Path Distillation Equipment for the Distillation Stage

This stage is the last step of the ethanol extraction process and involves separating the cannabinoids and other desirable compounds from the decarbed crude oil. After this stage, the manufacturer transforms the distillate into various end-products.

Distillation removes several highly volatile terpene fractions from the decarbed crude oil. These fractions can create a vapor pressure that increases the gas volume, which the equipment’s pump needs to displace.

The pump has to maintain a target distillation pressure for the desired oils.

After removing the unneeded terpenes, the equipment distills the desired fractions by separating them into the “heart” and “tails.”

The “tails” comprise low-quality fractions typically found in the preliminary and end portions of the distillate. Manufacturers may use these fractions for products like topicals or edibles.

Meanwhile, the “heart” contains a purer version of the distillate typically used for vape cartridges.

Many manufacturing laboratories use the traditional short path distillation method, consisting of a large boiling flask made of borosilicate glass, a vapor path with a condensing coil, and receiving flasks.

Borosilicate glass can tolerate uneven heating and withstand a wide range of thermal strains, making the equipment convenient to use in laboratory environments(31).

The vapor path is where the vapor of the heated distillate from the boiling flask passes through. The condensing coil contains a fluid, such as chilled water, that helps condense the steam.

Afterward, the condensed distillate containing the purified fractions falls into the receiving flasks under the condensing surface.

In some cases, condensers have multiple stages for isolating substances with significantly different boiling points in a process called fractional distillation.

In this method, the condenser captures the components selectively and chills each substance to condensing temperatures.

Major Steps in CBD Extraction

Different extraction types may vary in processes and equipment. However, the function of all these methods is to extract the desired compounds from plant materials and discard the unneeded ones.

In general, manufacturers perform CBD extraction using the following steps:

Centrifuge Extraction

In a solvent-based extraction process, the cannabis biomass is placed inside an extraction vessel and mixed with a solvent such as CO2, ethanol, or hydrocarbons to remove the soluble substances.

Some methods like ethanol extraction use a centrifuge where the operator mixes the biomass and chilled solvent. The centrifuge’s rotor spins at high speed to extract the compounds from the biomass.

Afterward, the extract undergoes a filtration process that separates the compounds from the solvent.

Some systems allow the recovery and reuse of the solvent through a centrifuge that separates the solvent from the dry biomass.


This process involves separating unnecessary lipids from the solution. Lipids are organic compounds, such as waxes, fats, and oils insoluble in water. These oils are exposed to low temperatures and filtered out from the extracted compounds.

Winterization is typically performed by putting the substance in beakers and placing them in a freezer. Manufacturers may also complete this process using a filter reactor for filtering the compounds.

However, manufacturers may skip this step if they perform the initial extraction using a pre-chilled solvent. Some operators may set the temperature to as low as -50°C.

Solvent Recovery

After extracting the cannabinoids and separating them from the solvent, manufacturers need to recover the solvent so it can be reused. Otherwise, the solvent will evaporate and be removed from the process, especially in open-loop systems.

Some types of equipment capable of solvent recovery include falling film evaporators (FFE), rotary evaporators (rotovap), or rising film evaporators (RFE).

Rotary evaporators comprise the following parts:

  • A motor unit that rotates the flask containing the substance
  • A vacuum system to reduce pressure within the system
  • A fluid bath that heats the substance
  • A condenser coil with coolant to condense the vapors
  • A collecting flask to catch the condensate

Contemporary rotovaps have technological features like digital vacuum controls and digital displays for temperature and rotation speed.

Meanwhile, rising film evaporators work in the opposite direction of FFEs. RFEs contain a vertical tube where the liquid to be evaporated is fed from the bottom. The system heats the liquid and produces vapor within the tube.

The vapor presses the liquid against the tube’s wall and creates a force that causes the fluid to ascend. The heat produces more steam, and the velocity inside the tube increases and moves the liquid upwards.


Decarboxylation is essential in producing high-quality cannabis extracts as this process involves heating the raw cannabinoid molecules in their acidic form in the processed fluid.

Heating causes the acidic cannabinoid molecules to release the carboxyl molecule groups as CO2. The remaining decarboxylated molecules are converted into more known versions, such as CBD or THC.

While the concept is relatively simple, decarboxylation is a complex process involving knowing and understanding the different temperature thresholds needed to produce high-quality cannabis derivatives.

Although decarboxylation is essential for converting raw, acidic cannabinoids into processed compounds like CBD and THC, some products may also contain these raw cannabinoids. Thus, not all CBD oil products undergo this process.

For example, one study mentioned that CBDA may selectively inhibit cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) activity at a 50% inhibition concentration(32).

COX-2 is an enzyme responsible for converting arachidonic acid (a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid) into thromboxanes and prostaglandins. One study suggested that these lipid mediators may have essential roles in pain and inflammation(33).

Platelets produce thromboxanes that cause blood clots to form within the vascular system, leading to blood vessel occlusion or blockage(34).

Meanwhile, prostaglandins are hormones produced at sites of tissue infection or damage and cause pain or inflammation as part of the healing process(35).

Companies selling cannabis products containing CBDA claim this compound may have potential anti-inflammatory or analgesic properties.


The distillation process utilizes vacuum-assisted evaporation to separate the cannabinoids from the unneeded plant material.

Aside from the short path distillation equipment used in ethanol extraction, manufacturers may also utilize other tools for distilling cannabinoids, such as the wiped or rolled film evaporator, for other extraction methods.

Wiped film evaporators are so-called because they use a wiper blade to evenly spread the distilled compound inside the evaporator wall. This mechanism makes the fluid appear like a thin film on the evaporator’s interior surface.

On the other hand, rolled film evaporators use rollers or hollow cylinders in place of wipers to produce the thin film.

The equipment isolates the liquid during distillation through selective heating, vaporization, and condensation. 

Vacuum distillation allows the processed liquid to be distilled under reduced pressure and lower temperature. This method also increases the distillation rate and lowers the exposure of temperature-sensitive compounds.

Some evaporators use external condensers, while others use internal ones. An external condenser is placed farther from the evaporation area, creating a significant pressure difference between these two parts.

The choice of an external or internal condenser may depend on the type of products or preferred process the manufacturer aims to accomplish.

For example, external condensers may be suitable for wiped film evaporator systems that need to perform solvent recovery before distilling compounds with higher boiling points.

Crystallization Reactor

A crystallization reactor allows manufacturers to produce high-purity CBD products on a large scale without needing specialized or complex equipment.

During crystallization, the system dissolves the winterized and distilled CBD oil. This process allows the substance to cool down slowly and grow the crystallized CBD.

Some systems usually have filter reactors for reaction and filtration processes within the same vessel. Other crystallization reactors also have condensers and collection tanks for solvent recovery.

Some lab equipment providers manufacture and sell fully-customizable crystallization reactors. This flexibility allows operators to input their own settings according to their desired products and needs.

Specific models have programmable controllers, high-speed agitation, explosion-proof motors, and insulation jackets manufacturers claim may provide better control and safety.

CBD companies that need crystallization reactors also have the option to choose between borosilicate glass or stainless steel vessels, depending on needs like fluid monitoring or cost considerations.


The cannabis industry often uses chromatography to purify and isolate cannabinoids, such as separating THC from CBD.

Chromatography is a method to separate the mixture into its various components. The extraction system dissolves the mixture in a fluid solvent known as the mobile phase. Afterward, this phase carries the dissolved mixture using tubes, plates, or sheets to a stationary phase.

The mobile phase may use liquid or gas, while the stationary phase can be solid or liquid.

The solute mixture is introduced into a confined zone called the origin during the chromatography process. The mobile phase transports the different molecule species from the mixture at different rates according to the fluid flow’s direction.

Meanwhile, solute molecules with an affinity for the stationary phase produce a resistive force that separates such molecules from other solute components.

The kinetic molecular action occurring during the chromatography phase continuously exchanges the solute molecules between the mobile and stationary phases.

For example, a solute component favoring the moving liquid will spend more time with the stream. Thus, that component will be separated from molecules retained in the stationary phase.

Aside from the cannabis industry, chromatography also has applications in other biological or chemical fields, such as separating and identifying chemical compounds or analyzing complex hydrocarbons.

CO2 vs. Ethanol Extraction: What Extraction Method Is Best for CBD

There is no single extraction method that works best for all manufacturing needs. Each method has its weaknesses and strengths, and manufacturers may choose a procedure they believe will achieve their needs and produce the desired products.

With this in mind, CO2 and ethanol extraction have the following advantages and disadvantages:

CO2 Extraction

Many medium- and large-scale producers prefer CO2 extraction because this solvent is a pure chemical substance that does not leave residues(36).

In addition to the cannabis industry, the food and herbal supplement industries also utilizes CO2 extraction, such as extracting essential oils for perfumes and decaffeinating coffee.

CO2 is a noncombustible gas(37). Thus, it has little to no risk of causing fires or explosions within the extraction facility.

With its GRAS classification and suitability as a food ingredient, CO2 is also considered safe for human consumption(38).

Another benefit of CO2 is that suppliers may use the residual biomass from CO2 extraction as animal feed or fertilizer(39).

Thus, the lack of flammable or toxic solvents in CO2 extraction suggests that manufacturers may sustainably use the residual by-products.

CO2 is also relatively inexpensive(40). This affordability allows laboratories and extraction facilities to acquire CO2 supplies easily.

However, the primary disadvantage of CO2 extraction is that the equipment for this method is expensive, and the analysis process may be complex(41).

Still, this extraction method uses equipment that prevents light and oxygen from coming into contact with the extract, protecting the compounds from loss of biological activity and oxidation(42).

Ethanol Extraction

On the other hand, some CBD brands and extraction equipment providers claim that ethanol is increasingly becoming popular because it is more efficient than CO2 and safer to work with than hydrocarbons such as butane(43).

Some extraction equipment providers also claim that ethanol extraction requires fewer requirements, allowing operators to save storage space within the facility.

This space optimization may allow producers to extract and store large volumes of cannabis products compared to other bulkier extraction systems.

Another advantage of ethanol extraction is that it may minimize the need for additional steps, such as winterization, when the process is done efficiently.

Additionally, ethanol is considered an “exhaustive” solvent because it extracts a large amount of cannabis plant material, such as cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes(44).

Flavonoids are phenolic compounds purported to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-carcinogenic properties that may have potential application in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries(45).

However, this exhaustive nature may also be a disadvantage because the ethanol strips the plant material of undesirable compounds, such as tannins and chlorophyll.

Tannins are nutritionally undesirable substances because they cause proteins to precipitate (become insoluble) and inhibit digestive enzymes, affecting the body’s utilization of vitamins and minerals(46).

This substance is also a moderately toxic compound when ingested or inhaled. Tannins can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, liver damage, and constipation(47).

Thus, by extracting these unneeded compounds, the extract may require additional refining. However, this extra refining process may lower the final product’s potency(48).

Another disadvantage is that ethanol has a higher boiling point (78°C or 173°F) than hydrocarbons such as butane (-1°C or 30.2°F) or propane (-42.1°C or −43.8°F).

Because the extraction system uses heat for solvent recovery, a high boiling point means ethanol may take longer to recover than other solvents.

Considering the unneeded compounds and high boiling point, manufacturers may have to undergo more labor-intensive ethanol extraction post-processing, such as additional filtration and refinement.

Still, industry experts suggest using ethanol extraction for creating full-spectrum hemp products such as tinctures.

How Is CBD Extracted at Home?

Individuals interested in producing their own cannabis-based products in their homes may use vegetable oils as solvents, provided the individual follows the same process in other extraction methods.

CBD oil producers may use the following cooking oils for home-based extraction:

  • Coconut oil: This oil comes from matured coconut kernels harvested from coconut palm and contains a high amount of saturated fats.

Coconut oil is an edible oil that may be associated with lower cardiovascular heart disease in countries with a high coconut oil intake(49).

One benefit of coconut oil is that its saturated fatty acid content may increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol more than low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol(50).

HDL, known as the “good” cholesterol, may help lower risks for stroke and heart disease(51).

  • Hempseed oil: Oil producers typically derive hempseed oil from hemp seeds.

Hemp is a CBD-rich cannabis plant variety that contains 0.3% THC concentration(52). However, hemp seeds do not contain CBD.

Thus, hempseed oil should not be confused with CBD oil, as the latter is usually extracted from hemp flowers and leaves.

However, hempseed oil may contain omega-3, omega-6, and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which may help develop nutritional formulations(53).

  • Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) oil: MCT oil comes from distilled coconut oil and is purported to help manage weight loss, improve athletic performance, and provide an energy boost(54).

One study showed that MCT oil may have a strong extraction capacity and derive a higher concentration of terpenes compared to olive oil(55). Thus, MCT oil may be more suitable than olive oil for extracting cannabis compounds.

  • Olive oil: This oil is extracted from the fruit of the olive tree. Olive oil may appear golden or clear yellow when derived from the ripened fruit or have a greenish tinge when extracted from unripe olives.

Aside from being used as a solvent, olive oil may also be utilized for medicinal purposes in the pharmaceutical industry. Olive oil is purported to have antioxidant properties, and consumers often include it in the so-called Mediterranean diet(56).

  • Sunflower oil: Studies showed that sunflower oil contains tocopherols and may help produce cardio-healthy foods when used in deep-frying(57).

Tocopherols are fat-soluble compounds associated with vitamin E activity and may have antioxidant properties(58).

High oleic sunflower oil may be stable against oxidation (reaction of a substance to oxygen exposure) and may perform better than unsaturated oils during oxidation tests(59).

After choosing the desired vegetable oil as a solvent, individuals may use the oven to decarboxylate the dried cannabis plant. Industry experts recommend baking the cannabis flowers at 250°F (121°C) for 30 to 60 minutes.

Following decarboxylation, the baked plant material is combined with the vegetable oil and simmered in low heat in a saucepan or slow cooker for about two hours.

After simmering the mixture, the liquid is strained from the plant and placed in glass jars. Home-based producers may keep these jars refrigerated for up to six weeks.

Individuals must not take CBD oil or any cannabis product to cure or treat any disease or medical condition. Instead, these individuals should consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment.

Extraction Equipment Safety Reminders

Setting up and running a CBD extraction facility or lab have inherent risks, and equipment may malfunction or break down. However, manufacturers can mitigate these issues by ensuring that the equipment has the appropriate certifications and meets safety and compliance standards.

CBD companies should consider purchasing extraction equipment that adheres to the following certifications:

  • ASME certification: The American Society of Mechanical Engineers grants this certification signifying the company’s commitment to quality and public safety(60).

The ASME certification is applicable in multiple industries and products.

  • C1D1 compliance (where applicable): Class 1, Division 1 (C1D1) classification is a government-enforced system for companies requiring flammable gasses, liquids, or vapors that can cause a fire hazard or explosion.
  • CE marking (or pending): The CE marking applies to products traded in the European Economic Area (EEA) extended single market.

The marking indicates that the European Commission has evaluated the products sold in the EEA as meeting high health, safety, and environmental protection requirements(61).

  • ISO 9001:2015: This standard specifies the organization’s quality management system requirements.

Being accredited for this standard means the organization has demonstrated its ability to consistently provide products and services that meet the applicable regulatory and customer requirements(62).

  • Peer review by trustworthy industry peers: This review is meant to assess the quality, validity, and originality of a work to remove poor-quality products and preserve industry integrity.
  • PSI certification: Pressure Safety Inspectors (PSI) provides engineering reviews and certification in the cannabis industry to meet safety regulations and improve the CBD manufacturer’s products, processes, and facilities.

PSI operates in all 50 U.S. states and serves five countries.

  • ANSI/CAN/UL/ULC 1389 certification: The ANSI/CAN/UL/ULC 1389 certification is an equipment safety certification granted by UL for the cannabis processing and extraction industry.

UL (formerly Underwriters Laboratories) is a global safety organization that helps companies comply with safety, sustainability, security, quality, and risk management requirements to achieve regulatory compliance(63).

The cannabis extraction process can cause hazardous conditions because of flammable solvents such as hydrocarbons.

Thus, the ANSI/CAN/UL/ULC 1389 certification indicates that the company uses processing equipment designed and built according to a set of safety requirements.

  • UL listed components: UL also tests and validates the extraction equipment components to meet compliance requirements and durability expectations(64).

    UL coordinates with original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and suppliers to provide advisory and testing services to create safe and smart equipment.
  • U.S. patent or patent pending: The purpose of patents is to protect, commercialize, and expand U.S. innovation.The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issues a patent to the inventor and grants them the property right to their invention.The USPTO grants three patent types(65):
  • Utility patents: Given to anyone who discovers or invents a new and useful machine, process, or improvement.
  • Design patents: Granted to anyone who creates a unique design for an article of manufacture.
  • Plant patents: Granted to anyone who discovers or invents and asexually reproduces a distinct or new plant variety.

Additionally, manufacturers building their extraction facility should invest in qualified and industry-experienced contractors.

These professional contractors can help design the best and most efficient electrical, plumbing, and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems for the cannabis extraction facility.

  1. Cannabidiol Primer for Healthcare Professionals
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Techniques for Extraction and Isolation of Natural Products: A Comprehensive Review
  6. CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 Sec. 184.1240
  7. CBD Oil: An Introduction
  8. Supercritical Fluid
  9. Page 244 of Healing With CBD
  10. The Cannabis Terpenes
  11. Page 244 of Healing With CBD
  12. CBD Oil: An Introduction
  13. Ethanol
  14. Co-solvent Selection for Supercritical Fluid Extraction (SFE) of Phenolic Compounds from Labisia Pumila
  15. Water and Ethanol As Co-solvent in Supercritical Fluid Extraction of Proanthocyanidins From Grape Marc: A Comparison and a Proposal
  16. Methanol: Systemic Agent
  17. CBD Oil: An Introduction
  18. Ibid.
  19. Page 243 of Healing With CBD
  20. Processing and Extraction Methods of Medicinal Cannabis: A Narrative Review
  21. A Comprehensive Review on the Techniques for Extraction of Bioactive Compounds from Medicinal Cannabis
  22. Vegetable Oils as Alternative Solvents for Green Oleo-Extraction, Purification and Formulation of Food and Natural Products
  23. Processing and Extraction Methods of Medicinal Cannabis: A Narrative Review
  24. Hashish
  25. Cannabis Glandular Trichomes: A Cellular Metabolite Factory
  26. Page 90 of Healing With CBD
  27. Processing and Extraction Methods of Medicinal Cannabis: A Narrative Review
  28. Cold Press in Oil Extraction. A Review
  29. Characteristics of Food Contact Surface Materials: Stainless Steel
  30. CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 Sec. 184.1293
  31. Borosilicate Glass
  32. Cannabidiolic Acid as a Selective Cyclooxygenase-2 Inhibitory Component in Cannabis
  33. Pharmacological Analysis of Cyclooxygenase-1 in Inflammation
  34. Thromboxane
  35. Prostaglandins
  36. Page 243 of Healing With CBD
  37. CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 Sec. 184.1240
  38. Ibid.
  39. Carbon Dioxide Supercritical Extraction
  40. Ibid.
  41. Effects of Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Extraction (SC-CO2) on the Content of Tiliroside in the Extracts From Tilia L. Flowers
  42. Ibid.
  43. Page 243 of Healing With CBD
  44. Ibid.
  45. Flavonoids: An Overview
  46. Are Tannins a Double-Edged Sword in Biology and Health?
  47. Tannin
  48. Page 243 of Healing With CBD
  49. Coconut Oil
  50. Ibid.
  51. LDL and HDL Cholesterol: “Bad” and “Good” Cholesterol
  52. Cannabidiol Primer for Healthcare Professionals
  53. Hemp Seed Oil Properties
  54. Is MCT Oil Worth the Hype?
  55. Impact of Lipid Sources on Quality Traits of Medical Cannabis-Based Oil Preparations
  56. Olive Oil
  57. Sunflower Oil
  58. Tocopherols
  59. Sunflower Oil
  60. Certification and Accreditation
  61. CE Marking
  62. ISO 9001:2015: Quality management systems — Requirements
  63. ANSI/CAN/UL/ULC 1389 Provides Equipment Safety Certification for the Cannabis Extraction and Processing Industry
  64. Components
  65. General Information Concerning Patents
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