Although Balance CBD sells thousands of cannabidiol oils and edibles every month, many of our customers don’t know how it’s made. They may know that CBD is not THC, but they won’t know where CBD is grown, or what plant makes CBD. We’re here to change that.
In our ultimate guide to how CBD is made, we’ll explain the different types of CBD products, how they affect you, where the CBD is cultivated, how it’s extracted, and finally, what makes Balance CBD products better than our top competitors.
Yep, information overload! But fear not, we’ll break it all down into easy to understand chunks — like cookies for your brain. By the time you’re finished with this article, you’ll be ready to explain the CBD manufacturing process to your friends and family. Even better, you’ll know exactly how to distinguish bad CBD products from the good ones.
The 4 Main Types of CBD Products
Browse a handful of CBD companies on the Internet, and you’ll quickly find a few recurring themes. The foremost of these are the types of CBD products sold online. CBD has come a long way since the olden days (ie, a few years ago) of loamy oils and mealy biscuits; colorful packaging, assorted fruit flavors, and enhanced effects are just some of the ways companies have tailored their CBD products to entice your senses.
Despite the glitz and discounts, CBD products come in four main categories. Below, we’ll take a brief moment to understand them. Then we’ll explain the secret ingredient that links them together. Spoiler: It’s cannabidiol.
1. CBD Oils are the bread and butter of companies like Balance CBD. They are made by mixing a CBD extract with a carrier oil, usually MCT coconut oil but sometimes a blend of food-grade oils, such as almond and olive.
Traditionally, you want to dose a CBD oil sublingually, which means under the tongue. Think of your mucus glands like USB docks straight to your bloodstream. CBD held under your tongue for thirty seconds can be felt by your head and body within fifteen to thirty minutes.
CBD oils have waned some in popularity, mostly because they are hard to dose accurately and aren’t as snackable as an edible nor as ideal for smoking cessation as a vape. You can buy CBD oils in a range of strengths, from 500mg to 5000mg, and the effects last for three to four hours.
2. CBD Edibles come in a variety of products. Capsules were the original edible, but today, the most popular edible is CBD gummies. That’s because gummies do not have to be cooked, and so the same CBD extract mixed into oils and topicals can be applied to a gummy without the added step of binding the cannabidiol molecules to a rendered animal fat.
It takes around an hour for a CBD edible to enter your bloodstream because it must pass through your gut wall. This barrier slowly releases the compound, meaning you will feel the effects for five or six hours. Consumers love CBD gummies because they taste delicious, obviously, but also because their dose is evenly portioned, anywhere from 5mg to 10mg a piece.
3. CBD Topicals have been a huge seller at Balance CBD this year. In the spring, our muscle-relief cream was chosen as a showstopper in the 2020 Golden Globe gift bag. Many consumers don’t know that CBD can penetrate your skin for targeted relief of muscle spasms, arthritis, and cramps. A quality topical won’t be overly oily and won’t irritate your skin. They should also contain secondary ingredients to bolster the CBD’s effects, such as essential oils, menthol, and vitamin E.
4. CBD Vapes is a boon to an aspiring ex-smoker. There’s been some cool research on CBD’s ability to curb nicotine cravings and mollify the negative effects of withdrawal. Quality CBD vapes won’t contain propylene glycol and won’t burn your throat. They should be safe to use, the taste smooth and flavorful. Because you inhale them directly into your lungs, a vaping CBD takes less than five minutes to take effect.
The 4 Steps to Making CBD Oil and Extracts
Although you may buy a CBD oil for daily support and a Strawberry edible to relax after work, the manufacturing of all CBD products begins in the same place. Namely, a field somewhere in the lush and spangled heartland of America. To find out how cannabidiol products are made, we must start here.
1. Farmers Grow CBD Plants
Until the updated US Farm Bill of 2018, it was illegal to grow hemp, the plant that contains CBD, except in specific counties in Kentucky. That’s because hemp contains trace amounts of THC, the illegal compound in the controversial medical marijuana plant. In fact, the genetics of hemp and cannabis share an origin: cannabis Sativa.
The US federal government determines if a plant is a hemp or medical marijuana based on the THC measured in its leaves and flowers. Otherwise, not even the shrewdest biologist could accurately determine if a given plant is hemp or cannabis.
The distinction between hemp and cannabis is arbitrary and recent. During America’s foundational years, hemp was a crucial crop to the survival of the country. Back then, hemp farmers grew hemp for an array of purposes. Its fibers were used for ropes, canvas sails, and clothing; its seed was baked into cookies and fed to the livestock, and its pulp was pressed into the paper.
Today, ardent farmers seeking a new cash crop jump on the chance to grow hemp for its valuable CBD-rich resin. The hemp industry is still in its infancy, and many farmers are learning to maximize their gains. Some of the issues farmers must deal with are culling male plants, which threaten to pollinate females and lower their resin production, and testing their crops weekly to make sure they do not exceed .3% THC.
2. Harvesting Hemp for CBD Production
Hemp grown for CBD extraction is harvested at a different time than plants grown for pulp or seeds. Typically a CBD crop season lasts, depending on climate and soil health, for four or five months. Farmers wait until the plant trichomes excrete a thick gluey substance known as resin. The plant stores most of its CBD in the resin; leaves and stems contain very little cannabidiol.
Farmers must harvest their CBD crops before the first frost because hemp plants cannot tolerate the damage of colder weather and ice. Unlike the crops you see on the side of the highway, hemp requires more manpower than corn or cotton. Typically, farmers will use a small tractor and a team of employees to cut and tie the hemp so they can cure it in dry storage.
The early days of mashing up tonnes of wet biomass and tossing it into a press are over. Modern CBD farmers cure their hemp flower for weeks so the valuable CBD resin doesn’t go to waste. After the plants have been cured, they are shipped to a processing facility for extraction.
3. Extracting Biomass for CBD
Most CBD companies you buy your oils and edibles from purchasing their cannabidiol extracts and isolates from third-party businesses that specialize in extraction CBD from cured hemp flowers. Although each extract company will have personalized systems to create their products, they will use one of three methods of extracting.
While the three methods explained below have their benefits, some are considered better than others. The industry standard is supercritical CO2 extraction because it outputs the least waste and maintains a high standard of quality. Before we explain CO2 extraction, however, we’ll quickly go over the other two.
I. Oil Emulsification
The goal of emulsification is to pull the cannabinoids from the plant matter and suspend them into a food-based oil. The common oils used in this process are coconut or olive, but you can use hemp oil, too. The three key steps are grinding the plant matter down, mixing it with oil, and then slowly heating it. The heat helps break down the cell walls and release the cannabinoids into the oil.
Some companies will let the admixture sit or decanter for a few weeks before straining the oil from the plant material with a cheesecloth. Emulsification is rarely used in the consumer CBD industry because it pulls the least amount of CBD and other cannabinoids from the cured hemp biomass. Conversely, this is the easiest method to try at home and the results can be added to food and drinks.
II. Butane Extraction
On paper, butane extraction isn’t that different from oil extraction. You grind down the hemp plant matter to fine dust, then you mix it with butane instead of oil.
Butane is a hydrocarbon. It has a low boiling point, which means it can be heated up to separate the cannabinoids from the plant material without altering them and rendering them useless. Once butane boils off, it evaporates completely. So unlike emulsifying in oil, you are left with a crystallized powder you can add into consumer products, such as edibles and topicals.
This is a popular method in the industry because it requires zero specialized equipment. Plus, butane is relatively cheap and the whole process can be done in an hour.
The downsides are that the end product has a distinct aftertaste and can tint the final product a garish green. Also, many customers dislike the idea of their CBD having such a close relationship with what is essentially a harmful chemical.
III. Supercritical CO2 Extraction
Having been an extraction method for high-end science labs until the last decade, our third method is a recent addition to the consumer market. It’s also the most costly, but as you’ll see, the steep price tag is worth it.
Supercritical CO2 extraction harnesses liquid CO2, otherwise known as carbon dioxide in its supercritical state, and filters it through the ground and pressed hemp plant matter. In other words, the liquid CO2 works just like an alcohol solvent — minus the terrifying potential of blowing up your laboratory.
Once the CO2 separates the compounds from the hemp biomass, it disperses, not unlike butane. The process can be applied multiple times to further separate other cannabinoids from the plant material, leaving you with spectrum extracts that include CBC, CBN, and even some THC.
4. Adding Extract to CBD Products
The company you choose for your CBD products plays a part in this fourth and final step. They are the ones who must purchase a CBD extract from a supplier and add it to their oils, edibles, and vapes. Before purchasing, look into the company’s extraction method and where the hemp was farmed. Is hemp organic? Was the extraction method supercritical CO2?
At Balance CBD, we’re up to date with the latest cannabinoid technology and farming practices. We know that organic ingredients matter to our customers and that using butane or other harmful solvents is not worth money savings. Our CBD oils, edibles, and topicals support American farmers. We also offer our products in Isolate, Broad-Spectrum, and Full-Spectrum to fulfill the individual needs of you and your family.
Now that you’ve learned where CBD products begin their journey, visit our product list to see quality CBD’s lasting destination. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram to keep up on the latest in CBD news and flash sales. Finally, if you don’t know what to buy next, try our helpful quiz to narrow down your options.
Also, here’s a handy video that explains how to make CBD oil.
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