August 01, 2020

CBD is quickly becoming more available in Hong Kong. But even with more and more people trying CBD every day, one of the most common questions consumers frequently ask is, “How is CBD oil made?”


Answering that question isn’t quite as simple as it may seem. Many CBD providers use different methods at all stages of production, and things like the CBD extraction process and the type of CBD used to make a CBD oil tincture are important when choosing your products. 


In this blog, we will look at each of those steps in how CBD oil is made, what the different types of CBD are, what to look for when buying CBD oil, and what different CBD oil products do.

What is CBD?

First things first: What is CBD exactly? Cannabidiol, or CBD for short works alongside many other cannabinoids to act upon your endocannabinoid system (ECS).


CBD was first discovered in the 1940s. In 1963, scientists began working to study and understand the effects of individual cannabinoids like CBD and THC. However, more than 40 years passed after this initial research before CBD and other hemp-based products could be sold in places like the US.


One of the primary provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill is that industrial hemp plants (the kind from which CBD is primarily extracted), could not contain more than 0.3% THC by dry volume. 


How is CBD Extracted?

Now that you have a basic understanding of how high-CBD strains of hemp are cultivated, the next step is understanding the CBD extraction process.


When it comes to how CBD oil is extracted, there isn’t just one answer. So let’s walk through the two most common types of extraction to get a deeper understanding of what all those buzzwords you see on labels and websites really mean.

Ethanol Extraction

Ethanol extraction is perhaps the most popular CBD extraction process, as it is safe, simple, and effective. In this method, high-grade grain alcohol (ethanol) is used as a solvent to separate CBD and other cannabinoids from the plant itself. Ethanol extraction can be done under warm or cold conditions, and is considered extremely time-efficient when compared to other CBD extraction processes like CO2 extraction. 

CO2 Extraction

Supercritical (or subcritical) COextraction is a method that involves using carbon dioxide that is under extremely low temperatures and very high pressure to strip hemp flower of all cannabinoids and terpenes. CO2 extraction is highly precise and can produce some of the purest cannabinoid extracts when done properly. However, because of the high cost of equipment and the steep learning curve, this is not always the case. 


When this is done well, COextracted products are some of the purest in the world, but when done in less-than-optimal conditions, there is great room for error. That potential for error is why subcritical COextraction is largely used by “boutique” CBD brands that cater to the “luxury” class of CBD consumers.


Types of CBD

When first-time CBD users begin their research, one of the biggest areas of confusion is over the many “types” of CBD that exist. This confusion stems from industry-specific terms like “isolate,” “full-spectrum,” and “broad spectrum,” but most first-time consumers (and even many CBD veterans) don’t really understand what those terms mean. 


So to help you fully understand what you’re getting when buying CBD oil, let’s dive into the most common types of CBD and what that means for you as a consumer.


CBD Isolate

CBD isolate is the “purest” form of CBD on the market. That’s because isolates only contain CBD. This means that during the CBD extraction process, all other cannabinoids and terpenes are weeded out, leaving only CBD molecules behind.


However, one drawback to pure isolates is the lack of other potentially helpful cannabinoids and terpenes. That’s where full-spectrum and broad-spectrum products come into play.


Full-Spectrum CBD

The term “full-spectrum” simply means that you get the full array of whatever cannabinoids and terpenes were in the plant from which your CBD was extracted. And while this method certainly includes all of the compounds stripped out of isolate-based products, it also includes trace amounts of THC.


Generally, the level of THC in full-spectrum products is not enough to get you high, but in some cases (with prolonged use), enough THC can build up in your system to register a positive result on more sensitive drug tests. 


Another potential drawback to full-spectrum products is that the level of CBD and other cannabinoids is largely dependent on the potency of the plants used, which means that consistency can sometimes be a challenge.


Broad-Spectrum CBD

If isolates are on one end of the CBD spectrum and full-spectrum CBD is on the other end, then broad-spectrum products can be said to rest somewhere in the middle. The theory with broad-spectrum CBD products is that by creating a full-spectrum solution and then removing only the THC molecules from the mixture, a perfect hybrid can be created.


cbdMD Superior Broad Spectrum 

cbdMD does things a little differently than most other CBD companies. After wondering for years how to solve the problems of consistency and purity when it comes to broad-spectrum CBD, they finally cracked the code with their proprietary “Superior Broad Spectrum” formula.


Creating Superior Broad Spectrum products is a complex process that can be summed up rather simply. First, they use an ethanol CBD extraction process to create pure CBD isolate. From there, a complex purification process known as “flash chromatography” is used to create isolated cannabinoids.


The next step is to carefully combine those cannabinoids, along with select terpenes, in a predetermined ratio to assure that every batch of Superior Broad Spectrum CBD is exactly the same as the last. 


Because of this complex, multi-step process, cbdMD is able to offer a consistent, reliable formulation every time.


What to Look For When Buying CBD Oil

 So to make the decision-making process simpler, let’s quickly cover the three most important things to look for when buying CBD oil online. 

1. Production

How and where is the CBD you’re looking to purchase produced? This may seem like a strange question, especially for a beginner, but it’s easily one of the most crucial questions to ask.


That’s because many CBD companies attempt to cut costs by purchasing hemp extracts from overseas, where the level of quality control and regulation of hemp farming can be much more lax depending on the country. And while, more often than not, these products will be fine, there is always the possibility of residual pesticides or solvents that haven’t been entirely removed.


Because of that possibility, it is strongly suggested that you only purchase CBD products made from USA-grown hemp to ensure that you are always getting the absolute highest-quality hemp-based products on the market.


2. Testing & Transparency

Closely related to the importance of high production standards is the importance of third-party testing and, perhaps most importantly, transparency.


Anyone can claim to use the freshest, pesticide-free hemp in all of their products, but how can you really be sure of that? Lab results – that’s how. 


Any reputable CBD brand will be very forthright and transparent when it comes to the results of third-party lab testing, which typically means that their Certificates of Analysis (sometimes simply called “Lab Results”), will be freely available.

These lab results work to not only keep companies honest, but also to give CBD users peace of mind in knowing that they have purchased a safe, clean, and effective product.


3. Customer Satisfaction

Just like in nearly every other business, your first line of defense against bad actors in the CBD industry is good ol’ fashioned customer reviews. There are plenty of paid reviewers and affiliate sites that will gladly tell you that “X” product is the best and that you can get 10% off with their special code, but hearing the praise and complaints of real customers will almost always be the most truthful and honest.




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