CBD is a compound that can be extracted from certain Cannabis plants, but not all Cannabis plants. As an example, Marijuana sometimes contains decent levels of CBD, but the majority of strains contain only trace amounts of CBD, if any at all. If there’s no CBD in the flower, then there’s no CBD to extract. Hemp on the other hand usually contains at least some CBD with levels varying from single digits to over 20% by dry weight. So logically, starting with good genetics that actually contain CBD is the first step in making viable CBD products.
Most CBD products on the market today are extracted from Hemp. New Hemp laws in the United States have made it a popular production method for CBD due to the new-found ease of governmental restrictions. CBD products that are extracted from Hemp are also legal to procure in states that haven’t yet legalized Marijuana. If CBD products are derived from Marijuana though, they are subject to individual state laws concerning the purchasing and use of Marijuana products.
The best CBD is extracted from the flowers/buds of female Cannabis plants. Not only does this part of the plant contain the highest concentration of Cannabinoids such as CBD, but it also contains the highest concentration of other beneficial compounds known as Terpenes and Flavonoids.
Once the crop is harvested and dried, the CBD can then be extracted using compounds such as Butane, Propane, Hexane, Heptane, CO2, Naphtha, ISO, and others. Arguably, the best extraction solvent is Organic Ethanol (drinking alcohol). It seems to draw greater varieties and concentrations of beneficial compounds out of the plant than other extraction methods.
Although some compounds used during extraction do a better job than others, it is impossible to purge 100% of any solvent from your extract, and some solvents can be harmful. It’s wisest to purchase products that don’t use toxic or subpar compounds in any part of their extraction process. Compounds like Butane and Hexane are toxic, and other compounds like CO2 don’t extract as effectively (furthermore, CO2 can lead to a rancid product if the CO2 isn’t purged properly). After extracting the CBD from the plant and purging solvents, the oil is then decarboxylated and transformed from the raw form of CBDa to CBD.
With all the variables involved, from the extraction process/practices to the genetics used, CBD oils can vary greatly in quality and safety. It is always best to purchase from a company that not only has certified 3rd party lab analysis, but also a company that explains their process. Inform yourself thoroughly so you can navigate the world of CBD with confidence.