From Plant to Production: CBD Extraction Methods

July 31, 2019

From Plant to Product: CBD Extraction Methods

At Stratos, we believe every infused product should start with retaining as many beneficial plant properties as possible. Using a whole plant hemp flower extraction with organically grown hemp from Boulder County, Colorado, we ensure our products start with high-quality flower prized for safety and purity. Being very particular with raw materials also  allows for rich extracts packed with high concentrations of cannabinoids and key compounds.

What this means for you: we create infused products that are as true to the plant as they can be.

All  CBD-infused products in every form -- be it salve, tablet, tincture or edible -- undergoes an extraction process to go from flower to a rich CBD oil.

We’d like to share a bit about how flower goes through this transformative process so that you understand what you are ingesting and how methods differ in effectiveness, safety, and purity.  Prepare to take a brief dive into two of the most common industry methods - hydrocarbon (butane, propane) and CO2.

Butane, propane, and CO2 all have different solubility, meaning that some dissolve different compounds than others in the extraction process. Solubility impacts which compounds an extraction method can pull from hemp flower, including unwanted compounds, like pesticides. Hemp contains over 500 distinct compounds, which include cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids, and omega fatty acids. The most sought-after compound in hemp is the infamous CBD cannabinoid.

Hydrocarbon Extraction:

Hydrocarbon extraction methods such as butane and propane were once considered the industry “go to” when processing. It’s cheap and fast, but it also uses harsher solvents that erode the plant’s natural qualities and valuable properties. 

During a hydrocarbon extraction, the plant is ‘washed’ with solvent, which must then be removed before becoming a final product. Unfortunately, removal never reaches 100%, guaranteeing traces of hydrocarbons present in the final product. 

If placing  traces of solvent, butane, or propane in your body sounds gross to you, we wholeheartedly agree. We think that propane should be left to stoves and cars, and butane should stick with cigarette lighters and aerosol cans. And while we need hydrocarbon  in our day-to-day lives, we can all agree this isn’t the most environmentally-friendly option.

CO2 Extraction:

CO2 extraction is a time-intensive process that deliberately pulls the full spectrum of plant compounds and allows more control in terms of  what ends up in the finished CBD and full spectrum hemp oil. CO2 preserves minor cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids, offering a rich CBD oil product packed with whole plant makeup.

Moreover, CO2 is safe. The final extracted product is significantly cleaner and won’t contain  harsh solvents. It also offers an additional level of safety to you, the customer. Since CO2 occurs naturally in the human body, the compounds extracted via CO2 extraction are more readily available for absorption. Like dissolves like! Like attracts like!

Because CO2 can be recycled, this extraction method is also environmentally-friendly. 

At Stratos, full spectrum and isolate CBD products are created with CO2 extracted oil. For our CBD isolate products, the full spectrum extraction goes through a second processing step to remove all other plant compounds, leaving just the CBD. 

Our formulation team is ex-pharma -- they left the pharmaceutical industry to develop a more natural approach to medications that were having questionable results -- and their goal is to create high-quality products to improve the wellness of customers.

With so many hemp and CBD products available today, it's more important than ever to know about the production process to harness the full benefits of the plant and avoid ingesting any potentially harmful additives. We believe our customers deserve the whole plant and the whole truth when it comes to our manufacturing processes. So while CO2 extraction is a greater investment and time intensive, we wouldn't do it any other way.