How Is CBD Oil Made?

CBD is one substance that seems to be on everyone’s lips these days. Everywhere you look, you can see some CBD products being advertised for their plethora of health benefits. From Hollywood celebrities to your next-door neighbour, everyone seems to be using CBD products to help with their different ailments. CBD products are readily available in the form of oil, gummies, edibles, and creams, to name just a few.

While you may have heard about it a lot, have you ever wondered, ‘how is CBD oil made?’ If you haven’t gotten the answer to your question yet, then read on to learn about the whole CBD oil extraction process.

CBD: Back to the basics

Before we delve into how CBD oil is made, let’s quickly go over the basics of what it is and what it’s used for. Cannabidiol, popularly known by its abbreviation CBD, is one of the many cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant. The plant has two main species, hemp and marijuana. CBD oil is derived mainly from the hemp plant.

What part of hemp plant is CBD oil made from?

CBD oil is made from three main components of the hemp plant: flowers, leaves, and stems. It contains significantly high levels of CBD and other beneficial compounds such as phytocannabinoids, flavonoids, and omega acids.

Hemp plants also contain minimal levels (less than 0.3%) of the psychoactive compound, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). On the other hand, marijuana has high levels of THC and exceptionally low levels of CBD. Therefore, CBD is mainly extracted from hemp, making up about 40% of the plant. Moreover, as per UK law, CBD is legal as long as it is obtained from the UK approved hemp strain only.

CBD oil is quite versatile and can be used in several ways. It can be added to food or drink, vaped or taken sublingually. Lately, CBD oil usage has become quite popular among the young and old age group alike. There is strong anecdotal evidence as well as evidence from animal studies that highlight the potential medical benefits of CBD oil. CBD may help alleviate symptoms of chronic pain, insomnia, epilepsy, and anxiety, among other conditions.

5 most popular CBD oil extraction methods

To make CBD oil, you need to start with a CBD-rich hemp plant. The most effective CBD oil will be one for which utmost care has been taken to extract and preserve the CBD carefully.

There are several methods to extract CBD oil from hemp. Each extraction method has its own pros and cons. Moreover, some methods are considered safer and more efficacious. The five most popular ways how CBD oil is made are:

1. Carbon dioxide (CO2) Extraction:

The use of CO2 to extract CBD oil is a preferred method for many companies nowadays. This method takes advantage of CO2’s unique properties that let it effectively function in all states of matter; solid, liquid and gas. This method makes use of closed-loop extractors.

The supercritical CO2 extraction method usually involves three chambers. It begins with a solid piece of carbon dioxide that is pumped into the second chamber containing the hemp plant material. The chamber’s pressure is such that the CO2 remains in a liquid-like state and effectively absorbs the hemp plant’s oils and flavours. Afterwards, the CO2-cannabinoid mixture is pumped into the third chamber. Here, the CO2 is allowed to return to a gaseous state, leaving behind a highly concentrated CBD oil extract.

Pros of this CBD oil extraction method

The plus points of the CO2 extraction method are:

  • Precise method
  • Solvent-free method
  • Extremely safe (no flammable solvents)
  • Environmentally friendly (uses less plant material and energy)
  • The end product is potent and chlorophyll- free.

Cons of this CBD oil extraction method

The drawbacks of CO2 extraction method are:

  • Process requires highly advanced and expensive equipment
  • Costly operational learning curve.

2. Liquid Solvents:

With this method, solvents that exist naturally in a liquid state are used, such as food-grade ethanol, hexane, butane, or isopropyl alcohol. This extraction process is quite similar to the CO2 extraction method.

A solvent is essentially washed over the hemp plant trimmings, drawing out the useful compounds. In the case of ethanol extraction, the resulting liquid is then distilled. This is done to separate the hemp oil from the food-grade ethanol and further isolate any desired compounds.

Pros of this CBD oil extraction method

The plus points of this extraction by liquid solvent method are:

  • Cheaper, relatively easier way to extract CBD oil
  • Does not require specialised equipment like other methods
  • Solvents are inherently great at locking onto and drawing out the desired compounds
  • Solvents like butane and hexane are particularly effective in preserving the hemp plant’s aroma and flavour.

Cons of this CBD oil extraction method

The drawbacks of this method are:

  • The flammable nature of certain solvents poses safety risks
  • Some solvents may carry impurities as well as chlorophyll from the hemp plant. If the process is not well executed, a residual solvent may be left in the final product.
  • This can give the CBD oil a greenish tinge and bitter taste.

3. Olive Oil Extraction

This is an ancient technique of harvesting CBD oil. Even today, many home growers and producers use extra virgin or regular olive oil to extract CBD oil.

The raw hemp plant is heated to a specific temperature (decarboxylated), to activate the compounds. Olive oil is then added and heated at a temperature of 100 C for an hour or two. Unlike ethanol, olive oil does not evaporate out of the CBD oil. Thus, the final product will not be as concentrated. It can be considered more of a CBD-infused oil rather than a concentrated extract.

Pros of this method

The plus points of this olive oil extraction method are:

  • No expensive equipment required
  • Easy, uncomplicated process
  • Safe
  • No concerns of any residual solvents

Cons of this method

The drawbacks of this method are:

  • The final product is more perishable as compared to commercial products.
  • Less precise method than other methods
  • The end product is less concentrated than a CBD extract
  • Consumer will have to consume a larger dosage to get the optimal results


Another answer to the question ‘how is CBD oil made’ is the winterisation process. This method is used to harvest pure, high-quality CBD oil.

The winterisation process removes all the undesirable compounds from the CBD oil. The consumer ends up with pure CBD. However, it is noteworthy that this process is a part of harvesting CBD isolate and not full-spectrum CBD. Full-spectrum CBD usually retains all hemp compounds.

Once the oil is extracted, it is combined with 200-proof alcohol and frozen overnight. In the morning, it is run through a filter that removes fats and other such materials. When you have obtained the desired oil quality, you can heat the mixture and boil off the alcohol.

Pros of this method

The plus points of the winterisation method are:

  • Safe and efficient process
  • CBD oil is entirely THC free. This quality allows consumers more flexibility in utilising the product.
  • The winterisation process produces high purity, potent CBD oil.

Cons of this method

The drawbacks of this method are:

  • The final product is less flavourful and aromatic than oils extracted through other methods. This is due to the lack of terpenes in the CBD isolate.

5. Steam distillation:

This method is also utilised nowadays to extract CBD oil. Steam is used to free all the volatile cannabinoids from the raw hemp plant. The resulting vapour, full of the desired compounds (CBD), is then cooled and condensed. The resulting water and oil are then separated.

Pros of this method

The plus points of the steam distillation method are:

  • Inexpensive
  • Straightforward
  • Solvent-free method

Cons of this method

The drawbacks of the method are:

  • Less efficient as compared to other methods
  • Requires more plant material for less CBD oil
  • Produces inconsistent concentrations of CBD
  • Can potentially damage the chemical properties of some heat-sensitive cannabinoids.


All these methods- CO2 extraction, liquid solvents, olive oil extraction, winterisation, and steam distillation- explain how CBD oil is made. An important thing to remember is that despite any method used, the end product should be of the highest quality and safe for consumption.


If you liked reading this, be sure to check our other blog: The Ultimate Guide To CBD

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