CBD Oil Extraction Techniques: What Happens In An Extraction Laboratory?

Posted on Tue, Aug 06, 2019 @ 10:08 AM

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DropBox is continuing its pursuit to become more involved in the cannabis industry. By offering our modular labs, we can provide companies within this industry a place where they can test cannabis and extract CBD onsite. But once these companies have a lab to work in, how exactly do they extract CBD oil from the cannabis plant? Today’s blog will discuss the two primary extraction techniques that lab technicians use for this purpose.

The first, and most common, method that will be discussed is the supercritical CO2 extraction method.

The reason that this method is used so often is because it’s the safest way to extract CBD for human consumption. It's also because its high efficiency results in less waste during the process. However, the equipment that’s used to perform this method is very expensive. The most basic setups can cost around $40,000 to $100,000.

In order to extract CBD using the supercritical CO2 method, the liquid carbon dioxide’s temperature and pressure must be increased past the point where the liquid becomes ‘supercritical’ by using a compressor and heater. Being 'supercritical' means that the CO2 obtains the properties of both a gas and a liquid. This allows the supercritical CO2 to extract the CBD without damaging it and making it dangerous to consume. Next, the cannabis must be placed in an extractor and the supercritical CO2 is passed through it. This allows the supercritical CO2 to pull out the trichomes and terpene oils from the plant. The solution gets passed through a separator and is broken down into individual parts. The trichomes and terpene oils are sent to be collected while the CO2 goes to a condenser and is turned back into a liquid. The liquid CO2 is then placed in a storage tank so that it can be used for the process again.

In order to isolate the CBD, the chemical mixture goes through the processes of chromatography, winterization, and short path distillation. These processes allow lab technicians to remove unwanted phytochemicals, plant matter, and other compounds in order to have CBD in its purest form.

The second extraction method that’s used by professionals is by using ethanol to obtain CBD from the cannabis plant.

The process of ethanol extraction that is primarily used involves heating the cannabis plant to achieve something called decarboxylation. Decarboxylation is when carbon atoms are removed from a carbon chain. Once this occurs, the plant material that remains is soaked in ethanol for a long period of time. After a certain amount of time has passed, the liquid is filtered out of the plant material and left out in the open for the ethanol to evaporate. This removes water and oil-soluble compounds, such as chlorophyll, that can cause a bitter taste.

The downside to this extraction method is that not all of the ethanol can be removed from the CBD oil without the use of another filter. This can lead to the CBD oil losing more of its purity and effectiveness. However, the upside to this method is that it allows for the formation of esters. Since esters are easily absorbed by our bodies, they allow CBD to be easily absorbed by our bodies as well.

DropBox’s Class 1, Division 1 modular lab units have cleanroom process areas and laboratory/R&D space that provide the proper environment for CBD extraction. 

Configured to meet the demands of your current operation, both standard models are customizable and configured to provide the ideal workflow. The extraction techniques that we discussed require large, heavy equipment. Our modular labs provide large, durable counters in order for lab technicians to work in a safe environment while avoiding damage to costly equipment. By using our product, companies are able to have an extraction lab that is easily transportable, quickly installed, ready to connect to power, water, and sewer, and finished in about half the time of traditional construction. DropBox Inc. allows lab technicians to perform their duties and quality control protocols in a remote setting!

For more information on DropBox Inc. and our modular labs, CONTACT US HERE or call us today at 740.532.7822.

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