CBD Extraction Methods

More and more people are starting to be aware of CBD and its beneficial properties but, are you aware of how a CBD oil is made? What is the transition from the hemp plant to a CBD oil?

The CBD, more specificly, the phytocannabinoids, are extracted from the hemp plant. After the extraction process, extracts are infused or added onto different carries such as coconut MCT oils or balms.

Below, we wrote down for you a list with all the ways CBD can be made with its pros and cons. 

Table of Contents

Solvent Extraction


Using organic solvents such as butane or an alcohol (methanol or ethanol) is a relatively common way to separate cannabinoids from the hemp plant.

Solvent extractions are one of the cheapest and easiest ways to extract phytocannabinoids. Unfortunately, this comes with some risks, to our health and the environment. 

With this technique, the solvents are in charge of catching the hemp extracts. In a second step, the residues have to be separated from the phytocannabinoids.

As discussed, is one of the most dangerous methods, why?

  • Residues can pollute the environment in not processed correctly. 
  • In most cases, all residues aren’t removed entirely. It leaves harmful toxins in a product intended for human consumption.
  • There are several reported cases of explosions due to the volatile nature of these products. You wouldn’t expect this to happen in a proper setting, but still a risk. 

Steam Distillation


Steam causes phytocannabinoids to separate from the Cannabis sativa L. plant.

Has been used to extract essential oils for centuries, is a reliable method, but very inefficient. 

Steam distillation requires vast amounts of the hemp plant, and it’s more challenging to extract the desired CBD concentrations.

There is also an element of risk with steaming. If it gets too hot, the steam will damage the hemp extract.


Vegetable oil extraction


Oil extraction is one of the oldest methods of CBD extraction alongside steam distillation.

Enthusiasts commonly perform this method at home. Virtually, any food-grade oil is good to use, but the most widely used is olive oil. Other examples are Coconut oil, Butter/Ghee, MCT oil, Hemp-seed oil, Sweet almond oil, Argan oil, Sunflower oil, etc.

It’s made by heating chopped hemp plant combined with the oil for a specific time and temperature.

Although it is acceptable for home use, it results in a low concentration and very perishable product. 


Dry Ice Extraction


It may sound like a high tech process but actually, it’s another possible way to extract cannabinoids at home. However, it is more challenging that an oil extraction method.

It’s an inexpensive method of making CBD without using hazardous solvents. Solvent-less extracts achieve “purer” products than solvent-based ones.

The process consists in freezing chopped hemp and then shake it in a filter. This way, the cannabinoids and terpenes contained in glands (trichome) will fall apart and pass through the filter.

Since this is relatively haphazard and challenging to measure technique, the quality is not always guaranteed. It depends on how well the hemp is frozen and how vigorously it is sieved. 


Supercritical CO2 Extraction


Supercritical Co2 extraction is the most popular and recommended method. It has three excellent reasons for it: 

  • Super safe; it doesn’t use any solvents. 
  • Preserves the most from hemp (cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids)
  • It’s very effective and efficient. Minimum hemp material gets wasted.

The downside of this method is that it needs very technical and expensive equipment.

So how works this method?

The extraction system has three containers:

  • 1st container: Holds dry-ice (CO2)
  • 2nd container: Holds the dry hemp
  • 3rd container: Separates and contains the final product.

As you would expect, we need supercritical CO2 for this method. What is it? How is produced? 

Supercritical CO2 is formed by decreasing the CO2 temperature and increasing its pressure at the same time. This way, the CO2 becomes in a state where is neither gas nor liquid. It is both! Crazy right? 


Once we have the CO2 in this state, it passes to the 2nd chamber extracting the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. 

The final product goes to the last chamber where the CO2 becomes again onto a “normal” state of a gas. It leaves our hemp extracts at the bottom -and completely separated- from the CO2 gas on the top. 


Winterization – final step after extraction.


At Voice of Nature after the supercritical CO2 extraction we do one final and crucial step, the winterization. 

It’s a filtration technique that removes undesirable compounds extracted from the hemp, like waxes, lipids and chlorophyll (gives bitter taste).

That’s why our oils have such a neutral and gentle taste without any harsh bitterness.  

The process itself consists of freezing the hemp extract; this separates unwanted compounds. Once frozen and separated, it’s slowly heated and filtered, leaving us with the final product.




We hope these lines help you to have a better understanding of the different processes to extract cannabinoids. 

Whichever is your chosen and preferred method, be sure that you get your hemp extracts from reliable companies.

Companies that put your wellbeing first (and hopefully the planet too). Less waste, pollution and apathy. More sensitivity, sustainability, and respect for the future.

What’s your favourite extraction method? Let us know in the comment box.

More info in our FAQ section, BLOG or contact us.

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