PURE PROFIT: Filtration in CBD Oil Extraction

cannabidiol molecular structureReferred to by one manufacturer as "the biggest financial opportunity in the United States since prohibition", the cannabidiol (CBD) oil industry is projected to reach $22 billion by the year 2022. CBD oil derived from industrial hemp is legal in all 50 states with the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, but new regulations are also clear: no more than 0.3% THC is legally permitted in CBD products. These are typical industrial hemp yields, but further licensing and monitoring is expected. In fact, the annual Farm Act in North Carolina dedicated 10 of its 16 pages to required infrastructure for entrepreneurs looking to take advantage of loosening CBD restrictions. All signs point to stricter FDA regulations to make sure that CBD products are what they say they are and are properly classified. 

A current discussion centers around the question of whether CBD is a drug (now approved) or a natural food supplement? The main difference is that medicinal drugs are considered unsafe until proven safe, whereas food supplements are considered safe until proven otherwise. Until regulation catches up with opportunity, CDB is now showing up in a wide range of products including supplements, beverages and other edible products. The role filtration plays is to ensure that what comes to market is produced utilizing credible components and support in the purification process.

There are a growing number of processes being developed, some of which are being patented, for the production of the CBD oil, but the common first step involves extraction. Ethanol and C02 extraction are probably two of the most commonly used methods for isolating the oil. In these processes, the leaves/flowers are macerated and placed into solvents, such as ethanol, or at lower temperature with CO2 to extract components of the plant. 

Because many other plant components can be co-extracted with the cannabinoids, these contaminants can be removed by a treatment known as “winterization”, a process of extracting at –20 to –80 ° C for 24–48 hours.   Components such as waxes, triglycerides and chlorophyll “solidify” and can then be removed by filtration. Since these materials can still be deformable, a composite construction such as the QXL Series filter is effective in capturing these particles. 

Additionally, the GFC Series filter has been found to be effective in removal due to the inherent charge of the glass media (biological materials tend to be negatively charged so the positively charged glass works well). With the cannabidiols isolated, further purification can then be accomplished by ion exchange, acid-based chemical reactions, various types of chromatography or distillation to produce a marketable product.

According to a recent article in FORBES, "2018 was the year CBD was on everyone's lips, thanks to plenty of media buzz and the suddenly-ubiquitous presence of an array of CBD-infused beverages, lotions and self-care products." As well, many industry experts say the passage of the Farm Bill represents a major shift in the global balance of power. The United States has always imported its hemp products from places outside its borders such as Canada, Europe, and China. With the Farm Bill giving the industry a major push, the U.S. hemp market is set to become leaders in the global hemp industry by 2020.

For those who may still be unclear about what CBD is and how it interacts with the body, here's a helpful 60-second explanation from Carolina Hemp Company:

(top animation: cannabinoid molecule)