CBD Extraction Methods Explained: What Chiropractors Can Learn From It

When recommending anything to your patients, you always want what’s best for them. Product quality, outstanding reviews, and proven effects on other people’s lives all play a crucial part in the recommendation. 

Above all, product quality is directly affected by the extraction method used to get the cannabinoid compounds used in the product. Through the CBD extraction methods explained, we hope to give you a brief and informative insight into the process of extracting CBD from industrial hemp.

Key Takeaways

  • How did people extract cannabinoids in the early days
  • Different types of cannabinoid extraction methods
  • Pros and cons of each extraction method used in the industry
  • What extraction method is best

The Earliest Form of CBD Extraction

Since the old days, people have used plants for healing and restoration. In Sumeria, the earliest record of people using plants for medicinal purposes dates back to 5000 years ago. The use is mentioned in The History of Medicine by Kate Kelly

The way people prepared medicinal plants back then was by collecting, drying, and finally grinding. They would collect plant materials such as leaves, stems, and fruit. These compiled materials would then be sun-dried then ground to powder.

The finished product would be added to food and drinks or made into capsules. Cannabis extraction, called the “Hash Method, “evolved from this method. Hash or hashish is the oldest form of hemp processing. Hemp flowers are dried and then shifted to remove the trichomes. 

A trichome is any plant outgrowth. These trichomes contain the highest concentration of cannabinoids in the hemp plant. These trichomes will come off the plant when it is shifted. The shifted trichome will then be placed into a block maker and pressed. 

The whole process results in small blocks of hemp, which can be used in different ways. 

Types of Cannabinoid Extraction Techniques

  1. Solvent Extraction

Solvent extraction is a method that uses another substance to separate the valuable compound from the plant. This substance is called a solvent, and any chemical can become a solvent. Another name for this extraction method is “Liquid-liquid Extraction (LLE). 

The liquid-to-liquid name comes from the fact that most solvents are liquid such as oil, water, and others.

  • The typical solvent extraction is using Ethanol. It works by soaking hemp material in food grade Ethanol and causes the trichomes to separate from the plant. 
  • Another type of solvent extraction is using butane. The end product is called Butane Hash Oil. 


  1. Distillation Extraction Process

Distillation extraction makes use of pressure to separate the trichomes from the plant. The process utilizes steam or other compounds to put pressure on the trichomes, separating them from the plant material. The whole process happens via tubes and containers to regulate the pressure. 

  • CO2 Extraction is a type of distillation extraction that uses CO2 instead of steam. Pressurized CO2 enters a sealed container filled with grounded hemp. As the C02 passes through, it breaks down the plant tissue releasing the trichomes in the process. The liquid then enters a separation vessel which removes the CO2 leaving only the extracted hemp oil.
  1. Cold Press Extraction

Cold Press extraction is one of the oldest ways to process essential oil. Traditionally, large objects such as heavy stones would crush plant material. The pressure would release the oils. 

For CBD extraction, cut-up hemp flowers and buds are placed inside the hydraulic press. The pressure forces the plant’s trichomes and oil glands to burst. This action causes the oil to be released, creating the juice and oil.

  1. Solventless Extraction

Solventless Extraction draws out oils and natural extracts without chemicals and other solvents. Some solventless processes have been around for centuries, while others are the latest innovations in the industry.

There are three types of solventless Extraction: hash method or hashish, rosin, and cavitation. 

Hash is one of the oldest and the simplest. Rosin uses hash and, with the help of a heated press, extracts oil from the grounded parts. 

Cavitation is one of the newest methods and only one company, Stirling CBD, uses it. Cavitation uses a specialized machine to blast millions of bubbles at the hemp material. This action causes the trichomes to burst, releasing the cannabinoid extracts.

Pros & Cons of Each Cannabinoid Extraction Method

Ethanol Extraction

Pros of Ethanol Extraction

  • Efficient for Full Spectrum and Tinctures

Ethanol extraction, like all cannabinoid extraction solvents, allows for large yields. 

The significant yield makes this extraction process ideal for creating full-spectrum products and tinctures.

  • Lenient Storage Limits 

Rules for ethanol-extracted compounds are less strict, making storing more in a facility easy. These lenient limits mean that companies can extract considerable amounts of cannabinoids at the same time

  • Eliminates The Need for Deewax

Ethanol extraction, if done correctly, removes the need for winterization. Winterization is a process of using ethanol to remove unwanted substances from the hemp oil. It is done at below-zero temperatures hence the name winterization.

Cons of Ethanol Extraction

  • Prone to contamination

One of the drawbacks of cannabinoid extraction solvents is contamination. Since the plant matter containing cannabinoids is exposed to chemicals, the same chemicals are likely to mix with the end product. 

Also, since ethanol is a polar solvent, other plant compounds will likely get attracted and join the mix. Examples of such a compound are chlorophyll. 

  • Limited in items to be made

There are few cannabinoid end products you can make out of ethanol-extracted oils. Though it’s suitable for tinctures, there’s still residual ethanol left in the by-products. These by-products make creating isolates and other purity-related cannabinoid products difficult.

  • Labor intensive post-processing

The last and most tedious downside of ethanol extraction is post-processing. The post-processing requires multiple stages to remove the non-reactive pigments like chlorophyll. The filtration process would require other chemicals like dimethyl ether, chloroform, and other compounds. 

Butane Hash Oil Extraction

Pros of BHO Extraction

  • Lower Cost for Equipment

One of the cons of BHO over other solvent-based cannabinoid extraction methods is the low initial equipment cost. Small companies can afford to buy the equipment needed to do the Extraction.

  • Better Taste and Aroma

BHO end products contain higher terpene compared to CO2 Extraction. This concentration makes the BHO products more flavorful and authentic to the original hemp taste.

  • Can Be Made to Different Products

Unlike CO2 Extraction, which is limited to lesser-purity products, 

BHO-extracted cannabinoids can be made to different items. These items range from full-spectrum tinctures to wide-spectrum products like isolates, gummies, etc.

Cons of BHO Extraction

  • Contamination of End Products

BHO has a higher risk of contamination compared to CO2. If done incorrectly, it could leave toxic residual solvents in the result. These could irritate the lungs and other parts of the body.

  • Highly Flammable

Butane is highly flammable. If mishandled, it could lead to explosions. Low-quality equipment could also pose health and safety hazards to the production facility since butane is explosive.

  • Requires Higher Cost for Facility

The last con of BHO is the facility cost. The health and safety hazard it poses could lead to higher facility costs. The permit required to operate the facility would also be more restrictive compared to CO2 Extraction.

Cold Press Cannabinoid Extraction

Pros of Cold Press Extraction

  • Environmentally friendly

Cold-pressed hemp oil does not contain additional chemicals. This condition makes the whole process more environmentally friendly compared to solvent-based extraction.

  • Retains Nutrients 

Since it uses no chemicals, Cold pressed Cannabinoid oil contains more terpenes and additional nutrients like fatty acids.

  • Terpenes and Flavonoid Rich

Cold-pressed hemp oil contains terpenes and flavonoids, making the end products taste great. Due to the taste and organic nature of the hemp extract produced, it is ideal for edibles.

Cons of Cold-Pressed Hemp Oil

  • Low Yield

Cold pressing gives a lower yield than solvent-based methods. The process would require lots of plant matter to produce enough output.

  • Short Term Storage

Another downside of Cold pressed hemp oil is that it doesn’t keep for long. The typical shelf life of Cold-pressed CBD oil is one to two years (unopened). An opened container can last eight to 12 weeks inside a freezer.

Solventless Terpene Extraction: Cavitation Method 

This is the Process that Stirling Uses

Pros of the Cavitation Method

  • High Yield

Unlike other solventless processes, Stirling’s Cavitation patented process offers high yields. The amount of cannabinoid compounds extracted equals the amount of plant material as solvent-based Extraction.

  • Organic Process

The whole extraction process is organic and does not require any chemicals. The plant material is submerged in ice water then a mechanical machine pumps the container with billions of bubbles. This force causes the trichomes to come off.

The plant matter left after the blasting would then be filtered through a fine 40-micron filter. This filter separates the trichomes from the other plant material and the ice water.

  • Scalable

The large output and non-chemical-based process make using the method scalable. It can produce more with the same raw materials as other large-scale methods. Since no chemicals are involved, the permits required to set up the facilities won’t be as strict as BHO or CO2.

Cons of the Cavitation Method

  • Exclusivity

The Cavitation method is exclusive to Stirling. Stirling CBD is the only company that uses this method. If another company wants to reap the benefits of this process, partnering with Stirling CBD is a must.

What Is The Best CBD Extraction Method?

The best extraction method for cannabinoids will depend on what a company aims for. It is entirely subjective to the goal of the CBD manufacturer. If they want large-scale production with minimal costs, they can try BHO. If they wish for a less hazardous method, they can go with CO2. 

Traditional methods like cold pressing, hash, or rosin would be best if the company aims to sell to health-conscious buyers. 

As for Stirling CBD, we stand by our proven and trusted method of creating safe, organically harvested cannabinoid oils. The Cavitation method allows Stirling to extract large amounts of hemp oil using eco-friendly processing. 

A proven and tested extraction method allows Stirling to produce high-quality cannabinoid products at affordable prices. It also allows the company to spearhead innovation and create beneficial and pure CBD products. 

Below are some of our latest creations:


Understanding how to extract cannabinoid compounds is vital to deciding if a CBD product suits your patients. After all, Chiropractors would have to stand by the supplementary products they recommend to their patients. 

Staying informed lowers the risk of recommending and even using subpar products on your patients. Last but not least, health hazards like contamination and even toxic residual solvents can all be avoided.

A little knowledge goes a long way. In the case of Chiropractic CBD products, it can make a difference between an informed recommendation and a probable health hazard. 


More CBD Reads:

Darwin Sese
Darwin Sese

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