CBD Isolation from Hemp

How to make CBD isolate from Hemp

CBD isolation is the process of isolating purified Cannabidiol (CBD isolate) from hemp or cannabis flowers, leaves or plants.

CBD isolation from hemp – from Farm to Pharma

CBD can be isolated from hemp flower or biomass (whole hemp plants). Good quality high CBD flower will give the best results, but this may be a waste of such high quality flower as isolate manufacture discards many other therapeutic compounds such as minor cannabinoids and terpenes.

To make CBD for use in food or medicine, hemp must be cultivated, harvested, dried, processed, extracted, refined and purified using specialised equipment and processes.

Methods of CBD isolation

CBD Isolation Using Chromatography

The most common methods of CBD Isolation require chromatography and toxic solvents such as pentane.

  • Supercritical CO2 Chromatography
  • HPLC (High Pressure Liquid Chromatography) using solvents such as pentane
  • Flash Chromatography using solvents such as pentane
  • Rotary Chromatography using specialised liquid-liquid chromatography mixes

Of these, supercritical CO2 Chromatography is the only method which doesn’t introduce toxic solvents such as pentane or hexane to isolate the product.

CBD isolation is a complex process requiring specialised pharmaceutical manufacturing and testing equipment and facilities which can safely handle toxic, explosive compounds (if solvents are used). Attempting to perform isolation without adequate protective and testing equipment risks personal injury and the product may not be safe for human consumption, particularly by medical patients who may already be compromised

CBD Crystallisation

Crystallisation is a key step in CBD isolation. After chromatography is used to refine CBD to very high levels, removing THC, terpenes and other impurities, the CBD is further purified and collected in solid form by crystallising it from the extract. This is typically done with strong solvents which help remove the THC which stays liquid.

Note that this process means CBD isolate is rarely a “natural” or “organic” product – it’s been through a chemical process to purify it to a pharmaceutical grade of purity.

If a more natural method is required (eg: if claiming “Organic” status) then only natural GRAS solvents should be used such as CO2 and ethanol. This makes supercritical chromatography an attractive options for more green/natural products.

Note that any of several methods can deliver a 99%+ purified CBD isolate – the finished result is chemically the same, but the provenance is different.