Hemp Flower Extract
Are you looking for the best way to get top notch extracts from your hemp flower?
Maybe you are wondering what is in hemp flower extract and the different oils it produces.
Find the processes, products and identify the pitfalls with help from the experts.
- Hemp flowers can be extracted to produce many varieties of oil.
- At home cannabis extracts are best done by the press method.
- There are many different varieties of extract, and those with CBDA may be the best.
- CBDA from raw hemp extract has many potential benefits for sleep, anxiety, and inflammation.
What is hemp flower extract?
Hemp flower extract can mean many different things, but at its core it is any process to concentrate hemp flower compounds for consumption. This is typically the cannabinoids, but may also include terpenes and sometimes chlorophyll, the green pigment that captures sunlight for plants.
There are many ways that hemp flower is extracted, and if you are interested in ways to do this at home, jump to the home extraction process section.
It should be noted that all hemp flower contains acidic cannabinoids, such as CBDA, before they have been processed. CBDA is the primary cannabinoid by concentration in hemp, usually around 90% of all cannabinoids found. The acidic cannabinoids are usually converted to their decarboxylated form, such as CBDA to CBD, during heated purification.
However, recent advances in technology by some companies like Natural Dos, have been able to capture the acidic cannabinoids, unlocking their health benefits for the first time.
Growing the hemp
Hemp can be grown indoors or outside. The outdoors hemp is typically grown for extraction purposes, and the indoor hemp is grown for smoking purposes since you can control the environment better and yield a higher CBDA percent.
The state will test the hemp flower before harvest to make sure it is under 0.3% THC by weight. This is required by the federal farm bill of 2018.
Drying the hemp flower
Hemp flower when cut from the plant is around 40-50% water, and thus needs to be dried before extraction. This can be done by hanging the plants in a dry facility with good air flow, or put through a drying machine. Care should be taken because the cannabinoids can be decarboxylated during both processes if too much heat is involved.
If your heat is too high or the hemp flower is cured for too long in a drying house, you can also lose the terpenes since they are very volatile.
After drying, the hemp flower is typically ground into smaller sizes. The reason for this is that extraction processes need greater surface area for their solvent to interact with. This yields a higher % recovery of the total amount of cannabinoids.
Organic hemp – a note
Consumers like organic products because nobody want potentially harmful pesticides in the products they are consuming, everyone is in agreement with that. However, hemp is unique in that the federal laws do not allow the use of conventional pesticides for growing. So by proxy, most hemp tends to be pesticide free anyway.
Since certified organic farms cost over $50,000 for auditing, most small farmer opt to forgo the cost, and do their organic farming without certification.
All reputable sellers of bulk hemp will test for pesticides, and all reputable sellers of hemp products also get their CBD or CBDA products tested for those as well. The reason is that some farmers may still have pesticides in the soil which can be absorbed by the hemp plant.
Before buying any CBD or CBDA oil product, check for a CoA (certificate of analysis) to validate it is pesticide free.
Home extraction processes
Extraction at home is left for the aficionados, and is typically done using smokable hemp since regular consumers do not buy hemp biomass on the scale of 100s to 1000s of pounds. This usually means that their cost per gram is going to be much higher than commercial outfits. But if you get good at home, you can create what you want.
If you are looking to extract at home and want a substance that you can smoke or dab, there is really only 1 option without going into buying lab equipment. This is the press method, and yields a great live rosin product, but your typically extraction only gets around 10-40% of the total cannabinoids present.
The hemp press method
The hemp press has multiple parameters that need to be considered before buying.
- The total amount of pressure needed to extract the live rosin will depend on the starting material. If you are using kief, the you can get away with a lower pressure, 300-700 psi, or if you are starting with ground flower, then you will need around 500-1000psi.
- Temperature is important to getting a great quality live rosin. If your temperature is too high, you can lose a lot of the terpenes that people tend to like in their rosin. If the temperature is too low, you do not extract as much of the cannabinoids. Additionally, too low a temperature increases the time it takes for a full run.
- Even heat distribution across the pressing plates is important. Since this is a critical parameter, if you dont have even heat, you will lose product quality in every run.
- The last is how much hemp flower you are looking to press. Make sure you have a larger press if you anticipate a lot of hemp flower extraction.
The hemp press is great for live rosin product, and there is a wide variety of machines on the market for at home extractors.
The alcohol extraction method
Ethanol (alcohol) is very good at extracting cannabinoids and terpenes, but it is also good at extracting a lot of other unwanted cannabinoids. If you go this route, expect a dark colored product that is bitter, which is due to the chlorophyll that is extracted. The taste will not be ideal since it is very bitter due to the other plant compounds.
A typical process for at home alcohol extraction:
- Grind up the hemp flower and add to a container with a high % ethanol content alcohol. Grain alcohol is typical since it has a high % ethanol and is relatively cheap. Make sure the ground hemp is full submerged.
- Mix the ethanol and hemp flower multiple times over the course of 30 minutes to an hour. This is more than enough to extract all the cannabinoids and terpenes.
- The longer the hemp is left to extract with the alcohol the more unwanted compounds are pulled out.
- Strain out the hemp material from the alcohol, and place the alcohol in container with a lot of surface volume. Usually something like a baking pan.
- Now the tricky part. Ethanol likes to evaporate into the air, and it will evaporate faster the longer it sits, or if it is heated. We do not recommend putting in an oven since that gets too hot and you can lose terpenes even at a low heat of 200F.
- A very low heat on the stovetop works if you turn it on and off in 10 minute intervals. You can also leave overnight to get a lot of ethanol evaporation. If you have a fan to blow over the top that helps too.
- When you get most of the ethanol out of the mixture, move to a smaller container so you are not scraping the product off a large surface area. Repeat evaporation process with the smaller container.
What are the commercial processes?
There are a handful of main extraction processes used by the industry for hemp flower extract. Which one used depends on the volume of hemp to be extracted, and what the final product is intended to be used for.
- CO2 extraction: This method uses supercritical CO2 passed through a packed column of ground hemp flower. The CO2 method is popular because it can produce a pure, high quality crude extract, in the 60-70% purity. A downside to this is that it is typically smaller scale and cannot produce as much as some of the other processes.
- Ethanol extract: This method is the most widely popular because of the volumes you push through a system. The ethanol is typically super cooled, and extracts the cannabinoids with a high efficiency. The downside to this approach is that the crude extract needs a lot of further purification to yield an 80% plus CBD oil.
- Propane/butane extract: This method is similar to CO2 in that it produces a pure product in similar ranges, 60-70%. The solvent is easily recovered, and vaporizes at room temperature so you dont need heat to recover it.
There has been some reluctance from many consumers to buy products that were extracted using solvents considered harmful. This is because in the early days, some manufacturers did not properly remove the solvents from their products. Now, this is highly uncommon, and checking for a third party CoA that tested for solvents will tell you the quality.
Types of hemp flower extract
There are many different types of hemp flower extract on the market, with a number of different names. After the hemp has gone through extraction, it needs to be purified further, and this can yield a number of different products.
Below is a list of different purified hemp flower extracts:
Full spectrum hemp extract
Full spectrum hemp extract is a purified CBD oil that contains all the different cannabinoids found in the hemp flower. This includes THC, which by law, has to be under 0.3%, but is not enough to get you high. This product is typically only decarboxylated cannabinoids, and does not contain the natural acidic cannabinoids.
Broad spectrum hemp flower extract
Broad spectrum CBD hemp oil is the same as full spectrum CBD oil, but without the THC. Consumers who buy this are usually drug tested for their jobs, and dont want to run the chance that they will show up positive.
Natural Spectrum CBDA
Natural Spectrum CBDA oil is produced only by Natural Dos, and contains all the acidic cannabinoids found in the hemp flower extract. We produce only pure CBDA oil, with a purity level of over 95% that is used in all our products. Acidic cannabinoids are now being recognized for their unique benefits beyond the conventional decarboxylated forms.
Live rosin is formed from using a press for hemp flower extract. This product can have both acidic and decarboxylated cannabinoids due to the heat used during the press. This product is know for its high terpene concentration.
Isolates, such as CBD isolate, are purified cannabinoids from the hemp flower extract. These are typically 99% pure, and results from a chemical isolation of a full spectrum hemp flower extract. Typically, this is used for beverages or other products that need to be quickly dissolved.
Benefits of hemp flower extracts
Hemp flower extract is traditionally sold as primarily cannabidiol (CBD) oil, or sometimes cannabigerol (CBG) oil, and only recently has the potential therapeutic benefits of acidic cannabinoids like CBDA been recognized. This naturally occurring form of cannabinoids in the hemp flower has many new health benefits beyond just its interaction with the endocannabinoid system.
Enhanced absorption: Acidic cannabinoids have much higher absorption than their decarboxylated forms, such as CBDA vs CBD. In fact, CBDA is absorbed between 450-1000% better than CBD. This means much less is needed to get a therapeutic benefit.
Anxiety and stress: CBDA is known to activate the 5HT1A receptor, which is one of the serotonin receptors involved in controlling mood. This is a primary target for the SSRI class of drugs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). Many consumers have reported improved anxiety and stress with CBDA.
Inflammation: Many conditions, such pain, migraines, even sleep and anxiety have an underlying inflammatory component that may be responsible for what they are experiencing. CBDA has recently been found to inhibit and repress a critical pro-inflammatory enzyme, COX 2 (cyclooxygenase 2). This enzyme is found to be a critical component in many inflammatory conditions, and is the target for drugs such as ibuprofen and aspirin.
Entourage effect: Many people and studies report improved therapeutic benefits from taking hemp flower extract that contains all the cannabinoids. It appears that different cannabis cannabinoids can interact to have a synergistic effect, which has been termed the entourage effect.
Many people report great benefit from daily dosing with hemp plant extracts, whether for sleep, anxiety, inflammation or other conditions their body may be experiencing. The kind of hemp flower extract you take is important since different qualities and types will have varying outcomes. Check the ingredients and CoA on all CBD and CBDA products before buying to make sure it has the purity you want.
If you are on medications, please speak with your physician before trying CBDA or CBD as there may be drug-drug interactions.