6 Common Methods Of Cannabis Extraction And How They Differ

9 mins read

Cannabidiol (CBD) products are popular, especially in the wellness and beauty industries. Due to their potential health benefits or therapeutic effects, these products are thought to help ease discomfort and stress, reduce inflammation and pain and improve sleep quality. However, to enjoy all of these benefits, you need to know the extraction method used for these products.

Aside from the extraction method, you must also be aware of the manufacturing process. And if you’re looking to get into this industry, you can take a look at used cannabis equipment as a starter. While there’s no one better extraction method over another, it’s still wise to know the common methods of cannabis extraction and how they differ. That said, here’s a guide of the different cannabis extraction methods:

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Extraction

CO2 extraction is one of the most common methods of cannabis extraction. It works by isolating particular cannabinoids from the cannabis plant material referred to as biomass.

Touted as one of the most environmentally friendly and non-toxic solvents used today, carbon dioxide is safe. In fact, CO2 extraction doesn’t leave residual toxins, which is a plus for those who want to enjoy the supposed benefits of CBD oil and other CBD products. It’s also often used in food and beverage manufacturing.

Under the standard temperatures and pressures, CO2 is a gas. But once heated above the standard pressure and temperature, it becomes a supercritical fluid, a liquid-gaseous state that exhibits the characteristics of both a liquid and gas.

During the extraction process, the cannabis buds are washed with supercritical CO2. In this stage, the CO2 can quickly seep through each crevice of the biomass and separate the CBD, THC and the other desirable compounds of cannabis plants.

Some benefits of CO2 extraction include the following:

  • Tuneable: CO2 may behave differently under various pressure and temperature parameters. Manufacturers may fine-tune such parameters to carefully choose the desirable compounds they like to separate.

But CO2 has some physical limitations as a solvent and can’t extract a full spectrum. Therefore, while it may contain extra terpenes separately from the cannabinoids, it has a few amounts of terpenes only, and most are left destroyed throughout the process.

  • Safe: CO2 is non-toxic and non-flammable, which creates a greater appeal for consumers. However, you have to note that all methods of cannabis extraction are safe to use as long as there are proper safety standards in place.
  • Accessible: CO2 is widely available at affordable prices even if the extraction equipment used for the process requires higher upfront costs than some methods.

Solvent CBD Extraction

Considered as one of the oldest methods of cannabis extraction, solvent CBD extraction is the easiest and cheapest method available as well. It’s also cost-effective and offers a higher yield of CBD, unlike some extraction methods.

The only disadvantage of this cannabis extraction method is that terpenes, cannabinoids and chlorophyll may result in undesirable side effects. Also, after the extraction, some compounds are degraded or denatured.

Butane Hash Oil Extraction

It’s another popular method of cannabinoid extraction, which is also known as hydrocarbon extraction. In the world of cannabis, a hydrocarbon may produce quality cannabis concentrates at scale. While this kind of extraction method is used in different markets like food and fragrance industries, butane hash oil extraction is widely used by CBD product manufacturers.

To produce quality products, manufacturers need to meet all the fire and building codes, gas detection and ventilation systems and some safety controls. These measures can help avoid possible explosions and to ensure effective and safe CBD products.

Here are some of the benefits of the butane hash oil extraction method:

  • Safety: CBD product manufacturers use butane that’s safe to use. Moreover, the process happens at low pressure compared to CO2 extraction.
  • Versatility: By using a variety of butane solvent blends, CBD product makers can create various cannabis concentrates like live resin to meet the consumers’ needs. Butane hash oil extraction is the only method to process fresh frozen biomass into quality oil known as live resin.
  • Yield: One of the best things about the butane hash oil extraction method is that it produces more yields than CO2 extraction. It only means that produces can reap more of the therapeutic properties from the same cannabis plant materials.
  • Efficiency: Unlike other methods of cannabis extraction, butane hash oil extraction has a faster throughput rate. Aside from that, the low boiling point of this extraction method allows manufacturers to preserve more hemp and cannabis compounds.

Cold-Pressure Extraction

If you prefer the most environmentally friendly and natural CBD oil sourcing and cannabis extraction method, you can never go wrong with the cold-pressure method. The final products from this extraction method possess more cannabinoids and compounds. It also offers a better entourage effect.

The process of cold-pressure extraction is simple. First and foremost, the cannabis plant matter is crushed and cooled under pressure to extract the desired product. There’s no wonder that cannabis plants retain all of their flavonoids, cannabinoids and terpenes during cold pressing. The problem is that the end-product yield is small, so it isn’t widely used on a huge scale.

Propane Extraction

Propane extraction is almost the same as the butane extraction process. As propane is pressurized, it becomes liquid and passes through the cannabis plants. Often used for fuel grills and to heat homes, propane is a flammable gas, and leftover residue should be eliminated through vacuum purging or heat before use. Propane also has a low boiling point than butane, enabling the leftover solvent to be removed easily.

The primary difference between propane and butane is that propane uses high pressures. This makes it quicker to strip bigger plant molecules and frequently delivers high terpene levels and less residue.

Ethanol Extraction

It’s common for CBD product manufacturers to use the ethanol extraction method since it’s safe, effective and efficient. Ethanol is also considered generally safe and can be used as a food preservative.

When it comes to the ethanol extraction method, the THC is extracted by soaking cannabis plants in ethanol. The resulting product is then refined to improve its purity. To get a good-tasting and pure end result, proper refinement is essential.


Those are the most commonly used methods of cannabis extraction. Each of them has its own pros and cons. So, the key to choosing the best and right CBD product is to check the quality of the raw materials used and ensure that it’s lab-tested. If possible, opt for the one with minimal processing.

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