Updated: July 7, 2021
Cannabis sativa is a truly remarkable plant. The low-THC varieties of cannabis, often called "hemp," were once just thought of as a source for rope, paper, and construction materials to make a hemp house! But after the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, the definition of hemp changed to mean a cannabis plant with a THC level not above 0.3 percent. This new law legalized full spectrum CBD oil, if it's derived from hemp. So lots of people are now asking: How is full spectrum CBD oil made?
Watch How Cornbread Hemp CBD Oil is Made
In this 90-second video, Cornbread Hemp co-founder Jim Higdon explains how we make our full spectrum CBD oil, and what makes it unique: USDA organic, verified full spectrum, and Flower-Only™ extract. We take this extract to make our USDA organic CBD oils, which we offer with a 30-day satisfaction guarantee.
What is Flower-Only™ CBD Oil?
Flower-only™ CBD comes from only the flowers of the hemp plant. The flower of the hemp plant has the highest concentration of CBD in the entire plant and, when processed, the flower lends the CBD a delicate floral flavor. Hemp produces CBD in the sticky resin that the flowers make to attract pollen.
The stickier the flower, the more cannabinoids there are!
Whole plant CBD includes all the "aerial parts" of the hemp plant. That means stems, leaves, flowers, and seeds. But besides the flower, the rest of the plant contains little to no cannabinoids.
Many brands of whole plant CBD add flavors to their oils, like peppermint and vanilla. That’s because CBD oil produced from the whole plant tastes bad and needs these flavors to make it palatable. Not Flower-only™ which is enjoyed for its natural floral taste.
What is Full Spectrum CBD Oil?
Full spectrum hemp CBD oil contains all of the naturally-occurring compounds that are found in the hemp cannabis plant. There are well over 100 cannabinoids in hemp,1 but the essential ones that will produce the effects you’re after are:
This is opposed to a broad spectrum CBD oil and other products, which includes all of the cannabinoids found in the hemp plant except THC. You might also come across CBD isolate, which is nothing but pure CBD.2
Full Spectrum CBD Extraction Process
Full spectrum CBD products undergo less processing than broad spectrum CBD and CBD isolates.3 This is one of the major benefits to choosing a full spectrum CBD oil. To understand CBD production, let’s compare the extraction process to making orange juice.
When you get that first good squeeze out of an orange, the juice that comes out is likely to contain all of the naturally-occurring vitamins in their highest concentrations.
Some orange juice companies might decide to filter out the pulp. We can compare this to a broad spectrum CBD product. While some people might not want the pulp, filtering it out removes the fiber and decreases the overall wholeness of the juice. Thereby providing you with fewer O.J. benefits.
When we’re talking about CBD isolate, we could compare this to a company filtering their orange juice again and again, until all that’s left is a vitamin C powder. While vitamin C is good for you, you would get the most benefits from drinking it in combination with the water, potassium, and other vitamins that are naturally present in orange juice. Whole food supplements are better for the body than isolated compounds on their own.
When making a full spectrum CBD extraction, the idea is to squeeze all the natural compounds out of the hemp plant while still maintaining the purity of all CBD components in the extract. The result is a hemp CBD extract that contains all of the cannabinoid goodness the plant can offer.
Some people think that taking a broad spectrum hemp oil will allow them to pass a drug test. But this is not always the case. Many drug tests can't tell the difference between CBD and THC, and will show positive no matter what level of hemp oil purity they choose. That's why it's important to check with your company's HR department before beginning a CBD hemp oil regimen.
Full Spectrum vs THC Free
Extracting Full Spectrum CBD Oil
Now that we’ve learned why full spectrum CBD oil is important, let’s take a more in-depth look at how it is made.
Phase 1: Sourcing Ingredients
Before CBD oil is made, you need to source the right materials for the job. The hemp you choose for your extraction will ultimately determine the quality of the end product.
Where the hemp flower comes from is very important. Because the CBD market is largely unregulated, it’s entirely possible to find hemp that’s been contaminated with synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and heavy metals.
Some brands of CBD oil products source their hemp from overseas, like China or the Netherlands. That might be more cost effective for them, but they lose their transparency and quality control. Hemp is a bio-accumulator, meaning that it can remove toxins from the soil. While this is great for regions suffering from poor soil conditions, you do not want to consume a product made from plants grown in toxic soil.
Your best option for avoiding harmful chemicals is to choose a product that is made from organic hemp grown in the USA. Luckily for you, we make CBD oil from hemp grown on our USDA organic hemp farm in central Kentucky.
It is easier for American CBD companies to guarantee the quality and freshness of their hemp if it’s grown in the USA. Also, products made in America have a smaller carbon-footprint than hemp shipped from overseas.
On top of that, organic farmers must adhere to a strict set of guidelines that includes regulating soil quality, pest control methods, and other cultivation practices. As we’ve mentioned, hemp is a bio-accumulator, making it very important that it be farmed organically to make the safest concentrates.
While there are plenty of organic hemp farms across the United States, one state in particular has the optimum environment for growing the best hemp.
Kentucky: Home to the Finest Hemp
Kentucky lies along Earth’s 37th parallel. This is the same latitude that crosses the Hindu Kush mountains on the other side of the world. The Hindu Kush is the home of the original strains of indica cannabis. Therefore, hemp plants love the light cycles found at this latitude.
In addition to the light cycles, Kentucky’s limestone-filtered groundwater helps crops by leaving the soil rich with calcium and magnesium and free of iron. The same water that makes the best bourbon in the world helps grow the happiest hemp. Cornbread Hemp works with organic Kentucky farmers to cultivate the best cannabis sativa hemp plants for our CBD oil products.
Phase 2: Bud Preparation
Once you have your CBD-rich, USDA-certified, lab-tested hemp flower, it’s time to prepare the buds for CBD extraction.
Just like marijuana, hemp needs to be cured and dried. Often, companies will do this by hanging and drying the hemp in barns. Unfortunately, this can trap moisture in the center of the plant, which increases the chance of mold or mildew forming.10 This is another reason to request a recent lab test from your supplier.
Once the hemp is cured and dried, the buds will contain a compound called CBDA, which is the precursor to CBD. To convert the CBDA into active CBD, the hemp flower needs to be heated in a process called decarboxylation.11 If you’re starting with hemp flower, you can do this with an oven and a thermometer.
CBD and other phytocannabinoids can only be found in the flowers of the plant.12 However, you will find that many extractors process the enitre plant: flowers, stalks, roots, and all. They refer to this on the label as hemp plant "aerial parts," which means every part of the plant that touches the air. The stalks of the plant contain only a small amount of phytocannabinoids. Therefore, the best extraction method is Flower-Only™,13 when the flower is first shucked from the stalks.
Flower-Only™ CBD extraction is a more labor-intensive and expensive process than using whole hemp plants. But for those brands that insist on the best, like Cornbread Hemp, there is no substitute for Flower-Only™ extract.
Phase 3: Extraction
There is not yet an industry standard on how to safely extract phytocannabinoids from the raw hemp plant material. Consumers should be vigilant when researching CBD companies to ensure that they don’t purchase a product that was extracted with harmful chemicals.
With such a huge variety of extraction methods to get CBD oil from the plant, it’s important to remember our purpose in doing so. At this stage, we’re trying to extract the full spectrum of cannabinoids that are pure and suitable for human consumption.
The supercritical CO2 method is a popular method for extraction because it produces a product that is safe to consume.14 Common grocery items such as decaffeinated coffee and vanilla extract use the supercritical CO2 method in their production. However, supercritical CO2 extracted CBD oil tends to be harsh when taken orally, leaving a bitter aftertaste.
The method itself is not a gentle process and requires heavy machinery to withstand the pressure involved. Carbon dioxide gas is put under extreme pressure to force it into a liquid state. Once the liquid CO2 is introduced to the plant matter, the plant’s properties leach into the liquid CO2. Then the pressure is released, allowing the carbon dioxide to return to its gaseous state leaving behind the extracted material.15
Organic Sugarcane Ethanol
Using ethanol as a solvent produces an extremely clean extract, and is more gentle than the supercritical CO2 process.16 Ethanol-extracted oil is milder in taste and allows the flavor of the terpenes to shine through without any bitterness in the end product. This process can be certified organic by using organic sugarcane ethanol.
The machinery required to perform this process is simpler than those that require heavy pressure. Ethanol is introduced to the hemp plant matter and slowly heated in a water bath, evaporating the ethanol and leaving behind all the beneficial properties extracted from the hemp flower.17
Cornbread Hemp’s extracts their CBD using organic sugarcane ethanol in small batches to ensure the highest quality possible. We chose this method because we want our customers to have the safest, cleanest, and best tasting CBD oils.
Cornbread Hemp ensures quality and safety with third party lab tests to verify the product is free of any residual solvents.
Beware of Butane!
Some disreputable companies use potentially dangerous solvents like butane to extract their CBD. Butane is more commonly used as lighter fluid and can be harmful when consumed.
Phase 4: Distillation
Cornbread Hemp offers two different USDA certified organic full spectrum formulas with different CBD purity levels, Whole Flower and Distilled.
To make our Whole Flower formula, we simply blend our first-pass organic hemp extract with organic coconut oil. In addition to a full spectrum of phytocannabinoids, our Whole Flower CBD Oil contains all of the essential properties of the raw plant. This includes terpenes, flavonoids, fatty acids, and other healthy hemp compounds. All these plant properties give our organic Whole Flower formula a natural amber color, and also gives it a robust hemp flavor with nutty and floral notes.
Some companies stop there when it comes to their oils. But, most people don’t know that you can boil those cannabinoids down for an even purer product. This is the optional stage: distillation.
At Cornbread Hemp, we take half of our batch and put it through a process called Short Path Distillation. Because each compound in hemp extract has a different boiling point, we can distill the cannabinoids to 75 percent. This process increases the purity of the full spectrum CBD oil. We are different from other companies that have a distillate oil, because ours is still a full spectrum extract.
You read that right: we’re offering the purest full spectrum CBD oil that’s scientifically attainable. We do this not only to pay homage to our bourbon-distilling Kentucky forefathers, but also to bring the best product possible to our customers: our USDA Organic Distilled CBD Oil.
Phase 5: Blending the Carrier Oil
A key ingredient in the next step of how to make CBD oil is the carrier oil that is blended with the extract. There are many different oils available for CBD producers to utilize. Some companies use olive oil or hempseed oil. 18 However, these oils contain LCT, or long chain triglycerides.
These fatty amino acids are slow to break down in the body, so they are not ideal for helping you absorb CBD. They can also have short shelf lives. For instance, hempseed oil can go rancid in as little as 6 months.
MCT Oil: Best Carrier Oil
MCT oil, short for medium-chain triglycerides, is the best oil choice for CBD oil because of its bioavailability.19 Consuming CBD with fat can increase the amount of CBD that the body absorbs. MCT oil has the highest concentration of fat soluble compounds so it can triple CBD absorption rates.20
MCT molecules are smaller than normal molecules, this makes it easier for the body to process than long-chain triglycerides.21 Also, MCT oil has a longer shelf life than other oils, up to 2 years if stored properly.
The best sources of MCT oil are palm oil and coconut oil. However, palm oil production is associated with corruption and rain-forest deforestation. For this reason, the better option is coconut oil.22 Cornbread Hemp goes one step further and uses certified organic coconut MCT oil as a carrier oil for Cornbread Hemp CBD products.
Phase 6: Adding Flavors to CBD?
Some companies feel the need to add flavors to their hemp extracts. While added flavors appeal to some customers, we should really ask what those companies are trying to hide. They may have cut some corners in their production process and added flavor to cover something up. They may have an inferior product that they are trying to doll up to make it more attractive.
Cornbread Hemp does not add any flavors to our oils because we don’t need to. Our USDA organic hemp oil is a clean and pure product. Our customers love the rich floral taste of our Whole Flower product. And our Distilled formula is light and mild with a slightly fruity aftertaste.
However, for some it isn’t a matter of flavor. Some people don’t like the feel of oil in their mouth at all. For these folks, we make full spectrum CBD Capsules, CBD Gummies, and CBD Creams for those who want to avoid sublingual oil. We also have an organic CBD Balm with arnica and peppermint!
Phase 7: Choosing the Best
Cornbread Hemp’s mission is to produce the highest quality CBD oil possible by choosing the best options during each step of the production process.
We source our extracts from Kentucky grown organic hemp flowers with the highest CBD concentration. Our extract is made in small batches using organic sugarcane ethanol. And we blend that extract with organic MCT coconut oil to make a finished product. Cornbread Hemp is proud to have the region’s first USDA certified organic CBD oils.
Cornbread Hemp’s organic CBD oil is backed by Kentucky farmers, American tradition, and a dedication to provide consumers with the best CBD products available on the market today.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. All rights reserved.
What is Full Spectrum CBD?
CBD with all of the cannabinoids found in the hemp plant, including THC.There are well over 100 cannabinoids in hemp,1 but the essential ones that will produce the effects you’re after are: CBD, CBG, CBC, and others.
What is Broad Spectrum CBD?
CBD with all of the cannabinoids found in the hemp plant, EXCEPT THC. That includes CDB, CBG, and CBC.
What is CBD Isolate?
Pure CBD. It contains no other hemp plant compounds or any cannabinoids. CBD isolate is in crystal form.
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2. Jones, I., 2020. Full-Spectrum Cannabis Extracts VS CBD Isolate | Fundación CANNA: Scientific Studies and Cannabis Testing. [online] Fundacion-canna.es. Available at: https://www.fundacion-canna.es/en/full-spectrum-cannabis-extracts-vs-cbd-isolate Accessed July 7, 2020. 7th paragraph, 3rd sentence
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16. Using ethanol as a solvent for making extracts produces an extremely clean product and is more gentle than the supercritical CO2 process.
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