Updated: June 29, 2020
Hemp is a truly remarkable plant.
You can use it to make rope. You can use it to make paper. Heck, you could even build a hemp house!
In the past year, one of hemp’s amazing qualities has taken the health and wellness world by storm: it’s called full spectrum CBD oil. So, just what is full spectrum CBD oil, and how do you make it from a hemp plant?
What is Full Spectrum CBD Oil?
Full spectrum CBD oil contains all of the naturally-occurring compounds that are found in hemp. There are well over 100 cannabinoids in hemp, but the essential ones that will produce the effects you’re after are CBD, CBG, CBC and THC.
This is opposed to a broad spectrum CBD product, which includes all of the cannabinoids sans THC. You might also come across CBD isolate, which is nothing but pure CBD.
The Full-Spectrum CBD Extraction Process
Full-spectrum CBD products undergo less processing than broad spectrum CBD and CBD isolates. This is one of the major benefits to choosing a 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.
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 the vitamin C. While vitamin C is good for you on its own, you’ll get the most health benefits from drinking it in combination with the water, potassium, and other vitamins that are naturally present in orange juice.
When making a full spectrum CBD oil, the idea is to squeeze all the natural compounds out of the hemp while still maintaining the purity of the product. The result is a CBD oil that contains all of the cannabinoid goodness from which you body will benefit.
The Entourage Effect
While CBD isolate could have specific benefits, research shows that full-spectrum hemp products are more effective. To understand this better, we first have to know how CBD and other cannabinoids interact with the human body.
The cannabinoids found in hemp interact with a specific biological system known as the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). This system helps your body regulate a lot of its processes, ranging from your mood to your appetite; and it even helps your body regulate its inflammation response.
When there’s an imbalance in your endocannabinoid system, a lot of things could go off-kilter, and you’re likely to experience some negative side effects.
Cannabidiol (CBD) can help your body re-balance the ECS and return it to homeostasis on its own. However, a 2015 study concluded that CBD is only effective at a certain dose. If you take too little or too much CBD isolate, the product becomes significantly less effective. This conundrum is often referred to as the “bell-shaped response curve.”
When comparing CBD isolate to full-spectrum CBD, these same researchers found that the range of effective doses increased when other naturally-occurring compounds were present in tandem with CBD. This finding suggests that, compared to CBD isolate, full-spectrum hemp products are more effective.
This phenomenon is called the entourage effect; and it explains why hemp products make you more comfortable when they’re in their whole and natural state.
To drive this point home, we’ll use another analogy.
Let’s say it’s Friday night, and you’re getting ready to go to a party. While you might have fun at the party all on your own, you’ll have the most fun if you invite your friends with you. Your friends lift your spirits and increase your humor; and you have the same effect on them. Together, your “entourage” makes it easier for all of you to have a great night at the party.
While CBD might be a great gal on her own, she becomes the life of the party when her cannabinoid and terpene friends are with her. That’s why full-spectrum CBD is better.
Extracting Full-Spectrum CBD Oil
Now that we’ve learned why full-spectrum CBD oil is important, let’s take a look at how it’s made.
Phase 1: Sourcing Ingredients
Before making full-spectrum CBD oil, 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 your 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 source their hemp from overseas, like China or the Netherlands. 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 and having a reliable supply chain, is to choose a product made from organic hemp grown in the USA.
Organic Hemp in America
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.
Organic farmers in particular 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 is Home to the Finest Hemp
Kentucky lies along the 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 hemp plant 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 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. 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. 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. Yet many extractors process the whole plant: flowers, stalks, roots, and all. But the stalks of the plant contain only a small amount of phytocannabinoids. Therefore, the best extraction method is flower-only, when the flower is first shucked from the stalks.
Flower-only extraction is a more labor-intensive and expensive process. But for those brands that insist on the best, like Cornbread Hemp, there is no substitute for flower-only extraction.
Phase 3: Extraction
There is no 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 ways to extract 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.
Supercritical Carbon Dioxide
The supercritical CO2 method is a popular method for extraction because it produces a product that is safe to consume. 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.
Organic Sugarcane Ethanol Extraction
Using ethanol as a solvent for making extracts produces an extremely clean product, and is more gentle than the supercritical CO2 process. 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 plant matter and slowly heated in a water bath, evaporating the ethanol and leaving behind all the beneficial properties extracted from the hemp flower.
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. Both are full spectrum.
We simply blend our organic hemp extract with organic coconut oil to make our Whole Plant formula. In addition to a full spectrum of phytocannabinoids, it 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 Plant 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%. By removing more plant matter from the oil, the cannabinoids can enter your system more easily. This process effectively increases the purity and potency of the full-spectrum CBD oil.
You read that right: we’re offering the purest and most-effective 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 Distilled USDA Organic CBD Oil.
Are there other ways to make full spectrum CBD oil? Sure there are!
But now you know the gold standard of CBD extraction. It starts with organic hemp, and it ends with an ethanol-extracted, full spectrum 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 carrier oils available for CBD producers to utilize. Some companies use olive oil or hempseed oil. However, these oils contain LCT, or long chain triglycerides.
These fatty 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. Hempseed oil can go rancid in 6 months.
MCT Oil is the Industry Leading Carrier Oil
MCT oil, short for medium-chain triglycerides, is the best carrier oil choice for CBD oil because of its bioavailability. 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.
MCT molecules are smaller than normal molecules, this makes it easier for the body to process than long-chain triglycerides. 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.
Cornbread Hemp goes a step further and uses certified organic coconut MCT oil as a carrier oil for Cornbread Hemp CBD products.
Phase 6: Adding Flavors?
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 mask with it. 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 certified organic hemp oil is a clean and pure hemp product. Our customers love the rich hempy taste of our Whole Plant 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 and topicals for those who want to avoid the sublingual oil.
Phase 7: Choosing the Best
Cornbread Hemp’s mission is to produce the highest quality full spectrum 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. A new video of our production process can be viewed on our website.
Cornbread Hemp’s 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.
Of course, you can always find something else out there with bigger claims and a cheaper price tag; but we challenge you to find a product that works better than this. We’re not coming from a place of arrogance—we’re just that confident in our products and what they can do for you.
So why not pick up a bottle today, and see the Cornbread Difference for yourself?