How To Make CBD Oil From Leaves And Stems

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A very comprehensive guide on how to make cannabis oil from trim which includes from processing to producing an oil rich in active compounds. Making CBD oil at home is easy, and you need only a few ingredients. It's a two-step process that involves heating and then infusion into a carrier oil. Come learn how to easily make your own cannabis-infused oil, ready to use in medicated edible recipes, topical salves, or even enjoy straight on its own.

How to Make Cannabis Oil from Trim

The Steps to Extracting Cannabinoid Oil From Trim

Whether you are a large scale grower, or a small scale operation, it is likely that you may have accumulated a quantity of trim that you don’t know what to with. The good news is that, with a little time and effort, you can create high quality cannabinoid extracts from your leftover trim in just a few easy steps. This article details the step by step process of how to make cannabis oil from trim and how the best practices you can follow to properly create high quality extracts.

Establish Your Trim Quality

Trim refers to the trichome-rich outer leaves that encompass the cannabis flower (or “bud”). The overall cannabinoid content of these leaves can range from 10-15%, and high-grade trim usually includes small flowers that cannot be sold elsewhere.

Even though many medical purveyors in oils-only states use both flower and trim as a source for the extract oils, some extractors use trim exclusively as the source material for their extractions.

Whether learning how to extract CBD, or how to extract THC from trimmings, hemp and cannabis trim can be obtained from a variety of producers, which means that the range of quality will also vary greatly.

The Four Grades of Cannabis Trim

Trim is generally classified into four grades based on a standard set of criteria, such as resin, trichome density, and several other factors used to determine its quality:

Grade 1 Trim for Extract Oil
Grade 2 Trim for Extract Oil
Grade 3 Trim for Extract Oil
Grade 4 Trim for Extract Oil

Sampling Trim for Extract Oil

Sampling is an important part of the grading exercise. For example, when a truckload of trim is purchased, Grade 1 and 2 is presented to the seller who typically makes the decision on whether the trim is “good” or “poor” quality by rubbing the material on his fingers to gauge the resin content. This method of determining good vs. poor is not objective and is very prone to mis-grading.

Measuring for Potency, Identity, and Pesticides

Many extractors believe the only time an extract needs to be measured is when the product is shipped or maybe not even at all. A more refined approach includes measuring pesticides, potency, concentration, and identity before the trim is purchased.

This is accomplished with modern-day techniques using high-performance liquid chromatography-ultraviolet (HPLC-UV), mass spectrometry (MS), and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). The finger method is a good first approximation, but it can lead to erroneous results, even with an experienced buyer.

For example, some cultivars have a much higher resin content than others. And it is known that cannabinoid content varies with variety. Thus, you could be purchasing a high wax content material that would “finger test” well but have very low cannabinoid content.

How to Extract Cannabinoid Oil From Fresh Trim

There are several different methods you can use to extract hash oil from cannabis trim. Each method varies in its simplicity, scalability, and purity of output. Some of the most common extraction methods include:

  • Butane extraction
  • Ethanol extraction
Butane Extraction

One popular method on how to make cannabinoid oil from trim is by using a hydrocarbon solvent such as butane. Butane is nonpolar, so it is useful for extracting terpenes and cannabinoids from solution without unwanted plant material such as chlorophyll.

To avoid impurities, only high-quality commercial butane must be used for extraction. It is also necessary to purge the extract before consumption to ensure that all residual solvent has been removed. A major downfall of butane is that it is highly combustible; even a minor mistake during the extraction process could prove disastrous.

Ethanol Extraction

Ethanol extraction is another common botanical extraction method to consider for your cannabis trim. Ethanol is designated GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) by the US Food and Drug Administration, and it is highly effective at separating cannabinoids and terpenes from plant material. Like butane, though, ethanol is highly flammable – so great care must be taken when extracting cannabis oil with this method.

Ethanol is a polar solvent, so it also extracts unwanted plant material such as chlorophyll, waxes, and fats. When you want to remove the plant waxes and lipids from solution, winterization is a critical step in the process. Our popular DrainDroyd system provides a fast, simple solution for your extract filtration needs. The DrainDroyd allows you to filter and dewax up to five liters of cannabis oil in only five minutes. You can also read our post about how to remove dark colors from your extracts to learn more.

Supercritical CO2 Extraction

Using a supercritical CO2 extractor is the safest way to extract high-quality cannabis oil from trim at scale. CO2 extraction removes the high risk of flammability introduced by methods using volatile organic compounds such as ethanol.

The process of how to make THC oil, or CBD oil from cannabis biomass involves pressurizing CO2 until it turns into a liquid which is pumped through your plant matter. To separate the extracted compounds, the CO2 is converted back into a gas, leaving only the desired material behind.

Extracting THC from Trim

Though the majority of major cannabinoids are found in the flower or “bud” of the hemp or cannabis plant, with a little bit of hard work, extracting THC from cannabis trim is possible. With any of the above listed extraction methods, extracting THC is possible when done correctly.

As mentioned, the primary issue with extracting THC from trim is the quantity of trim available to the producer. Because the percentage of THC and other cannabinoids is exponentially more in the flower of the cannabis plant, it takes a very large quantity of trim to produce any kind of profitable yield when extracting THC.

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The ideal choice for extracting THC is the use of cannabis or marijuana as opposed to industrial hemp. Where legal, cannabis is grown with the intentional cultivation of high levels of THC. This results in not only flower with high THC content, but trim that is “perfect” for extracting THC. Again, this will take a large amount of trim to perform, but trim produced from cannabis plants that yield higher percentages of THC are much more effective in creating THC extracts than trim produced from industrial hemp.

Refinement: Filtration, Solvent Removal & Distillation

No matter the method of extraction used, further refinement of the extracted product from your hemp or cannabis is necessary to create a safe, quality product. This is accomplished initially by filtration, solvent removal and by further distillation if possible, or necessary, depending on the scale and method of operation.

Filtration

No matter the scale of extraction, filtration is necessary to remove as much of the excess plant material as possible that is co-extracted with the desired cannabinoid oil. In a small scale, or at-home extraction, this can be as simple as straining the ethanol and extraction mixture through a sieve that will catch some of the fats, waxes and other unwanted plant materials.

In a large scale extraction operation, filtration is a much more refined process that tends to remove higher levels of plant materials along with other materials that are not so easily removed like chlorophylls that can cause a dark color and less desirable taste.

Filtration on this scale is often performed with a vacuum filtration apparatus coupled with a filtration media like activated carbon. This operation takes the solvent/extract mixture and pulls it through the filter media via the vacuum filtration apparatus. This effectively removes the majority of fats, waxes and chlorophyll from the cannabinoid oil that would otherwise add an unpleasant flavor and overall harsh experience to the end product formulated by the extract. With ethanol and butane, this is the next necessary step.

However, CO2 extraction requires a winterization process as well. This combines the extract with a small amount of food grade ethanol at very low temperatures. This helps to solidify the plant waxes and fats before being introduced to the filtration process to more effectively remove the undesirable plant materials from the extracted cannabinoid oil

Solvent Removal

In a smaller scale extraction operation, solvent removal is relatively straight forward. By applying heat to the extracted oil, solvents like butane and ethanol will begin to evaporate on their own. A very simple method for even at-home extraction is applying heat to a collection vessel with hot water. Similar to a double boiler for cooking, hot water can be added to a separate vessel with the vessel used to collect your oil resting inside of it.

Because ethanol and butane are volatile at higher temperatures, the increased heat from the hot water vessel will allow some of the solvent to evaporate from the cannabis or hemp oil extract. On a small scale, this may be the final step that will yield a relatively potent, quality product for personal consumption.

On a larger scale, specialized solvent removal equipment may be used for a more efficient process for higher extraction yields and increased quality. Supercritical CO2 extraction, for example, is very unlikely to be performed at a smaller scale due to the equipment necessary to perform the extraction process. By default, this makes larger scale solvent removal and distillation equipment essential. This equipment often incorporates rotary evaporators or falling film evaporators.

Though the basic principle of heat application remains the same, thin film technology coupled with vacuum pressure increases the effectiveness of the solvent removal process. Using a rotating flask or vertical columns, the oil is spread across the surface of the evaporator making it easier to volatilize the solvent in the mixture. The vacuum pressure allows for the necessary temperature to volatilize those solvents even lower, increasing the effectiveness of the solvent removal process and preventing cannabinoid and terpene degradation from higher temperature application.

Distillation

The intended goal is to get your extracts as close to 100% purity as possible. Filtration and solvent removal, while necessary, do not remove all of the impurities that come from the extraction process. The final distillation process allows for a cannabis or hemp oil extract that is as close to 100% purity as possible by removing the minute levels of solvents, terpenes, and other impurities.

In essence, the process is the same as solvent removal. Vacuum pressure, coupled with thin film and heat application helps to remove volatile solvents and other compounds. The difference in the final distillation process is the increase of viscosity as the extract is further refined. This is why equipment like a wiped film evaporator is used.

Again, the distillation process remains the same, but to combat that high viscosity, a wiped film uses a wiper blade to spread thin the distillate on the column of the evaporator so that the volatilization process can be increasingly effective. Doing this in a large-scale operation can result in potency levels near 100% whether that extraction method is ethanol, CO2 or hydrocarbons like butane.

In a smaller scale extraction operation, this final distillation process may not be entirely feasible. Because the solvent removal process is technically a distillation process, it may not be necessary (or possible) to perform proper distillation with a lack of equipment like a wiped film evaporator.

That said, creating a safe, potent extract on a smaller scale without higher tech distillation equipment can still be accomplished on a scale of personal use and should be relatively effective after the mentioned solvent removal process.

extraktLAB has the Extraction Solution You Need

extraktLAB specializes in CO2 extraction equipment. Our high throughput supercritical CO2 extraction machines can produce 600 to 1,200 grams of extract per hour. We offer a variety of options suited to fit your desired level of output. You can view more information by visiting our Supercritical CO2 Extractors page which we have detailed guide about hemp processing, hemp extraction, extraction method and CO2 extraction process.

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For more information about any of our products give our sales team a call at 651-600-0036.

How to Make CBD Oil

Posted: May 12, 2020 · Updated: May 12, 2020 by Jenny McGruther · This site earns income from ads, affiliate links, and sponsorships.

Many people use CBD oil to reduce inflammation, soothe pain, or improve their body’s response to stress. And it’s super easy to make at home, too. Plus you can use healthy fats and you’ll know exactly what you’re putting into your bottle, avoiding the refined oils and additives that commercial producers sometimes add.

If you’re looking to make CBD oil, you’ll need just two ingredients: hemp and a carrier oil like olive oil. The result is a vibrantly herbaceous infused oil with soothing anti-inflammatory properties.

What is CBD oil?

CBD oil is a non-intoxicating herbal remedy made from hemp flower, another is cannabis honey. It is rich in cannabidiol, a type of compound found in cannabis that has strong anti-inflammatory properties. One of CBD’s benefits is that it conveys the beneficial properties of cannabis without the high since it contains little to no THC.

Many people take CBD to help combat inflammation, anxiety, or restless sleep. Some research suggests it helps protect and support nervous system health (1) and may reduce pain (2), while other research suggests it supports gut health and proper immune system function (3).

To make CBD oil at home, you’ll need to follow a simple two-step process: decarboxylation and infusion. While it sounds complex, decarboxylation is a simple process of precision heating that activates beneficial compounds in cannabis. The second step, infusion, releases those compounds into a carrier oil. Infused oils are easy to take, and oil makes these compounds easier for your body to absorb, too.

Activating the CBD

In order to make CBD oil, you need to extract cannabidiol from hemp first. Further, you need to activate through a process called decarboxylation. The compounds in cannabis plants aren’t active or bioavailable on their own; rather, they’re activated through heat which is why the plant is traditionally smoked.

Rather than smoking, you can activate these compounds through other means of heating. Some people bake hemp flowers in a slow oven for about an hour or use a slow cooker. These methods are inexpensive, but they’re also imprecise and may not activate all the CBD.

To activate CBD efficiently and to get the most from your plant material, you’ll need a precision cooker (also known as a decarboxylator) that can maintain the exact temperatures needed for the full activation of CBD and other cannabinoids. With precision heating, decarboxylators extract a higher percentage of beneficial plant compounds than cruder methods and are a worthwhile investment for anyone who takes CBD oil regularly or wants to make a consistently good product.

Where to Find a Decarboxylator. Commercial CBD oil producers use huge decarboxylators capable of activating the cannabinoids in several pounds of cannabis; however, if you’re making it at home, you’ll need a smaller version.

We used the Ardent Flex for making this CBD oil. With multiple settings, you can use it to activate CBD as well as similar compounds. And, you can also use it to make herbal infusions. Save $30 with code NOURISHED.

What you’ll need to make CBD oil

To make CBD oil you only need two primary ingredients: hemp and a carrier oil. Hemp flowers that are high in CBD will yield the best results, and if you can’t find them locally, you can order them online. After decarboxylating the hemp flowers, you can then use them to make a CBD-infused oil.

High-CBD hemp flower

Depending on their strain, cannabis may contain large or relatively low amounts of CBD. When you make CBD oil, choose a strain with a high CBD content so that you can extract the most beneficial compounds into your homemade oil.

Where to Find High-CBD hemp flower. Since hemp flower is non-intoxicating with negligible to no-detectable THC content, it is legal on a federal level. You may be able to find it locally; however, your best bet is to purchase it online from Botany Farms.

Finding the right carrier oil

A carrier oil is an oil that you use for herbal infusions. Coconut oil and MCT oil (which is derived from coconut) are popular carrier oils both in commercial and homemade CBD products. Avoid highly refined, inflammatory oils such as vegetable oil, soybean oil, grapeseed oil, and corn oil.

How to Make Homemade Cannabis Oil (or CBD Oil)

Are you interested in making your own cannabis-infused oil? I don’t blame you! Making homemade cannabis oil is a great way to create a highly healing, concentrated, and versatile cannabis product. It is ready to use in edible recipes, topical salves, or even enjoy straight on its own. Especially if you use organic homegrown cannabis like we do, this is an excellent way to use up any extra or “fluffy” stuff too. It also happens to be very easy to make cannabis oil at home!

Follow along with these step-by-step instructions to learn how to make homemade cannabis oil. We’ll also briefly discuss the science behind cannabis oil, and what types of cannabis to use to make oil. Finally, we’ll go over various ways to use homemade cannabis oil, including some notes about caution and dosing with edibles.

What is Cannabis-Infused Oil

Cannabis oil is made by lightly heating (and thus infusing) cannabis in a “carrier oil”. Cannabinoids like CBD and THC, the most active components in cannabis, are both hydrophobic. That means they don’t like water, and are actually repelled by water molecules. On the flip side, CBD and THC are both fat-soluble. They like to bind with fatty acid molecules – such as those found in oil. When cannabis is steeped in oil, the THC and CBD molecules leave the buds or plant material and become one with the oil instead.

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A wide variety of oils can be used to make cannabis oil. However, coconut oil and olive oil are the most popular and common. Coconut oil and olive oil are both pleasant-tasting and very nourishing for skin, making them versatile options for either medicated edibles or topical applications. Plus, they both have strong natural antifungal and antimicrobial properties. This helps prevent mold and extends the shelf life of your cannabis oil. Coconut oil is higher in saturated fat, which may bind fat-loving cannabinoids even more readily than olive oil.

Hemp Oil, CBD Oil, THC, or…

Your choice! You can make cannabis-infused oil with hemp or marijuana, depending on what is legal and available in your area. Or, what you’re desired end-results are. Hemp oil will only contain CBD (or a very minuscule amount of THC), while marijuana-infused oil will likely contain both THC and CBD. The ratio and concentration of THC and/or CBD depends on the strain of marijuana and particular plant it came from.

Generally speaking, THC is psychoactive and CBD is not. But THC does a lot more than change your state of mind! Studies show that THC has even stronger pain and stress-relieving properties than CBD, which is known to help with insomnia, seizures and inflammation. While they each have notable and distinct stand-alone benefits, an oil or salve containing both CBD and THC has the highest potential for a wide array of health benefits (albeit illegal in some places). Known as the “entourage effect”, the synergistic combination of both THC and CBD through whole-plant cannabis consumption and extracts is more powerful than either one on its own.

I personally like to use strains that are high in both THC and CBD to make oil and salves. To learn more about the differences between strains, CBD and THC, see this article: “Sativa, Indica & Autoflowers, the Differences Explained”.

Why Make Cannabis Oil

Cannabis oil is the foundation ingredient for ultra-healing homemade topical lotions, ointments, and salves – my favorite way to use it! Both THC and CBD have excellent anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties. Studies have shown that cannabinoids have the ability to reduce acne, fine lines and wrinkles, soothe redness and irritation, and balance natural skin oils. Also, cannabinoids (THC especially) are analgesic – meaning they reduce pain. I regularly use our homemade cannabis salve on my knees, ankles, and other aching or inflamed joints and muscles.

Furthermore, making cannabis oil is one of the most reliable ways to create medicated edible cannabis products. Even so, it is extremely difficult to determine the exact potency of homemade edibles or cannabis oil. Because of this, it is suggested to consume with caution in very small doses at first. Cannabis oil can be consumed on its own, or added to other edible cannabis recipes. (I personally prefer to make homemade cannabis tinctures over edibles.)

On the other hand, simply chopping up weed to add to your brownie mix is not a good idea, for many reasons. As we already explored, cannabinoids are fat-soluble. That means that they not only bind with oils during the infusion process, but also that cannabinoids are more readily absorbed and digested in our bodies when they’re consumed with fat – such as oil. If you add raw cannabis to baked goods, it is less likely that the cannabinoids will bind to fats for a consistent and effective edible experience. Using decarboxylated cannabis to make cannabis oil further increases precision and consistency.

Using Decarboxylated Cannabis for Oil

The cannabinoid compounds found in raw cannabis (THCA and CBDA) are not the same as those found in cannabis that has been heated – such as those inhaled (THC and CBD) when you ignite or vaporize cannabis, or when cooking with cannabis. The process of heating and “activating” cannabis is called decarboxylation. It is what makes cannabis psychoactive, and also more potent for medicinal applications.

Yet when it comes to heating cannabis, it is best to do so low, slow, and methodically. There are time and temperature “sweet spots” where raw THCA and CBDA are converted into active THC and CBD. But without a precise process, over-heating or under-heating cannabis can lead to uneven activation of THC and CBD. Even worse, it may even destroy the THC or CBD altogether!

The content (activation or decomposition) of THC with time and temperature. Note that CBD takes about 2x as long at the same temperatures. Graph courtesy of 420 Magazine

Most cannabis oil recipes call for cannabis that has already been properly decarboxylated first. The most common and fuss-free way is to decarb cannabis in the oven, and then add it to oil over a very low heat afterwards – avoiding further decarboxylation. Some folks choose to decarb their raw cannabis on the stovetop simultaneously with the oil infusion process. However, that requires significantly more careful monitoring to hit that time-temperature sweet spot (and not ruin it).

Therefore, our cannabis oil recipe calls for decarboxylated cannabis as well. I provide very brief instructions on how to decarb raw cannabis below, but you can read further information about exactly how and why to decarb cannabis in the oven in this article.

    1 cup of loosely ground decarboxylated cannabis. To be more precise, I suggest to use a kitchen scale to weigh out approximately 7 to 10 grams (a quarter ounce or just over), depending on your tolerance.

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