ethanol extraction for cbd oil

Methods of CBD Extraction, Storage and Tincture Blending

Just like hemp farmers are perfecting methods of crop cultivation, the CBD processing industry has developed various methods of extraction. Throughout the R&D process, safety and efficacy are the key concerns for pros and consumers alike. Below are 4 key factors that can determine the best choice for CBD extraction:

  • Solvent – What will be used to separate the cannabinoids from the biomass
  • Design – The equipment needs to be designed to handle the solvent being used
  • Purpose – The equipment needs to be constructed for its intended use
  • Facility – They must be appropriate for the extracted solvent
  • Consumption – The solvent should be safe for consumption by humans


This may be the oldest form of extraction. CBD can be stripped from the plant by soaking it in ethanol or a high profile alcohol. Not only is this an efficient way of extracting CBD from the hemp plant, but it’s also classified as GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) by the FDA. This method is great for creating a full spectrum of hemp extracts and tinctures as it aims to extract all cannabinoids, not just the CBD.


Soaking certain materials in alcohol can lead to a change in their biochemistry. When alcohol is applied and left for a certain amount of time, it draws out the cannabinoids like CBD and other compounds of the plant that are also beneficial. It is important to use a high-proof as it allows minimal damage of the cannabinoids, and suspending them in a liquid that prevents them from damage like oxidation.

The processing for ethanol extraction does require more work and involves the use of several different methods of refinement and filtration. Although if it is done properly, then there is no need for winterization, the process to remove undesirable elements which were also extracted from the plant. For those just starting in the industry, this process is easily scalable and obtainable at a small scale.


Technology continues to advance and the cannabis and hemp industries, in many ways, are driving it. The most advanced and widely used method of extraction is CO2 Extraction. This is a process that uses pressurized carbon dioxide to pull the desired photochemical from a plant. This comes in two forms: subcritical and supercritical. Both yield results based on temperature and pressure.


Subcritical: This method has a lower solvency power which leads to pulling mostly lighter oils and leave behind most resins, paraffin, and waxes. This process is not as common as supercritical CO2 extractions as extraction takes longer and yields are generally lower. Relative to the ‘sub’ name this extraction is cold, this makes it very effective in extracting temperature-sensitive volatile oils and terpenes.

Supercritical: When talking about the most commonly used extraction this one tends to be the one that comes to mind. Through this method it allows you to receive a completely different end-product with more cannabinoids to add further health-promoting properties. With a stronger solvency power, it also makes the extraction time faster, through high temperatures and pressures.

Supercritical CO2 extraction has allowed the extract makers to isolate, capture and scientifically research cannabinoids. With every benefit, however, there is a drawback. Although it lets you quickly pull out compounds, you could potentially extract chlorophyll as well.

CO2 extraction is very selectable and tunable for different molecular weights and leaves no residual solvent. With minimal facility safety requirements and costs, automation is easy and available.


Water, the universal solvent. Some manufacturers use water vapor or even ice to extract cannabinoids from hemp. This is an inexpensive method with a high yield if done correctly. However, this is not simple to practice and can be time-consuming. Most have perfected this so what is left of the plant is a very fine extract.


This process can be simply described in 3 steps:

  1. Finely chopped plant trimmings are mixed with ice or dry ice and agitated to help separate extracts
  2. Water is added and the entire moisture is strained through a mesh bag often strained multiple times
  3. The extract settles as the bottom of the mixture and the excess water is drained from the top

Manufacturers continue to move away from using specific substances like alcohol to extract CBD as the industry continues to agree, the cleaner the process the better the product.


As a hemp testing facility, first and foremost we’re scientists and we know first-hand the various methods to extract cannabinoids all take time and lots of care. All of this would be for nothing if the extracts are not taken care of after processing. Properly stored CBD oil has a shelf life of approximately one year. Something to consider before deciding how to store your oils is researching the carrier liquid your CBD oil is in.

All commercially available CBD oil products have more than just CBD. They contain a carrier oil which can come from a variety of plant-based fats. This does not mean that your CBD oil is less “pure” as some may think, instead it makes the CBD more efficient. For example, olive oil is a more efficient carrier oil for orally ingested CBD because it’s high fatty acid content allows it to travel through the lymphatic system thus, distributing CBD more thoroughly.

So all you need to store your CBD oil is an upright position spot with a stable temperature away from extreme light, heat or moisture. Basically, a dry pantry where you would ironically store your bottle of olive oil. Use glass, not plastic and dark-tinted glass is preferred to reduce light penetration.

Another option that many go to when thinking of storing CBD oils is refrigeration. Many believe this will increase the shelf life of their product. There is only one drawback to this and that is that if the CBD oil gets too cold, it may thicken to the point that you would need to heat it a little before use.

Storing your CBD products is the easy part of the process, which is great news compared to the tedious process that comes with extraction.


Tinctures are cannabis extracts generally made from high-CBD strains of hemp blended with a carrier oil (coconut is common). Tinctures were the main form of cannabis medicine until prohibition was enacted in the 1920s.

CBD tinctures can even be made at home through methods like steeping CBD-rich hemp flowers in high-proof grain alcohol, then cooking the mixture over low heat for several hours.

Typically administered under the tongue, tinctures generally takes effect much faster than edibles because there are blood vessels under the tongue where cannabidiol can enter the bloodstream immediately. The quality is the greatest factor in bioavailability, which is how well your body absorbs and then uses what you consume. The second factor is how you use it.


Primarily used to help relieve anxiety or ease pain, doses can be adjusted by the number of drops taken. These are specifically designed to allow for maximum absorption and use in the body and have a very long shelf life.


ACS Laboratory is a clinical-grade third party CBD and Hemp testing laboratory that is ISO 17025 Certified and CLIA Accredited. Our scientists ensure all products and oils entering the market are clean and safe of any potential contaminants. We take pride in our work at ACS and offer a wide array of tests to ensure the best and safest CBD. After all the chemical components are extracted and treated, the CBD oils are ready for use. For a hemp analysis laboratory such as ourselves, the brand new scientific advances and cutting edge technology are game-changing in the process of creating premier oils. Overall, this industry is changing at a rapid speed and we are witnessing the first of many changes in our own CBD testing facility.

Cannabis and Hemp Extraction Methods: What is Ethanol Extraction?

Advancements in technology have allowed manufacturers to produce higher-quality cannabis products, while at the same time significantly improving their profit margin.

But with a wide range of extraction methods now on the market, which method can help manufacturers realize the best results and optimize their return on investment. It’s hard to argue against the ethanol extraction method .

In this blog, Maratek is going to take a look at what ethanol is, how it’s used in cannabis extraction, what the difference between warm and cold ethanol extraction is and why ethanol extraction is so effective when it comes to cannabis extraction.

What is ethanol and how is it used in cannabis extraction?

Ethanol is a colourless volatile, flammable liquid which is produced by the natural fermentation of sugars. It’s considered a universal solvent due to having both polar and non polar properties.

Not only is ethanol one of the easiest solvents to use and obtain, it’s also one of the most effective methods when it comes to cannabis extraction. That’s because it’s cost-effective, scalable, relatively safe and highly effective.

Due to its chemical makeup, ethanol is highly efficient and is able to dissolve a wide range of substances in the cannabis extraction process, including cannabinoids, waxes, terpenes and lipids.

It’s this efficiency that allows ethanol extraction to take place in one single-stream process that can take place under warm or cold conditions. Unlike other solvents such as CO2, ethanol is so efficient that it pulls undesirable compounds (such as cannabinoids and terpenes) directly from the biomass, making the winterization step after extraction far easier.

How does ethanol extraction work?

The use of ethanol is an essential aspect in cannabis extraction to get rid of undesirable compounds such as terpenes and cannabinoids that reduce the quality of the end product.

In cannabis extraction, ethanol is mixed with the cannabis plant to remove cannabinoids and terpenes. Ethanol is a polar solvent, meaning it is able to dissolve cannabinoids and terpenes, as well as water-soluble molecules such as chlorophyll.

Ethanol can be performed at varying temperatures in the extraction process to have different effects. While warm ethanol can be used to quickly wash the plant material for a full-spectrum concentration, cold ethanol can be used to produce concentrated distillate.

Let’s take a further look at the difference between cold ethanol and warm ethanol extraction.

Warm ethanol extraction Vs. cold ethanol extraction

Cold ethanol extraction, also known as cryogenic ethanol extraction, is performed to freeze water, fats, lipids and other undesirable materials so that they do not dissolve into the ethanol. This method is highly efficient, can increase extraction yields, reduces the need for the winterization step, and is highly safe for both small or extremely large industrial-scale operations.

Warm extraction, on the other hand, is far easier to perform, yet undesirable compounds – such as water, fats and lipids – are significantly more difficult to remove and are typically pulled out in the ethanol. That means they will either need to be removed later, through a further winterization step, or they will be in the final product.

Warm ethanol extracted oil should be winterized by chilling the ethanol and oil mixture for a higher-quality end product. This freezes the undesirable materials so that they can be easily filtered out from the mixture.

While cold ethanol extraction is highly-effective and removing undesirable compounds in one stream, the same winterization filtration process can be performed with cold ethanol extraction method to improve the quality of the product even further.

Whether manufacturers decide to use the cold or warm ethanol extraction method, approximately 0.5 to 1 gallon of ethanol is used per pound of biomass. Agitating the biomass and ethanol, whether done manually or mechanically, assists further with increasing yields.

For lower yield biomass extraction, the same ethanol can be reused for multiple passes or washes, making it a highly-cost effective solvent for your business.

Want to learn more about the ethanol extraction method and why it’s an efficient and cost-effective way to extract cannabis? Contact Maratek today . Our team of extraction experts would love to answer any questions that you may have.