CBD Isolation from Hemp

CBD Isolate is purified cannabidiol – a cannabinoid found in Cannabis spp. plants such as hemp and medicinal cannabis.

CBD isolate is an popular component of cannabis derived medicines, and is increasingly used as an active ingredient in pharmaceutical products such as Epidiolex and other health and wellness products.

CBD is mostly isolated from hemp – varieties of cannabis that contain high levels of CBD but low levels of THC.

CBD Isolate Manufacturing Process

CBD isolation is the final step of a multi-stage process to produce CBD isolate, which is then used as a manufacturing ingredient in a range of CBD products.

The number of steps results in significant loss of yield across the entire CBD production and isolation process.

For this reason, selection of high CBD hemp starting input material is important.

The CBD Isolate manufacturing process:

  • Selection of high CBD hemp biomass or hemp flower
  • Drying, processing and decarboxylation of hemp material – ideally 10%+ CBD content
  • Extraction of CBD Oil from hemp – 50%+ CBD Hemp Extract
  • Refinement of CBD oil to remove contaminants – 60%+ Refined CBD Oil
  • Distillation of refined CBD oil to concentrate CBD – 80%+ CBD Distillate
  • Chromatography to purify CBD from distillate 99%+ CBD Isolate
  • Crystallisation of CBD to further purify – 99%+ CBD API Manufacture under GMP

CBD Manufacturing is a fast growing industry in the United States and worldwide, but compliance and quality standards have struggled to keep up with demand.

Many hemp farmers, health and wellness products and pharmaceutical companies are looking for CBD ingredients to include in finished products.

Rhizo Sciences specialises in design and implementation of GMP CBD extraction and CBD isolation equipment.

How to make CBD isolate from Hemp

CBD isolation is the process of isolating purified Cannabidiol (CBD isolate) from hemp or cannabis flowers, leaves or plants.

CBD isolation from hemp – from Farm to Pharma

CBD can be isolated from hemp flower or biomass (whole hemp plants). Good quality high CBD flower will give the best results, but this may be a waste of such high quality flower as isolate manufacture discards many other therapeutic compounds such as minor cannabinoids and terpenes.

To make CBD for use in food or medicine, hemp must be cultivated, harvested, dried, processed, extracted, refined and purified using specialised equipment and processes.

Methods of CBD isolation

CBD Isolation Using Chromatography

The most common methods of CBD Isolation require chromatography and toxic solvents such as pentane.

  • Supercritical CO2 Chromatography
  • HPLC (High Pressure Liquid Chromatography) using solvents such as pentane
  • Flash Chromatography using solvents such as pentane
  • Rotary Chromatography using specialised liquid-liquid chromatography mixes

Of these, supercritical CO2 Chromatography is the only method which doesn’t introduce toxic solvents such as pentane or hexane to isolate the product.

CBD isolation is a complex process requiring specialised pharmaceutical manufacturing and testing equipment and facilities which can safely handle toxic, explosive compounds (if solvents are used). Attempting to perform isolation without adequate protective and testing equipment risks personal injury and the product may not be safe for human consumption, particularly by medical patients who may already be compromised

CBD Crystallisation

Crystallisation is a key step in CBD isolation. After chromatography is used to refine CBD to very high levels, removing THC, terpenes and other impurities, the CBD is further purified and collected in solid form by crystallising it from the extract. This is typically done with strong solvents which help remove the THC which stays liquid.

Note that this process means CBD isolate is rarely a “natural” or “organic” product – it’s been through a chemical process to purify it to a pharmaceutical grade of purity.

If a more natural method is required (eg: if claiming “Organic” status) then only natural GRAS solvents should be used such as CO2 and ethanol. This makes supercritical chromatography an attractive options for more green/natural products.

Note that any of several methods can deliver a 99%+ purified CBD isolate – the finished result is chemically the same, but the provenance is different.