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. CBD oil is widely-available, but if you have easy access to hemp or cannabis, there are a couple of simple methods to make your own at home.

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.

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.

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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.

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

How to Make CBD Oil at Home and Save Money

With such a wide array of CBD products on the market, you might not have considered how easy it is to make your own. But if you’re looking to save money while still enjoying CBD, and you have access to high-CBD cannabis or hemp, you can actually make your own CBD oil pretty simply with equipment you likely have in your home already.

There are two main methods you can use at home – either an oil infusion or an alcohol infusion – and while it takes a little time, the result will be a pure and affordable CBD oil you can use however you like.

Make sure you use CBD-Hemp buds to make CBD oil – and not Hemp Seeds (read more on CBD vs. Hemp oil here).

DIY CBD oil (at a glance):

  • Professional CBD oil is generally made with CO2 extraction, which isn’t feasible at home.
  • Making DIY CBD oil is federally legal, safe and can save you money (not state-legal in ID or NE).
  • First, heat your hemp or cannabis in the oven at 110 °C/ 225 °F for around an hour.
  • Infuse the CBD in strong, drinking alcohol by covering your material in it and stirring for 10 minutes. Repeat the process until the liquid becomes clearer, then evaporate the alcohol away.
  • Infuse directly in oil by mixing the two and gently heating (to around 100 °C/ 212 °F) for a few hours.
  • You can make CBD tinctures by mixing your oil with shea butter, coconut oil and glycerine.

Companies Make CBD Oil by Extracting Cannabinoids from Hemp Plants with CO2 or Solvents

Companies make CBD using one of a few different extraction methods, but all basically involve stripping the CBD (and other cannabinoids) from the plant and then purifying the resulting extract.

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The most common approach is supercritical CO2 extraction, which uses extremely cold (−69 °F/−56 °C) CO2, at the point where it becomes “supercritical” (i.e. somewhere between a liquid and a gas).

The CO2 is pushed through the hemp (or traditional cannabis, but hemp is more common) to extract the cannabinoids and terpenes, and then it gets sent to a separator where it returns to gaseous state but leaves the extracted material.

Other approaches are similar in principle, but using solvents such as butane, oils or fats to extract the cannabinoids. The mixture is then processed through winterization and distillation to purify it and minimize any unwanted components.

Making CBD Oil at Home Can Save You Money in the Long-Term

Making your own CBD oil is obviously more labor-intensive than just buying one that’s pre-made, so you might wonder what the benefit of making it yourself is.

Firstly, if you’ll be using CBD oil regularly, making your own will undoubtedly save you money over the long-term. If you buy some of the more complicated equipment (e.g. decarboxylators) it will take a little longer for you to break even, but if you want to maximize your savings you can make CBD oil with more everyday equipment.

If you don’t live near a store where you can buy CBD, it could also be much more convenient to make it yourself, and similarly if the legal situation in your state or country makes it difficult to buy professionally-made products, it may be the only way to get your oil.

Although it’s likely that professional companies using CO2 extraction will produce a purer product, if you make it yourself you can at least attest to the quality and be 100% sure which ingredients were used.

Making Your Own CBD Oil is Legal (Provided Hemp is Legal Where You Are)

The 2018 Farm Bill made hemp with less than 0.3% THC legal at the federal level, and in the EU there is a similar law with a 0.2% THC limit, and (pitifully) 0.02% in the UK.

If you’re making CBD oil with hemp that falls within these guidelines, it’s very likely that the process will be entirely legal.

If you’re using a high-CBD but also THC-containing strain of cannabis, it’s only legal if you live in a state with legalized marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes.

Really, the crucial thing isn’t actually making the CBD oil; it’s the legality of the starting materials in your country or state.

Making CBD Oil is as Safe as Any Cooking

Making CBD is generally safe, although this depends on the method you use. If you use a basic approach, where you heat the material to decarboxylate it, the process is basically as safe as cooking food in the oven – provided you’re careful when handling a hot pan, everything is fine.

Solvent-based extraction is not safe to do at home, because it requires too much specialized equipment and there could be a risk of explosions, as well as the possibility of dangerous amounts of the solvent making it into the finished oil.

You can do it with strong ethanol (i.e. drinking alcohol), which carries some risks from the fumes and the flammability of the liquid, but these risks are easily mitigated with some common sense and good ventilation.

You Can Make CBD Oil with Everyday Kitchen Equipment

The good news is that you only need very basic equipment to make CBD oil. The requirements can differ a little bit depending on the method, but broadly speaking you can get by with this basic list:

  1. A slow-burning oven or purpose-made carboxylation machine
  2. Baking tray
  3. Grinder
  4. Cheesecloth/coffee filter/something else to finely-strain the material
  5. Double boiler (two fitted saucepans or two stacked together with a space between
  6. Glass bowl/mixing bowl
  7. Thermometer
  8. Container to store finished oil
  9. Carrier oil (e.g. coconut oil or olive oil) / high proof (drinking) alcohol

Aside from this, everyday equipment like spatulas and wooden spoons may be needed depending on the method you use, and it can help to have a funnel or even a plastic syringe to ensure you get all of the finished material.

It Will Take 3 to 6 Hours to Make CBD Oil (Depending on Your Method)

The length of time it will take to do your extraction depends on the method you use, and whether you spend a little extra time purifying and extracting.

For alcohol-based extraction, the process can be completed in a few hours or even less, but if you’re adding oil to your material, it can take six hours or longer depending on how many times you heat the material.

Broadly, you should leave yourself around four hours if you’re using alcohol extraction and at least six for oil extracting, allowing for unexpected delays or issues cropping up during the process.

Decarboxylation and Infusion Are the Key Stages in Making CBD Oil

There are basically two steps to any home CBD oil process: decarboxylation and infusion.

Decarboxylation means activating the THCA and CBDA to remove the carboxyl group from the chemicals and turn them into THC and CBD, respectively. This is a necessary process because THCA and CBDA aren’t “activated” in this form and so won’t have any of the desired effects.

Once you’ve decarboxylated your material, you infuse it into either alcohol or oil to pull the key components out of the plant matter. For alcohol infusions, chemistry does the work for you (which is why it’s quicker), while for oil infusions you need to add heat and leave it some time for the process to complete.

You Can Activate CBD and THC in the Oven

Regardless of the method you use to make your CBD oil, the first part of the process is always the same: you need to decarboxylate your bud.

How your cannabis will look before and after decarboxylation. Photo by Emily Kyle

There are differing views on the best way to do this, but generally speaking, it’s recommended you set your oven to 110 °C/ 225 °F and bake ground-up bud for around an hour. THC carboxylates a little easier than CBD, so for CBD oil you can actually leave it for an hour and a half if you’re using a high-CBD strain. If you’re using more of a balanced strain, stick to an hour.

You can achieve the same basic effect with higher temperatures for lower periods of time, but it’s important to stay below the boiling points of CBD and THC (180 °C/ 356 °F and 157 °C/ 315 °F, respectively).

It’s also better to keep a low temperature for longer to keep as many of the terpenes (the chemicals that give the characteristic smell of cannabis) as possible.

In short, set your oven to this temperature, grind up your bud (not too finely), spread it out on a piece of parchment paper on a baking tray and let it cook for the appropriate amount of time. When it’s done, your flower will be slightly brown and dried out.

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Method #1: Infuse the Material in Alcohol, Strain and Evaporate

If you’re using alcohol for the infusion stage, the process is fairly simple and should take around 20 minutes. Ensure you’re either outdoors or have good ventilation, because the fumes from the alcohol pose the main risk in this whole process.

  1. Place the decarboxylated material into a mixing bowl and add enough strong alcohol (something like Everclear is perfect) to completely cover the bud.
  2. You can stir the mixture with a wooden spoon to speed the process along, but in any case you should leave it for five to ten minutes.
  3. When it’s completed, strain the mixture through cheesecloth, a coffee filter or any other form of fine sieve and let the liquid fall into a bowl.
  4. You’ll notice a green color to the alcohol, which basically tells you that you have some cannabinoids and terpenes in your liquid.
  5. Repeat the process a few more times with the plant material, until the alcohol becomes much clearer at the end of the process.
  6. Now all you have to do is evaporate the alcohol from your mixture.
  7. Set up your double boiler (if you don’t have stackable pans, you can use a normal pan with a stainless steel bowl that fits in the top but doesn’t contact the bottom of the pan) and put the alcohol mixture into the top section with water in the bottom.
  8. Gently heat the mixture so the alcohol evaporates but without letting it get too hot. Just keep the burner on low and switch it off occasionally if needed – high-proof alcohol is volatile so it doesn’t need much to work.
  9. Once it’s finished, you should be left with a thick, gloopy oil that you can easily draw up into a plastic syringe or place into another container.

You should note that this process isn’t the best in terms of getting absolutely pure cannabinoids, but it’s a great approach for home extractions because it’s relatively straightforward.

Method #2: Infusing Your Material in Oil

Oil infusions are simpler in a sense but it takes longer to get a good result.

  1. Set up your double-boiler (or a metal bowl in the top of a regular pan) and add a mixture of oil and your decarboxylated flower to the top section.
  2. If you’re using coconut oil, you’ll need to melt it first so you can mix the flower in properly.
  3. Add water to the bottom of the pan and bring it to a simmer.
  4. It’s best to try to keep the temperature of the mixture in the top around 100 °C/ 212 °F, although it’s fine provided it doesn’t reach 150 °C/ 302 °F, which would evaporate the terpenes.
  5. Check it regularly with a thermometer and adjust the heat as needed.
  6. Leave it on the double boiler for around two to three hours – when it’s done the oil should be brown-green.
  7. You can leave it to cool for a few hours then repeat the process if you want to get the most out of the material, but whenever you’re done, strain it through cheesecloth into a container and your oil is ready.

Method #3: Cold-Pressed CBD Oil

Cold-pressed CBD oil is made through a simple process that doesn’t involve adding any chemicals or really anything more complicated than squeezing juice out of fruit. This makes it a possible method for home extraction, although it’s important to note that the result will be a little different than when other methods are used. This is because it keeps all of the phytonutrients, fats and oils from the plant.

The benefit is the simplicity of the process: all you need is a cold press/juicer and some hemp (buds have the most CBD but you can also add stems and seeds).

  1. Simply put the hemp into the cold press and apply some pressure (with minimal heat).
  2. This will grind the material into a paste, which you can then mix to help the oils distribute through the mixture.
  3. This in itself will be rich in CBD, but you can apply pressure to the paste again to draw the oil out.

Measuring CBD Tinctures is a Trial and Error Process

Unfortunately, if you use hemp or an ordinary cannabis plant to make your extract at home, it’s incredibly difficult if not impossible to know how strong your resulting oil will be. Simply, the efficiency of the process can vary substantially and it’s unlikely you’ll know the cannabinoid content of the material you started with anyway.

The only way you could really know is if you made the CBD oil by mixing a specific amount of pre-extracted CBD isolate into your carrier oil.

So the best advice in most cases is to start with a small amount of your oil and increase gradually once you get a feel for the strength.

Creating Self-Care Products at Home

Although many of the self-care products made with CBD are a little difficult to put together at home (for example, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to make yourself a bath bomb), you can make a CBD lotion pretty easily with the equipment you used to make your oil. Set up your double boiler, adding an inch or two of water to the bottom and putting it on a low to medium heat, then place half a cup each of shea butter and coconut oil to the top. Stir the two together as they warm up, aiming to remove any lumps and prevent them from burning.

When they’re heated, take the oils off the heat and transfer them to a heat-safe bowl or (if you have one) a glass blender, setting aside for around an hour for them to cool. Afterwards, add a third of a cup of aloe vera gel, 2 tbsp of vegetable glycerine and a couple of teaspoons of CBD oil (more if you like), along with an essential oil for fragrance if you like. Blend or hand-mix them together and your lotion is ready.

Conclusion

Making your own CBD oil at home is a much simpler process than you might have expected, and once you’ve gone through the process a couple of times, guides like this won’t even be needed. It’s worth trying different approaches if the first one you attempt doesn’t go well, but be sure to stick to a relatively simple method, because the methods professional companies use are expensive to do right. Once you have your oil, you can enjoy it in the way you would with any CBD, safe in the knowledge that you know exactly what’s in it.

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