From Seed to Bottle: The Bluebird Botanicals CBD Journey
Bluebird recognizes that the CBD experience is different for everyone. One thing members of our flock surely have in common is a commitment to quality, and curiosity about exactly what is going into their bodies.
Our batch database of third-party lab tests already allows customers to discern the potency of each cannabinoid in every bottle they receive. But what about the process that synthesizes the product that goes into each bottle?
This week, Bluebird goes straight to the source. Join us as we explore the journey our hemp extracts make from seed to bottle.
It starts with the seed
At Bluebird Botanicals, we know that quality CBD products stem from the highest quality ingredients possible. It all starts with the seeds we use and how our crops are grown.
When thinking about cannabis, people often ask “indica or sativa?” The recent increase in availability of recreational and medicinal cannabis throughout many states in the U.S. has resulted in these two terms becoming relatively commonplace.
But what exactly is the difference?
Many differentiate the two by the impact they anticipate their body or mind to experience — an indica resulting in a more relaxing, calming effect and a sativa producing a more uplifting, energized buzz — this is not necessarily always the case. While the strains don’t always produce a specific reaction, the two types do have pronouncedly distinct appearances, and take different durations of time to grow. Indica strains typically have a shorter flowering time, denser amounts of flowers grown, and result in broad, bushy leaves. Sativas take a longer period of time before they are ready for harvest, and yield less density with tall lanky leaves. Hybrids on the other hand, aren’t immediately identifiable; the potential combinations are limitless, thus so are the resulting grow properties.
So what about the strain of the seeds Bluebird Botanicals uses? Are they indica, sativa, or a hybrid?
While marijuana (with its psychoactive cannabinoid THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are both derived from the cannabis plant, Bluebird’s CBD products are hemp extracts, meaning they come directly from hemp. The term hemp refers to a family of Cannabis sativa strains, so all hemp-derived CBD products — including Bluebird’s — come from a sativa strain.
The seeds used to grow Bluebird CBD products are planted and grown outdoors or in a greenhouse for the full duration of the plant life cycle, utilizing a plentiful supply of sunshine to stimulate growth. While crops grown indoors can be easier to control, Bluebird prides itself on selecting outdoor-grown hemp. Outdoor soil content, including nutrient and mineral levels, is generally more robust than indoor soil; this is because outdoor soils have experienced the impacts of rain, wind, animals, and every other aspect of nature for a long period of time.
Growing cannabis outdoors has the added benefit of the crop enjoying a more intense light spectrum, which creates the potential for these plants to take full advantage of their genetics. Mother Nature knows best!
Exemplary products, quality sourcing
Bluebird’s hemp is bred specifically for terpene and cannabinoid contents. We’ve partnered with Colorado and Oregon farmers who grow the plants in pristine soils and sustainable greenhouses to ensure our hemp is immaculate and our production has a negligible impact on the environment. Bluebird Botanicals sources its hemp from farmers who use only plant-based pest control methods.
Pesticides and heavy metals can present a big challenge when hemp moves to the extraction process; even small amounts of pesticides in flower can become concentrated in extracts. Because hemp is such an incredible plant, it’s highly resistant to pests so generally pesticides aren’t needed to successfully get a hemp crop to harvest. However, hemp is also highly absorbent; the plant was actually used following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster to remediate the impacts on the soil. Due to its high absorbency, it is essential that hemp is grown in immaculate soil to ensure the crop — and resulting CBD products — are free of pesticides and other potential contaminants. Even if farmers don’t directly use pesticides on their hemp, there is still the potential for neighboring farms’ contaminants to be carried over to the adjacent crops if the farms are not adamant about keeping their own harvest clean. Because Bluebird uses strict sourcing of our hemp, we have little concern about our CBD products being polluted (but we test anyway).
Not only are Bluebird’s sourcing practices good for your body, they’re also good for the environment. How?
Low-energy usage: Growing hemp in a greenhouse or in the great outdoors generally utilizes less energy than an indoor grow operation.
Chemical-free, sustainable growing: Bluebird aims to preserve the integrity of the land by ensuring the hemp grown for our CBD, and the land it grows on, does not experience harmful or disruptive chemicals.
Not only are our crops grown chemical-free, but our farm suppliers engage in crop rotation to prevent soil erosion and ensure nutrient balance.
Industry-leading standards: Bluebird Botanicals leads by example in the CBD industry. We are certified bioplastic recyclable and cruelty-free with a low-carbon footprint and have been accredited by the FDA as a good manufacturing practice (GMP) compliant facility.
Ensuring excellence through the extraction process
Bluebird Botanicals conducts rigorous testing throughout every phase of the product manufacturing process. We not only test the final product using third-party lab testing but we also test every ingredient every step of the way. This means everything from the hemp seed oil to the soft gel capsules we use adheres to Bluebird’s stringent standards.
Let’s start with extraction.
Bluebird Botanicals uses an ethanol method to extract our hemp, which is the most historically used method for hemp extracts. It is a clean and cold extraction method that allows for optimal retention of terpenes and other sensitive compounds. Ethanol extraction generally produces a better yield, is much safer, and it uses much less power than other methods, making it an environmentally-conscious method as well. Bluebird also employs low-temperature and relatively low-pressure CO2 extractions for some of Bluebird’s products.
Most extracts we source are crude, which means they are the least processed possible. Crude oil, in this sense, means that the source contains all the different types of plant material. We include seeds (1%), stems (10%), with a majority of product material coming from leaves and flower. Extracting from whole plant material means the rich variety of other cannabinoids and terpenes found in the plant structure can complement the primary cannabinoid, CBD, to produce a potentially more impactful result; you can read more about this in Bluebird’s post that discusses the “entourage effect”.
For the CBD isolate and CBD vape products, further processing is required to obtain the purity level achieved. Our CBD Isolate products undergo a further process of winterization, which includes removing lipids and waxes as well as chlorophyll and the signature hempy taste, as well as makes it more viscous and concentrated. This is further distilled down into the product that customers receive. For our THC-Free* Oil, the same extraction process is used and the isolate is then emulsified in fractionated coconut (MCT) oil.
Bluebird never allows residual solvents to appear in our final product batches. While trace amounts of ethanol may occasionally be present, this is totally safe. CO2 is always fully purified from our products.
Test it before you ingest it
Bluebird Botanicals conducts rigorous testing throughout every phase of the product production process. We not only test the final product using third-party lab testing but we also test every ingredient along every step of the way. This means everything from the hemp seed oil to the soft gel capsules we use adheres to Bluebird’s stringent standards.
When Bluebird’s CBD hemp extracts have completed their adventure through our extraction process, they can finally find their home in a bottle.
Bluebird takes our CBD extractions and quality-sourced ingredients and creates our blends in house. For ingredients like hemp seed oil, black cumin seed oil, and frankincense oil that are used to create blends like our Hemp Complete and Hemp Signature, we extensively test our suppliers three to 10 times in the initial screening process before, which takes approximately one to two months, before they pass initial qualification. Bluebird again tests these suppliers twice a year going forward. Anything we don’t extract ourselves is run through meticulous testing to ensure our quality standards.
Bluebird uses at least four different full-spectrum extracts to create each batch. Our formulation strategy is designated to maximize both purity of the CBD and diversity of the cannabinoid profile. Once blended, all the final products are tested again. As a commitment to purity, every single Bluebird Botanicals product is batch tested by an independent testing agency. Testing certificates are available for all Bluebird’s products, so that our consumers know that every product is contaminant-free and that the potency is as promised.
What’s in the bottle?
The final step of the seed-to-bottle odyssey is getting your quality CBD product into the bottle or package. While Bluebird once hand-bottled every single product, the product demand has increased and so our team uses a 4-head volumetric inline filling system, which guarantees each bottle receives the correct serving and that all seals are secure. Our production team further checks each bottle to confirm all labels, content, and closures are airtight and ready for shipment. The Bluebird team takes care in packaging each and every shipment, ensuring the CBD you receive is exactly what you ordered.
Hemp-based CBD can be shipped nearly anywhere. You can come to us in Colorado, we’ll send our products to you.
We’re here for you
Still curious about Bluebird’s CBD? Our customer care team is here to walk you through any questions you may have. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!