How is CBD Oil Made?
As an industry-leading CBD company, Bluebird Botanicals takes pride in sourcing only the best, highest-quality hemp from Colorado for our CBD oils and maintaining strict standards for every part of the formulation. There are many processes and experts involved in the creation of CBD oils from the farming stage all the way to the final blending and bottling of products in Bluebird’s laboratory.
CBD Oil Comes From Hemp
This entire journey starts in the field. CBD oil is made from hemp plants, which are a member of the Cannabis genus. Horticulture has rendered several different sub-species of cannabis, though, so it’s important to know that hemp is not the same as marijuana, the other variety of cannabis that produces the “high” or altered mental state.
Hemp differs from marijuana specifically because it contains 0.3% THC or less, as mandated by federal law. This is the hemp that fabric, plastics, rope, and other industrial products are made from, in addition to hemp milk, hemp flour, soap, and a wide variety of hemp-based supplements. It’s important to carefully choose your hemp supplier. Due to the current high demand for hemp, many businesses cut corners on their hemp sourcing. This results in an extract that is low potency and possibly contaminated with heavy metals and other chemicals.
Here at Bluebird, we make CBD oil that is carefully tested by multiple third parties to prove that we won’t allow anything but the best, purestoil to reach your home.
Hemp is planted from seed and allowed to mature to the point where it contains the ideal ratios of cannabinoids for therapeutic use. Often, this takes about 16 weeks, but can vary from region to region. The hemp is harvested using a combine that is specially designed for this type of plant, then mechanically stripped and separated into flowers, leaves, seeds, and stalks. The plant material is then ground up to prepare it for extraction.
Whether decarboxylated or raw, the plant matter is then ready for extraction. Our extraction partners use a variety of methods to create our full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, distillate, and isolate formulations. All of these methods are reliably clean, but our partners go the extra mile in purging extracts of residual solvents. While many CBD isolate and minor cannabinoid products on the market tend to contain minor amounts of residual solvents, ours consistently contain an undetectable amount as demonstrated by our third-party batch tests. The methods that our extraction partners use include CO2 extraction, wiped film distillation, solvent extraction, heat degradation, and steam distillation.
Our Classic, Complete, and Signature blends are created using CO2 extraction exclusively. This method involves using a CO2-filled pressure chamber breaking down raw hemp material, also known as biomass, by filling a pressure chamber with supercritical CO2. The CO2 pressure permeates the hemp plant, breaks down plant material, and then the oil is collected and CO2 evaporates out of the chamber.
CO2 extraction is regarded as one of the cleanest and safest methods. Most of Bluebird’s products are initially processed through CO2 extraction to yield crude oil. However, while some products are ready to be bottled and sold after this initial round of CO2 extraction, others continue on to additional processing through other extraction methods such as wiped film distillation, solvent extraction, and heat degradation to produce distillates, isolates, and broad-spectrum products.
Solvent extraction is another widely used method for creating hemp extracts. This method typically uses ethanol, heptane, or pentane to either break down biomass or process crude oil and isolate specific cannabinoids. Ethanol is great for creating full-spectrum extracts and tinctures, but usually another solvent is needed to further distill and isolate specific cannabinoids. Bluebird’s products that contain CBG isolate, CBC isolate, CBD isolate, and CBN distillate are all initially processed with ethanol and then processed again with heptane or pentane.
Wiped Film Distillation
Wiped film distillation also processes crude oil into distillates and isolates using heat and pressure. The crude oil is added to a heated vertical cylinder on a rotating plate with specialized wipers. These wipers spread the oil into a thin film across the heated surface, and a cooled condenser collects and condenses the vapor. The distillate and residue is then collected and typically run through again. This process allows extractors to strip the crude oil of low boiling point compounds such as terpenes.
After extractors use CO2 and solvent extraction to convert biomass into full-spectrum extracts and distillates, the crude oil may be processed through a heat degradation method to yield broad-spectrum distillates. Broad-spectrum distillates contain less than 0.01% THC by dry weight, and are created by heating a crude oil in a glass flask for two to three weeks. This process degrades the THC and most of the terpenes, but leaves behind the other cannabinoids including CBD.
One more extraction method is used to create our Complete blends. Steam distillation is an effective method for separating terpenes through the use of water vapor. Because terpenes are more volatile and can degrade when subjected to high temperature, water is instead heated underneath the glass flask containing the hemp plant, producing steam. As it travels up the container, the steam separates the terpenes from the hemp plant. These terpenes are then collected and blended with the hemp extract in our Complete blends for an extra infusion.
For most of our CBD oil blends, we heat the crude oil after extraction to convert the cannabinoids to more active forms via a process called decarboxylation. Many cannabinoids in the raw hemp plant are in a chemical form that is not as active in the human body when raw. Some extraction methods use enough heat to decarboxylate the extract during the process, but products that are processed in a CO2 extraction need to be decarboxylated afterwards. By heating the crude oil gently, it releases the extra molecules, known as a carboxyl group.
Our Complete extract combines both decarboxylated (heated) and non-decarboxylated (raw) hemp extracts to include CBDA. CBDA is the raw, acidic precursor to CBD and works synergistically with the other cannabinoids and terpenes to promote health benefits including support for post-exercise inflammation, healthy energy levels, and maintaining normal emotional balance.†
Final Steps in the Lab
Once processed through various extraction methods, the hemp extract is sent to the Bluebird Botanicals lab to be blended with additional ingredients. Some blends are then encapsulated into soft gels while others are bottled as oils. All of our blends (except CBD isolate) feature either organic fractionated coconut oil, organic virgin hemp seed oil, or extra virgin olive oil as a base. Many of our CBD blends are also infused with additional botanical ingredients for extra health benefits. For our Signature soft gels, this includes frankincense and black cumin seed oil. Our Uplift and Downshift oils both include an extra infusion of isolated terpenes to create a pleasant taste and support healthy antioxidant activity.†
Testing and Packaging
All our products are batch tested by a third party once the process is complete. This is proof of our commitment to purity, verified by independent testing agencies. Testing certificates are available for all our products on our website that show there are no pesticides or heavy metals and that the potency is as promised.
Finally, we bottle or package our hemp CBD extractions. Once bottled, we prepare them for shipment. Hemp-based CBD can be shipped nearly anywhere, contrary to what some may have heard from the news media. You can come to us in Colorado, or we’ll send our products to you.
Clean and Pure CBD
This is how CBD oil is made here at Bluebird. From harvest to extraction and beyond, we’re committed to producing the purest, most potent, and most natural hemp extracts. Unlike many CBD oil manufacturers, we use third-party testing and responsible sourcing to ensure that any of the products we make can be trusted and used daily to keep you as balanced as can be!