How CBD Oil is Manufactured: A Detailed Look

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How CBD Oil is Manufactured

Welcome to our on the article on How CBD Oil is Manufactured. This article is brought to you by Spring Creek Labs, a U.S. Based CBD Manufacturer and Private Label CBD Product Fulfillment Company.

In this article, we’ll look at CBD, how it’s manufactured, and how it’s shipped and stored. We’ll look briefly at other hemp-derived compounds, as well. By the end, you should know what methods of extraction are best for you and what to look for in packaging.

CBD oil is everywhere. From gas stations to high-end craft beers, you can find CBD in everything. This cannabinoid is the focus of intense study and a lot of debate and mythology about what it does for the human body. What most people don’t understand is how it’s made, what processes are best, and how to ship and store it.

Broad Spectrum CBD Oil

A note on terminology: When discussing cannabis, a distinction is often made between marijuana and hemp. They are, in fact, the same plant. Genetically they’re identical except that one, hemp, has been selectively bred to have very little THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the mind-altering substance that gets you “high” when you smoke or ingest marijuana. In this article, the terms will distinguish the plants to the extent of what is legal and what is federally illegal (and gets you high). Cannabis will refer to all the plants. Hemp refers to the plant, and its extracts, that are legal in all 50 states and contains little or no THC. Marijuana refers to the cannabis plants that contain THC and are legal in some states of the USA. Outside the US, please refer to your local laws regarding the legality of any cannabis plants.

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What is CBD?

CBD is a cannabinoid compound, or phytocannabinoid, that’s produced by the cannabis plant. CBD stands for cannabidiol.

Discovered in 1940, it’s one of 113 phytocannabinoids that have been isolated in cannabis. Most of these compounds have been named, but have no medical or psychoactive effect that we know of. We’ll look at a few of the compounds that appear to have some type of effects below.

CBD is the second most abundant compound in cannabis, behind THC. Some hemp plants, where the THC has been bred out of them, have a 40% CBD load, meaning that 40% of the plant’s extract is in CBD.

How CBD Oil is Manufactured

How CBD is Used

CBD has been touted as a cure for everything from stress and anxiety to erectile dysfunction and baldness. According to, CBD has 9 “proven or possible” effects:

  • Epilepsy – CBD came to light when the Figi family wanted to produce CBD for their daughter, Charlotte, who had a terrifying form of epilepsy. Cannabis was legal at the time only in Colorado. They found the Stanley brothers who helped them find the right CBD compounds to treat Charlotte’s Dravet’s Syndrome. They produced a CBD compound that reduced her epilepsy from 300 seizures a week to almost none. Today, Epidiolex, a CBD-based pharmaceutical, has been approved by the FDA for people who have Dravet’s Syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, both rare forms of epilepsy.
  • Pain – CBD has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. While most trials use both CBD and THC to reduce pain, there is some evidence that CBD can reduce inflammation and pain by itself. CBD also appears to increase serotonin levels in the brain, which can also lead to pain relief.
  • Arthritis – Used as a topical treatment, CBD appears to reduce the inflammation of arthritis. CBD is not absorbed well by the digestive system and can sometimes cause intestinal upset. By applying it to the arthritic areas, it is absorbed through the skin more quickly.
  • Anxiety – According to scientific studies, 300 milligrams of CBD can reduce anxiety significantly in a simulated public speaking test. This study, coupled with copious anecdotal evidence, leads to the conclusion that CBD reduces anxiety at this precise dosage. Higher and lower dosages don’t seem to have the same effects.
  • Depression – The serotonin increase and the anti-anxiety effects of CBD may contribute to its documented ability to help reduce depression. In animal studies, there was a reduction in depression markers when CBD was administered.
  • Sleep Disorders – People who have trouble sleeping may find relief with CBD. In a study, 66.7% percent of people reported better sleep over the course of a month. Again, the 300 mg dosage appears to be the magic number for helping people fall asleep faster and stay asleep.
  • Acne – When applied topically, CBD appears to stop the skin’s sebocytes from producing too much sebum, the substance that causes the infections of acne. The anti-inflammatory effects and reduction in sebum appear to lead to significant reduction in acne.
  • Parkinson’s Disease – While CBD doesn’t appear to influence the movement concerns that come from Parkinson’s, test subjects reported a better quality of life when they were taking 300 mg of CBD. Since there are few side effects, this alone should be enough to recommend that people with Parkinson’s Disease take CBD.
  • Nausea and Vomiting – Most studies that have looked at cannabis’s effects on nausea and vomiting have used both CBD and THC, but there is some evidence that CBD can help with nausea by itself.

CBD’s biggest and most powerful trait is that it’s an anti-inflammatory. Since inflammation is a factor in so many disorders, including “psychological” disorders, CBD, at the right dosage, can be a solution that has none of the pharmaceutical side effects of other treatments. Now, let’s talk about how CBD oil is manufactured. 

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How CBD Oil is Manufactured: Types of CBD Oil

While the compound CBD is always the same, it can be found on the market either by itself or in formulations that include the other hemp compounds. Here is a definition of the three major terms one finds on the market for CBD:

  • CBD Isolate – This is CBD oil by itself. There might be a carrier oil that’s not hemp-related, but the other cannabis compounds have been removed.
  • Full-Spectrum CBD – This refers to extracts that include all the compounds that the plant produced. In states where marijuana is legal, this might include THC. In other states, the THC level must be below 0.3%. Otherwise, full-spectrum includes other beneficial compounds like terpenes.
  • Broad-Spectrum CBD – This is an extraction that falls somewhere in the middle. While the CBD has been extracted, other compounds are still in the formulation. These often include cannabinal (CBD), cannabichromene, and terpenes.
How CBD Oil is Manufactured

Choosing which formulation works best for any individual is a matter of preference and trial and error. Each formulation has its benefits.

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Cannabis Compounds Other than CBD

Here briefly is a list of the other compounds that often found with CBD in full- and broad-spectrum formations:

  • THC – As discussed above, THC is the compound that is outlawed by the US federal government and some state governments. It’s the compound in marijuana that gets you “high.”
  • THCV – A cousin of THC chemically, this compound appears to create a relaxed feeling without the high. It’s also been proven to be an appetite suppressant and helps control blood sugar.
  • CBDV – This is chemically related to CBD. It also appears to be an anticonvulsant for those with seizure disorders. It may also relieve nausea.
  • CBG – This appears to relieve pain and be an excellent anti-inflammatory. There’s some evidence that it’s a neuroprotectant, meaning that it can help fight severe degenerative diseases.
  • CBGV – Another anti-inflammatory. This has been shown to have positive effects for those fighting cancer.
  • CBN – Produced when THC ages, CBN is a mild relaxant, stimulates appetite, and eases glaucoma.
  • CBC – There are multiple studies underway with this compound for its neuroprotective effects. It appears to slow diseases like Alzheimer’s.

These are only a few of the compounds found in cannabis. For those who wish to have at least come of these positive effects, a full-spectrum CBD is the right choice.

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The CBD Manufacturing Process

Knowing how CBD oil is manufactured starts with understanding the manufacturing process. The CBD manufacturing process has several steps, from planting to shipping. For the consumer, the biggest question is, “Is organic and natural important to me?”

Growing and Harvesting

Throughout his portion of the article on how CBD oil is manufactured, we’re going to assume that the product being used is hemp, the low-THC version of cannabis. Since THC is legal in only half the states and the federal government has been very slow to legalize it, we’ll discuss the nationally legal version of the product.

Most CBD aficionados look for organic hemp as the source for their CBD. Since the product is being ingested for health, it makes sense to look for a certified organic CBD manufacturer.

The first step in manufacturing organic CBD will be to test the soil that is being planted for pesticides and contaminants. There is sometimes a tolerable level of old pesticides allowed, but most CBD companies look for pure soil.

How CBD Oil is Manufactured

Next are, of course, the seeds. The seeds that the best companies choose are also organic. Because they need to be low-THC, the seeds are carefully selected  so the crop doesn’t need to be destroyed if the THC levels are too high. Every batch of hemp plants is tested repeatedly for THC levels that exceed legal limits.

During the growing process, the plants are well-cared for. Hemp needs water and, of course, if it’s to be organic, no chemical pesticides.

Harvesting is usually done by machine, but the best brands have the hemp harvested by hand. This is because the parts of the plants containing things like CBG are very sensitive. Harvesting by hand keeps the flowers clean and avoids a lot of compression on the flowers.

Next, the hemp is dried. There are two major methods, hanging and screens. Hanging hemp to dry involves hanging it upside down by the stalk and letting the air dry it. Screen drying involves laying the hemp onto a screen to dry. Some companies kiln-dry their hemp using a large oven to evaporate the water. In the organic community, there is some debate on whether kiln-dried hemp is as natural.

Once it’s dried, the extraction process can begin.


Decarboxylation or decarbing, is a process whereby the hemp is heated under a very specific formula of time and temperature to convert CBDA to CBD, among other similar processes with the other compounds in the hemp. Even THC is a carboxylated derivative of THCA.

The raw hemp is heated to cause the CBDA molecule to drop a carboxyl, an extra COOH bond. Using time and temperature, this decarboxylation process converts the molecules from an acid to their neutral forms, the forms we want in order to use them.

Extraction of CBD and Other Compounds

The extraction process involves using a solvent to pick up the compounds and remove them from the plant matter. This is done through several methods with varying safety and purity. In this section, we’ll look at the major methods of extraction and their advantages and disadvantages.

At this stage of the process, the hemp has been harvested, dried, and decarboxylated.

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How CBD Oil is Manufactured: Extraction Methods

The extraction process involves using a solvent to pick up the compounds and remove them from the plant matter. This is done through several methods with varying safety and purity. In this section, we’ll look at the major methods of extraction and their advantages and disadvantages.

At this stage of the process, the hemp has been harvested, dried, and decarboxylated.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

Carbon dioxide is considered the purest way to extract the CBD from the plant.

CO2 in a solid form, dry ice, is held in one chamber. The hemp is placed in an adjoining chamber. The CO2 is allowed to evaporate, but the hemp room is kept under enough pressure to keep the CO2 in a liquid state.

CO2 attaches itself to the cannabinoid compounds. The liquid is then pumped to a third chamber. The CO2 is allowed to evaporate and what’s left behind is the hemp extracts, including CBD.

This process is extremely precise. Slight changes in temperature or pressure can affect the extraction process, making it less successful.

The advantage is that it produces a much purer form of CBD with no residues. Since the process is expensive and extremely precise, this process is usually reflected in the price.

Ethanol Extraction

Ethanol is drinking alcohol, the same thing that’s in beer and vodka. The ethanol extraction method is safe, effective, and simple, making it a frequent choice of CBD manufacturers.

The hemp plants are immersed in high-grade grain alcohol. Alcohol extracts the CBD and other oils. The plant material is removed, and the alcohol is allowed to evaporate, leaving behind the oils that are being sought.

Ethanol is a natural liquid and leaves a relatively pure CBD oil behind. It’s simple, so it’s unlikely to be done incorrectly. The only real disadvantage is that some of the cannabis plant waxes are destroyed in the process. Some manufacturers strive to include these as there is a belief that they’re healthful.

Extraction via Oil Infusion

Oil infusion is not only one of the oldest methods of extracting oils from hemp, but it’s one that is so simple and safe, it can be done at home.

The plant material is placed in olive oil or another food grade oil. Heated to 100℃, the hemp oils bond with the olive oil molecules. The CBD is then attached to and remains with the olive oil.

The disadvantage is that one needs a lot of oil to extract the hemp oils and there’s no way to separate them. This is excellent for dosing with CBD oil with an eyedropper or in a gelcap. It’s not as useful for other applications, like vape pens.

Doing oil infusion at home is very easy, but dosing is difficult since there’s no regulated ratios and most people can’t test their home oils.

Extraction via Liquid Solvents

Other solvents, like butane, hexane, and isopropyl alcohol, are also used. These solvents, hydrocarbons often made from crude oil, are very effective at removing the CBD oil from the hemp plants.

The downside is that not all solvents can remove all impurities, so you might get a greenish CBD oil because there’s still chlorophyll in it. Also, they are highly flammable products, increasing the risks of fire.

Most CBD users and quality companies steer clear of these solvents simply because they’re poisonous. Most people would rather not ingest “healthful” supplements that were extracted with lighter fluid.

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How CBD Oil is Manufactured: Secondary Purification Processes

Once the oils are extracted from the plant, they need to undergo another step to remove any remaining impurities. There are two major methods for this: winterization and distillation.


Winterization uses pure alcohol to extract the final impurities. The oil is mixed with 200 proof, 100% pure alcohol. This is stirred until the hemp oils are thinned out. Then the mixture is frozen. The desirable parts of the crude go into the solution. The parts that are unwanted are frozen out of it.


Distillation takes advantage of the fact the different cannabinoids have different boiling points. In what’s called short-path distillation, the oil is heated slowly. Compounds, like terpenes, flavonoids, and other contaminants, boil off. The oil vapor travels through a cooling tube. The remaining oil in the container is the CBD, which has the highest boiling point.

Both processes assume the manufacturer is looking to produce CBD distillate, pure CBD oil with no other cannabinoids. For full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oils, this process will be stopped at the point at which the manufacturer deems the oil is pure enough for their purposes.


For obvious reasons, the next step is testing. The oil is tested for purity. This will also include testing it again for higher concentrations of THC.

Once the oil has been tested for purity, the manufacturer is able to set doses. They might add a carrier oil to change the dosage of the oil. This will make it consistent enough for labeling.

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Bringing CBD Products to Market

CBD is shelf stable as long as it’s not exposed to light or heat. That’s why most CBD products are shipped in amber bottles and/or sealed boxes. Keeping light out is an important part of keeping the oil fresh.

The oil products are best shipped only when they can be kept cool. Exposure to heat, for example, while traveling via USPS, UPS, or FedEx isn’t an issue, but a batch of CBD left in a trailer for a week in the California sun might be.

The usual recommended shelf life of CBD oil is 18 months to three years. While there’s not necessarily a consensus on when the oil needs to be discarded, the average consumer should plan on getting rid of it after three years.

CBD oil that has “gone bad” isn’t known for negatively affecting anyone. In fact, it most likely will have no effect at all.

Hemp in Dairy Products


In the home, CBD should simply be stored in a cool, dry place in its original container. It’s like any other oil. It will last the whole time as long as it is protected from sun and air.

The Future of CBD Products

Nearly every analyst predicts CBD will continue to increase in popularity. There’s already a move toward full-spectrum CBD oil versus the isolate that was everywhere when CBD first became a craze.

We should expect to see CBD “flower” being sold in more places. These are the buds of the hemp plant. This allows users to smoke non-THC hemp the same way they smoke marijuana. This might speed the CBD effects to the body. There is a camp of believers who feel that since our bodies have ingested CBD for tens of thousands of years via smoke, that might be the best delivery system for it.

As the industry matures, we should expect to see faster, purer extraction methods. A move away from hydrocarbon solvents, like butane, is probable since it’s simply not an easy sell to consumers when they discover how their CBD has been isolated.

If another compound in hemp is proven to have significant health effects, we can expect that we’ll see that compound added to CBD creating another wave of consumer interest.

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final Thoughts on How CBD Oil is Manufactured

We hope you enjoyed this article on how CBD oil is manufactured. Consumers have many choices on how their CBD is manufactured. The best way to guarantee that you’re getting the best CBD for your dollar is to ask questions.

Start by knowing if you want full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolated CBD. Then find out the company’s extraction methods.

All CBD oils are not alike. Choose a reputable, transparent company versus the cheapest option. Since you’re taking it for your health, invest in the healthiest version of the product. This concludes our article on how CBD oil is manufactured. 

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