Not all CBD oil is made equal. The explosion of CBD products on the market, some of which are bogus, has created confusion resulting in a lack of customer trust. Here’s how a reputable CBD product gets from the field to your home.
At the right time of year (typically May – June), farmers receive seedlings or plant hemp seeds. The variety hemp planted can come from many sources including university research programs or wholesale CBD producers, as long as they conform to the 2018 Farm Bill stipulations. Farmers may buy their own seeds or they may be given specific plants to grow under contract from a CBD producer.
Hemp is a dioecious plant, meaning that it can have the male and female reproductive structures on separate plants. The female plants produce flowers rich in CBD. Hemp plants bud based on the number of hours of sunlight they receive and it generally takes 90-120 days to mature. But maturation depends on a number of factors such as variety, seeding date, soil conditions, and summer temperatures.
At some point prior to harvest (September – November), the plants must be tested to ensure they contain no more than the legal limit of THC (0.3%). After testing, the plants must be harvested and cured for a period of time. Many farmers hand pick the hemp and hang it to dry, much like tobacco. After curing, the hemp (stalks and all) can be ground up for processing. Buds from higher quality hemp are typically hand-picked from the stalks and stored in totes to send to the processor.
Once the hemp is sent to the processor, the hemp should be stored in climate-controlled rooms to prevent the growth of mold, fungus, and other microbes. In fact, the hemp should be tested prior to processing to ensure it is free from various sources of contamination. At Blue Goose, we test our hemp for pesticides (48 in total), mycotoxins (5 in total, these are toxins that come from mold growth), heavy metals (4 in total), and microbial impurities (4 in total).
Hemp is usually ground prior to the extraction process. The degree to which this is done depends on the equipment being used. And the type of equipment used depends on the method of extraction. There are two common methods used to extract CBD oil from the hemp plant: hydrocarbon solvent extraction and carbon dioxide solvent extraction.
Various hydrocarbons can be used to extract CBD including benzene, butane, ethanol, heptane, hexane, and propane. There are various economic advantages to using hydrocarbons for the extraction solvent but the primary concern is that most of these chemicals must be totally removed prior to ingestion by humans. With the exception of food-grade ethanol (the kind of alcohol found in beer, wine, and liquor), these other hydrocarbon solvents are neurotoxic and/or carcinogenic.
Using carbon dioxide eliminates this concern. Carbon dioxide (used to carbonate soft drinks) leaves behind no residue and is completely safe for humans. Although the efficiency of producing CBD oil in this manner is not as good as using hydrocarbon solvents, it is seen as the safest method to extract a food-grade CBD oil. This method of extraction also helps to capture the most desirable parts of the hemp plant (CBD, terpenes, fatty acids) selectively without capturing chlorophyll. Chlorophyll makes most plants green in color and does not have a pleasant taste.
At Blue Goose, we utilize the carbon dioxide extraction process.
After the hemp extract is made, some degree of post-processing may occur. If hydrocarbons are used, the solvent may be filtered to remove chlorophyll, as far as possible. Then, the solvent itself must be thoroughly evaporated or otherwise removed.
If carbon dioxide is used, the extract may or may not be “winterized”. This process helps to remove plant waxes from the extract. Winterization includes mixing the crude extract with a food-grade ethanol, freezing it to precipitate out the wax, and then filtering the waxes out. After filtering, the ethanol is recovered by lowering the pressure and gently heating the solution. Under the right conditions, the ethanol will evaporate quickly leaving behind only the hemp extract.
This process can remove many terpenes from the extract, so in some cases this step is skipped to create a “full-spectrum” hemp extract. At Blue Goose, we believe all of the hemp plant should be represented in our extract, so we utilize both processes to create the best blend for each product.
Once the extract is created, it must be tested for potency. When you buy a product containing CBD, there is typically an advertised amount (e.g. 500 mg, 1000 mg, 2500 mg). Since the extract is not 100% CBD, we must know how much CBD is present to properly dose each product and ensure you are getting what you pay for. According to some studies, you have a 2 in 5 chance of getting the advertised amount of CBD in your product. At Blue Goose, each batch of concentrate is tested for potency so we can properly dose each product.
Finally, the concentrate is used to create each product. The CBD concentrate is placed in a lotion base, in a tincture, or in whatever product you can imagine. Prior to sale, each batch of product is tested to ensure proper dosing. If a product is sold for ingestion from Blue Goose, it is also tested for pesticides (48 in total), mycotoxins (5 in total), heavy metals (4 in total), microbial impurities (4 in total), and residual solvents (8 in total). This ensures the quality and safety of our products. Blue Goose products are pure, clean, and tested.