health science

CBD Oil Extraction Methods for the UK CBD Industry: What’s the difference?

Written by Nigel Simpkins

The source of the plants used for CBD oil products is important to know when determining the quality of those products. However, the most distinguishing factor between product brands is the extraction method. In other words, the percentage of cannabidiol or CBD, as well as the type and spectrum of the compounds, is determined by the quality and type of the extraction method. This means that knowing which extraction method is best will also tell you which CBD oil products are the highest quality.


In this article, we’ll refer to Blessed CBD – what we believe is the best CBD oil brand in the UK.

Blessed CBD knows the significance of extraction methods and how they impact the quality of the resulting products. This article summarizes CBD extraction and synthesization methods so that you can tell not only which methods are more reliable but why they matter when choosing a CBD oil product.

CBD: What is it?

CBD is also called cannabidiol. Technically, there are over a hundred cannabinoids in cannabis plants and the most famous is THC or tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is psychoactive, meaning it has effects on the human brain when consumed. It is responsible for the “high” that marijuana users get, as well as the resulting side effects. The first thing to realize is that unlike recreational cannabis or marijuana, CBD and its derived products cannot get its users high.

This is because CBD interacts with the body’s own endocannabinoid system rather than influencing unrelated motor and sensory functions in the brain. It was significant in the process of legalizing CBD products to acknowledge that the human body already processes its own cannabinoids, structurally similar to those in CBD.

CBD oils derived from hemp plants also contain terpenes and flavonoids. Depending on how it’s processed, it may have a high THC content as well, which is where the more premium extraction methods come in. To acquire non-psychotropic, legal CBD products free of THC, you need to know the difference in extraction methods and how they break down the compounds. You can learn more about CBD at HerbMighty, but for now, let’s take a look at the extraction processes.

The Extraction Process and CBD

The goal of the CBD extraction process is to produce the highest quality compounds in the densest concentration and widest spectrum. This is so the CBD oil that goes into various e-liquid, topical, and oil products offers a range of benefits, lasts longer, and is more potent. There are several types of hemp plant from which it could be derived, but the sativa strain is commonly used by high-end brands for its high CBD content.

CBD is not the only hemp compound, so extraction and isolation are important processes that Blessed CBD values as a method of producing higher quality products. The main types of CBD extraction used at Blessed are discussed below to show the importance of the process and Blessed’s commitment to being open about its manufacturing methods.

CO2 Extractions

CO2 extractions are expensive but widely used because of their ability to produce more premium CBD products. This method is clean, which means it reduces the chance of natural and artificial contamination of the compounds compared to other extraction types.

CO2 extractions are not restricted to the production of CBD products. It’s a common method for decaffeinating coffee beans, extracting flavors, and processing nicotine out of tobacco.

There are multiple types of CO2 extractions: supercritical and subcritical extractions. Supercritical extractions are considered the highest quality and for that reason are the most common. Blessed uses this method for our CBD products, but we’re going to break all of them down below to highlight the differences.

You may be wondering what CO2 extraction means in a more general sense though. It uses pressurized carbon dioxide to extract the chemical compounds that go into the CBD oil products from the hemp plants, leaving the other chemicals and additives.

Supercritical CBD Extraction

“Supercritical” refers to the temperature and pressure that the CO2 is put under in liquid form to behave like a solvent without the side effects. At this level, the CO2 has some properties of both gasses and liquids, including the ability to fill a container and a liquid-like density.

The solvent acts on the hemp plant to extract the valuable compounds without removing its natural flavors. This produces the best CBD at the cost of some expensive equipment required to pull off the process with the right pressure and temperature settings.

The solution produced by supercritical CO2 extraction is then separated and moved to the next step of production, while the CO2 is stored for later use. We’re huge fans of the way the team behind Nutra CBD in the Netherlands make their CBD oil and cannabis oil (in deutsch, it’s CBD olie and wietolie).

Subcritical CBD Extraction

Subcritical CBD extraction, as the name suggests, is different from supercritical by degree: instead of high temperatures and pressures, this method uses low temperatures and pressures to extract the CBD. This means that subcritical extraction is the longest method. The benefit is that it is thought to reduce the chance of denaturing or removing natural properties from terpenes and other secondary compounds during the extraction process.

In addition to taking longer, subcritical CBD extraction is less commonly used because it only works in smaller batches. While it creates oils that are lighter and full of more sensitive compounds that remain intact during the process, it leaves behind a heavy waste product that would normally thicken the oil to its more familiar consistency.

Solvent CBD Extractions

Solvent CBD extractions are cheap and easy. They can even be performed in normal homes without the use of fancy machines or equipment. The low price and time required comes with a different price: as you might guess, solvent CBD extractions don’t always produce the most refined product.

Ethanol is usually the solvent used in this method, but others will do. It is poured over the hemp to draw out the CBD into the liquid solvent. This is then collected and heated until it evaporates, which leaves behind only the sticky CBD compounds to be collected and turned into the oil product.

The issue with this type of extraction is that it removes everything from the plant matter: the CBD, flavonoids, and even the chlorophyll, the compound that allows plants to process energy and makes them green. Without any chlorophyll, CBD oil products can cause unwanted side effects. The taste will also be much more bitter since chlorophyll is how the plant processes glucose or sugar.

In the end, the compounds may not even be salvageable: they could be denatured, stripped, or broken down during solvent CBD extraction into an unusable form. Blessed CBD doesn’t use this method and neither do a lot of companies nowadays. It may be the method of choice for a one-man operation trying to produce CBD oil on a large scale, but the cost in purity and the likelihood of denaturation is one of the reasons companies are turning to more expensive but more reliable methods.

Dry Ice CBD Extraction

Don’t let the name fool you: dry ice CBD extraction can also be done at home, so long as you can buy dry ice. Compared to solvent extractions, it produces a purer product, which is good news to smaller CBD operations looking for something cheaper.

This extraction method entails using the ice to flash-freeze chopped hemp matter and sieving the result through a mesh. This mixture is a decent base for CBD oil products, even though the process is quick and cheap.

The real drawback is that there’s no way to accurately measure the mixture for the products. Freezing and sieving can produce inconsistent results depending on how it’s done.

Olive Oil CBD Extraction

Here’s another homebrew CBD extraction method. Despite the name, most oils can be used to accomplish this method.

After grinding the hemp matter, it’s heated to a certain temperature that processes the CBD components into compounds that are concentrated and easier to separate. These are then extracted in the oil, which is heated even more.

This method is cheap but can’t be done in a big batch.

Which Method Works Best?

Blessed CBD uses supercritical CO2 extraction to produce CBD oil products. The other CO2 method is valid as well for producing clean, potent products in large batches. For smaller operations, other options may be preferable, but CO2 produces the best CBD in the long run.

About Blessed CBD

Blessed CBD was formed shortly after the UK legalized the production and distribution of CBD products. This family took one look at the overrun of CBD products and decided it was time to take matters into their own hands.

You can rely on Blessed CBD for transparency and consistency with every product they deliver. They use the highest-quality hemp to derive full spectrum CBD oils, gummies, capsules and creams. These products contain less than .2% THC and contain additional extracts like cannabinoids, amino acids, and terpenes.

With Blessed CBD, quality and honesty are key. They stand by their products and strive to truly deliver the best products rather than just make a profit on every poor soul. The lab results are readily available to the public on the website as well, and they have also won awards for the best CBD oil by these publications: