Photo courtesy of Capna Systems.

As pet owners, if we hear that a product may help our sweet fur babies, we’re likely to seek it out in its purest form. So when it comes to high quality pet CBD oil, it’s common for pet owners to focus on the reputation of the CBD company, how potent their products are, and whether their products are thoroughly tested. While these factors are undoubtedly important, there’s another, often overlooked part of the CBD production process that significantly affects the final product: Extraction!

Before we get into the specific extraction methods, let’s talk about why extraction is so important for CBD in the first place.

Why is CBD Extracted from Hemp?

The whole purpose of extracting CBD from hemp is to create a denser, more consumable concentrate that can be easily administered in effective ways. This is especially true for our four-legged friends. Imagine giving raw hemp to your pet; the taste alone leans more on the unpleasant, bitter side. Not to mention, hemp in its raw form doesn’t yield the same potential effects as CBD oil extract. (Now that’s not to say that raw hemp doesn’t offer an array of benefits for our companions – it definitely does – but the chance of them consuming it is highly unlikely.)

This is because the most popular cannabinoids found in raw hemp actually start out as acids:

From a scientific standpoint, these cannabinoid acids do hold value even in their acidic state, but they are the precursors to the more thoroughly studied CBG, CBD, and THC. However, the effects of these highly sought after cannabinoids are not activated until their cannabinoid acids are decarboxylated (where low heat is administered for extended amounts of time). Once hemp is decarboxylated, the “a” is dropped from CBGa, CBDa, and THCa; and the efficiency of CBG, CBD, and trace amounts of THC (0.3% or less) are then activated to help promote good health in our pets.

But in order to create consumable CBD oil for our pets, it’s not enough to just activate CBD and the other cannabinoids found in hemp. They actually need to be extracted from the plant as well. This is where various methods of CBD extraction come into play.

What Are the Different CBD Extraction Methods?

While it may seem unimportant to learn how different companies extract CBD oil from the hemp plant, these extraction methods greatly impact the final product of our pets’ CBD oil, which ultimately has an impact on them. So let’s talk about the different types of CBD extraction methods and how each of them affects the final product.

Vapor Distilled Extraction

Let’s start with the patent pending “Vapor Distilled” extraction method. Vapor distillation is a fairly new CBD extraction method that drives heated air through the hemp plant, creating a more effective, less bitter tasting CBD oil extract.

When it comes to other CBD extraction methods, it takes a significant amount of time to extract the cannabinoids and phytochemicals from the hemp plant. But the process doesn’t stop there. They then have to activate the extracted cannabinoids using high levels of heat. Unfortunately, high levels of heat over a long period of time can actually breakdown the beneficial compounds of the hemp extract, causing the final product to lose some of its efficacy.

Vapor distillation, on the other hand, is very unique in that it uses flash extraction. This activates the cannabinoids from the hemp plant while they’re being extracted. This process is done in a matter of seconds, thereby protecting the cannabinoids and other phytochemicals the hemp plant has to offer.

Many CBD brands are turning to the highly advanced vapor distilled extraction method because it maintains the purity of the hemp plant’s profile. Not to mention, it’s solvent free and offers a less bitter tasting hemp extract. Vapor distilled extraction is still fairly new, so if you come across a CBD company that offers vapor distilled CBD oil, you’ll be purchasing one of the cleanest CBD oil extracts on the market today. (By the way, our full spectrum hemp oils with CBD use vapor distilled extraction.)

Supercritical C02 Extraction for CBD

This extraction method uses extremely low temperatures and high pressures of the gas-like and liquid-like properties of carbon dioxide to extract high volumes of CBD in each batch of oil. As the supercritical CO2 breaks down and separates the materials of the hemp plant, the gas of CO2 then evaporates, leaving behind a safe, consumable hemp extract.

This particular CBD extraction method requires a lot of time, expensive equipment, and thorough training to achieve a potent, yet safe CBD oil extract that’s free of chlorophyll. While many CBD brands prefer this extraction method, others argue that supercritical CO2 extraction isn’t necessarily organic, as it’s still a solvent. However, studies have shown that CO2 is a highly pure and safe supercritical solvent that offers appealing characteristics.

These characteristics include:

Supercritical CO2 extraction also allows CBD brands to adjust the concentration of their CBD oil extracts, by simply modifying the ratios of the pressure and the solvent. Supercritical CO2 extraction is considered one of the most common ways to yield highly concentrated pure CBD oil that is safe for pets to consume.

Ethanol Extraction for CBD and CBG

Ethanol extraction is considered the least expensive method in obtaining CBD and CBG oil. Although ethanol is a solvent, it’s considered a safe substance by the FDA. Third party testing should confirm that there is no residual solvent in the finished product.

According to Capna System, a company that specializes in cutting edge ethanol extraction methods, the old way of extracting with ethanol had some issues. Namely, at room temperature, it would pull out almost everything useful from the plant. But with newer, supercooled extraction machines, it pulls out only the desired parts of the plant using negative pressure. This means it doesn’t need a motor to operate, which is another benefit. These newer machines are easy to automate and can be operated by entry-level technicians — which is a plus for companies trying to compete on profit margin. Ethanol extraction is also another popular way to extract high concentrations of CBG.

Final Thoughts on CBD Oil Extract

Extraction and decarboxylation is essential in creating full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD oils for our pets.

That said, as pet parents, it’s our duty to seek out reputable CBD oil companies that value the wellbeing of your pet. Seek out companies that thoroughly and accurately test and label their CBD products. When we learn the pros and cons of the various CBD extraction methods, we gain a deeper understanding of which brand of CBD oil is best for our beloved pets.