Last updated April 23, 2021.
Cannabis oil is a versatile and effective substance that contains a substantial number of cannabinoids, most notably THC and CBD. All of the recent hype around cannabis oil makes it seem like a new product, but in reality, it has been around since the beginning of recorded history. It is often used to help manage the symptoms of a variety of common mental and physical ailments. Recently, cannabis oil started gaining notoriety for its success in reducing seizures among people with epilepsy. It can be eaten, applied topically, and inhaled as vapor.
Cannabis Oil Isn’t New
Prior to the legalization of medical marijuana in some US states, patients were compelled to produce their own cannabis oil. It is a surprisingly simple process involving a high quality, organic strain of cannabis, a gas or electric stove, high proof drinking alcohol, and a double boiler. First, the cannabis gets processed with alcohol and put through a strainer. This isolates the valuable cannabinoids from the plant material to produce a green liquid. That liquid gets boiled to burn off the remaining alcohol, resulting in the finished product. Even though it’s easy to make, folks are migrating to dispensaries in “cannabis legal” states searching for highly-concentrated cannabis oil products. Fortunately, there are plenty of options available, such as oral cannabis filled syringes, concentrated cannabis diluted in an oil solution, or traditional alcohol-based tinctures.
The evolution of cannabis oil started from the kitchen stove and migrated to the chemistry lab. Several forms of oil extraction are now possible for creating unique cannabis oil products. There are three popular extraction processes: whole plant extraction, which produces green oil; CO2 extracts, which are amber in color; and distilled extracts, which create a clear liquid.
Cannabis Oil 3 Ways
The whole plant extraction technique is unique in that it utilizes the flowers and leaves of the cannabis plant to produce a cannabinoid-rich extract, instead of the seeds and stalks commonly used in many CBD-only formulas. The cannabinoid structure is left intact in whole plant extraction so the consumer enjoys a synergistic effect. This means the cannabinoids and terpenes are working together instead of being isolated from each other.
The CO2 extraction method is used to create essential oils from a variety of botanical sources. Recently, it rose to the forefront of the cannabis industry as a naturally-occurring compound that can safely dissolve substances without using petroleum. This “fractioning” process makes it possible to isolate the different cannabinoids into precise formulas that produce super clean, safe products. In addition, CO2 extraction can occur at a relatively low temperature, which prevents damage to the cannabinoids. Liquid CO2 passes through the cannabis, dissolving the membrane of the plants’ trichomes and releasing a multitude of active compounds. CO2 can also be reused in a process called closed-loop extraction. This enables the CO2 to reach the precise pressure and temperature to return to its gaseous state.
Finally, the last of the extraction processes involves distillation. Distilled extracts are pure, clear liquid formulas that are highly potent (90% THC). They can be used to produce cannabis oils as well as edibles, topicals, vape cartridges, and more. Modern-day distillers use a complex system of temperature controls and special glassware made for cannabis extraction to manufacture their distillates. This process is similar to the age-old practice of fermenting grain into alcohol—the main difference is that the cannabis plant is used instead of wheat. Through a process of heating and cooling, the cannabis can be isolated and impurities can be eliminated, resulting in a super clean product.
Isolating Compounds and Eliminating Impurities
Cannabis oil is available in many forms. It can be formulated with very high levels of THC or none at all. It can also be manufactured to maintain all of the cannabinoid makeup of the cannabis plant or to isolate certain compounds, i.e. CBD, THC, THCA, CBG, CBN. Cannabis oil extracts each have unique qualities, but their extraction processes are similar in that they are able to isolate compounds and eliminate impurities. Most importantly, cannabis oil extraction processes provide ultimate control over the final product that results in the safest and cleanest cannabis product for the consumer. Visit Torrey Holistics to speak to a cannabis expert for information about the best cannabis oil product for you.