A Closer Look: How is CBD Oil Made?

High There

By High There

May 18, 2023

It may have been niche knowledge at one time, limited only to those with a close relationship with cannabis. Today, CBD, or cannabidiol, is a well-known cannabinoid, taking a starring role in the wellness routines of millions of consumers.

Among the vast array of CBD products available today is arguably one of the most prominent, CBD oil. Its popularity is self-explanatory: CBD oil is fast acting, easy to dose, won’t get in the way of dietary restrictions, can be added to foods and drinks and can even be used to make your own edibles.

With countless CBD oil options online and in stores throughout the country, it begs the question, “How is CBD oil made?”

The answer is dependent on a number of factors, namely that different CBD providers use different methods at all production stages to create CBD oil. Moreso, the ins and outs of the CBD extraction process and the type of CBD used in

can be huge when deciding which CBD brands to turn to in the first place.

So, let’s dive in to explore the world of CBD oil and how it’s made!

What is CBD?

Before we really get into CBD oil, let’s talk more about the special compound that makes this product so desirable. 

CBD is often considered the most popular cannabis compound behind THC. The main difference is that CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning that it does not create the “high” of THC. CBD and THC are

, compounds that act on our bodies’ own endocannabinoid system. This system works to help our bodies with functions around appetite, stress and anxiety, learning and memory, metabolism and more.


THC acts on both CB1 (in the brain) and CB2 (in body and immune system) receptors, so it can affect your system both cognitively and physically. CBD only acts on CB2 receptors, so it does not create the same intoxicating effect. 

Check out

for a full rundown.

What are the Benefits of CBD Oil?

On its own, CBD is locked up inside of cannabis or hemp plants in an inactive form, along with a number of other naturally occurring compounds like fiber, waxes, chlorophyll and terpenes. When CBD is extracted from hemp or cannabis, it’s highly concentrated and does not mix with water, so it must be diluted into a carrier oil, what we call CBD oil!

So, why bother? What

does CBD have to offer?

One of the most studied uses for CBD oil is in regard to neurological diseases, like multiple sclerosis, epilepsy and other ailments that cause muscle spasticity and seizures in the human body. CBD could also aid in the cessation of

, , , , and more.

A number of studies have also shown CBD’s promise in cancer patients, namely initiating programmed

in and .

Research is still catching up, but the available information is promising. With a number of CBD products on the market already, anecdotal evidence shows consumers already collectively enjoy what CBD has to offer.

How is CBD Oil Made?

Now, we can really get into it! As mentioned, there are a number of ways to make CBD oil.

It’s also important to understand that CBD is typically extracted from hemp plants. Hemp and cannabis are technically the same plant, but hemp plants are classified as testing under 0.3% THC. 

Of course, the first steps are planting the hemp plant and

. After harvesting, plants are put up to be cured or to air dry in a well-ventilated area, which can be a weeks-long process. is then stripped from the plants and shipped to manufacturers, who extract the cannabinoids.

When it comes to extracting CBD oil from hemp plants, there are two most-common methods.


Ethanol Extraction

Ethanol extraction is popular because it is safe and effective. The method involves soaking the plant in high-grain alcohol to extract CBD. The alcohol acts as a solvent, separating CBD and other cannabinoids from the plant itself. It can be done under a variety of temperature conditions and, compared to CO2 extractions, is also considered to be the most time-efficient.

CO2 Extraction

CO2 extractions use carbon dioxide to isolate cannabinoids under extremely low temperatures with very high pressure, effectively stripping hemp flower of all cannabinoids and terpenes. When done properly, CO2 extraction is highly precise and can produce highly pure extracts. However, equipment is costly and the learning curve is steep, so there’s definitely room for error. 

Oil Extraction

OK, just for fun, there is one other fairly common method that’s generally practiced at home. With the oil method, you’ll heat or decarboxylate your ground flower, cook it into a carrier oil and strain out the plant particles. While we won’t dive into this process in detail in this article, you can learn more about making your own CBD oil at home


Following initial extraction, CBD oil typically undergoes in-house testing, which identifies each of the compounds in the original sample, showing a clear overview of the exact CBD values, and any others, present in the extract. 

From there, companies will typically make any final formulation decisions. Trustworthy brands will also ensure their products undergo

for cannabinoid content, which should be easily accessible when purchasing these products.

CBD oil

Types of CBD Oil

It’s never a bad thing to know more about how your CBD products are made, but the extraction method is just one piece of the puzzle. You’ll be hard-pressed to avoid language like “isolate,” “full spectrum” and “broad spectrum” when shopping for CBD, but as a consumer, these classifications are crucial!

How is CBD Isolate Oil Made?

CBD isolate is “pure” CBD, meaning it only contains CBD. When it comes to extraction, this means that all other cannabinoids and terpenes are removed, leaving only CBD behind. CBD isolate can then be used in gummies, topicals, oils and tinctures. It’s especially beneficial for folks who don’t want to consume any THC whatsoever, and it can be an accessible option for folks newly venturing into the cannabis world. 

However, this can also be a bit of a drawback, as the terpenes and cannabinoids left behind carry their own array of potential benefits and may enhance the effects of CBD.

How is Full-Spectrum CBD Oil Made?

On the other side, you’ll see full-spectrum hemp products. This means that, when the hemp plant is extracted, all of the additional cannabinoids and terpenes are also included. Again, hemp plants can contain no more than 0.3% THC, but that does mean that there may be trace amounts of THC in full-spectrum products. It’s generally not enough to get you high, but there may be enough THC to register a positive drug test result. 

Full-spectrum products offer the

, which suggests that cannabinoids like CBD work best with the addition of terpenes, cannabinoids and other compounds.

CBD oil

How is Broad-Spectrum CBD Oil Made?

Broad-spectrum CBD is more of a middle ground between CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD. These products are basically full-spectrum CBD without the THC; you’ve still got all of the terpenes and other great cannabis compounds, just no THC. These products are great for folks who still want to reap the benefits of other cannabis compounds who may need to avoid THC.

The downside is that there’s always a possibility that not all THC has been removed (all the more reason to ensure products share third-party test results).

Wrapping Up

What’s not to love about

? It’s versatile in application and easier to find now than ever, offering myriad consumers a natural option to take charge of their own personal wellness.

The CBD world, and cannabis space as a whole, can be intimidating to enter, but luckily the process of making CBD oil is fairly straightforward. After harvest, hemp plants are cured, dried and typically undergo an ethanol or CO2 extraction. CO2 extractions can lead to incredibly pure products but carry a greater margin for error, whereas ethanol extractions are more common and considered safest and most effective.

CBD oil typically comes in one of three forms: full spectrum, broad spectrum and CBD isolate. Each carries varying amounts of the original cannabis compounds and can be better for specific consumers, depending on their needs.

And that’s, in part, the joy of the CBD and cannabis space! With so many options, so many cannabinoids and potential benefits to explore, there really is something for everyone. What better time to get acquainted with CBD oil?

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