The acceleration of CBD’s popularity in recent years has catalysed wider experimentation with its extraction from hemp. Just as CBD can now be infused into all manner of things from tampons, to toiletries, to tinctures, there are a variety of ways to harness the cannabidiol-rich oils from the leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant.
One of the latest methods to gain interest in the world of CBD extraction is cold-pressing. Cold-pressing is far from a fledgling principle - anthropological studies have found evidence of the process as early as 1500 BC, when our ancestors would use a mortar and pestle method to grind and extract juice from vegetable minerals, and there is even a specific reference to an oil-press described in Sanskrit literature dated around 500 BC.
Today, manufacturers have modernised the approach to produce cold-pressed CBD oil en masse, readily available in stores and online for people to purchase. But what makes cold-pressing different from other forms of CBD extraction?
The purpose of CBD extraction is essentially to isolate the cannabinoid, and other cannabidiols, from the plant. This results in a highly concentrated form of CBD that is much easier to consume.
There are countless ways to extract CBD, but these are some of the most common:
Cold-pressing, as the name implies, is a mechanical extraction method that operates primarily through the application of pressure under controlled, low-temperature conditions. The emphasis on low-heat conditions differentiates this process from other extraction methods, and it has specific steps and procedures designed to optimise extraction efficiency while preserving the integrity of the extracted substances.
The cold-pressing process commences with the careful preparation of the hemp material. It involves cleaning, drying, and grinding the hemp plant into a uniformly consistent material. This stage is crucial as it facilitates a more efficient release of the oil from the plant material in the subsequent stages of the process.
The prepared plant material is then loaded into the cold press machine. These machines are specifically engineered to apply a substantial amount of pressure to the plant matter, while simultaneously maintaining a low operating temperature. This intricate balance is achieved through the machine's precise design features, including its hydraulic system and press plates.
As the machine applies pressure, the cell walls of the plant material break down, enabling the release of the CBD oil. The pressure-induced extraction happens at a temperature typically below room temperature, hence the term 'cold-pressing'. This method ensures that the sensitive compounds within the hemp, such as cannabinoids, are not degraded or altered by heat.
Post-extraction, the raw CBD oil is collected and passed through a series of filters to remove any remaining plant particulates, resulting in a clean, pure oil.
The most widely used modern method of harnessing CBD oil, CO2 extraction is broken down into subcategories of supercritical, subcritical, and mid-critical.
Supercritical is the most common means of CO2 extraction, as it is considered to be extremely safe. The process involves using pressurised carbon dioxide to pull CBD from the hemp plant at an extremely high temperature, during which it acts like a solvent. Using the right equipment, the CO2 gas is then frozen and compressed into a supercritical cold liquid state.
CO2 extraction is so commonly used due to its efficiency in harnessing the largest amount of CBD in the least amount of time, although it is on the more expensive end of the extraction spectrum.
Another leading process of extraction, there are three main solvents most commonly used in the process today: butane, propane, and ethanol. The solvent of choice is heated with biomass, which works to extract the cannabinoids from the raw plant matter. The solvent is then evaporated, leaving behind only the CBD oil.
Olive Oil Extraction
This method can actually be done at home, and is commonly used by home-brewers looking to whip up their own batch of CBD oil. Any carrier oil can be used during this process, such as coconut oil or hemp oil, but some favour olive oil due to its inoffensive flavour and regular use in cooking, which makes it perfect for subbing into recipes if you wanted to ingest your CBD.
Essentially, the olive oil is heated and mixed with hemp flowers. The heat in the mixture causes a chemical reaction through which the trichomes bond to the olive oil due to its fatty properties.
Benefits of Cold-Pressing
Cold-pressing has seen recent praise for being a more natural, gentle method that yields a purer, more nutrient-dense product. As the process of extraction is far less aggressive and doesn’t utilise any chemicals as with other methods, cold-pressed CBD oil maintains a wealth of minerals and properties that have been shown to be extremely beneficial to our health and wellbeing.
The chemical make-up of cold-pressed CBD oil appears to be extremely close to that of the plant itself, with the pressing process preserving a similar level of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that have retained their original potency.
The Entourage Effect
One of the key benefits of cold-pressing is that it creates what is known as the entourage effect, which other more aggressive forms of extraction don’t.
As well as CBD, there are countless other cannabinoids found in the cannabis sativa plant, as well as various terpenes and other nutrients, that all have different properties and effects. The entourage effect supports the theory that when taken together, these compounds work in unison to produce a better, stronger effect than when taken in isolation.
Through interacting and synergising, the beneficial properties of the compounds have been shown to increase, and as cold-pressed CBD oil retains high levels of the natural compounds found in the hemp plant without causing any disruption, this is the preferred method of extraction for those wanting to maximise the benefits of their dosage.
It may come as no surprise that using a natural product in its entirety is more beneficial than taking a lab-isolated product, but a reason for this harmony in unison may be due to the way in which full-spectrum cannabinoids interact with our body’s internal endocannabinoid system, which is essential for balancing functions such as sleep, mood, and appetite.
Patients suffering from illnesses such as epilepsy have even been shown to respond far better to a full-spectrum cannabinoid extract in medicinal trials; in one 2018 study, those that took pure CBD as treatment experienced a significantly smaller reduction in their occurrence of seizures than those taking a mixture of cannabinoids and terpenes as treatment.
Novel Foods Exemption
CBD oil is commonly infused into products fit for consumption. Currently on the market are everything from capsules, to gummies, to cookies - if you can eat it, you can probably find a CBD-infused version.
With CBD’s explosion in popularity came some alterations in legislature. Although properly controlled, regulated CBD is legal within the UK, most edible CBD products are classified as ‘novel foods’ under current regulations.
However, edible products containing cold-pressed CBD oil are in fact novel foods exempt. They are not classified as ‘novel’ by the Food Standards Agency, as the method of cold-pressing is such a natural process.
Why Doesn’t Everyone Cold-Press?
Unfortunately, despite the beneficial properties and natural extraction process of cold-pressing, it can actually produce a lower yield than other methods of CBD extraction. Although the quality is considerably higher, the time taken to extract the same amount of oil is far longer.However, if you want to get your hands on some quality cold-pressed CBD oil, we’ve got a range of products you can choose from. Browse our selection today to discover all the benefits of cold-pressing.