While tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) both come from the cannabis plant, their extraction processes are quite different. The biggest reason for this is THC typically comes from (what’s referred to as) cannabis itself whereas CBD comes from hemp. While these plants are closely related, they are unique in terms of their cannabinoid structure and physical appearance.
Due to these contrasts, hemp has more rigorous processing requirements in comparison to cannabis. And it all begins with equipment.
Not everyone uses the same equipment for extraction – regardless of whether they’re extracting THC or CBD. The equipment you decide to use ultimately depends on the scope and scale of your project. For example, home extractions for personal use are going to look a lot different from commercial extractions.
But even with that said, there are two distinct differences when it comes to extracting these cannabinoids. THC requires a hydrocarbon-based process that involves both “a closed-loop system and residual solvent removal,” according to the Cannabis Business Times. On the other hand, CBD extraction needs both ethanol-based extraction and distillation equipment.
With this equipment in mind, CBD and THC also have different practices in terms of how to go about the process of extraction. While there are a number of factors that can be incorporated into these practices, the main three are:
If you have experience with THC or CBD extraction, then you already know these three variables can be manipulated in order to produce different outcomes. If you’re new to cannabinoid extraction, it will help to understand that:
- Pressure involves the force that’s placed on the material and solvent. Most of time the time, this refers to the vapor pressure, but may also be used to define inert gases, such as nitrogen.
- Temperature typically touches on the degree input of an extraction solvent. However, it should be noted that this temperature must be the same as the material temperature the solvent is extracting.
- Time is to calculate how long a solvent will be combined with a material.
Again, each of these can be manipulated for different outcomes. But it’s more important to know that the pressure, temperature, and time of THC versus CBD extractions will differ. Not to mention, safety concerning the different extraction methods you go about and the equipment you use will also contrast.
Keep in mind that CBD and THC can be extracted from both cannabis and hemp. Though, there will be differences in terms of the amount of and quality of the cannabinoid depending on the plant you’re extracting from.