How To Make CBD Crystals
If you’ve ever been curious about how CBD crystals are made, then this is the guide for you.
CBD crystals are a potent source of pure Cannabidiol (CBD) and can be used in numerous ways. You can put them in edibles or use them for CBD topicals, CBD tinctures, or CBD vape oil. Let’s review how CBD crystals are made.
CBD Crystal Creation Process
If the product contains terpenes, plant materials, oils, or other lesser cannabinoids it will look an off-white, yellow or pink tinge. This may enhance the effects of CBD through taste or potency due to synergy between different substances.1
CBD crystals are generally made from industrial hemp plants, beginning with the breakdown of stalks and stems to obtain the natural compounds in the plant. The CBD crystal creation process involves similar steps as how to make CBD oil, which are the processing, extraction and purification of hemp.2
However, as opposed to CBD oil, the manufacturing of CBD crystals, goes one step further in that it separates the CBD from the resin that was extracted from the hemp plant. It may then be isolated and contain only the CBD cannabinoid. Other terpenes, flavonoids, etc may be added at a later time for sales. The process by which CBD is crystalized is called chromatography. In this completely isolated form, CBD exists as a white, clear-ish crystalline solid, therefore called “CBD crystals”.3
What equipment is required to create CBD crystals?
CBD crystals are created using specialized equipment and processes. While processing and extraction2,3,4 of CBD crystals is similar to CBD oil, careful attention must be paid to the purification and isolation of CBD.
Hemp selection – High CBD Hemp is used for the creation of CBD crystals.
Processing – The processing of CBD hemp involves harvesting, drying and grinding the flower buds, stalks, and even stems.
Extraction – The extraction of CBD can be done with cold Ethanol, Butane Hashish Oil (BHO) or Carbon Dioxide (CO2). Cold Ethanol is the best extraction method for reducing fats in extract. The colder the Ethanol, the lower the fat taken out from the plant. BHO extraction extracts a moderate amount of fats. CO2 extraction extracts the highest amount of fat from the plant.
How To Make CBD Crystals Continued
Refinement – Refinement or purification of CBD involves winterization, filtration, distillation and chromatography.4,5
- Winterization – After extraction, the CBD mixture is added into 190 proof alcohol and mixed properly with stirring. Then it is placed in a deep freezer, chest freezer, walk-in freezer or dry ice for about 24 hours to reach the freezing point of Ethanol which is -76°C. This will lead to the precipitation of waxes which can be separated by filtration.
- Filtration – Various filters can be used, starting at a higher micron filter, changing to a medium filter, and then finally using the smallest micron filter for the finest particles of wax. Vacuum assisted filters and metal filters can also be used, although they are expensive compared to paper filters, but are reusable and don’t tear apart.
- Chromatography – Chromatography is a process which separates a mixture into its constituents or parts. The CBD mixture (liquid phase) is passed through a stationary phase which is either solid (alumina, sand, silica gel) or liquid (water, methanol or heptane). The liquid phase moves through each cell in series and compounds diffuse into the stationary phase at different rates according to their relative affinities for the two phases which leads to separation into the constituents.
- Distillation – Distillation removes alcohol using heat. The mixture is warmed in the glass vessel, which leads to alcohol evaporation since the boiling point of alcohol is lower than the oil. The ejected alcohol vapors are reconverted into liquid by attached condenser and can be reused.
Isolation – The isolation and crystallization of CBD are done by mixing CBD with pentane as the solvent in a glass jacketed vessel with stirring. A heating/cooling bath is connected to the vessel jacket and is used to control the temperature of the vessel. The mixture is heated to 45°C which permits the dissolution of the oil and then cooled to 5°C. CBD crystals will form immediately and separate from the pentane solution. This is followed by vacuum filtration to remove the pentane, rinsing the crystals and removing them.6
Safety procedures during CBD crystal creation
Safety procedures are required to be followed during the CBD crystal creation process. The facility must be GMP certified and must be safe in terms of design and purpose for handling all types of materials.7
Design – The equipment must be designed to handle the solvent being used. Generally, stainless steel materials are used. Pay attention to electrical components for flammable and non-flammable solvents, pressure rating and valve protection.
Purpose – The equipment needs to be constructed for its intended use. It must be accessible for cleaning and welds in contact must be flushed and polished.
Human consumption – The solvents used must be safe for human consumption. CO2 and Ethanol are FDA approved for human consumption.
Do not try CBD crystals at home
You should not try making CBD crystals at home. Thorough knowledge of chemical processes is required for handling CBD. This is essential for your own safety as well as creation of pure crystals. On the other hand, you can make your own CBD products by adding them to edibles such as cookies, brownies or sprinkle them over tea or coffee or adding them to your moisturizing creams. You can also vape them or add them to coconut oil to make CBD oil.
Before purchasing, one should ensure that the CBD crystals are created from high CBD hemp, have passed third party lab testing, and are made following Good Manufacturing Practice standards.
- Russo EB. The Case for the Entourage Effect and Conventional Breeding of Clinical Cannabis: No “Strain,” No Gain. Front Plant Sci. 2019;9:1969.
- Giroud C, de Cesare M, Berthet A, et al. E-Cigarettes: A Review of New Trends in Cannabis Use. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015;12(8):9988-10008.
- Rhizosciences. CBD isolation from Hemp. 2017.https://rhizosciences.com/cbd-isolation-from-hemp. Accessed October 21, 2019.
- Brin instruments. Winterization and filtration of cannabis extracts. 2018. https://brinstrument.com/blog/cannabis-distillation/winterization-of-cannabis-oil-extracts-to-remove-fats-and-waxes. Accessed October 23, 2019
- Pahnke L. A More Effective and Efficient Approach to Purer Cannabidiol Production Using Centrifugal Partition Chromatography. Cannabis Industry Journal. Updated April 23, 2018. https://cannabisindustryjournal.com/feature_article/a-more-effective-and-efficient-approach-to-purer-cannabidiol-production-using-centrifugal-partition-chromatography. Accessed October 23, 2019.
- Brin instruments. How to Crystallize CBD – Make CBD Isolate. 2018. https://brinstrument.com/blog/cannabis-distillation/how-to-crystallize-cbd-make-cbd-isolate. Accessed October 23, 2019.
- Bonn-Miller MO, Loflin MJE, et al. Labeling Accuracy of Cannabidiol Extracts Sold Online. JAMA. 2017;318(17):1708–1709.
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NOTES FROM THE AUTHOR
Compliance Director at Cannabidiol Life
The process of creating CBD crystals requires special equipment and expertise and should not be attempted without proper safety precautions, knowledge and expertise. We hope you enjoyed this guide as a supplement to your CBD crystal knowledge.