Know What is in your Hemp-Infused Products
Product knowledge or consumer education on hemp isolate extracts begins with understanding of what materials and processes go into formulating a final product. As for hemp-derived products like oil drops, edibles, and topicals, everything starts with the hemp crop and its genetics.
What hemp cultivar is planted, how it is grown, and how it is harvested determines the ultimate purpose for that hemp material. Most hemp material is harvested and processed to be used for producing a variety of hemp extracts to include crude hemp extracts, hemp distillate extracts, and isolate extracts. Each type of hemp extract provides a range of different product formulations and serves a particular purpose.
Let’s dive a little deeper into what a hemp isolate extract is and how it’s produced.
The Definition of a Hemp Isolate Extract
A hemp isolate extract is a broad term used to describe a category of extracts. The differentiating term to pay attention to is the term “isolate.”
Before diving into what an isolate is, it is essential to understand what is being extracted from the hemp plant. In every cannabis plant, there is a multitude of naturally occurring cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and phytonutrients. The ultimate goal of any hemp extraction is to “extract,” or remove, these naturally occurring compounds from the hemp plant using a variety of extraction methods. The extraction methods and type of material used in the extraction is what will determine the type of hemp extract that is produced.
While a hemp crude extract or hemp distillate extract will contain a variety of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, phytonutrients, and fatty lipids, a hemp isolate extract contains nothing but a single cannabinoid such as CBD or CBG. In other words, a hemp isolate extraction “isolates” a particular cannabinoid and removes all remaining compounds found in the hemp plant. What’s leftover is a 98% – 100% pure extract.
Primary Descriptors of a Hemp Isolate Extract:
- Isolate extractions are a 98%-100% pure cannabinoid extract.
- The consistency of an extract is a coarse, white powder.
- Only a few primary cannabinoids found in both the marijuana and hemp plants are capable of being isolated with the technology available today.
- Hemp isolate extracts contain a single cannabinoid (typically CBD or CBG) and do not contain any terpenes, flavonoids, phytonutrients, or fatty lipids.
- Hemp isolate extracts contain 0% THC.
Types of Isolate Extracts
The cannabinoid (typically CBD or CBG) that is most abundant in the particular hemp material used for the extraction will determine what type of isolate extract is produced. When it comes to hemp cultivars, high-CBD strains are where the hemp marketplace began and is still the most abundant cannabinoid found in a majority of the hemp plants today. As the hemp marketplace continues to grow and further research and development occur, hemp breeders are producing unique hemp cultivars that are dominant in other cannabinoids aside from CBD. In particular, high-CBG varieties recently found its way onto hemp farms across the nation.
To break it down, high-CBD hemp material is used to produce an isolate CBD extract, while high-CBG material is used to create an isolate CBG extract. Regardless of the extract being a CBD or CBG isolate, it must have a potency of either 98% – 100% CBD or CBG to be considered a legitimate hemp isolate extract.
Hemp Isolate Extraction Method
There are a few different methods extractors utilize to produce a hemp isolate extract, but the most common and popular method begins with a supercritical CO2 extraction. Here is the step-by-step process for turning a hemp plant into a hemp isolate extract.
- Regardless of working with high-CBD or high-CBG hemp material, every hemp isolate extraction begins with a whole-plant extraction process. The initial extraction is typically a supercritical CO2 extraction process that uses the entire hemp material to produce a crude hemp extract. Crude hemp extracts not only contain the primary and minor cannabinoids, but it is full of natural terpenes, flavonoids, phytonutrients, fatty lipids, and plant waxes. The crude hemp extract is the first stage in producing both hemp distillate extracts and hemp isolate extracts.
- The CO2 crude hemp extract then undergoes a winterization process which removes the excess fatty lipids and plant waxes. The same oil is then decarboxylated, or heated, to convert the acidic form of the primary cannabinoid such as CBDA to CBD. At this point, the hemp extract has a high CBD potency but still contains the natural terpenes, minor cannabinoids, flavonoids, and phytonutrients. If the extraction were to stop at this point, the final extract would be considered a hemp distillate extract, or full-spectrum hemp extract.
- To continue on the path to a hemp isolate extract, the winterized and decarboxylated oil undergoes a fractional distillation process. The fractional distillation process removes excess chlorophyll, terpenes, and unwanted contaminants. More importantly, fractional distillation is the process of isolating a primary cannabinoid from other minor cannabinoids.
- The final step in producing a hemp isolate extract is to mix the remaining oil with another non-polar solvent. It is then heated and cooled at particular temperatures to cause the primary cannabinoid to precipitate out in a final crystallized form. These crystals are then placed into a vacuum oven to purge the remaining solvents and leave a final product that is 98% to 100% pure. Depending on the hemp material used, the standard final extract is either an isolate CBD extract or isolate CBG extract.
Once an isolate CBD or CBG extract is produced, it is ready to be used in a variety of product formulations to include CBD/CBG oil drops, edibles, topicals, and even pet products. Any product formulated using a hemp isolate extract contains 0% THC, which makes it an ideal product for any consumer that dislikes the effects of THC or needs to remain clean for a drug test.
As further research and development are done on the hemp plant, it is likely more primary, and minor cannabinoids will be extracted into a pure hemp isolate extract. For now, let’s enjoy the plethora of wellness products made possible with the isolate CBD and CBG extracts available today.