CBD extracts are the raw form of concentrated CBD derived from hemp. Unlike CBD oils and other CBD products, they are pure and uncut - meaning they are undiluted and very potent. What draws people to CBD extracts is their versatility. They can be vaped (or dabbed) straight out of the jar, or turned into various CBD products including CBD oils, CBD creams and even CBD edibles.
CBD extracts are rather unsurprisingly extracted from hemp. There are several ways CBD is extracted from hemp, the most common of which is via the supercritical CO2 method. Other more niche methods include Cold Butane extraction and even solventless extraction (coming soon).
In this article, we’ll break down the 5 most popular CBD extracts in the UK, share their different effects and how you can use them.
How Are CBD Extracts Made?
CBD extracts all start from one material - hemp. Hemp, or Cannabis sativa L, is a term used to describe CBD dominant cannabis strains with negligible THC. Whilst CBD is the most common cannabis compound found in hemp, there are other vital constituents that we try to make sure are present in our CBD extracts. These include compounds such as terpenes and minor cannabinoids. The purity of a CBD extract has a lot to do with the starting material, however even good hemp material can yield a poor quality extract with the wrong extraction method. Let’s break down the 3 main CBD extraction methods, as it’s important to know what differentiates one CBD extract from another.
Supercritical CO2 CBD Extraction
The supercritical CO2 method involves taking a liquid form of CO2 and raising its temperature and pressure to a “supercritical” point. The supercritical point is the highest temperature and pressure at which a gas can be changed into a liquid - filling a container like a gas, whilst also having the density of a liquid.
Supercritical CO2 acts as a solvent when applied to hemp without altering its compounds. Due to the need for extreme temperature and pressure precision makes this an expensive but hugely rewarding extraction process.
After supercritical CO2 has been passed through hemp, a solution containing a myriad of cannabis compounds is created. Within this is CBD, minor cannabinoids and some terpenes. Further steps can be taken to remove unwanted cannabinoids - such as THC.
Cold Butane CBD Extraction
Butane extraction is less efficient than supercritical CO2 and therefore costs more to buy its resulting products. Butane extraction is sometimes more desirable due to its ability to yield lighter, more unusual extracts such as the sticky shatter that’s prevalent in the black market. Surprisingly, it requires the most scientific understanding due to the health risks when butane extraction is done wrong.
Cold butane is passed through hemp material dissolving all cannabis compounds, including CBD and terpenes. The resulting cannabis rich solution is then collected and processed through an in-line de-waxing column.
It’s important to use cold butane as this prevents the extraction of unwanted compounds such as chlorophyll and lipids.
In order to prepare the extract for human consumption, the solution must be purged off residual butane. This is an extremely important step that we’ve seen unprofessional groups do incorrectly - even in the legal cannabis space. If residual butane is not purged, it can cause lung injury - we make sure all our butane extracted extracts are lab tested and purged to the highest level as purity is our priority.
After the purging process, a golden honey-like extract is poured onto parchment paper. It solidifies over time and can be handled like any other CBD extract.
The Cold Butane extraction method is used to extract our full spectrum CBD shatter.
Solventless CBD Extraction
Arguably the most inefficient and expensive method of CBD extraction, the solventless method involves the simple process of heat and pressure. Unsurprisingly, no solvents are used, rather, very small micron bags strain cannabis flowers as they are squeezed at immense pressure and temperature to pull out essential cannabis compounds.
Solventless CBD extracted products are often very expensive due to its low efficiency (a lot of plant material is wasted) and the need for exceptionally high quality plant material. We find that only indoor grown flowers produce a high quality extract when pressed using the solventless method.
Products made using the solventless extraction method are called “rosins”. They appear to take on several different consistencies; solid, liquid, jam and even diamonds. We are working with The Goods to release a range of solventless CBD rosin in the near future.
How To Use CBD Extracts?
The most common way to use CBD extracts is via “dabbing”. In the past we’ve written our guide on how to dab. Essentially, CBD extract is placed on top of a glass bucket that is connected to a glass pipe. The extract containing the bucket is heated up with a dabbing blowtorch until vapor starts to rise - at this moment the extract should be inhaled and passed through water.
Fortunately, technology has improved and we no longer have to follow the complicated steps of traditional dabbing. We can now use “dab pens” to vaporize CBD extracts anytime, anywhere. Devices like the King Coil AIO and the Utillian 2 make it possible to heat up extracts within a pen shaped device and inhale their vapor through a built-in mouthpiece. Not only are they much easier to use than traditional glass dabbing apparatus, they are also much cheaper.
Another common use for CBD extracts is as an ingredient in making edibles. Edibles are foods that are infused with cannabis, allowing users to precisely dose what goes into their stomach. CBD extracts are incredibly potent, and can infuse an entire cake with just a tiny amount of extract. They dissolve easily into all fats and sugars, making them a very versatile cooking ingredient. Unlike herbal cannabis, CBD extracts do not carry through the unpleasant plant tastes that can make cannabis edibles taste bad.
You can even make your own CBD creams using CBD extracts as they are completely fat soluble. Just heat up a mixture of coconut oil and CBD extract to blend the ingredients together, add a few essential oils and let the mixture cool down.
5 Best CBD Extracts
An excellent 80% CBD extract for throughout the day use, Zkittlez wax has the profile of the cup winning Zkittlez cannabis strain and a broad range of cannabinoids, not just limited to CBD. You’ll find CBG and CBC, along with a powerful amount of terpenes to offer the highest potency. The initial flavors are sweet tropical fruits, with berry after tastes. The wax has a glowing amber color, something we’ve come to expect from high quality broad-spectrum CBD extracts. It is packaged in a sleek designed glass jar with a fresh seal applied to maintain flavor and integrity.
Fragrance: Sweet, berry, herbal, tropical
Effect: Uplifting, focused, happy, soothing
Customer Review: “5 out of 5 for this wax. Very pleasant to dab, the effects are very strong so don't go crazy with portions”
An exciting new type of cannabis extract - Diamonds & Sauce are perhaps the strongest affecting CBD extract in the game right now. Interestingly, they are 70% CBD, which is lower than the above CBD Wax. However, science tells us that there is a synergistic effect observed when cannabinoids and terpenes are coupled together called the Entourage Effect. This is a fine example of that, as the extract consists of pure CBDa diamonds drenched in an extremely terpene rich “sauce”. Unlike other CBD extracts we’ve seen, this is infused with real cannabis derived terpenes, often regarded as cannabis gold for how rare and expensive they are. When it comes to flavor, it doesn’t get stronger than Diamonds & Sauce.
This profile features dank flavors that lean on the tartiness of apple fritter. The diamonds look stunning and when vaporized feel warm and elevating. There’s something about the effects from this kind of CBD extract that sets it apart from the others - if you’re looking for something more subtle, this isn’t the one for you!
Fragrance: Dank, apple fritter
Effect: Warm body glow, floating feeling
Customer Review: “I was lucky enough to try these after emailing customer service. I've never seen extract looking this good, and I've tried a lot differnt types of THC extracts. The flavours are also unreal!”
This CBD shatter features one of the most popular strains in the history of cannabis culture - Pineapple Express. All minor cannabinoids have been removed from the shatter so that it is the most pure form of CBD achievable, testing at 99% CBD purity. The extract looks stunning, with the appearance of broken glass that has been drenched in potent terpenes.
In terms of CBD strength, this is the strongest it gets. Interestingly, the flavor becomes a lot more fruity with these shatters, as most of the cannabis compounds that bring out that “funk” smell we’re used to are no longer present. This offers a very clean and clear flavor - especially interesting to those that are into their terpenes.
As you would expect, Pineapple Express has strong pineapple leaning flavors, followed by sweet gas. It’s a wonderful strain to use throughout the day due to its uplifting effects, we find it especially good for use before a creative task.
Fragrance: Sweet, tropical, cedar, citrus
Effect: Uplifting, euphoric, energetic accompanied by a soothing sensation
Customer Review: “Never purchase shatter before. This stuff hits the spot especially after a crazy day..”
This 50% CBD extract takes us back to the old school extraction methods that require extremely good understanding of how to handle cold butane. You’ve probably seen extracts that look like this in the black market; amber colored and caramel-like in consistency. There are very few that can make a good quality full spectrum CBD shatter in Europe or the UK, however we’ve teamed up with the best to bring you this one of a kind CBD extract.
The coupling of real cannabis derived terpenes and many different cannabinoids offer a truly unique and potent experience. The effects are profound and the flavor is moreish. Handle it with care as unlike the other extracts, this is very sticky and has a tendency to be difficult to clean!
Fragrance: Dank cannabis, pine
Effect: Chill, floaty, warm
Customer Review: “This Shatter Is Absolutely Amazing! Really Calming And Helps With My Back Pain Too! 10/10 Well Done And Thanks Hemp Elf.”
For those of us that enjoy that raw, CBD focused extract, this natural CBD wax is very popular. It has not been infused with any terpenes, and has the slight taste and flavor of cannabis without any particular strain leaning. Similar to other CBD waxes we’ve discussed, it is highly pure at 80% CBD and 20% minor cannabinoids.
We’ve noticed many of our customers have been taking this extract as a supplement to their terpene rich THC extract - further enhancing the potential for a synergy of cannabinoids. Some even add their own terpenes to this unflavoured CBD wax - you can grab terpenes for yourself if you fancy giving them a go!
Fragrance: subtle cannabis
Effect: Chill, dependant on the terpenes added
Customer Review: “Outstanding. Vaping = pain management heaven. Delicious on the eye & gorgeous flavor. I don’t want to sound like a foodie, but top end quality.”
What’s Next For CBD Extracts In The UK?
When we started bringing CBD extracts into the UK, we noticed that we were the only ones talking about them. Now that others have caught onto the wave, we’ve seen a huge increase in demand for these pure CBD products. Our next challenge is to bring high quality solventless CBD rosin to the market - something we’ve seen others attempt but fail at when it comes to quality and potency. We’ve partnered with The Goods CBD to make this happen, using their high quality indoor CBD flower and understanding of extraction.
Beyond bringing solventless CBD rosin to the UK, we’ll continue to extend our CBD extract offering so that you can find your favorite strain profiles and perhaps even try something new.