One of the 3 primary chemical compounds found in the trichomes of cannabis is cannabidiol (CBD). CBD has received a lot of attention in both medical and recreational circles for its broad medicinal applications.
Extracted through a variety of methods, CBD can come in the shape of tinctures, capsules, salves and even in its isolated form, which is 99 percent pure CBD.
This extremely refined form is known as CBD isolate, CBD crystals, CBD crystalline or CBD powder. It’s a very fine, crystalline powder that only contains the medical cannabinoid and nothing else.
Do you want to move beyond edibles and learn how to make CBD isolate and crystals at home?
It will require 5 recipes to get to the final result, but luckily we’ve detailed every one of them for your ease and convenience.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Decarboxylate flower
- Extract CBD Oil from flower
- Winterization and/or additional refinement
- Create CBD distillate
- Crystallizing CBD
Without further ado, let’s get started!
1. Decarboxylating Flower
It sounds like a deeply scientific process, but we can assure you that it’s anything but. Simply put, it’s a process that allows your body to “feel” the effects of your cannabis! And the best thing about it? You only need an oven, some parchment paper, and some high CBD flower!
This step is commonly recognized as the “activation” process and is essential in making your flower bio-available for your body. We’ve created a guide that details how you can go about doing this at home, so be sure to check it out!
2. Extract CBD Oil from Flower
After we’ve “activated” our flower, the next step is to start extracting cannabidiol (CBD) from the plant and making our CBD oil! Many industrial manufacturers opt for a capital intensive process known as supercritical CO2 extraction which leverages CO2 under pressure to draw out the plant’s compounds.
This can be difficult to execute at home due to the difficulty in sourcing the materials, which is why we recommend opting for a simpler extraction process at home.
It’s called cold ethanol extraction and its simple to do at home. The only things you’ll need are common objects and appliances that can be found in almost every household.
Here’s a recipe for making CBD oil out of isolate.
3. Winterization and/or additional refinement
The next step in the CBD isolate process is the refinement of the crude CBD oil we’ve extracted in the previous process. Since isolate is the purest form that cannabidiol (CBD) can reach (almost 99.99% purity), we’ll have to be thorough in removing the waxes, chlorophyll and other undesirables from the mix in order to reach that threshold.
The oil might look murky and slightly green, but that’s perfectly fine. The refinement process – otherwise known as winterization – will act to remove your oil’s impurities and leave you with a clear substance that’s ready to be used for the next step of our CBD isolate creation process.
Here’s our winterization guide on how you can easily do it at home!
4. Creating CBD distillate
Creating CBD distillate is the ultimate step in the creation of CBD isolate. CBD distillate is a very viscous and clear liquid that can contain 80-95% CBD. Next, to isolate, it is one of the purest cannabis extractions available today, and one that you can make it at home!
For our purposes, we’ll be using a process known as “short-path distillation.” While creating a distillation set-up at home is definitely possible, it is extremely difficult and requires some chemistry know-how. Luckily, there are cheap distillation kits widely available online that will be perfect for our purposes.
Requiring some chemistry, the process is slightly difficult, but if you follow our guide then you’ll be well on your way!
How to Make CBD Isolate – Before Tips
Now that we have the last piece of our CBD isolate puzzle, we can begin to isolate CBD from our distillate and make CBD crystalline. How do you make CBD isolate safely? Before diving into the recipes, follow these preliminary tips for a secure and hasslefree process.
- Source high CBD flower
Since we’ll be making a CBD concentrate, it makes sense to use a flower that is high in CBD levels, to begin with!
Source high-quality hemp (cannabis containing 0.3 percent of THC or less by weight) or high-CBD strains such as “Charlotte’s Web” or “Harlequin” to ensure a larger yield of CBD crystalline.
- Use food-grade equipment
It can take a while to produce a quality product at home. And you wouldn’t want to ruin the taste or give your CBD isolate any harmful chemicals by using plastic or silicone storage containers!
Stainless steel is a great choice to stop any chemicals from leaching into your finished product.
- Work in a safe and well-equipped environment
CBD can be extracted using a variety of methods, and some of these methods utilize solvents such as CO2, compressed gas, and ethanol.
Work in an uncluttered, well-lit, and well-ventilated workspace to safeguard yourself and others around you.
- Wear proper personal protective equipment
It’s always best to err on the side of caution, especially when you’re dealing with volatile chemicals. Wear gloves, safety glasses, and a shop apron to protect yourself from any spills and/or burns.
Materials for Making CBD Crystalline
Safety equipment and essentials
- Safety Glasses
- Shop apron
- Glass/stainless steel containers
- Parchment paper
- Oven/toaster oven
- 25 micron mesh
- Coffee filter
Short path distillation station
- Short path distillation kit
Extraction and winterization solvents
- Ethanol or 190 proof grain alcohol
- Glass jacketed vessel with manual stirring
- Attached heating/cooling bath
Vacuum filtration station
- Vacuum filtration kit
- Büchner flask
- Büchner funnel
- Filters (paper, coffee, micron mesh, etc)
- Filter pump/vacuum
1. Check safety measures are in place
Before you begin, take the necessary precautions to ensure that your workspace is well ventilated. Also check that you have the necessary personal safety equipment. Pentane is a flammable liquid and a dangerous fire hazard.
2. Cool your condenser
Begin with cooling your condenser to -20°C. Into your jacketed vessel, add in 1 part pentane to 3 parts CBD distillate.
Set your heating bath to 45°C and begin stirring until your solution reaches 45°C and all of the oil has dissolved.
4. Stir again!
Slow your stirring and set the bath’s temperature to 5°C. The solution will become more viscous as it continues to cool. Be sure to maintain the stirring at 120 rotations per minute. At this stage, you can expect to see some CBD isolate precipitating out of the solution!
5. Filter the solution
Once a majority of CBD crystals have precipitated out of the solution, we can begin the filtration process. Pour your crystal/pentane solution into your vacuum filter to flush the pentane (the “mother liquor”) out.
6. Collect your finished product
And there you have it! Once the pentane has been removed, you should be left with pure, crystallized CBD on top of your vacuum filter which you can collect! The leftover pentane (“mother liquor”) can be re-processed through the same vacuum filter to extract the remaining CBD isolate.
Final Thoughts on How To Make CBD Isolate
Although CBD isolate is becoming more and more available, sourcing it can still present a challenge. Making CBD isolate at home can be difficult, but the payoff is well worth the arduous process.
We hope our guide on how to make CBD isolate at home was helpful! Be sure to also check out the myriad ways you can use your CBD isolate here!
*All images from ShutterStock