Today, we’re diving into the second part of our conversation with California Craft’s Operational Manager, head extractionist and lead formulator: Chase Allen. This edition focuses on the nitty gritty of what we do best: creating our signature, full-spectrum CBD oils.
You can read Part 1 of this series here.
Chase, could you give us a rundown of how the formulation and extraction process works to create CBD tincture?
Sure. So let’s start with the plant.
Step 1: The Plant
The farmer grows hemp in their field. We’re doing CBD extraction, so we’re processing hemp – Cannabis Sativa – that has below 0.3% THC. So in the same way that marijuana is cultivated, we’re cultivating all female plants. Those female plants produce flowers, and the male plants produce pollen – so we only want the females, and that’s what we’re growing.
As those plants mature, they grow these sticky, small mushroom follicles out of the flower called trichomes. Those trichomes are packed with tons of medicinal properties, and they have terpenes. With that, if you’re into homeopathic medicine, you’d recognize the term “essential oils”. Essential oils are just that plant’s specific blend of terpenes. In the cannabis world, you really stress the terpene profile – the “essential oil” makeup of that plant. A hemp farmer is aiming to grow trichomes, which will have a full range of cannabinoids – including CBD.
Our first line of tinctures at California Craft has focused on the full spectrum, meaning that everything inside of that trichome is in the final product. You’ve heard a lot about the big-name cannabinoids like CBD and THC, but we’re starting to hear about other cannabinoids such as CBG, too – and there are 50-80 smaller cannabinoids within those trichomes as well. Your product is more effective when you have them all in combination with each other – that’s known as the Entourage effect.
Step 2: Extraction
To give you an idea of what we’re looking at: when I get that biomass into my processing facility, it’s been hung and dried in the dark to preserve those profiles. From there, I’ll put it through cryogenic ethanol extraction, where we super-chill 190-proof USP ethanol down to -60 degrees. Think of it like pharmaceutical-grade moonshine. This chilling allows us to target specific cannabinoids. In the process of doing so, it also makes it so that many other elements that exist in the plant – chlorophyll, waxes, etc. – won’t be picked up by the ethanol.
Once we super-chill the alcohol, we wash it over the biomass, which dissolves the trichomes. And now, those trichomes are in an ethanol solution. This liquid is what we call a tincture – and that’s the basis of that first primary extraction.
Step 3: Filtration & Evaporation: Making Concentrate
The tincture then goes through multiple stages of filtration, which will take out any particulate matter, and some of the chlorophyll. This will heavily aid in the flavor profile of the final product. After that, we evaporate off the ethanol.
So, let’s think about the process thus far. We started with an alcohol solution that had numerous different terpenes and cannabinoids dissolved in it. Then, we put it underneath a vacuum and add heat. Next, we evaporate off the ethanol component. What’s left over is this thick, resin-like substance that has the consistency of pine sap. It’s potentially the stickiest substance known to man – that’s a concentrate.
This concentrate is now jam-packed with cannabinoids and all the good stuff that’s coming out of that plant. This is when I take off my extractor hat, and I put my formulator hat on. I’m now going to formulate the concentrate into products.
For our initial line of tinctures, we take the concentrate and get it lab-tested for potency. That shows us its strength, the range of different cannabinoids that it includes, and the impurities of a multitude of different kinds. We also look at the microbial, the mycotoxins that could come from mold, and if there are any mold problems in the biomass – plus, we check for heavy metals, pesticides, and residual solvents.
If there’s anything that would show up on a lab test, it’d be at that most concentrated point. From this point onward, we’re diluting it. So with that lab test, I then take a carrier oil and dilute the concentrate in it. We use an MCT oil, which is made by fractioning off a specific portion of coconut oil to make a translucent carrier oil. It’s a great carrier oil for many reasons: it’s shelf stable, we source it organically, it’s from coconuts and not palm, and because of the size of the molecule of the MCT, it’s processed by your body efficiently. It makes it a great delivery mechanism for the product.
We blend that MCT oil with the concentrate until we get to the level of concentration that we want in our products. We formulate our products to 50 milligrams per milliliter – and that’s the gist of how a tincture is made.
From there, the tincture is adjusted for flavor using very small amounts of directly infused MCT oil. In the case of our Vanilla Lavender product, we use small amounts of organic, food-safe essential oils.
What we like to stress – and what we’re big on here at California Craft – is making sure that we source ingredients that are high quality, fresh, strong, and come from a reputable place – and that they’re produced safely for the land and for the people. We used certified organic products whenever possible, and I also do my best to service fair-trade whenever I can find it. You can always count on that with our products: we’re doing our due diligence to ensure that we’re using the best ingredients that we can find.
Well there you have it, folks – our secrets and tips of the trade to create the California Craft CBD oils you know and love. Extraction, filtration, and formulation make the magic happen, and so does the ingredients we take careful time to select.
But that’s not all. Get ready for part three of our conversation with Chase, coming soon on the California Craft blog.