Consumers are attracted to the purported health benefits of CBD but understand that THC naturally occurs in hemp along with other minor cannabinoids. They do not want to consume THC because they don’t want the “high” the comes along with THC or they don’t want to possibly test positive for THC in a work drug screening. The good news is that THC can be separated from CBD so that it can be consumed without concern for unwanted THC.
There are several ways to remove THC from CBD oil, CBD extracts and CBD distillate. The products can be THC Free (T Free) or low THC (0.3% or lower) which does not produce a “high”.
Pure CBD (also called isolate) can be produced by crystallizing CBD oil/extract/distillate. CBD oil is mixed with pentane and cooled until the CBD crystallizes (crashes out). Crystallized CBD is filtered, rinsed, and dried. Purities of 99+% are possible. Re-crystallization can increase the purity even higher. All THC is removed along with minor cannabinoids.
Full spectrum CBD
The “entourage effect” is the name given to the synergistic benefits of cannabinoids and terpenes working together in your body. It has been the subject of study for many years, however we are still only beginning to understand some of the possibilities. The entourage effect can produce many different results depending on the combinations.
Full spectrum is a term that applies to extracts or oils that contain all of the naturally occurring cannabinoids from the plant. For hemp products this often includes more than 0.3% THC. In order to stay legally compliant, something must remove the THC.
Broad Spectrum CBD
Broad spectrum products contain all of the cannabinoids with little THC (less than 0.3%/wt). This should not to be confused with THC Free or T-Free oil which contains no THC.
Chromatographic methods such as flash chromatography and CPC use solvents and a stationary phase to fractionate the cannabinoids from one another. In these processes, the THC is isolated and removed from the other cannabinoids. But, there is the unwanted side effect of losing some or all of the minor cannabinoids and CBD in the THC fraction.
In addition to using large volumes of solvents, chromatographic methods remove THC at a fairly slow rate and some CBD is lost in the process. At the same time, it requires an experienced operator to be available at all times during operation.
Another technique for removing THC from full spectrum CBD is selective degradation. This THC removal process is solvent free. It uses automation to maintain the optimum vacuum, temperature, and other parameters to remove THC (and some CBD) from the CBD oil. An operator occasionally monitors the THC level by Near Infrared or HPLC. Up to 70 liters of CBD oil can be remediated in 12-24 hours.