Crude oil isn’t just about Texas T anymore. Hemp crude oil – also known as raw oil – comes from a much more rigorous process than The Beverly Hillbillies’ Jed Clampett used for his crude. We can’t shoot a hole in the ground when we’re looking for hemp crude oil. The extraction process is meticulous.
Hemp was one of the earliest crops ever cultivated by humans. It is a genetically distinct, non-psychoactive cousin to marijuana. For thousands of years, hemp has been a part of manufacturing. It’s used to create paper, rope, clothing, fuel and a variety of other substances.
Due to its hardiness and versatility, at least seven U.S. Presidents farmed hemp. Even the flag Betsy Ross stitched for George Washington came from hemp. Its versatility led industrial hemp farming to become a vital part of the WWII war effort. With supply lines from Asia cut off, people transformed American-grown hemp into canvas, rope and uniforms.
Industrial hemp production in the United States suffered only one short period of absence, from 1957 until 2014. By 1970, the Controlled Substance Act classified it as Schedule 1, the same classification as heroin. This made it a drug “with a high potential for abuse, no medical use, and severe safety concerns.” The 2018 Farm Bill – which included the Hemp Farming Act – legalized hemp at the federal level.
There are two main ways of extracting oil – mechanical and chemical (using solvents). There are drawbacks and benefits to each method. You have to consider factors like yield, safety, extraction time, return on investment (ROI) and the amount of refinement needed.
The mechanical process involves squishing a raw product in a machine, until oil comes out. Though there are variations in the equipment, this process works the same whether you’re making hemp crude oil or artisanal olive oil.
One of the benefits of mechanical extraction is that it can be easier to produce a cold-pressed oil. With hemp, pressing the raw seeds at a temperature of less than 120°F (48°C) produces an oil that is lower in phosphorus. Since high phosphorus levels give the oil a “grassy” note, so cold-pressed hemp oil has a more neutral flavor. Additionally, mechanical pressing maintains the original characteristics of the raw ingredients better than chemically-separated crude hemp oil.
The downside of mechanical extraction is the potential for inconsistencies in quality from batch to batch. Additionally, cold-pressing leads to lower yields of crude hemp oil.
Chemical extraction is attractive because of higher yields. It also has the ability to better maintain product consistency over many batches. There are two main kinds of chemical solvent extraction: CO2 and hydrocarbon. Both processes involve macerating large quantities of hemp biomass. Then, injecting solvents into the hemp.
CO2 extraction relies on the difference in solubility at below-freezing temperatures between waxes and cannabinoids. Frozen wax gets stripped off hemp plants, using carbon dioxide. The hemp wax is then separated from the CO2-solvent using a filter press. The raw materials left over become crude oil.
Hydrocarbon extraction utilizes one of three chemicals to remove crude hemp oil. Liquid forms of butane, methane and propane work in this type of extraction. They’re then able to pull the desired elements out of the raw hemp material. This process has the added benefit of leaving chlorophyll in the hemp biomass.
There is a dangerous side. Using volatile substances as solvents presents a risk because they’re highly volatile. When mishandled, explosions and injuries can take place.
Once the crude “whole plant” hemp oil gets extracted, you’re left with a new product. It contains a large range of cannabinoids and other plant compounds. From there, hemp crude oil gets refined to allow for the creation of CBD and CBG products. These products are THC-free and can contribute to a person’s health and well-being in a variety of ways.
What starts out as something crude, transforms into all sorts of products. These help people manage pain, stress and other conditions on a daily basis. The definition of crude oil has come a long way.
Contact Arbor Vita8 to learn more about extracting hemp crude oil from your plants.