Technology pervades nearly every area of our lives in this age – even areas in which you might assume tech isn’t a primary focus. You certainly pause to appreciate the wonder of technology from time to time when you reflect on the fact that a modern smartphone is essentially a supercomputer that fits in your pocket. You may have never stopped to think, however, about the many products that you probably take for granted but wouldn’t have been possible at all – or at least would have been far too cost prohibitive – just a few years ago.
CBD is one of the most popular herbal supplements in the world today, and it definitely qualifies as a product that wouldn’t be available – or at least wouldn’t be available in the many forms that are on the market today – without some important technologies that make the products possible. The nest time you buy a product like Bluebird Botanicals CBD, you might find it worthwhile to think about the many steps involved in bringing that product to your door. These are the technologies that make CBD possible.
Humans have always looked for natural remedies for their problems, so herbal medicine is obviously nothing new; it’s practically as old as the human species. Until relatively recently, though, using an herbal remedy was fairly complicated because it required you to have access to the whole plant. You’d use the plant by eating it directly, or perhaps you’d make a tea by steeping the herb in hot water.
Those usage methods might be fine if you’re trying to make some chamomile tea, but it’s not quite so easy with hemp. The cannabinoids in hemp are largely unavailable to the body until they’re activated by heat, so eating the plant directly – at least without cooking it first – is out. That’s why many people smoke hemp. Making tea is likewise not an option because the cannabinoids aren’t soluble in water.
Supercritical extraction is the technology that makes it possible for you to consume CBD oil in a convenient bottled format. In this process, a chamber containing ground hemp flowers is flooded with carbon dioxide. The CO2 is heated and pressurized until it reaches the supercritical stage, which means that it has the properties of both a liquid and a gas. The supercritical CO2 breaks down the cell walls of the hemp flowers and causes them to release their essential oils – and when the process is complete, the CO2 is either collected for reuse or allowed to dissipate harmlessly. Without supercritical extraction, convenient, solvent-free CBD oil wouldn’t be possible.
Hemp contains a wide array of cannabinoids – more than 100 of them in all. In some cases, you may not actually want to consume all of those cannabinoids. In particular, the industrial hemp that’s grown and used for CBD oil can contain trace levels of Delta-9 THC, even if it meets the federal standards for industrial hemp and is completely legal to grow and use. For most people, that’s not a problem because the maximum allowable THC content in industrial hemp is just 0.3 percent. That’s not enough to cause any kind of psychoactive effect. For some people, though, no amount of THC consumption is acceptable due to employer-mandated drug screenings. Those people aren’t willing to take even the slightest risk that they might be flagged as THC users because they consumed CBD oil containing trace levels of THC.
One of the most interesting properties of cannabis is that the various cannabinoids within the plant all turn to vapor at different temperature ranges. CBD, for instance, vaporizes at a temperature of approximately 170 degrees Celsius, while THC vaporizes at about 157 degrees. Therefore, it’s possible to heat hemp distillate to the vaporization point of THC and selectively remove that cannabinoid from the mixture while leaving the CBD content intact. That process is called fractional distillation. It’s also a key part of the process of producing CBD isolate, which is over 99-percent pure CBD. Without fractional distillation, THC-free CBD oil wouldn’t be possible.
Genetics are important in any form of commercial plant cultivation, but they’re particularly important in the hemp industry because different strains of hemp can have widely varying cannabinoid and terpene profiles. The main goal of the CBD industry is obviously to grow plants with the highest possible CBD content. At the same time, a CBD hemp plant can only be commercially viable if its Delta-9 THC content is below the federal limit. It’s possible to send hemp flowers to laboratories for analysis; we’ll discuss that shortly. In the meantime, though, hemp growers are powerfully motivated to develop the best hemp strains possible and to ensure that the results are repeatable from one growing season to the next.
Genetic analysis is a technology on which hemp growers have become increasingly reliant. Sequencing the genes of the plant makes it possible to understand which genes produce the desired characteristics and to select the correct plants for breeding or cloning. Genetic analysis is a major part of why today’s CBD oils are more potent and more affordable than the CBD products that were available just a few years ago.
Once a hemp company is ready to begin selling finished CBD oils, it’s important to be absolutely certain of what those products contain. Consumers demand it. CBD products are expensive, and people want to know that they’re getting what they’ve paid for. It’s also important for compliance purposes to be certain that the THC content of the products is below the federal limit. That’s where the last technology that makes the CBD industry possible – laboratory testing – comes into play. The laboratories that serve the hemp industry have become so advanced that they can do far more than simply breaking hemp plants and CBD products down into their constituent cannabinoids and terpenes. They can also test the products for a wide range of contaminants such as microbes, heavy metals, pesticides and residual solvents. Laboratory testing keeps companies honest, and it also keeps consumers safe. It’s one of the most important technologies that makes the CBD industry possible.