CBD distillation

CBD Distillation

​​Producing highly potent CBD distillate requires multiple steps. After extraction, among other steps, comes distillation. Distillation is an important step in producing CBD products like capsules, tinctures, distillate and more.


What is CBD Distillation?

Concentrating cannabidiol from CBD hemp extract and purifying it using heat and pressure produces a clear golden honey color, highly potent CBD oil. This CBD oil distillate can then be used to further assemble products such as beverages and the before mentioned tinctures, capsules and many more.

CBD Distillate offers you the option of creating a quality and potent CBD product while maintaining a fuller spectrum of terpenes while still minimizing pungent flavor and color. CBD distillate is a great option for developing many CBD products.


What is Distillation? ​

Distillation is the process of separating the components or substances from a liquid mixture by using selective boiling and condensation phases. Distillation may result in an essentially complete separation (nearly pure components), or it may be a partial separation that increases the concentration of selected components in the mixture.

In either case, the process exploits differences in the relative volatility of the mixture's components. In industrial chemistry, distillation is a unit operation of practically universal importance, but it is a physical separation process, not a chemical reaction.


Distillation is also used in many other industries including but not limited to cooking, perfume production, essential oil production and the petroleum industry.


How Does Distillation Work?

Distillation is a purification process that uses a heat source to vaporize the compounds and separate them from the contaminants within. Most frequently, the undesirable elements are what you find naturally in the ground or on the surface. In the case of Hemp Oil, you are further purifying the extract for select cannabinoids.

Distillation heats the crude until the crude reaches its boiling point and begins to vaporize. The heat of the is then kept at this temperature to maintain the water vaporization while stopping other elements from vaporizing as well. This process also helps to separate the different molecules from any microscopic contaminants. Once the crude has vaporized, that vapor is then funneled into a condenser. Removed from the heat source, the distillate cools and reverts to its liquid form and flows into a receiving container.

CBD Distillation Process

​The goal of CBD Distillation process is to separate out compounds from CBD in order to purify and separate the desired cannabinoids. Some other molecules that can be separated during distillation include:

  • Other Cannabinoids

  • Terpenes

  • Fats

  • Waxes

  • Pigments

Distillation can be used on CBD Oil to create a purer version of the oil, this is often referred to by the number of passes through the distillation process it has experienced, for example “second pass CBD Distillate”.

The equipment used for distillation operates under a strong vacuum and increased heat. By manipulating the vacuum pressure, the boiling points of different compounds can be changed to prevent degradation of the desired molecules. 

The process usually works by the CBD Oil being heated inside a vacuumed chamber creating a vapor that is then collected and condensed into distillate.

The CBD oil is heated under a vacuum until the CBD begins to evaporate and rise where it is collected in a condenser to form the distillate.

​Producing high quality distillate requires an in depth understand of the different boiling points of different molecules and at controlled pressures. A dance of managing temperate, pressure and other variable must be executed by a skilled engineer. If the crude or distillate gets too hot or pressure is not controlled, undesirable molecules can be projected into what should be concentrated distillate. To accomplish this the equipment used requires specialized pumps and seals.


Types of CBD Distillation

​​There are many types of distillation devices. Notice that the various stills to be had for alcohol or critical oil distillation are not right for CBD distillation (though they may be appropriate for terpene distillation).​

In order to reduce damage to the valuable cannabinoid molecules, a vacuum is used to reduce the boiling point of the crude CBD oil which will reduce the degradation of desirable molecules by lowering the boiling point and required heat.

CBD Distillation Equipment

Thin film distillation equipment is a popular method for accomplishing distillation.

By using a very high surface area, a high vacuum, and moderate temperatures a thin film of CBD Oil is created and distilled. ​

Equipment similar to this requires high-quality laboratory glass and an engineer who has experience and proper training to operate while preserving the quality of the distillate. ​


There are a myriad different classes of thin film distillation equipment with various stages of complexity.

The extra sophisticated structures permit higher vacuums, decrease temperatures, higher separation of CBD from different compounds or greater throughput, but also value more and require extra skilled operation and upkeep than easier systems. ​

Some examples of CBD Distillation equipment include but are not limited to:

  • Falling Film Distillation

  • Wiped Film Distillation

  • Short Path Distillation

Uses of CBD Distillation Equipment

While Falling film, wiped film and short path distillation have similar mechanisms and uses, they all have advantages that make them more extensively used for different unique applications.​

Falling film CBD distillation permits excessive throughput but has less efficient separation. This makes it suitable for preliminary screening of volatile components, such as removal of ethanol or other solvents after extraction, or elimination of terpenes. ​

Wiped film CBD distillation is efficient at keeping apart compounds, so it is more regularly used to distill CBD to amplify potency (from about 50% in CBD oil to 70% to 90% in CBD Distillate).​

Short path CBD distillation allows greater precision separation of distinct compounds, making it appropriate to concentrate particular cannabinoids such as CBD or even eliminating THC. Note a couple of passes may be required to get complete removal. Although short path hypothetically is capable, distillation alone is not idea for THC remediation. 

THC Removal Using Distillation

Distillation is theoretically capable of eliminating THC from CBD Oil, however the close boiling points of THC and CBD make this method inefficient and expensive. Most industrial THC elimination from CBD oil utilizes chromatography to produce a THC free CBD distillate.

THC Content of CBD Distillate

When buying CBD Distillate be sure to identify the THC content in the product will enable you to legally buy, ship and utilized the product. Most CBD Distillate has very high CBD levels, but also modest THC levels.

To qualify as farm bill compliant hemp, CBD distillate should meet 0.3% total THC levels.

Because extraction and distillation of CBD oil concentrates all cannabinoids, CBD oil often contains significant amounts of THC – often well over the legal limit.

For example a good quality 10% CBD hemp flower which contains 0.3% THC will typically produce a CBD oil with 50%+ CBD and 1.5%+ THC. Distillation of this oil will produce a CBD Distillate of >80% CBD and >2% THC.

Note this can be problematic when marketing, distributing and shipping this product, so CBD distillate is often diluted with ethanol, MCT or glycerol to keep the total THC under 0.3% and ensure compliance with federal and other relevant regulatory limits.

Because of the challenges meeting this there is growing demand for THC free and farm bill compliant CBD Distillate.

For instance, an appropriate higher-quality 10% CBD hemp flower which includes 0.3% THC will usually produce a CBD oil with 50%+ CBD and 1.5%+ THC.


Distillation of this oil will produce a CBD Distillate containing  >80% CBD and >2% THC.


Because of the challenges meeting this government requirements, there is a developing demand for THC free and farm bill compliant CBD Distillate.

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