CBD is one of the most popular cannabinoids that come from cannabis. It has found many uses in consumer products, from creams to edibles. Some of these applications require high CBD purity, especially if you want to sell products on a nation-wide level. CBD crystals are the distillate needed to achieve this goal.
What are CBD Crystals
CBD crystals are produced after a distillation process takes crude cannabis extract and removes most of the other components from it. After the CBD is sufficiently purified, it ends up looking like a clear crystal. The appearance is similar to salt or crystal quartz.
The THC, terpenes, and other cannabinoids are not present in any significant amounts in the crystal. The crystal’s purity may go up to 99 percent or higher, depending on the equipment used and the quality of the initial extract.
CBD continues to grow in popularity and has seen applications ranging from the food industry to the medical field. Many people have found CBD to be beneficial in helping them lower their stress, address chronic medical concerns, and promote their overall wellbeing. While extensive research into CBD is needed to determine the full range of its benefits, it’s clear that it’s already making an impact in the consumer marketplace.
What are the Benefits of CBD Crystals
- Control CBD content of products: You have full control over the CBD content that gets added to the final product. When you want to create a consistent experience for your customers, precision is key.
- Remove psychoactive components from products: Some people dislike the impact that THC has on them. They could end up paranoid, anxious, or experience another type of ill-effect. If they are responsible for operating heavy machinery, they may not feel comfortable with using CBD products if there’s a chance that THC is present in high amounts. You can create consumer confidence by using CBD crystals, which is an isolate that only contains trace amounts of THC.
- Create potent CBD: If someone wants to maximize the benefits they get from CBD, especially for medical reasons, then they want a highly potent form of this cannabinoid. The CBD crystal is the most concentrated form that they can get, and it may be one that they actively seek out so they can feel effects quickly after taking it.
- Eliminate impurities in CBD oil: CBD oil has a lot of compounds in it that could change the benefits that it delivers. CBD crystals take the oil through the distillation process, so they eliminate the impurities. What’s left is CBD with only a small amount of other material floating around. Up to 99 percent of the mixture is nothing but CBD.
- Supply the precise amount of CBD required for an application: If you only need a small amount of CBD, such as in a pill form for a supplement or to offer it to pharmaceutical companies, then you want to be able to measure it quickly and accurately. Crystals are simple to separate into doses.
- Maximize the CBD yield from a harvest: You can reprocess the extract after you’ve created CBD crystals from it, and you can continue doing so until the material no longer has CBD available for distillation. At that point, you can switch to isolating other terpenes and cannabinoids.
What End Products Use CBD Crystals
CBD crystals often get ground down into a powder form, which makes it easier to incorporate into your products and for consumers to work with it. The powdered crystals are particularly easy to add to edibles. It can be used as-is as a supplement or get worked into creams and oils for topical application.
How to Make CBD Isolate Crystals
This process starts with the plant itself. The ideal plant for creating CBD crystals is a variety that is high in CBD. If you try to use a plant that’s high in THC or another cannabinoid instead, you end up with a lot of wasted compounds. There are several testing methods available to determine whether the plant matter is sufficient for your needs. Thin-layer chromatography is one way to determine the cannabinoid content. High performance liquid chromatography is another way to find the best CBD-heavy plants for your crystal creation.
This plant matter needs to be extracted into a CBD oil to prepare it for the crystallization process. Its decarboxylation process involves taking the plant to a temperature that’s high enough to evaporate the water in the plant and to bring it up to the same temperature. The heat is increased, and the plant gets heated for longer.
Following the extraction, it also needs to be winterized. The extract is chilled to negative 20 degrees Celsius. This process helps to remove lipids and waxes from the substance. Only after all this preparation can the distillation process continue. You’re going to want to use the purest possible oil as your starting point for CBD crystals. Impurities can lead to off-tastes and cloudy appearances. Contaminated oil also doesn’t create as many crystals, which leads to lower productivity.
The solvent used during the extraction process is also an important factor into the success or failure of creating high purity CBD crystals. Non-polar solvents are a good choice for this step, as well as carbon dioxide and ethanol. Hexane is one of the most popular non-polar options available on the market.
Commercial-grade equipment is a necessary part of creating CBD crystals of the appropriate purity. Both short path kits and wiped film distillation equipment can be used during this process. You’ll also need pentane, which will act as the solvent for the distillation.
The CBD oil may need to go through several distillation passes before it’s considered pure enough to crystalize as a CBD isolate. It should be a very light yellow or completely clear in color once enough of the impurities are removed.
The condenser unit on the distillation equipment needs to be set to -20 degrees Celsius. The solvent, pentane, has a low boiling point, so it’s easy for it to overheat and cause issues during the crystallization process.
Use a three to one ratio of CBD oil to pentane and set the machine to stir this mixture. Set the heat to 45 degrees Celsius to begin the process of dissolving the oil into the pentane. Once the oil is completely dissolved and the solution is 45 degrees Celsius, you can move on to the next step of the process.
The ratio of pentane to CBD oil is not always three to one. Some CBD oils may work better with additional solvent or less, depending on the amount of distillation it’s gone through and the base material it started with.
Change the temperature of the heating element to 5 degrees Celsius. Decrease the speed that the mixture is getting stirred at while it cools down. You do want the RPM to stay at 120 or slightly higher, however. You’ll start to see crystals form as everything cools down. Take the temperature down to negative 10 degrees Celsius. The CBD crystals will continue to form during this process.
You keep going until there’s no more precipitation in the machine. Remove the CBD crystals and take it through a vacuum filter to pull any remaining liquid off the crystals. Use chilled pentane to rinse off the CBD isolate, so that any lingering impurities are pulled off the crystals.
The liquid that you remove in the vacuum filter can actually be used again for more CBD crystals. One thing to keep in mind with this practice is that you’ll reach a point where you’ve pulled all the available CBD out of the mixture. At that point, it’s not useful for making CBD crystals.
Testing the CBD Crystal Purity
Once you have the CBD crystals, it’s important to test the purity to ensure that they meet your requirements. You also need to make sure that they don’t have a high enough amount of THC to run into any legal problems with selling the products in areas where marijuana is not yet legalized.
Several methods are available, with more being developed as the cannabis industry grows. The traditional way of determining purity is through high-performance liquid chromatography. Another method, called ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography, is designed to offer a fast testing process with minimal sample preparation. You receive results within minutes, which helps you bring products to market faster.
CBD crystals provide your company with a high-quality, high-purity ingredient to add to other products or to offer on its own. The process for making CBD crystals may require more steps than extractions and less pure distillates, but it’s well worth having full control over the amount and potency of CBD, as well as eliminating unwanted contaminants.
Learn about the benefits of CBD crystals, the process for distilling them, and why your cannabis company needs to embrace this cannabinoid today.