Custom Processing Services Blog

How Can Particle Size Analysis Be Useful for Hemp and CBD Products?

Justin Klinger, Dec 30, 2021 9:45:00 AM


The market for hemp extract and cannabidiol-infused products continues to expand well beyond nutraceuticals and supplements. CBD-enhanced products now also include foods and beverages, cosmetics, personal care products, veterinary supplements, and more.

As manufacturers have learned more about the characteristics and qualities of CBD and how it behaves in formulations, particle size analysis has become a useful measurement.

Consumers seek out products containing CBD and hemp extract for their purported health benefits, so they want products that deliver quick and easy absorption and bioavailability of beneficial phytochemicals.

But cannabidiol is a lipophilic molecule. This characteristic gives it high solubility in oils, but can present a challenge to formulating stable, water-based emulsions that also incorporate CBD.

High-tech CBD extraction processes add to the ingredient cost. So manufacturers stand to benefit from processing technologies that help optimize absorption and bioavailability of this key ingredient, requiring less of the ingredient for effective formulations.

One of the most important factors affecting emulsion quality and stability, as well as absorption and bioavailability, is particle size. So manufacturers of products containing hemp extracts like CBD are smart to add particle size measurement to their quality testing regimens.

Why Particle Size Matters for CBD-Infused Emulsions

Many liquid CBD product formulations are blends of hemp extract or CBD isolate and other oils, such as hemp seed oil or medium-chain triglycerides (derived from coconut oil). But oil-based formulations aren’t ideal for all products. Many food and beverage products and cosmetic applications call for oil-in-water emulsions, which are often used to help improve water solubility of the lipophilic CBD molecule.

After extraction, CBD extracts undergo additional particle size reduction to create a homogenous ingredient that will behave more predictably in formulation and blending. Particles that are too large tend to quickly separate out of emulsion, resulting in poor product stability. Generally, smaller particles tend to make more stable emulsions.

These smaller particles also boast greater surface area per individual CBD particle. The increased surface area can improve bioavailability. In turn, that can enable manufacturers to achieve the desired effect using less CBD in their formulations.

Studies also suggest that along with improved bioavailability, dosage and timing for onset of effects may also become more predictable with tighter control over particle size and distribution.

But those aren’t the only important factors associated with particle size and distribution in hemp and CBD products. Smaller particle sizes can help manufacturers achieve premium product characteristics like smoothness, richness, textures, density, mouthfeel, and more. Those qualities, in turn, can command premium prices using the same ingredients.

Particle Size Reduction Isn’t Enough for Stable CBD Emulsions

Technologies including high-shear blenders and ultrasonic equipment are used for reducing particle size and homogenizing CBD before formulating blends. These are effective for achieving particle sizes in the micro-scale range (greater than 200 nanometers per particle), and even the nano-scale range (less than 200 nanometers per particle).

These very small particles help ensure the highest possible particle surface area, as well as optimizing particles’ density within an emulsion, to prevent coagulation, flocculation, sedimentation, and separation. But for many oil-in-water emulsions, formulations often need to include surfactants or other particle surface treatments to improve stability.

A toll processing partner with an expert team of material scientists plays a critical role by applying their knowledge and experience in formulation to customers’ product development efforts. When you work closely with a toll manufacturer, you have the benefit of an on-demand team of R&D experts.

Key Analytical & Testing Capabilities for CBD Products

Manufacturers of CBD and hemp products need reliable analytical services. That’s because they need to, at a minimum, qualify their harvest under USDA regulations. Many also test for heavy metals, pesticide residues, or microbial contamination. 

Expert testing and analysis help ensure product safety, purity, and potency. Commonly used analytical capabilities include:

  • High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)
  • Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS)
  • Inductively coupled mass spectrometry (ICP-MS)
  • Microbial testing
  • Moisture testing

Working with a tolling partner that has decades of experience in particle size reduction gives you access to experts who can help you achieve and verify particle size distributions. Plus, they can also help you correlate that particle size data to your formulation outcomes. 

Over time, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of what’s needed to create new products — and that can save you time and money, and improve your operational efficiencies.

The right tolling partner can also provide downstream post-processing services to help you get your CBD-infused food and beverage, supplement, nutraceutical, cosmetic, or personal care products to shelf quicker and more efficiently. 

Learn how a toll processing company can take your hemp biomass all the way to finished, bottled products, including oil- or wax-based blends, aqueous emulsions, and even alcohol-based tinctures with dropper pipette caps. And see how they can help you achieve all this without adding time, cost, mileage, and potential losses in transport. Download our guide, From Biomass to Bottled Extracts, now. Just click the link below to claim your free copy.

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