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Herbal and botanical extracts are in global demand across many industries:
Plant-based extracts are made by processing plant biomass to extract valuable compounds. This can be from whole plants or any plant part, including leaves, stems, bark, roots, flowers, seeds, fruits, sap, and/or resin. Processing techniques can include drying, milling, extraction, distillation, decarboxylation, concentration, fractionation and separation, and molecular isolation.
Botanical and herbal compounds are in growing demand for their valuable properties, including:
Read on to learn how a toll processor can help growers and manufacturers quickly and efficiently produce in-demand CBD and botanical extractions, and formulate value-added, shelf-ready products — to maximize margins and minimize time to market.
What is Toll Manufacturing: Foods, Functional Additives, and Innovation →
Where to Start in the CBD Market: Hemp Processing Services →
The Top 7 Most Important Details You Need to Know About Hemp Extraction Services →
The first step in manufacturing the highest quality extracts is ensuring that farmers and wildcrafters follow best practices in cultivating, harvesting, and curing plant biomass, following Good Agricultural and Collection Practices (GACP).
Proper identification and handling of plants helps ensure optimal quality while reducing risk of adulterants, contamination, and spoilage.
Following GACPs can help producers grow quality crops. It also helps limit the risk of high bacterial loads, spoilage, contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides, radioactive soil, mycotoxins, solvent residues, and more.
GACPs address everything from seed quality and crop location to water sources and fertilizer use. Producers of organic crops are required to comply with USDA Organic Regulations as outlined in the National Organic Program Handbook, and need to work with an organic certifying agent to certify and document compliance.
Producers should always harvest with a goal of optimal crop conditions, and avoid harvesting under weather conditions that could adversely impact the crop with outcomes like increased mold or bacterial growth. Plant compaction during harvest can introduce a risk of overheating in storage, and even possible spontaneous combustion.
Other harvest considerations include:
Some hemp producers test weekly for CBD potency, since just a one-percent difference in CBD content can impact return on investment by thousands of dollars on as little as one acre of hemp.
Floral hemp biomass is dried indoors by hanging individual branches (rather than whole plants) upside-down on wires, out of direct sunlight, with fans to aid in ventilation to minimize mold growth. Some growers have repurposed old tobacco barns, since their design promotes air circulation. Ideal curing conditions are between 60° and 70°F, at 60% humidity, for a product that is high in cannabinoids and terpenes.
For CO₂ extraction, hemp biomass needs a moisture content below 15% and a particle size range of 3mm to 7mm.
Licensed hemp growers are required to work with state or tribal departments of agriculture, or with the USDA if appropriate, to comply with USDA’s 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) requirement.
When working with a contract partner for hemp toll processing services, producers or CBD product manufacturers are required to provide to the toll processor:
Decarboxylation, the process of removing carboxyl from a molecule, is a fundamental step in the chemistry of hemp processing. Raw hemp contains mostly cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). Decarboxylation converts CBDA into bioavailable CBD.
Applying heat to milled hemp causes this crucial chemical reaction. Curing and drying floral hemp biomass converts some of this substance, but best results are achieved using specific temperatures in a controlled environment as part of the hemp plant extraction process.
Carbon dioxide at very low temperature and high pressure reaches its supercritical state, at which it has some properties of both gas and liquid and is an ideal solvent for extracting pure, high-quality products with no solvent residue and high extract yields, including:
Extraction experts control temperature and pressure to finely tune target compound ratios without exposing products to extreme temperatures that can degrade quality. Carbon dioxide hemp extraction processes also destroy many bacteria and fungi in the actual extraction process.
Certainly, hemp extraction is in demand — but an experienced toll processor with a team of scientific experts in extraction can perform these methods of extracting plant oils on other floral, herbal, and botanical biomass. Botanicals like rosemary, lavender, vanilla, calendula, chamomile, and rose are all excellent candidates for CO2 extraction methods.
Carbon dioxide — sometimes aided by the addition of ethanol as a modifier to optimize processing times and yields — is pumped into the extraction chamber holding biomass that’s been dried to <15% moisture and milled to 3-7mm in particle size.
The CO2 extraction process results in CBD crude oil, a thick concentrate made up of plant oils and waxes. The crude’s CBD content often measures about ten times the potency of the initial biomass. Any CO2 that remains after extraction evaporates at room temperature for a residue-free product that’s ready for sale or formulation into commercialized products including hemp-based dietary supplements, personal care products, cosmetics, and more.
Learn more about CBD extraction methods:
Before hemp-based extracts are incorporated into products like tinctures, suspensions, oils, lotions, creams, emulsions, balms, waxes, and food or beverage formulations, the crude extract often needs to be purified and concentrated.
An experienced toll manufacturing partner fields a team of technicians and scientists who perform these essential hemp processing services:
Working with a toll processing partner should mean easy access to all laboratory capabilities needed to validate and report on what’s in a botanical extract. This is more important than ever, given the health-conscious target consumer of many herbal and botanical personal care and nutraceutical products.
A trusted toll processor can provide certificates of analysis for botanical extracts, batch by batch, enabling manufacturers to easily provide transparent product and quality information to customers and end users.
While processes like ethanol-modified CO₂ extraction kill bacteria and exclude mold from final products, testing can determine the potency of desirable constituents like cannabinoids and terpenes, as well as identify and quantify contaminants and their concentrations.
Essential testing and analytical capabilities to look for in a trusted toll manufacturer include:
Certifications are one of the most important ways a toll processor can demonstrate trustworthiness and their ability to meet quality standards. Be sure to partner with a toll manufacturer that can assure compliance with Food Safety System Certification FSSC 22000 and Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP).
Working with a GMP-certified toll manufacturer ensures that all processes and protocols are documented and followed. That means straightforward product traceability, quality assurance, cleaning and hygiene standards that prevent cross contamination, and confidence that the final product is exactly what it should be.
Producers who invest the time and capital to achieve organic certification should consult in advance with their tolling partner to be sure organic labeling is possible. This goes for other specialty certifications as well, including kosher and halal.
Hemp and CBD manufacturers may need to look for a partner that holds specialty hemp GMP certification, as well as testing and analytical validation by an industry standards body such as Emerald Test.
A toll processor’s extraction expertise and capabilities are clearly the most important factor in achieving the highest possible yield from botanical biomass, as well as the highest quality products and the best turnaround time.
But it’s possible to get even more value from a tolling partnership. A custom processor with capabilities both upstream and downstream from extraction can streamline the process from biomass to bottled extract.
Pre-processing services can include drying, milling, and reconditioning nonconforming biomass. In-depth analysis and reporting can help predict processing times, expected yields, and any remediation that may be needed down the line. But even more value, efficiency, and cost-savings can be achieved by exploring downstream contract services, such as:
Partnering with the right processor can make the difference between producing an in-demand product at a healthy margin and leaving the best opportunities to competitors.
It’s not enough to produce a high-quality, pure botanical extract. Consumers look for ways to easily incorporate herbal extracts into their lives. The growing demand for branded, packaged herbal formulations creates immediate opportunities for manufacturers.
A contract processor that offers custom liquid filling services incorporated into its cGMP processing facilities and FSSC 22000-certified quality system can enable manufacturers to take advantage of this demand.
Start with high-value botanical biomass and take it through every processing step needed to create complete, packaged products, ready for the shelf, for a wide range of industries:
Producers of high quality herbs, botanicals, and hemp need a custom hemp processing partner they can trust to extract top value from their plant biomass and deliver pure, potent extracts. A partner that can help formulate, produce, and bottle value-added formulations ready for the shelf? That’s even better.
When you work with CPS, you have experts in material science, chemistry, and engineering on your team, and access to advanced equipment and technologies to extract, formulate, blend, and bottle.
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