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HEMP EXTRACTION SERVICES

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TOLL PROCESSING OF CBD & BOTANICAL EXTRACTS: THE BASICS

Herbal and botanical extracts are in global demand across many industries:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Personal Care
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Over-the-Counter Medicine
  • Nutraceutical & Dietary Supplements
  • Cosmetics
  • Home Care
  • Agriculture
  • Industrial Chemicals

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:

  • Flavor
  • Aroma
  • Nutrient value
  • Antioxidant
  • Antimicrobial
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Analgesic

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 →

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PROPER HARVEST & BIOMASS PREPARATION

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.

Cultivation

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. 

HARVEST

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: 

  • Optimal plant volume and maturity (optimal levels of desirable constituents) 
  • Ideal moisture content
  • Minimal foreign matter such as dirt, weeds, insects, and trash
  • Avoiding exposure to exhaust, smoke, and animal waste 
  • Gentle handling to minimize release and degradation of volatile compounds

Hemp Harvest & Storage Specifics

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.

Regulatory Compliance for Harvest & Hemp Processing

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:

  1. A letter of harvest approval from their state or tribal agriculture office, or from the USDA 
  2. A certificate of analysis reporting <0.3% THC content via high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)

Hemp Extraction Facts to Know Before You Grow: USDA Requirements for Producers →

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CO2 Extraction & Related Services

Decarboxylation

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.

Herbal & CBD Extraction Services

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:

  • Full spectrum oil
  • Full spectrum distillate oil
  • Broad spectrum distillate oil
  • Isolates

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:

How to Extract CBD from Hemp: All You Need to Know for the Best Results →
Top 4 Ways to Extract Essential Oils from Plants →
Top 5 Benefits of CO2 Extraction Services for Hemp & Botanicals →

Post-Extraction Refinement for Hemp & CBD Products

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:

  • Winterization — using alcohol and cold temperatures to precipitate and remove fats and waxes, leaving full spectrum oil 
  • Distillation — removes impurities, resulting in THC-free distillate that contains desirable terpenes 
  • Crystallization — a process that eliminates virtually all constituents except a single desired compound, leaving a highly concentrated CBD isolate 
  • Remediation — the removal of THC can be needed to maintain a compliant, THC-free product, since each purification and concentration step focused on CBD can also concentrate THC 
  • Disposal — THC removed from high-potency CBD distillates is properly disposed of, and disposal is documented to ensure regulatory compliance

Top 5 Herbal Extraction & Processing Technologies You Should Know →
How to Make Pure Isolate: Herbal Processing & Extraction Technologies →

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Hemp & Botanical Lab Capabilities & Certifications

Testing & Analysis Assure Quality & Transparency

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:

    • High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) separates, identifies, and quantifies constituent components. It’s used to test and report product potency. It can also be used to identify residual pesticides or other potential adulterants. 
    • Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) is also used to identify compounds and quantify their concentrations in a mixture. It’s important for analyzing and reporting on terpenes present in CBD products. 
    • Inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) provides elemental analysis and is indispensable for heavy metals testing. This test helps manufacturers offer greater transparency about what’s in their formulations. 
    • Microtesting identifies and quantifies microbes present in biomass. Microtesting can identify salmonella, yeasts, molds, E. coli, Streptococcus, and other potential pathogens.
    • Particle size analysis can help manufacturers improve emulsion stability, CBD bioavailability, and product characteristics like smoothness and richness to command premium pricing and improve product margins.

Learn more:
How can Particle Size Analysis Be Useful for Hemp and CBD Products? →

Certifications & Accreditations Ensure Regulatory Compliance

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.

Toll Processor Certifications — Everything You Need to Know →
How a Toll Processor Can Help You Launch Your GMP-Regulated Brand →

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Pre- and Post-Processing Services

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:

  • Research and development with an expert team of material scientists and engineers
  • Product formulation and scaling up for production environments
  • Wet milling
  • Blending, dispersing, and emulsifying
  • Custom contract GMP liquid bottling
  • Packaging, shipping and logistics

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.

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cGMP Liquid Bottling Services

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.

How Liquid Bottle Filling Services Add Supply Chain Value →

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:

  • Food and beverage
  • Essential oils
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Nutraceutical
  • Supplement
  • Cosmetics
  • Home care
  • Health care
  • Personal care
  • Skincare products
  • Industrial chemical
  • Laboratory
  • Over-the-counter (OTC) medication
  • And more

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.

Like what you see here? Take all this information with you in our free download, From Biomass to Bottled Extracts. Just click the link to get your copy.

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