Solvents in the CBD Extraction Process: Why IPA?

Here at Mile High Labs, we’ve experimented with the use of all sorts of solvents—from ethanol and CO2 to butane and even water. So, why have we decided that isopropyl alcohol (IPA) is the best solvent for our industrial-scale extraction process? And what are the benefits to using IPA when creating clean, compliant CBD products and bulk ingredients?

Here’s the short answer: in our experience, we’ve found that IPA allows us to consistently produce high quality CBD while satisfying global demand. As customers all over the world begin to rely on Mile High Labs as their CBD supplier of choice, it’s crucial that we’re able to deliver large quantities of product all while maintaining the highest standards in the industry. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the solvents used in the extraction process, as well as the benefits of IPA and why it’s our solvent of choice.

How are Solvents Used in CBD Extraction?

There are many different techniques for extracting CBD from hemp plants, but generally, any commercial process still requires the use of solvents. These solvents are important because they’re highly efficient in extracting the CBD molecule from the plant material, and in purifying the solution past its crude oil state. The solvent is mixed with biomass, extracting the cannabinoids found in the plant material. Then, the solvent evaporates, leaving behind CBD oil.

With proper engineering and quality controls, there are a variety of different solvents that can be used to effectively extract CBD from hemp. The most common extraction practices use ethanol, isopropanol, alkanes, CO2 or water, either separately or as a mixture.

Some extractors claim to only use CO2 (supercritical carbon dioxide) in their extraction process. We’re extremely familiar with CO2 extraction—it’s safe, efficient and produces a potent extract. However, it’s important to remember that this process isn’t always alcohol free. Material extracted with CO2 is typically further refined with an alcohol solvent to create CBD isolate or distillate.

The Best Solvent for the Job

When determining which solvent is best for an extraction process, there are many different factors that should be taken into consideration. Solvents can be recycled, and while reusable material is a great way to keep costs down, it’s also a way to limit hazardous waste.

Mile High Labs uses USP grade IPA, which has an excellent safety profile and multiple medical uses. In fact, it’s likely that you can find IPA in your home at this very moment. It’s the base for rubbing-alcohol, and it’s also used in many lotions and cosmetics.

Additionally, IPA is a scalable option because it’s common and affordable, which makes it accessible. Due to the scale at which Mile High Labs extracts, it’s necessary for us to use a solvent that is both affordable and accessible, as well as safe and effective.

Built for Efficiency and Consistency

Mile High Labs has developed proprietary, customized equipment which is optimized for the specific task of extracting CBD from hemp. We’ve worked with a range of solvents, and we’ve decidedly chosen IPA because it works with our unique methods in giving us the most consistent results when using a variety of hemp from our cultivation network.

In addition to CBD, other related cannabinoids and terpenes, hemp contains a myriad of extractable plant components that need to be removed in the purification process. The extraction solvent plays a key role in determining the type and relative quantities of these components.

We’ve found that IPA provides a consistent profile of extractable plant components for removal. This helps to streamline our processing and limits customization of our process around a particular lot of hemp. Essentially, we use IPA because it checks all the boxes that we need as a scalable and compliant extraction facility. It allows us to manufacture at the scale that the global market demands, all while providing the highest-quality product for our customers.

Solvent Selection is Only the Beginning

It’s easy to focus on the type of solvent an extractor uses—but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Creating CBD isolate is not a solvent-free process, and though solvent selection is significant, it’s not the only piece that supports the extraction process.

Does the extractor follow good manufacturing practices? Do they test every batch of product before release? Is the product manufactured in an ISO 9001 certified facility? These questions are just as (if not more) important as “What type of solvent is used?”

The Purest Results

At Mile High Labs, the finished CBD product is always tested to ensure residual process solvents adhere to our stringent internal specifications. The residual solvent specifications and test results are clearly stated on our CoA. Historically, our CBD has tested at less than the limit of quantification, or at non-detectable levels.

What this means for our customers is reliable bulk supply of pure CBD ingredients. While solvents are used in the extraction process, all that’s left in the end is refined CBD. We guarantee it, and so do our CoAs.

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