Ep 51 - CBD Extraction and How it’s Done

What do nuclear forensics and CBD have in common? Separations! While they’re not exactly the same, there are similarities. Extraction is a method of separating specific compounds from plant material (biomass) to be used in formulations. Estheticians and skin care professionals may have heard a lot about extraction methods from their CBD skin care product brands, but in this episode of ASCP Esty Talk, we get an unbiased look at all the traditionally popular methods, plus a sneak peek at exciting and new “cleaner” methods. Listen in as we examine a surface level understanding of all things extraction with Steve Bonde.

About our Sponsor: Antedotum

Antedotum founder Karina Perez Marconi was raised on the island of Puerto Rico (born to a Cuban dad and Puerto Rican mom), which meant consistent sun exposure from an early age—and cumulative sun damage for the Latina’s olive skin. For decades, Marconi was plagued by dark spots, which were compounded by lingering, postpartum melasma after the birth of her daughter, Havana. Working for many years in beauty at Chanel’s New York headquarters deepened Marconi’s understanding of premium skin care. But finding an antidote to her skin aliments remained elusive. When the family relocated to Aspen, Colorado, the unforgiving mountain climate of dry air, high altitude, wind, sun, and cold only intensified her skin conditions.  

 Colorado is where Marconi took her curiosity of CBD and its purported curative abilities and started to sample an assortment of oils and balms. None of them smelled or looked great, but to her surprise, her skin started to transform. This unexpected discovery evolved into Antedotum.

About our Sponsor: Purafil

Purafil, established in 1969, is proud to protect people, processes, and environments worldwide. We manufacture revolutionary products that set the standards in our industry. Our focus is to create the world’s best air purification products to make your life and business better. We are dedicated to making the world safer, healthier, and more productive. 

Author Bio: 

About Steve Bonde:

Steve Bonde began his education at the United States Air Force Academy and left shortly after receiving a knee injury. He served six years in the USAF Reserves. He received a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado. He has also taken graduate-level classes in analytical and synthetic chemistry and business.

During Bonde’s career, he worked over two decades in analytical laboratories where he had roles of increasing responsibility. He developed several methods for the analysis of environmental samples, some of which were adopted as official methods for the State of Alaska. He transitioned to the industrial world, where he developed and patented processes for extracting organosulfur compounds from diesel fuel. This was followed by a move to Department of Energy national labs. There, he was a technical project and program manager for programs like nuclear forensics for several government clients, as well as projects like automation of forensic processes, building radiation monitoring portals at various ports around the world, creating a designated DOE User Facility operations and cost model, and led the definition of modular laboratory space, which saved the DOE over $2M per lab. He received over a half dozen outstanding performance awards and two Chairman’s Awards, which are the highest awards that can be awarded at NREL.

When the necessity for budget cuts hit the federal government, Bonde was asked to evaluate a few hemp extraction processes for some friends. Being averse to any process that is “batch” in nature, he immediately wanted to do it better. He teamed up with his cousin Rick Bonde, a veteran of the music industry who had managed bands like Blink-182 and Sublime, and Amara Hazlewood, a recent Colorado School of Mines graduate. Together they formed Boulder Creek Technologies, LLC, and created their first system, the IS-10, a semi-continuous, countercurrent lipid extraction unit capable of extracting up to 125 pounds of hemp per day with an efficiency of over 95 percent. This system produces an infused tincture as high as 100 mg/mL CBD in a single step. This system produced many barrels of tincture and led to the creation of Boulder Creek Infusions, LLC, which produces both white label and commercial tinctures. 



0:00:01.8 Speaker 1: Antedotum is a dermatologist and esthetician-approved CBD skin care brand that is featured in some of the country's most prestigious day spas and integrated by estheticians into their services, creating a must-have for their clients' daily skin regimen. The company's proprietary formulas are 100% clean, plant-based, responsibly sourced in the USA, never animal tested, and features its own potent 500-mg full-spectrum CBD complex. As the only CBD skin care brand with a medical advisory board comprised of dermatologist researchers, Antedotum is undertaking the groundbreaking efficacy of the Antedotum CBD complex as a skin care ingredient. Antedotum products are multifunctional and multi-correctional, made for all skin types and sensitive skin. Use them alone or combine them into your routine. 


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0:01:44.3 Ella Cressman: You are listening to ASCP Esty Talk where we share insider tips, industry resources and education for estheticians at every stage of the journey. Let's talk 'cause ASCP knows it's all about you. Hello and welcome to ASCP Esty Talk, the Ingredient Decked Out series where we explore the fascinating world of ingredients and how they affect the skin. I'm Ella Cressman, licensed esthetician, certified organic formulator, and owner of the HHP Collective, and a total and complete ingredient junkie. This month, we continue to celebrate cannabis. Yes, cannabis, but particularly the breed that qualifies as industrial hemp, and not as what we use in our practices. 


0:02:29.9 EC: As a review, we remember that the Farm Bill of 2014 opened the door and gave Federal permission for the development of cannabis-infused products. And then in 2018, legal clarification saw a huge rush of CBD-infused products everywhere, including our treatment rooms. Now, this presented many questions in our industry about efficacy and how CBD and other cannabis compounds work in the skin, but there are other questions we need to ask about harvesting, processing, maintaining legal qualification. As professionals, the last thing we want to do is to cause harm, and there are many hours of research that go into selecting brands that align with our professional philosophies. An important question to ask about cannabis compounds that we don't necessarily ask about any other ingredient is extraction methods. Up until now, our education on the subject has come from the brands that fight for our business, but here we take a deeper look at what they mean to gain an unbiased understanding. 


0:03:31.4 EC: Today, I'm joined by Steve Bonde, and together we're going to explore extraction methods. Woo-hoo-hoo! Steve is a United States Air Force Reserve veteran, and he received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Colorado Boulder. He's also taken graduate level classes in analytical and synthetic chemistry and business. Right up my alley. No wonder we get along. [chuckle] He'd also worked over two decades in analytical laboratories where he had roles of increasing responsibility. He developed several methods for the analysis of environmental samples, some of which were adopted as official methods for the state of Alaska. He transitioned to the industrial world where he developed and patented processes for extracting organosulfur compound, so it's hard for me to say, from diesel fuel while still in Alaska. This was followed by a move to Department of Energy national labs. There he was a technical project and program manager for programs like nuclear forensics for several government clients. Steve, how does one move from diesel fuel and nuclear physics into cannabis extraction? I'll let you tell the story. [chuckle] 


0:04:43.1 Steve Bonde: Well, it wasn't really by choice. What happened is our budgets were cut severely, so a lot of us middle managers found ourselves needing to go and find something else to do. I ran into a friend who asked me, "Hey, can you separate these things out?" And I am like, I've been spending most of my career extracting and separating compounds to do nuclear forensics. We separated the isotopes of all the different radionuclides when I was doing... When we patented the organosulfur, basically it's a sulfur reduction system in Alaska. We were oxidising them, then extracting those compounds out of diesel fuel to make a nice clean diesel fuel to meet new regulations. And so I was actually called and asked to interview with a company and they had a bunch of patented processes, and I looked at what they had and there were some shortcomings, and so I said, "Well, I think I can do this better." Everybody at the time was using a solvent. We'd heard there's a big drive to do this without solvents or somehow have the food oil be the solvent, and that kind of made me pursue a couple of these things. Basically somebody asking me and going, "Huh, I've done that before." 


0:06:30.0 SB: And one thing we kinda left out was early on while I was still at CU, I took a semester off and worked for a company called Hauser Chemical Research. And we actually developed some very interesting extraction techniques to get compound called sanguinarine out of a biomass called bloodroot, and that ultimately ended up in a toothpaste called Viadent Toothpaste and we made it very, very efficient, so when somebody asked me if I could do a direct lipid infusion, I said, "Oh, easy. I'll just do it like we did decades before at Houser, and this time I got to do it my way." [chuckle] 


0:07:17.6 EC: Nice. So when you're talking about solvents, if we could break it down on a very, very absorbable level, no pun intended, when we're talking about solvents we're... Let's just preface with, you got cannabis harvested or any kind of compound or plant harvested and it comes into a facility and then it is soaked, would you say? Soaked in a compound, soaked in a solvent?  


0:07:42.3 SB: So the chemist in me is gonna be a little confusing to some people, because anything that removes a compound from one phase to another can effectively be called a solvent, and it's just how toxic or how flammable or what conditions do we need for that solvent to effectively move the compounds of interest out of... In this case, biomass and into itself, and so consequently, we use the term solvent-free and solvent-less. Just to define terms, solvent-free is something where... I consider solvent-free is something where the solvent has been removed such that it's virtually below any type of detection. 


0:08:39.3 EC: There are, most common... We see CO2 and ethanol extraction, and CO2 would be carbon dioxide, and ethanol is a type of alcohol, and those extraction methods are the most popular in this space because they're scalable, they were able to do large quantities of extraction. Is that correct?  


0:09:02.4 SB: Yes. Well, I wouldn't say necessarily because they're that scalable, it's they're popular, they're easy, and they're well-known. They do have their drawbacks. Alcohols, isopropanol and ethanol, are both very flammable, and consequently, the space in which they are, the extraction process occurs, requires a lot of fire protection, and they have to meet certain National Fire Protection guidelines. CO2 has issues. You're running at, say, four to 5,000 pounds per square inch. At certain scales, the actual pressure vessel that is being used becomes so thick that it's really unwieldy and exceedingly expensive, and so with CO2, we basically end up with several CO2 systems sitting in a row. With ethanol, you can be limited by states fire protection, by and other entities within the state as to how much of the alcohol you can keep on your premises. 


0:10:18.2 EC: So we have these. It's easy to say maybe CO2 and ethanol, though expensive or limiting, these have been the gold standard because it was easy. It was the easiest way to get a lot of hemp or a lot of biomass processed and that CBD or the other cannabis compounds extracted efficiently, though expensive and maybe limiting, where other methods, they needed perfection. So another method that you've alluded to is lipid extraction. 


0:10:48.1 SB: Yeah, basically, the solubility of the cannabinoids in a number of different oils, it's fairly similar to alcohols, and so the lipid extraction is just simple infusion. Somebody can think of it as, when you go down the oil aisle in the supermarket and you see some oil sitting there with a bunch of garlic and maybe some peppers in it and that type of thing, and you buy some garlic infused olive oil, this is kind of the same, same thing. And it's really well-known and batch people are like, "Yeah, we just put it in our crockpot and warm it up a little bit and leave it for a couple of hours, and then we squeeze it all out and we have this great infusion." 


0:11:35.9 SB: That's great, and so what we've... There are issues with that, that just doing it once, you only limit yourself as to how much CBD or other cannabinoid actually get into the oil, so there are ways to increase the amount of cannabinoid in the oil, and then it again, is a batch. And so you're just kinda stuck in this, in this batch mode which kinda limits the size of the whole thing. What we heard is, "Oh, there's no commercially viable way to do this," so we thought we would prove people wrong and build one that can handle about 100 pounds a day. Not huge by any standard, but a single step and then you have an infused oil that is ready to go into a tincture bottle. 


0:12:32.2 EC: So to compare 100 pounds a day in this lipid extraction device, and how much would one 'cause you talked about CO2 and ethanol, what would one of those centrifuges or chambers, what would they be able to do in a day?  


0:12:46.8 SB: Oh, those things. They've built them big enough to handle tons per day. They're just huge. They're in these massive warehouses, and they're really interesting and really great. But the issue I have with that is, there are also a pretty major fire hazard and along the other line is that there are a lot of steps that go into getting that, getting it from the biomass into say what they call a crude form or a distillate form, another step or two, and then finally into an isolate form, which are additional steps. And so each one of those steps can contribute to a loss of efficiency, so... We just... By limiting the number of steps and having a fairly efficient process, you get more of what you paid for in the hemp into your product. 


0:13:54.9 EC: We still even have to talk about another one, which is vapor distillation. So what is vapor distillation?  


0:14:01.7 SB: Well, there's actually a company out there called Vapor Distilled that have done some work on this. And we've done a little bit of work on on it ourselves. In some cases, a lot of the terpenes are steam distilled out away from the plant itself, and by basically passing steam through a bed, if you will, of hemp. We're able then to collect a lot of those terpenes that are fairly important for flavoring and for fragrance. 


0:14:37.4 EC: And terpenes are... Anybody who's listened to my podcast or have seen my articles, terpenes are one of my favorite, 'cause there're so many different skin benefits, not to mention experiential benefits, but terpenes are awesome. 


0:14:52.3 SB: Yeah, yeah, there is... They do talk a lot about the entourage effect, so I don't know that there's a whole lot of good clinical data on that, but there's a ton of opinion out there that the terpenes contribute to that entourage effect in a very positive manner for most people. Some of those terpenes are noted to be anti-inflammatory, beta-caryophyllene, and again, couple others, they're fairly well noted for that. 


0:15:26.9 EC: So if you had to give... Let's talk about these four: CO2, ethanol, lipid extraction and vapor distillation. A grade on protecting the integrity of the extraction, 'cause it sounds like CO2 and ethanol, they're great, they're able to do large scale, but you're losing some things along the way. What would you say of those four: CO2, ethanol, lipid and vapor distillation or vapor, would be the least amount of processing for CBD or cannabinoid extraction?  


0:16:00.0 SB: Right. Well, each one, you can do a lot of post-processing. CO2... If you just use CO2, you can basically put that stuff straight, that can be as little as a single step, but it can become as complex as you want, if you go all the way to isolate ethanol, you gotta get rid of ethanol. So no matter what, you're gonna be stripping that ethanol off through chilling it and everything else, if you decide to chill it. But then you're gonna have to heat it up, and they usually do that under a slight back. With our lipid infusion, basically, that's it, it just comes out, it has everything that's soluble in the lipid. And if one then decides to de-carboxylate it, then it's just a simple matter of just heating it up and passing that infusion through a heat source that de-carboxylates it. Alternatively, with a lot of these, some people will de-carboxylate the actual biomass, put that in an oven, we see that a lot, and CO2, so that the conditions are that you're really extracting only one type of molecule. 


0:17:29.6 EC: And we should say that de-carboxylation means heating it up and changing from CBDA, which would be in a raw form of hemp biomass, and once you de-carboxylate, it turns CBDA into CBD for example, or THCA into THC, or CBD... 


0:17:46.1 SB: Exactly, and CBGA. So there is an epercitic form of CBG as well. And so... I'm not here to bash any of these things 'cause they all are very useful, and they all work, it's just how the economics work on each one of them and how much post-processing is required. The direct lipid infusion, yeah, if you want CBD, CBG and THCA, you can pull that stuff out all day long at very high efficiencies, yeah, by using... We use what we call a hybrid semi-continuous countercurrent extraction, which then pushes the concentrations up a lot higher than one would do if you did it in a bad scale. Anything that's bad scale, you're gonna limit yourself out on your efficiency. We were doing a lot of comparative analysis between a company that does a ton of ethanol, they actually... They use isopropanol extraction with a centrifuge and our our lipid infusion system. And discovered we were able to really hit 95 plus percent of the cannabinoids were removed from the biomass versus they were very consistent with about 80%. 


0:19:27.8 EC: And that's from the same farm, the same harvest, the same crop, right?  


0:19:32.0 SB: Yeah, the same everything. Yeah, and for us it didn't matter which... What we used. And so we were sitting there and the highest we saw was a little over 98% removal, and they were very consistent on definitely, all the different types of and sources of biomass. Since 80%, sometimes 75, sometimes 85, but really averaging around 80%. That's 'cause they do a single wash. Had they done more washes, they would have clearly gone up a lot higher, but then again, the economics kinda fights you there, because you're using more and more ethanol, more and more ethanol, where we're using the same lipid to pass through several beds that we just changed that one at a time. And with the air extraction, with the hot air extraction, basically, that is... The research we're doing, it's all over the map. We've been hanging out anywhere from 75% to 80% on that as well, but because we don't have much post-processing, we basically end up with... Because it's so un-free from one end to the other What I failed to say before, is that our company, we've solved the... [chuckle] Pardon the pun, the solvent list question or conundrum. And then our first, our pad for that is on its way. And because of that, it's gonna go all the way from biomass to an oil. And because we're using heat, we are seeing a lot of de-carboxylation, not complete, but a lot of de-carboxylation in our process. 


0:21:29.2 EC: Well, I could talk to you for hours. I think that we definitely satisfied what we wanted to do today, and that was to help educate practitioners in the public really, on the methods so that they can ask more questions. I think it's important to understand, it answers a lot of questions as to the price of the end product, which is passed on to the price of the formulation itself in totality. But also in understanding these, you'll be able to find, you the practitioner, you the consumer, will be able to find a product that aligns again with your philosophies. So Steve, I wanna thank you for your time today, you're obviously a wealth of knowledge, and we'd love to have you back on another episode, if you're okay with that. 


0:22:12.6 SB: I'm fine with that. I love talking about this stuff. 


0:22:15.5 EC: Yeah, wonderful. Well, thanks again for tuning into ASCP Esty Talk. I'm Ella Cressman and I'm looking forward to the next podcast. 


0:22:24.7 S1: Thanks for joining us today. If you like what you hear and you want more, subscribe. If you wanna belong to the only all inclusive association for aestheticians that includes professional liability insurance, education, industry insights, and an opportunity to spotlight your six skills, join at ascpskincare.com. Only 259 per year for all this goodness. ASCP knows it's all about you.

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