When you look at what people say about how pure and potent our hemp oil products are, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re produced in a secret laboratory nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas. The reality is a little different.
I asked Kai Metcalfe, our Chief Mad Scientist, (officially known as the Lab Director) to enlighten me on what happens at the lab. Here’s what she said:
Our hemp oil starts out as hemp plants
Okay, so that may not be a surprise to you. But did you know that we are the only hemp oil producer in the world that grows our particular strains of hemp?
Over the past 25 years, our President, Tim Gordon, has worked to produce hemp plants that yield high levels of phytonutrients while keeping THC levels down to 0.3% or less. In fact, Functional Remedies was the first company to develop its own genetically selected strains of hemp in order to maximize the entourage effect <link to entourage effect article (to be written)>.
On our farm in Pueblo, Colorado, the hemp is grown and nurtured to maturity using organic and sustainable practices. Nestled between mountains and bordered by two mountain-fed tributaries, it’s a unique ecosystem that’s ideal for growing high quality hemp.
And speaking of quality, the first of many third-party quality checks that our hemp oil goes through is carried out at the farm. Before we harvest the hemp and send it off to the lab, it’s tested by the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) to ensure that the THC levels are 0.3% or less, and that there’s no nasty mold, pesticides or other chemicals lurking in the plants. Once we have the green-light from CDA, it’s harvested and sent off to the lab to make hemp oil.
From hemp to oil
At the lab, Kai and her team of nine dedicated staff begin the process of turning the hemp into oil. The lab is fairly small and kind of resembles a commercial kitchen. The equipment, though, makes it obvious that this isn’t a mom and pop burger joint. For a start, there are six, 30-liter pressure cookers used in the production process, along with a custom-made press, multi-headed pipette dispenser, and automated pump dispenser.
That’s not to say the whole thing is like the automated filling lines you see on tv at the big co-packing facilities. Everything is done lovingly by hand, from preparing the hemp oil to filling, labeling and sealing the jars of hemp tincture.
Extracting the Phytonutrients
Most producers use an extraction process to get the phytonutrients out of hemp. It’s not uncommon for producers to use solvents that bind to the beneficial molecules and drip them out, or blast the hemp with CO2 gas to force it out. Both of these methods have their downsides.
Using solvents like ethanol to extract from hemp may extract the cannabinoids and terpenes, but it also extracts the chlorophyll (the beneficial phytonutrients that makes plants green - which all of ours are), which tastes nasty. It also leaves a big problem. How do you get rid of the solvent after extraction? After all, no one wants to ingest nasty solvents.
Hemp extracted using solvents like ethanol or hexane will often show traces of these when tested in a lab. Of course, there are so-called ‘safe’ levels of these that are deemed to be ‘acceptable’. But do you really want to expose yourself to even small amounts of harsh chemicals as part of your daily wellness routine?
CO2 extraction doesn’t use solvents so there is no ethanol or hexane to remove. It involves cooling CO2 gas, pressurizing it to 10,000 pounds per square inch (p.s.i.), then heating it again and blasting the hemp with it. To put that into perspective, your car tires are probably around 30 p.s.i.
It’s very hard on the hemp, stripping it of all phytonutrients and during extraction, many of the terpenes are removed. It’s also expensive and requires a lot of maintenance, driving up the final price to the end-user.
We don’t use either method. In fact, we don’t ‘extract’ the phytonutrients at all.
Lipid infusion method
Want to know the secret to the purest, highest-quality, whole-plant hemp oil?
Using just the right combination of pressure, heat, and time, we add a ‘carrier’ of coconut oil or MCT to the raw hemp and allow it to gently become infused with the phytonutrients. It’s a bit like the way olive oil is infused with garlic or other herbs to give it flavor. Over time, the cannabinoids and terpenes make their way into the carrier, infusing it with all their goodness.
That’s not the end of the story, though. You see, after we’ve infused the carrier with the phytonutrients we immediately infuse it again. That makes sure we have every last molecule of goodness to maximize the entourage effect. As Kai put it to me, “You get the full expression of the plant. It’s as close to the whole plant as you can get without bottling the plant itself.”
The concentrated oil is then tested for potency by a third-party lab before being diluted with more MCT or coconut oil to the required dosage amount. Once it’s at the required dilution, we send it off for testing again.
Creating the final hemp products
When we get the lab results back, it’s time for the hemp oil to be processed into capsules, tinctures or salve. The capsules are filled using the pipettes and the tincture jars are filled with exactly the right amount of hemp oil.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that that’s the end of the story. It’s not.
Quality hemp oil
You see, we’re so passionate about the purity and quality of our hemp oil that it gets sent for yet another potency and quality check with a third-party lab. It’s only after that, that we offer it for sale to you.
Our commitment to quality extends throughout the whole life of our hemp oil – from farm to lab to store. As an FDA-registered food manufacturer, we work to FDA current good manufacturing processes (cGMP) that ensure our quality is consistent.
With organic and sustainable farming practices, and no fewer than four independent quality tests, you can be certain that the hemp products you buy from us are the most pure hemp products you can get.
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