Despite recent strides, cannabidiol (CBD) and its byproducts—specifically CBD oil—remain in limbo. On the one hand, providing a medically valid reason, it’s fine to purchase CBD oil or any product containing it. On the other hand, anything derived from marijuana or hemp can get you in trouble with the law, depending on where you live.

As a result, buying CBD oil in dedicated stores or online is, still, tricky. You want the benefits of CBD oil, but you also don’t want to be thrown behind bars for consuming or just possessing it. For this reason, among others, people elect to make their own CBD oil at home. With the right equipment and steps, it’s possible.

Below is a step-by-step guide on making homemade CBD oil. Full disclaimer: this doesn’t mean that doing it is necessarily legal; it still depends on your local laws (more on this later).

1. Gather The Necessary Things

First and foremost, you need the right strain. CBD is present in marijuana and hemp, but the latter has a higher concentration; hence, the industry uses hemp more often in its products. In terms of benefits and side effects, the compound remains the same regardless of the source. 

Legally speaking, hemp is a safer option. The 2018 Farm Bill has made hemp cultivation legal in every state, save for Idaho, so picking up some hemp in these states should be good. Under this law, the growers are expected to keep the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their hemp no higher than 0.3%. THC is the stuff that makes you high when ingesting cannabis.

Once you have your hemp, choose how you’ll make the CBD oil. There are two ways of doing this: using high-proof food-grade alcohol, and hemp seed or coconut carrier oil. Alcohol-based CBD oil tends to be more potent over time and is usually the procedure for making tinctures in the market. However, using a carrier oil is a simpler process. 

There’s also a third way, via carbon dioxide extraction, but that entails using professional-grade equipment. Look up new or used hemp processing equipment for sale, and you’ll see a myriad of tools from grinding and milling equipment to packaging lines. It may be the best way to produce CBD oil, but you’ll need an entire factory floor to accommodate the equipment.

2. Activate The CBD

Once the hemp and equipment are prepared, the next step is to activate the CBD inside. Contrary to popular belief, the plant doesn’t technically contain CBD, but a compound called cannabidiolic acid (CBDA). While CBDA has some health benefits, they’re different from those of CBD.

Deriving CBD from CBDA requires a process known as decarboxylation, which involves taking out carbon dioxide from the compound mainly through heat. While usually done with a precision cooker (also called a decarboxylator), it might not be cost-effective if you won’t be taking CBD as often as the investment warrants.

If using an oven, preheat it to 225o F and bake the ground hemp flowers for at least one hour. Whether making alcohol or carrier oil-based CBD oil, decarboxylation is always the first step. Once done, combine the hemp with the catalyst of your choice.

3. Extract The Good Stuff

As you mix the hemp and catalyst, the resulting reaction will cause cannabinoids and terpenes to come out. This is where alcohol-based CBD oil has the advantage over carrier oil-based ones, as the manner of mixing them matters.

The reason for this is that the carrier oil option requires stirring the baked hemp and carrier oil into a double boiler, and bringing it to a light simmer. If the heat gets past 300o F, a significant amount of terpenes will be lost. You want to keep them in your CBD oil, especially with recent research suggesting that CBD and terpenes may be game-changers in COVID treatment.

In the alcohol option, the baked hemp doesn’t have to be cooked further. Simply submerge the hemp into the alcohol solution for ten minutes until the cannabinoids and terpenes come out of the plant. Stirring while doing so will help speed up the process.

After sifting, pour the alcohol-based solution into a double boiler and cook at a steady heat. Keep in mind that alcohol can be volatile even at low temperatures, so do this step in an open area or a place with adequate ventilation. Continue cooking until all the alcohol has evaporated, leaving a tar-like substance in the process. 

At this point, you already have your alcohol-based tincture. For the other option, there’s still one more step to perform.

4. Sift And Store

After cooking the carrier oil-based solution, it’s time to sift it. Run the concoction through a piece of cheesecloth and into the container of your choice. You might have to squeeze the plant to extract as much oil as possible. Once you can’t get more oil anymore, dispose of the plant.

The container must be airtight and be stored at a cool and dry place, preferably in temperatures between 60o F and 70o F. Under ideal conditions, your homemade CBD oil should last between six months to one year. Its potency may decrease over time, so make sure to use it up while still packing a punch.

Complying With The Law

As mentioned earlier, CBD oil is still in a gray area regarding its legality. While legislation like the 2018 Farm Bill allows consumers to purchase hemp, several states still regulate it the same way as marijuana. Regardless, CBD use is growing, namely in foodstuff, from infused chocolate bars to laced cuisine.

Whether you plan to buy CBD oil or make your own, it’s important to check your local laws before doing so. Remember that any hemp or marijuana-based product should contain no more than 0.3% THC. If unsure about this, have a laboratory test the oil to determine THC content.


As this article has explained, it’s possible to make your own CBD oil. While it’s not as potent as those in the market, it’s an ideal alternative if you’re looking to cut costs. Alcohol-based or carrier oil-based, following the recipe to the letter will result in a CBD oil that has the benefits of retail ones.  

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