There are many floral strains which are grown only with the sole purpose of using them on a commercial level for the production of various items. Starting from bamboo to dense, evergreen plants, these species are solely used on an industrial level in order to create a marvelous end product. One such plant is the hemp.
Where is hemp grown and what is its origin?
For the starters, before moving into some more details, let’s first get to know a little more about the origin and source of the hemp plant. Hemp is a derivative of Cannabis sativa, a variety of the cannabis plant which is grown worldwide. However, their harvesting season differs in both the hemispheres- March and May being in the Northern Hemisphere while the Southern Hemisphere has it’s harvesting is done during the months of September and December.
How is hemp seed oil extracted in industries?
In most of the countries, the traditional method of oil extraction from the seeds is being followed and that is the cold-pressed technique.
Now, generally the seeds are precooked in a furnace in order to break the chains of fatty acids. However, in the traditional method, the hemp seeds, after collection, are directly subjected to the press machine without preheating them in the furnace.
In the press machine, basically the bell press machine, the seeds are pressed between two compressors under high pressure which squeeze the inside soft flesh of the seeds and release the oil from within. The only source of heat that the seeds are exposed to comes from the friction which occurs at the time of pressing of the same between the two surfaces of the bell press machine.
There is a reason why cold pressed technique is still used in most of the places where hemp seed oil is extracted in a large scale for industrial use. You can easily find the virgin hemp seed oil of super quality at industrialhempfarms, an online site dedicated only for cannabis derivative useful products.
Cold pressed technique doesn’t require the exposure of the seeds to a pre-heating furnace before they are sent to the press machine. As a result, the oil is thick and does not lose its aroma and flavor.
As hemp seed is very nutritious and has an amazing combination of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acid chains, the cold pressed technique ensures that these nutrients are retained in the hemp seed oil too after the extraction.
What are the advanced industrial forms of hemp seed oil extraction?
Even though the cold pressed technique is quite famous, the complexity of the same has forced the scientists to find some other way to extract the oil through less complex processes.
Currently, five different physiochemical techniques are being used to extract the oil content of the hemp seed all around the world.
1. Soxhlet (SOX)
It has been derived from the laboratory extraction of a lipid from any solid material. Generally, the solid is kept in a thimble like container where a warm solvent is slowly added. The desired component that is the hemp seed oil doesn’t dissolve in the chosen solvent because of its sparingly soluble nature. And hence, over the time, when the cycle is repeated, a high concentration of the oil is extracted from the setup apparatus.
Percolation is an advanced form of distillation where a solvent made from a mixture of water and alcohol is dropped into the bulk of shredded seeds located in a percolator. The flow of the solvent allows the alcohol to absorb most of the active ingredients from the seed while the water keeps it hydrated. Once the process is over, the extraction of the solvent containing all the ingredients is subjected to distillation to concentrate the hemp seed oil.
3. Supercritical fluid extraction with the help of a solvent, basically CO2.
In this process, CO2 is heated first to its critical temperature where both the liquid and the vapor of the chemical coexist in equal proportions. The form is then passed to a pressure chamber where it is allowed to diffuse through the solid matrix of hemp seed under high pressure. The supercritical fluid dissolves the components of the hemp seed oil and is extracted in a separate container which has comparatively lower pressure. This allows the extractant to settle down after which it is collected.
In this process, ultrasonic sound waves with a frequency above the audible range of the humans are passed through the seeds which help in the extraction of the oil from the same. This is more of a physical process than a chemical one and hence requires much less time.
Pyrolysis is a chemical process where the hemp seeds are subjected to heating at a high temperature in the inert atmosphere with the absence of oxygen. This causes crackling and chemical reactions to take place which ultimately forms the oil.
Hemp seed oil is definitely one of the most useful essential oils which are definitely shadowed by the other derivatives of cannabis. However, if proper research is done, then definitely the industry will find a new source of nutrients concentrated in a single material.