There are multiple ways to extract cannabinoids from hemp, but CO2 extraction is one of the most common methods. It’s a pretty high-tech method, leaving customers wondering how it takes place. Let’s take a detailed look.
What Is CO2 Extraction?
CO2 extraction uses carbon dioxide to remove plant compounds from the physical biomass of hemp. However, it is not only a case of putting the plant matter inside a chamber of CO2. The CO2 must be in a specific state – either subcritical or supercritical. In the CBD industry, supercritical is the most common form, and that is the method discussed below.
First, a manufacturer uses high-tech equipment to cool the CO2 to -69˚F before pressurizing it to 75 pounds per square inch (psi). At this temperature and pressure, the CO2 is in a supercritical state, meaning it can fill a chamber like a gas while retaining the density of a liquid. It behaves as a solvent, stripping cannabinoids from the plant matter.
To perform the extraction process, manufacturers need expensive equipment. The operator places the plant matter within a chamber, which is sealed before passing the supercritical CO2 through. As the CO2 solvent extracts all the cannabinoids, they fall into a collection chamber. The use of CO2 ensures that no beneficial compounds are damaged during the process, resulting in a high-quality hemp extract.
The CO2, meanwhile, goes on into a separate chamber, where it can be recycled for use again and again.
Finally, the plant matter remains behind, albeit with few cannabinoids left. Manufacturers can either throw it away, compost it, or sell the fibrous hemp for use in upcycling.
Are There Other Methods?
There are other extraction methods that CBD manufacturers use. For example, small-scale CBD oil manufacturers can use olive oil to produce a ready-made CBD oil.
Another standard method is ethanol extraction, which uses alcohol (ethanol) as a solvent to pull active compounds from raw plant material. However, ethanol extraction poses some risks compared to the CO2 process, which is why it is not as commonly used.
Of course, both olive oil and ethanol extraction have their benefits, one of which is low cost. That said, CO2 is widely regarded as the top extraction method for high-quality brands. Here’s why.
Why CO2 Is the Best Extraction Method
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers CO2 a safe extraction method for food processing. There are several reasons why it outperforms other methods.
- Safe for consumption: CO2 does not pose a danger to human health. In fact, CO2 is what gives things like soda and sparkling water its fizz.
- Safe for production: Again, using ethanol as a counter-point, solvents are highly flammable and pose a danger to those producing the oil. CO2, meanwhile, is a non-combustible gas that will not set alight during the manufacturing process.
- Effective: CO2 extraction produces very high yields compared to other methods, meaning few cannabinoids and terpenes end up being wasted. Compare this with olive oil extraction, which often yields poor results.
- Recyclable: As mentioned above, the CO2 used in the extraction process can be used over and over again, minimizing waste. Plus, it’s friendly to the environment in other ways because it’s non-toxic.
- It doesn’t damage hemp: CO2 is also useful because, even in its supercritical state, it does not damage plant matter – or the all-important cannabinoids.
There are of course downsides to CO2 extraction, one of the main ones being the expensive equipment and high costs required to operate the requisite machinery. For this reason, products made using CO2 extraction are often more expensive than those made using solvents. However, many consider a little extra money worth it for the quality and safety that comes with CO2-extracted CBD.
Final Thoughts on CO2 Extraction for CBD Oil
Customers and manufacturers alike agree that CO2 extraction is one of the best methods for making CBD oil. It requires little set-up once the machinery is in place, and it produces products that are rich in cannabinoids and terpenes. Solventless CO2 also offers a safety profile that is unparalleled; there is little risk of solvents ending up in the product, and almost no risk of fire hazard during the manufacturing process.
Quality is at the heart of what we do here at PureKana, which is why we use CO2 extraction to make all our products. Feel free to browse the complete online collection today, and start your CBD journey with one of America’s most trusted brands.