What Is CO2 Extraction and What Are Its Benefits?

What is CO2 Extraction

Extracting cannabinoids and other compounds from the cannabis plant isn’t an easier process. However, there are many techniques that manufacturers can use. The bad thing is that while some of them are cheap, they are also toxic and harmful. CO2 extraction is currently the best extraction technique in the cannabis industry. Even though it’s cheap, you are guaranteed premium hemp extracts. So, what does this method involve and what are its benefits?

What is CO2 Extraction?

CO2 extraction involves the use of pressurized carbon dioxide at a specified temperature to pull the desired compounds from the cannabis plant. The temperature and pressure levels help to determine the state of CO2 gas, making it an ideal solvent in the extraction prices. CO2 is a safe and natural product that’s sustainable to use in the long run. Besides that, it provides the purest and cleanest way of extracting cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids from the cannabis plant extract.

Working with CO2 in Cannabis Hemp Extraction

The use of CO2 isn’t something new or strange. After all, human beings naturally give off CO2 gas when they’re breathing out. According to the FDA, CO2 is a safe product that can be effectively used to preserve products such as carbonated beverages.

The idea of working with CO2 in the extraction of cannabinoids and other cannabis compounds means that there won’t be toxic petroleum solvents or flammable material coming into contact with the cannabis extract. This is important, regardless of whether the cannabis product will be used for recreational or medical purposes.

How CO2 Extraction Works

The CO2 extraction process mainly involves the use of carbon dioxide in a supercritical or a subcritical state. CO2 is used as the solvent in the extraction process. Before the extraction process, the hemp biomass has to be harvested, cleaned, and thereafter tested. This is a crucial step in determining the botanical identity of the cannabis plant. Besides that, the testing process is essential in determining the level of THC. Federal laws require antineutral hemp extracts to have a 0.3% THC threshold. Besides that, hemp biomass with high levels of herbicides and pesticides has to be excluded.

The next step involves the processing of the plant material to specified moisture content and particle size. Thereafter, the plant material will be placed into the extraction vessel before CO2 is subjected to high pressure and at a specific temperature.

Generally, the pressure and temperature variations that the CO2 gas will be subjected to will determine if it will end up in a supercritical or subcritical state. Carbon dioxide will then be let to flow through the biomass that’s found in the extraction chamber.

The main differences between supercritical and subcritical CO2 extraction are the pressure and temperature levels. When the CO2 is above 1071 psi and 31.1 Celsius then it’s in a supercritical state. On the other hand, when the temperature drops below the aforementioned pressure and temperature, then CO2 changes to a liquid and it, therefore, gets into the subcritical state.

 CO2 Extraction

Supercritical CO2 Extraction

CO2 is usually in a gaseous state at standard temperatures and pressure. However, when it’s heated above 31.1 degrees celsius and 1071 spies, then it starts to exclude both the characteristics of gas and liquid. This is now what is referred to as a supercritical fluid that’s important for the supercritical C02 extraction process.

In this state, the gas acts as the liquid solvent that can pass through porous material such as hemp extracts. Besides that, it’s also great at dissolving such materials.  The supercritical fluid passes through the chamber/vessel with raw cannabis material and gently dissolves the trichomes’ membrane. During this price, the fluid helps to capture the active compounds found in the raw cannabis material.

After that, the compound-enriched fluid then passes into another pressurized chamber for the separation process. The fluctuating temperatures and pressure help to this price such as cannabinoids and terpenes by fractionating them away.

Lastly, the remaining CO2 flows into a condenser vessel where the pressure and temperature levels will allow it to stabilize and go back to its gaseous state. Supercritical CO2 is more popular because it allows manufacturers to extract a greater yield of cannabinoids. Besides that, it takes less time and doesn’t come with additional post-processing handling.

Subcritical CO2 Extraction

This is just a similar process but it occurs at lesser pressure and lower temperatures. This makes it a longer price that leads to the production of smaller yields. As a result, subcritical CO2 is less efficient than supercritical CO2 extraction.

However, it’s known to retain as wellness protects some of the fragile constituents of hemp extracts. This includes terpenes, essential oils, and other sensitive chemicals.  Subcritical CO2 extraction is more popular in the extraction of full-spectrum cannabis extract.

Overall, the temperature and pressure differences between subcritical and supercritical CO2 extraction usually result in extracts with different consistencies. For instance, supercritical CO2 usually results in a product extract that has a consistency that resembles that of peanut butter. Additionally, the high levels of temperature and pressure will result in the extraction of larger molecules including chlorophyll, omega 3 and 6 lipids, and waxes among others. However, the manufacturer can remove them through the winterization prices, leaving behind only cannabinoid oil.

In terms of consistency, subcritical CO2 extraction usually leads to the formulation of a substance whose consistency is closer to molasses. But it’s great in preserving the profile of cannabinoids. The popularity of the subcritical CO2 technique is rapidly growing, as further use of full-spectrum CBD extract is concerned.

Reasons Why Supercritical CO2 Extraction is Popular

CO2 extraction has proved to be the industry leader in the cannabis sector. Even though the prices are complicated, it offers an unparalleled way of extracting cannabinoids such a CBD and THC from other compounds. Besides that, it facilitates the effective isolation of other less known phytocannabinoids.

Based on the current industry standards, this extraction technique is definitely a gamechanger. It’s one of the best methods that a manufacturer can use to harness various cannabis compounds. But what are the main reasons that have made CO2 extraction an industry leader?

Effective Isolation Process

This is one of the most prominent benefits of using this method. CO2 extraction provides a better understanding of cannabis compounds. Like it’s stated above, it allows for effective isolation of various cannabinoids as well as other cannabis compounds.

As a result, this makes it easier for researchers to study the benefits of various cannabis compounds individually. Besides that, it’s now possible for researchers to study how the individual components can work together to result in the entourage effect.

Cleaner Extraction

The ability of CO2 to effectively separate different compounds found in the cannabis hemp plant leads to a cleaner extraction technique. You are guaranteed a clean and natural end product that you can always rely on. If you want to find the cleanest CBD product in the market, consider brands that use supercritical CO2 extraction.

Chemical-Free Extraction

CO2 extraction doesn’t involve the use of harmful chemicals but only the use of carbon dioxide gas. This method doesn’t involve the use of toxic solvents such as butane, hexane, propane, or alcohol. For a consumer, this means that you will be utilizing an organic product that has a better flavor as well. This is because during the extraction process, the profile of the cannabinoids, as well as terpenes and flavonoids, will be maintained.

Greater Control

Not anyone or any company can use this method. CO2 requires the knowledge of a professional and this means that the operator usually has greater control. They can refine the raw hemp product as they like. For instance, it’s possible to produce raw pant matter that’s rich in cannabinoids. Alternatively, it’s also possible to completely distill the plant matter down into a distillate with specific cannabinoids. This is possible through the changing of the pressure and temperatures levels of the machines.

High Level of Efficiency

The efficiency of using the CO2 extraction technique helps to eliminate the need for post-processing steps.  Note that speed to shelf can either make or break the success of a hemp extract. But this technique not only facilitates the extraction of botanical compounds in a faster way but also helps to eliminate the need for other post-processing steps. As a manufacturer, this means that you will get your CB extract into the perfect blends and final products quickly. Consequentially, you will have them on your shelf faster than any other extraction method.

In case you have a processing partner on standby for testing and analysis, Ut means that you can end up bottling and packing the extracts as soon as possible. Not only will you end up with high-value CBD products but your supply chain to consumers will also be faster.

The Bottom Line

CO2 extraction provides a safe and effective way of extracting cannabinoids, including CBD and THC. It’s a sustainable technique that’s ideal for use in the long run. Besides that, its environmentally friendly, safe, and results in the extraction of pure cannabis products. Even though CO2 extraction is expensive, its efficient isolation process with minimal post-production process makes it ideal for use in the production of high-quality products.

About the author

Joyana feels that with the strains, everything is possible, and you should only reproduce what makes you happy. Her 10 years of writing experience comes after studying mass media and communications at the University of Toronto in Canada. Everything about strains can be confusing and difficult to comprehend, but she simplifies the issue of strains in words with top-notch research and in-depth experience in the area, and you receive the proper information with his easy write-up. Olivia adores children, and she spends her free time bringing delicious presents to the children's home, such as chocolates and cookies.

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