CO2 Extraction: What Is It And How Does It Affect Your Products?

The CO2 extraction method is a popular method that enables cannabinoids and terpenes to be extracted from the marijuana plant without toxic after-effects. This extraction method ensures that the terpenes and cannabinoids remain in their original, potent form for maximum therapeutic effects.

CO2 Extraction: The Highlights

  • CO2 extraction is a clean and safe method that allows for effective extraction of cannabinoids and terpenes in marijuana plants but is also used for many other types of products.
  • CO2 is highly popular in the cannabis industry because it offers a clean, toxic-free, solvent-free way of meeting public demand for clean cannabis products.
  • The CO2 extraction method is highly valuable to the medical and scientific communities as well as the cannabis companies because it allows for further study into the full spectrum of cannabinoids that, together, produce a much more healing and potent medicinal effect than as solitary cannabinoids.
  • The process of CO2 extraction involves both transforming carbon dioxide into a fluid state and then using the fluid CO2 as a cannabis oil solvent to effectively extract the terpenes and cannabinoids from the cannabis plant.
  • CO2 is very popular in the cannabis industry due to the fact that it makes clean, toxic-free cannabis and hemp oil which can then be used to make innumerable types of profitable cannabis and hemp products.

What Is CO2 Extraction?

CO2 extraction is a clean and safe method that allows for effective extraction of cannabinoids and terpenes from marijuana plants. This extraction method has been used for many decades in producing such things as:

  • Essential oils
  • Herbal Tinctures
  • Perfumes and fragrances
  • Omega-3 oils
  • Tea
  • Decaffeinated coffee
  • Vanilla
  • Tobacco extractions for E-Cig’s
  • Fruit and Nut extracts
  • Hop oil extract for beer-making

The biggest reason that CO2 extraction is popular is that it is a toxic-free way of extracting certain chemical compounds from the parent source.

CBD oil in a beaker with scientist extracting with dropper

Not only is it better for the environment and our bodies but it also does not harm the extracted substances themselves.

Toxic solvents such as petroleum-based butane or a propane-based solvent are both highly poisonous over time and can also contain health-threatening heavy metals.

They are considered residual solvents because they leave lingering residues that can cause minor to major health consequences. Therefore, these people are seeking products that use cleaner extraction methods.

Also, CO2 extraction is cheaper than other forms of extraction. Carbon dioxide, or CO2, is free because it is a naturally-occurring element in the environment. In fact, our bodies breath out carbon dioxide.

The only money involved is the purchase of a high-tech extraction machine. After this, the CO2 liquid, which is made from the CO2 gas, can be re-used for subsequent extraction sessions.

Also, the machine can be used for years, making the investment worth it, especially if your a big company who needs to produce products on a mass scale.

What Is Supercritical CO2 Extraction?

The supercritical fluid extraction stage is the critical moment in the extraction process when CO2 is in the right state to be a proper solvent to certain products, including cannabis.

This means it has not only turned into the supercritical fluid but that it is also at the exact temperature it needs to be at in order for the terpenes and cannabinoids to be properly extracted from the cannabis plant.

However, although supercritical CO2 extraction is the stage in which the magic happens, the entire step-by-step process is needed in order to properly utilize carbon dioxide as an effective extraction solvent.

Without the carbon dioxide gas being first turned into CO2 liquid, the carbon dioxide cannot do its job in effectively extracting the compounds it needs to.

Is Supercritical CO2 Extraction Better?

Supercritical CO2 oil extraction is by far the better way to go when producing and selling products that need an effective and clean extraction process.

This is why many cannabis companies within the industry have reverted to this method over other extraction systems.

The rising demand for pure and clean cannabis products, as well as other toxic-free mass-produced products, is causing many industries to utilize this relatively cheap and healthy extraction method.

Why Is CO2 Used?

Other than the fact that its better for the environment, for the body, and it’s relatively cheap to do, CO2 allows scientists and concentrate makers to study all the cannabinoids that are contained within the cannabis plant.

Research already shows that the collective cannabinoids acting together instead of just one or two in isolation has a much stronger healing effect on the body. This healing effect has the potential to manage and improve many different types of illness and diseases – more so than just THC or CBD individually. 

Table of all the cannabinoids

There is much research on THC and CBD but very little on the lesser known cannabinoids such as cannabicitran (CBT), Cannabichromene (CBC), Cannabinol (CBN), and Cannabigerol (CBG).

CO2 allows the medical community to both isolate each of these and study their effects on the body collectively.

CO2 Extraction Equipment

As mentioned above, the actual price of the professional equipment needed to mass-produce CO2 cannabis concentrates is expensive, although the process itself does not continue to considerably drain personal or company funds.

This high-tech industrial equipment can run anywhere from 50-2000 dollars depending on the scale of production needs.

This investment makes sense if you are a big business that can afford this up-front cost.

However, for individuals and start-up companies, knowing how to do a DIY “do it yourself” at home CO2 extraction with your cannabis is a great way to save money and also potentially make money.

Essentially the DIY process involves a few basic (cheap) materials: your cannabis, and some dry ice CO2. It is actually more challenging gathering all the tools and ingredients needed to make CO2 extracted cannabis concentrate than it is to perform the at-home extraction.

CO2 Extraction Process

Supercritical CO2 extraction is essentially turning carbon dioxide gas into a liquid that is at just the right chemical stage.

This is where it can be an effective solvent that extracts the desired particles from the parent plant material or product without damaging the particles it’s extracting.

The beginning stages of CO2 extraction can also involve turning CO2 into a hardened state, which is commonly referred to as “dry ice.” By simply adding pressure and an extremely cold temperature of -67 degrees Fahrenheit, one can successfully harden carbon dioxide.

However, for purpose in this article, we will talk about the CO2 extraction method that involves turning carbon dioxide into a liquid solvent.

The following is a detailed step-by-step description of what is involved in the CO2 extraction process when wanting to extract cannabinoids and terpenes from plant material of the marijuana plant:

  1. Using the proper extractor machine tools, the first step is to effectively trap the carbon dioxide. Once contained, it can then be compressed with high pressure and heated with increasingly high temperatures so that it can turn into a liquid CO2 form.
  2. Using the liquid CO2, an extractor pot, and heating the CO2 liquid to just the right temperature, the CO2 then goes to work extracting the terpenes, fatty acids, and cannabinoids from the plant.
  3. These extracted particles then go into a separator where they are broken down into their separate chemical compounds.
  4. These differing extracted compounds are then sent to a storage receptacle and the CO2 is sent into a condenser where it returns to liquid form.
  5. Any remaining CO2 left in these extracted substances is easily evaporated back into the atmosphere if left out to sit.

What Is CO2 Extraction Used For In The Cannabis Industry?

It is important to note when referring to the cannabis industry that there are two main sectors.

There is the marijuana, or cannabis industry, that makes both THC-laden marijuana products and hemp oil products that do not contain the psychoactive THC cannabinoid.

There is also the hemp industry which solely focuses on THC-free, therapeutic cannabis products made from hemp extract.

The reason that both of these industries are big business is that both marijuana products and hemp products have potent medicinal effects for the body.

Syringe with TCH

This is because both the THC-laden marijuana plant and the hemp plant have the same genetic makeup, just different strains of the same cannabis Sativa plant.

Therefore, because there is much profit to be made from these cannabis products, these companies know that they must meet popular demand. Popular demand now dictates that cannabis products be made as pure, clean, and high-quality as possible.

Therefore, most of these cannabis and hemp companies are using the CO2 method in order to meet this demand and then labeling their products with “CO2 extracted.”

Cannabis and hemp companies love the fact that from CO2 extracted cannabis or pure hemp oil, you can make many different products that appeal to larger numbers of people. Some of the many types of products once can choose from include:

  • Cannabis concentrates
  • Hash oil
  • Waxes
  • Tinctures
  • Edibles
  • Vape oils for a vape pen

CO2 Extraction: Making Cannabis Products Safe

Due to the rising demand for clean cannabis products and also due to the benefits it offers the research communities, CO2 is a big hit in the cannabis industry.

There is no doubt that CO2 extraction will not only continue to be a popular method of extraction but that it will continue to grow in popularity.

Farma Health Desk Editor