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What Is the Supercritical CO2 Extraction Method?


Jun. 27 2022, Updated 3:54 p.m. ET

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Since the market for cannabidiol CBD products is booming, there are a plethora of products available in the market. This can confuse people, and one of the best ways to ensure that you buy a good CBD product is to look for the extraction method used. This is because the extraction method used can determine the quality of the CBD contained in the product. One of the most popular and widely used methods is CO2 extraction, and this is used by the most reputable brands. Given below are the details of the CO­2 extraction method.

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What Is CO2 Extraction?

CO2 extraction uses pressurized carbon dioxide under low temperature so that it is in liquid form and acts as any other liquid solvent. Its advantage is that the final product is highly pure without any toxic contaminants and does not require costly post-filtration methods. You should also know that it is the standard extraction method used in the food and herbal supplement industries. For example, it is used to extract caffeine in decaffeinated coffee or coffee powder. Besides, CO2 gas is used as a solvent in essential oil production. Manufacturers depend on carbon dioxide due to its versatile nature as a solvent and above all, it is an inert gas i.e. it does not undergo chemical reactions. In CBD extraction they specifically use the supercritical CO2 extraction method.

What Is the Supercritical CO­2 ­Extraction Method?

Compared to other CBD extraction methods, the supercritical CO2 extraction method is considered to be the gold standard. Here, a supercritical fluid is used as a solvent to separate one compound from another and CO2 is the most commonly used solvent; occasionally a co-solvent such as ethanol or methanol is used. In the supercritical CO2 extraction method, the fluid state of the gas is maintained above its critical temperature and pressure.

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How Is Supercritical CO2 Extraction Done?

The extractor takes in CO2 gas and passes it through a chamber where high pressure and low temperature of -70 deg F is applied to it. This changes the phase of the gas into fluid and displays its unique properties when heated and depressurized. Now, it is in a supercritical state and has the properties of both liquid and gas, i.e. it has the density of a liquid and fills the chamber space like a gas. Now, this supercritical fluid is passed through another chamber that contains the hemp plant materials. As the fluid passes through them, it disintegrates the trichome membrane and absorbs almost all the active compounds contained in the raw plant materials.

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What Are The Benefits Of Supercritical CO2 Extraction Methods?

CO2 is also known as a green solvent because the final product is a toxic fee and healthier. Besides, it is naturally found in the atmosphere, can be recycled, and hence cost-effective compared to other solvents. Some of its unique qualities are it is non-flammable, inert and you can fine-tune adjusting the density to get the required solvation strength. It has high efficiency compared to other solvents, giving a higher amount of final product as CO2 ­leaves the residue. Last but not least, its critical temperature is close to the ambient temperature, making it ideal for the extraction of temperature-sensitive compounds or materials.

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What Is The Equipment Used For Supercritical CO2 Extraction Method?

It is obvious from the above details that this method requires a complex process and hence requires expensive equipment. Manufacturers who produce high-quality CBD products invest in this method. Some machinery costs about 445,000 dollars, while there is equipment that is costlier and can process up to 200 pounds of hemp plant materials in a day. Also, they can perform subcritical and supercritical extraction along with being fully automated. However, there are extraction systems that cost just 4000$ and as small as a dollhouse suitable for small businesses.

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How Supercritical CO2 Extraction Method Is Important In Experiencing the Entourage Effect?

As mentioned earlier, the supercritical CO2 extraction method is very efficient in extracting all the cannabinoids and terpenes from the hemp plant along with CBD. These additional cannabinoids are cannabinol (CBN) and cannabigerol (CBG); even though these are not as abundant as CBD, they have potential health benefits such as neuroprotective properties and reducing pain. Terpenes give the flavor to CBD products along with medical benefits. For example, the terpene Myrcene decreases the resistance of the blood-brain barrier, enabling the easy passage of helpful chemicals. Also, alpha-pinene can counteract the memory loss resulting from THC.

The terpenes and cannabinoids work together to produce the entourage effect and it is better than the cannabinoids such as CBD working alone. The CO2 extraction method is useful in producing full-spectrum hemp products that have an entourage effect. Moreover, experts believe that this is because it increases the bioavailability of the cannabidiol as well as works through synergic pathways to give the benefits.

So, when you are buying CBD products, it is better to go for CO2 hemp extract products, as it will increase the likelihood of purchasing a clean and healthy product.



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