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7 Benefits of CO2 Essential Oils Extraction

CO2 extraction process diagram
Essential oils are hydrophobic, hydrocarbon liquids extracted from plant material that are valued for their aromatic, flavoring, medicinal, antiseptic, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and many other properties.

Essential oils, especially their volatile components, are the substances that give aromatic plants their characteristic scents and flavors. (Volatile oils evaporate readily at room temperature, while non-volatile oils have a slower rate of evaporation.)

The most common essential oils extraction methods include conventional and also newer, more advanced technologies. Conventional methods include cold pressing (or expression), distillation, CO2 extraction, and solvent extraction.

The cannabis concentrate market relies heavily on hydrocarbons— butane, hexane, and propane are some of the most popular.

Here, we’ll look at CO2 for cannabis extraction. Supercritical CO2 Fluid, used on its own or in combination with Subcritical CO2 Fluid, is helpful for cannabinoid and terpenoid preservation.

What is CO2 Oil?

Supercritical CO2 extraction equipment for extracting capsicum oleoresin

The technical term for an extraction pulled with CO2 is a CO2 cannabis extract. Because of CO2’s natural chemical properties, such as lower boiling point, under the correct CO2 extraction method, CO2 naturally contains higher cannabinoid and terpene content than its Hydrocarbons. This means, that when done correctly, most CO2 concentrates have greater potency and more flavor.

7 Benefits of CO2 for Essential Oils Extraction

black pepper oil co2 extraction equipment
co2 essential oil extraction equipment
  1. A processor will perform an initial extraction at low temperature and pressure with CO2 to capture the terpenes. The terpene fraction can be collected, and then the pressure and temperature can be increased to increase extraction speed and efficiency. This capability to use pressure to change the strength of the extraction solvent is a characteristic unique to CO2 extraction. As a result, it is especially effective in preserving highly volatile compounds found in various herbs like cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis.
  2. Any lingering butane or propane in the extract can cause significant health risks, CO2 extract does not have any chemical residues.
  3. Butane released into the natural environment could harm the atmosphere. With CO2, it’s a non-toxic, naturally occurring gas. It won’t harm the environment.
  4. CO2 extraction is that it provides a safer method of extraction. Butane is highly flammable and could cause some severe harm if it came into contact with too-high temperatures. CO2 doesn’t have the same risks.
  5. Manufacturers can also recycle CO2, which allows them to use it multiple times to create extracts. That also makes it a more environmentally-friendly option.
  6. Through CO2 fractionation technology, CO2 extraction can separate more unwanted extracts such as chlorophyll and wax, reducing the alcohol requirement for wintering more.
  7. CO2 acts as a cleaning agent, so microbial bacteria, molds, and mildew are killed during the process.

Supercritical carbon dioxide is a widely used extraction method in the essential oils industry due to it effectively purifies the crude plant material. When CO2 is used in a supercritical state, it allows the producer to always be in control of the process by manipulating its physical properties to isolate certain molecules.

Sources

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