One of the most popular methods of getting CBD out of the hemp plant is the CO2 extraction process. There are 2 types of methods that are used in the CO2 extraction process. Both these methods have their own advantages and manufacturers use these different methods for different reasons.
Two Methods of Extraction
One of the methods is the supercritical CO2 extraction. CO2 is pretty common but one of the properties that makes it useful as an extraction agent is that it is not that difficult to convert it into a supercritical fluid at a certain pressure and temperature. A supercritical fluid means that the substance acquires the properties of liquid and gas simultaneously. A supercritical fluid is able to go through solid substances and also dissolve materials like a liquid. This is what makes it useful as a solvent. This method of extraction allows manufacturers to extract CBD from the plants without removing other substances that are not needed.
However, it is also important to keep in mind that the process and equipment required for the supercritical CO2 extraction process is extremely expensive and is not easily available. In simple terms, it means that not everyone can afford to use this process as the equipment can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars when the process needs to be built on a commercial scale. This is the reason, the products derived through this extraction process tend to be expensive. Many research studies have been conducted to study the extraction efficiency of this process and researchers have found that the extraction efficiency is more than 92%.
In addition to the supercritical CO2 extraction process, there is also the subcritical extraction process. As mentioned above, supercritical extraction process requires a lot of expensive equipment and training to use that equipment. In simple terms, it’s not cheap and not everybody can do it. This is the reason, many manufacturers use the subcritical CO2 extraction process which is a similar process but in this process, CO2 never achieves supercritical state. In this method, the CO2 is used to defuse several compounds from the plant material.
The end result of this process is a product that is thick and this product contains usually contains most of the compounds present in the plant material including THC. In simple terms, this process creates an end product that contains CBD, THC and a lot of other compounds. After extracting this end product, further refining needs to be done in order to make the product legal and ensure the percentage of THC is less than 0.3%.
Why Use CO2?
If you’re wondering why CO2 is used in the extraction process and not any other substance, you need to understand what makes CO2 especially useful for botanical processes that involve extraction.
As you are aware, CO2 is carbon dioxide. It is a naturally occurring substance and you have some of it in your body right now. It is completely odorless and colorless which means it has absolutely no effect on the end product that is derived from the extraction. It is completely safe to use. There are many other solvents available in the market that can be used in the extraction process but experts do not consider those other solvents to be as safe as CO2.
It is believed that CO2 extraction process helps in preserving the useful compounds within the hemp plant much better as compared to other common solvents as it is able to achieve super-critical state at lower temperatures. The other solvents achieve super-critical state at a higher temperature and that might have an adverse effect on some of the useful compounds present in the hemp plant.
Why is CO2 Extraction So Popular?
Overall, CO2 extraction for removing CBD and other useful compounds from the plant material is one of the most popular methods of CBD extraction. The supercritical process is more efficient and produces pure CBD oil but it requires use of really expensive equipment and not everybody can afford it.
On the other hand, the subcritical process is not as expensive and this is the reason many manufacturers use this process to extract compounds from the hemp plant. This thick slurry obtained after the subcritical extraction process is further refined using other methods to bring down the level of THC to less than 0.3%. Some manufacturers combine these 2 methods in order to create a product that is sometimes sold as full-spectrum product.
Now that you know more about the CO2 extraction process, you should use this knowledge to understand the difference between different products obtained through these extraction techniques and have a better understanding of the marketing terms used by retailers to sell lower quality products. Hopefully, it will help you in getting more value for your money.