Understanding the CO2 Extraction Process

Marijuana research

Cannabinoids are compounds that are naturally found in the Cannabis sativa plant. This plant contains over 480 different compounds with only 66 compounds categorized as cannabinoids. The most well-known compound is delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC). Among the ingredients and compounds in cannabis, it is the main psychoactive ingredient. There are different classes of cannabinoids which vary according to its degree of psychoactivity.

Cannabinoids are believed to have medical benefits such as reducing one’s anxiety levels, reducing inflammation, relieving pain, controlling nausea and vomiting that is caused by chemotherapy, killing cancer cells, slowing tumor growth, relaxing tight muscles in people who suffer from multiple sclerosis, stimulating appetite, and improving weight gain for people with cancer and AIDS. These medical benefits are still inconclusive, but several people have attested for cannabinoids to have worked effectively on them. This is why many seek cannabinoids. However, an important factor to consider is its extraction process. Experts confirm that the most advisable cannabinoid extraction process is the CO2 extraction process.

What is a CO2 Extraction Process?

The CO2 extraction process is a type of extraction process where pressurized carbon dioxide is the main component in its goal of extracting as abundant and favorable cannabinoids as possible from marijuana or the hemp plant. The process includes taking the plant’s essential waxes, terpenes, and cannabinoids. The end-product and benefit of the CO2 extraction process are producing a cleaner, purer, and better quality oil that is also safe and quick to produce since there is little, if not none, post-processing.

CO2 is known to be a “tunable solvent”. This means it is greatly versatile and is tuned by controlling pressure and temperature to extract the desired end-product abundantly. More so, as it can be tuned, you can manipulate it to separate other constituents and only target the desired compounds you want to extract from cannabis or hemp. Using different parameters, you can extract terpenes or cannabinoids separately. 

Additionally, CO2 also functions as a sanitizing agent that can prolong the shelf life of what you extract and yield the best quality for food and medical grade oils. 

The CO2 Supercritical Extraction

Supercritical CO2 extraction is known to be the gold standard of industries that require extraction of oils. This process requires the use of supercritical fluids to separate one component from another. The most widely used fluid in the supercritical fluid extraction is CO2 which may need some modification by a co-solvent, either methanol or ethanol, in some cases.

CO2 simply produces a cleaner and healthier product through a more efficient, safe, and innovative process. It is incomparable with other solvents such as butane since it does not leave any nasty chemical residue. It is also the most profitable process as it extracts the best quality of oil while being the most cost-effective among all other extraction processes. With supercritical CO2 extraction, being non-flammable, non-toxic, inert, only having moderate critical contents, versatile, little-to-no residue, and ideal for temperature-sensitive materials are some of the properties other extraction processes struggle to provide.

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