Many customers purchase CBD oils without knowledge of extraction processes. Oil purity, safety, price, and quality can vary depending on which was used. Let’s go over the pros and cons of the most popular extraction processes so you can refine your choices as you shop for concentrated CBD products.
In this article, we argue that CO2 extracted CBD oil is superior in certain ways. Read on to learn why.
CO2 Extraction Method Basics
CO2 (carbon dioxide) extraction has three subcategories: supercritical, subcritical, and mid-critical. Supercritical is the most common of the three. This regularly used extraction method is safe and the results are pure.
The CBD is extracted using pressurized CO2, which not only pulls CBD but other valuable phytochemicals, from the hemp plant.
This method should be done in a lab using high-end CO2 CBD extraction equipment. It requires you to freeze and compress the CO2 gas. Extreme care is taken to induce this cold liquid state.
1. Supercritical CO2 Extraction Method
So you’ve created some liquid CO2. The next part is very cool because you’ll be increasing the temperature and pressure to a “supercritical” level. What this means is that your CO2 is now halfway between a liquid and a gas, capable of adapting properties of both at the same time.
This supercritical state is essential for it to perform chemical extraction without damaging or denaturing the CBD. Now pass this supercritical carbon dioxide through your CBD-rich cannabis, which will extract the trichomes and terpene oils.
These are collected in a container after being separated from the CO2. This CO2 is then stored in a contender where it’s turned back into a liquid, which can be reused. Supercritical CO2 extraction is state-of-the-art at the time this article is being written (2021).
2. Subcritical CO2 Extraction Method
This takes longer and produces less product than the supercritical method. It requires low pressure and low temperatures. So why would someone want to do this?
Well, by extracting this way, you’re less likely to damage sensitive materials like terpenes and essential oils. By taking care to preserve these, you create a higher quality “full-spectrum” product.
This method, however, allows omega 3 and 6, as well as chlorophyll, into the resulting substance. This must be removed through “winterization”. Winterization also changes the substance from having the consistency of peanut butter to having the consistency of molasses.
3. Mid-Critical CO2 Extraction Method
The mid-critical CBD CO2 extraction method lies in a range between the above two methods. It uses both, first subcritical and then supercritical on the same plant matter. By homogenizing the oils into one, you end up with a great full-spectrum cannabis extract with the benefits of both.
CO2 Extraction Method Pros and Cons
There are many reasons why this method is superior to the others. Check out these pros and cons:Pros
- Safe: Being a common food additive, you can rest assured it’s not going to make you sick.
- Effectiveness: CO2 extraction has been used by food companies for years. For example, it’s used to extract caffeine from coffee and as a solvent in the production of essential oils.
- Purity: You don’t have to worry about chlorophyll or contamination, and it’s potent.
- Expensive: High-tech equipment is required.
- Difficult: Not for the amateur chemist.
As you can see, there are more CO2 extract benefits than drawbacks. Let’s move on and learn about the olive oil method.
The Olive Oil Extraction Method
This easy, DIY method requires you to first decarboxylate your plant material, which involves heating it for a certain length of time at a very specific temperature. Only then will the plant’s chemicals be activated.
Place your decarboxylated plant matter into your olive oil and heat using specific parameters. This will extract the cannabinoids while infusing the olive oil. You’ll produce a fairly good product but lower yields compared to using CO2.Pros
- Safe: You might decarboxylate your cannabis too long and ruin your stash, but you’ll be safe.
- Cheap: It’s less expensive than other methods.
- Perishable: Store it in a cool, dark place and use it asap.
- Low Yields: You won’t get the most out of your plant.
Pick this method if you need a CBD oil tincture but you only have enough money for cannabis and olive oil. Or choose it because you love to cook with cannabis. It’s an easy way to transform your home-grown plant into a delicious infusion.
The Dry Ice Extraction Method
This is another DIY option, but it requires more time and effort than the olive oil method. Feel like Bill Nye the Science Guy with your kitchen full of evaporating dry ice.
Chop your plant material and mix these trimmings with dry ice. This will help separate the plant matter from the extracts. Then add water, strain it all through a mesh bag, and your extracts will simply settle to the bottom of the bowl.Pros
- Fun & Easy: The directions are simple, and it’s an excuse to play with dry ice.
- Clean: Easy cleanup compared to other methods.
- Fair Yield: End up with a better yield than with olive oil extraction.
- Low-Quality: Easy to ruin your end product if you shake the bag for too long.
- Supplies: It could be hard to find 3 pounds of dry ice (unless you order it online).
Between the olive oil method and this method, you’ll get a bigger yield and longer shelf life with this one. Call around to local grocery stores or purchase dry ice online.
The Solvent Extraction Method
This involves using butane or ethanol as solvents. Although it extracts a full range of terpenes and cannabinoids, there are safety and health risks involved. This method also extracts chlorophyll, so you may experience some discomfort.Pros
- Quality: Use high-grade alcohol to make a good quality oil.
- Simple: Easy process
- Dangerous: You’re using flammable solvents that could start a fire.
- Health Risk: The extraction could contain harmful contaminants like chlorophyll.
If you’re going to DIY, pick a method that is relaxing. There’s really no point in stressing out while making a product that’s meant to relax you. CBD CO2 extraction vs ethanol is a no-brainer.
CO2 Extraction CBD Oil Is Our Winner
Although you’ll spend more on CO2 extracted CBD oil, you’ll be avoiding health risks and potential danger. To get an extremely pure, full-spectrum oil, leave it to the experts to create a pure, safe, and healthy product for you.
If you’re set on DIY, we recommend olive oil or dry ice. Note: This isn’t a complete list of options, but they’re the most popular.
Check out our CBD gummies if you’d rather eat a sweet treat than take a tincture.