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  • by Nicola Boulton September 05, 2022 5 min read

    What Is CO2 Extraction, and How Is CBD Extracted?

    With the booming cannabis industry, the popularity of legalizing it has increased. For instance, billions of dollars have been put aside to invest in the cannabis industry in the United States. In the U.S, cannabis is sold in several forms, such as edibles, flowers, and oil extracts. This article explains what C02 extraction is and how CBD is extracted.

    The CO2 extraction method involves the application of pressurized CO2 in the process of obtaining essential components from cannabis sativa. These compounds comprise cannabinoids, terpenes, and critical waxes from plants. To separate the several compounds from cannabis involves using physical characteristics that are easily manipulated, allowing the producer to choose any product with which it will bond. The process produces pure, safe, and clean products.

    The Process of CO2 Extraction

     Tran et al. (2020) explained that there is variation in the extraction method depending on the size of the batch. Size can range from as small as 10grms to as huge as hundreds of kilograms. Some systems are automatic, and this does not require the producers to be available to determine the size. Roopashree & Naik (2019) explained that CO2 goes through temperatures and high pressure. Due to fluctuations in temperature and pressure, the CO2 supercritical method tends to take longer to be completed than any other method. For instance, extracting a plant material of 20lbs might take 4 to 6 hours. The plant materials are ground and placed in an extraction container during the extraction process. The supercritical CO2 is then forcefully pumped into the container to combine with the plant materials, breaking its contents and allowing the dissolution of part of it. A valve with pressure is then released to enable the materials to flow into a separate container. An internal heater and a compressor regulate the pressure and temperature. By doing this, some plant materials will combine, facilitating their separation from the plant. Then the extract is transferred into a collection jar like a beaker.

    Benefits of Supercritical CO2 Method

    Through the use of the supercritical CO2 method, there is complete control over the procedure by the producer. The CO2 may be recycled, becoming environmentally friendly compared to other methods. This method also has been claimed by the federal drug administration as being harmless in extracting industrial materials. Since CO2 acts as a cleaning agent, killing some substances such as molds, microbial bacteria, and mild ways is facilitated during the process. There is a high yield of the product through the use of this method when it is compared to other methods. Though the plan might result in varied works, the product's general quality is achieved by regulating its physical characteristics. Likewise, any residue contaminating the product can be evaporated since CO2 is a gas at room temperature. Therefore, at least all the products from this are guaranteed as friendly to food and beverages because no solvent residue can be found in the product. The extract will have high purity if it is compared to other solvent-based methods. Finally, the plant is not degraded during the process since the temperature is usually minimized, which is 31.1 degrees Celsius.

    How CBD Is Extracted Through the CO2 Extraction Method

    CBD is among the many components of the cannabis plant. Scientists are currently unfolding the medicinal benefits of this Cannabinoid. Due to this popularity, it is now being extracted and processed into several products. Edibles, creams, and even CBD oils are among the many products removed from them. CBD oil is mainly preferred due to its ability to treat several illnesses and interact with the endocannabinoid system. This system interacted with the CBD making the user not feel high. The primary purpose of extracting CBD is to come up with the Cannabinoid and other products in their concentrated form, suited for human consumption.

    Chandra et al. (2020) explained that a plant containing CBD is usually advisable for the method to be effective. Plants such as cannabis strains or hemp are particular types that are preferred. An average CBD/THC ratio is also recommended. For instance, if the plant's THC concentrations of up to 6%, the CBD content is high will lower the psychoactive nature of the THC to be unreactive. CBD extraction methods come in three divisions: supercritical, subcritical, and mid-critical. However, supercritical is the major used since it is safe and the products resulting from this method are pure. The technique uses pressurized carbon dioxide to extract CBD and other psychoactive plants out of the plant. The CO2 serves as a solvent at specific temperatures with zero danger. It is an effective and safer method involving various expensive equipment, facilitating the freezing of CO2 gas and compressing it into a liquid state that is super critically cold. The equipment is divided into three separate chambers. Each chamber serves its functions. The first chamber pressurizes and cools the CO2 super critically into a liquid state. The second chamber keeps the organic plant materials. The third chamber holds the end-product where CO2 is among to be recycled. CO2 acts as a gas at standard temperature and pressure. It is easily converted into a solid while in this condition. The CO2 is turned into a liquid by dropping its temperature to -69 degrees as you raise the pressure to 75 pounds per square inch (psi) and above.

    Ahmad et al. (2019) explained that the temperature and the pressure of the liquid CO2 are adjusted beyond the point at which the liquid becomes supercritical. The liquid CO2 is halfway between a drink and a gas at this stage. It is the best stage for CO2 in extracting chemicals since it will not denature or destroy any CBD production that might be suitable for human consumption. For the CBD products consumed either through ingestion or absorption, their hemp oil should be pure and safer by not losing components that might result in ineffectiveness.


    Supercritical carbon dioxide is the primary extraction method broadly applied in the industry of cannabis. The main reason is its effectiveness in purifying plants' crude materials. The producer also easily manipulates the process through its physical character to separate specific essential components. Whether an individual is a consumer or a producer of CBD, the CO2 extraction method is likely to come up with disadvantages though it is a popular and safer process. The general expenses of the supercritical CO2 CBD extraction method are very high that most readers might not apply, but it is an excellent, efficient, and safer method of extracting CO2. However, techniques such as the use of dry ice and the use of olive oil can be applied with minimal cost and very quickly. There are also other methods that I have not discussed in this guide. Also, to make sure that the knowledge of operating the equipment requires professional training. Due to this, most companies opt for the extraction of their hemp.


    Ahmad, T., Masoodi, F. A., Rather, S. A., Wani, S. M., & Gull, A. (2019). Supercritical fluid extraction: A review. J. Biol. Chem. Chron, 5(1), 114-122.

    Chandra, S., Lata, H., & ElSohly, M. A. (2020). Propagation of cannabis for clinical research: an approach towards a modern herbal medicinal products development. Frontiers in Plant Science, 11, 958.

    Roopashree, K. M., & Naik, D. (2019). Advanced method of secondary metabolite extraction and quality analysis. Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry, 8(3), 1829-1842.

    Tran, H. T. N., Ang, K. S., Chevrier, M., Zhang, X., Lee, N. Y. S., Goh, M., & Chen, J. (2020). A benchmark of batch-effect correction methods for single-cell RNA sequencing data. Genome biology, 21(1), 1-32.

    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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