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Your Concise Guide to CO2 Extraction: What It Is and Why You Need It

what is co2 extraction and how does it work
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In an industry described as being akin to the ‘Wild West’ due to the lack of regulation, it pays to learn and understand as much as you can about hemp. One of the most important considerations one must make when searching for a CBD brand is the method of extraction it uses.

Companies of a dubious reputation potentially cut corners and utilize chemical solvents such as lighter fluid (butane) and hexane. Aside from cheating customers out of valuable terpenes, chemical solvent extraction results in a product with possibly harmful residues.

For CBD users who don’t want to run the risk of ingesting chemicals, purchasing CBD from brands that use CO2 extraction is ideal. This process kills harmful bacteria and ensures more terpenes and cannabinoids end up in the CBD product.

So, what does CO2 extraction mean? And how easy is it to find CBD products manufactured in this way?

What Is CO2 Extraction?

CO2 extraction uses pressurized carbon dioxide to take as many desirable cannabinoids from the hemp plant as possible. It involves taking out the plant’s essential waxes, cannabinoids, and terpenes. In the end, CO2 oil is a healthy-looking amber-colored oil that can be used in tinctures, edibles, and more.

Manufacturers use carbon dioxide because it is a versatile, ‘tunable’ substance. It acts as a solvent at a specific temperature and pressure range. However, it doesn’t have the dangers associated with solvents. As a result, consumers benefit from a premium-quality, clean oil with no toxic by-products.

Did you know that CO2 extraction is a standard extraction method in the herbal supplement and food industries?

For example, if you drink decaffeinated coffee, you are already using a product that relies on carbon dioxide extraction to remove caffeine from coffee beans. Also, the gas is an extraction solvent in essential oil production.

These companies realized that conventional processes for extracting different components from food products had limitations regarding wastefulness, flammability, and solvent toxicity. Before the use of supercritical CO2 extraction, brands relied on solvents such as ethyl acetate, methylene chloride, and trichloroethane for decaffeination!

What Is CO2 Supercritical Extraction?

Although there are other methods, supercritical CO2 extraction is widely regarded as the industry’s gold standard. It is the process of using supercritical fluids to separate one component from another. CO2 is the most commonly used fluid in this process, although it is occasionally modified by a co-solvent such as methanol or ethanol.

Carbon dioxide presents as a gas at standard pressure and temperature. Supercritical CO2, on the other hand, is the fluid state of the gas, which takes place above its critical pressure and temperature.

CO2’s Supercritical Region

Here is a quick step-by-step guide to supercritical CO2 extraction:

  • The extractor takes CO2 in its gaseous form and runs it through a chamber. At this stage, it is subjected to heightened pressure and temperatures as low as -70 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The gas changes into a fluid.
  • One reheated and pressuized, CO2 showcases its unique properties. A supercritical fluid has properties between a gas and a liquid. For example, it maintains the density of a liquid while filling space like a gas.
  • The special fluid moves through a chamber that contains the raw hemp material.
  • The fluid then passes through the raw material and dissolves the trichomes’ membranes. As a result, the process captures a significant proportion of the active compounds.


A supercritical system produces a thick substance with a consistency akin to that of peanut butter. This is because the higher pressures and temperatures extract larger molecules, including waxes, chlorophyll, and omega-3 and 6 lipids. Then, the ‘winterization’ process removes these substances, which leaves behind the cannabinoid oil only.

Some companies also use subcritical CO2 extraction. It isn’t as common a method as its supercritical cousin, mainly because it takes more time and produces less material. Subcritical is a similar process to supercritical, except it requires lower pressure and a lower temperature.

Subcritical extraction produces a material with a consistency similar to molasses.

Benefits of CO2 Extraction

One of the primary benefits of using a hemp extract from CO2 extraction is its status as a ‘green solvent.’ For CBD products, the use of carbon dioxide provides a cleaner and healthier product.

Unlike solvents such as butane, CO2 extraction contains no chemical residues. It is also recyclable and cost-effective.

The Entourage Effect

Perhaps the biggest benefit of CO2 extraction is its capacity to extract dozens of cannabinoids and terpenes. The hemp plant has over 110 identified cannabinoids and hundreds of terpenes and flavonoids.

Even though CBD has an array of purported benefits, an increasing number of experts now believe that hemp’s real ‘magic’ involves a combination of its terpenes and cannabinoids.

The entourage effect suggests that cannabinoids and terpenes work better together than in isolation. While high-quality CBD isolate has its uses, full-spectrum products and generally more popular.

Cannabinoids such as cannabinol (CBN) and cannabigerol (CBG) are not as abundant as CBD but potentially have health benefits of their own. Then there is the small matter of terpenes. For example, alpha-pinene and myrcene are thought to promote relaxation.

Although CO2 oil is considered the best around, don’t be shocked to learn that many low-cost CBD products do not involve CO2 extraction.

Where to Find CO2 Extracted CBD Products

Luckily for consumers, CO2 extracted products are easy to find.

At Premium Jane, our entire CBD range is crafted using this method. While it may be expensive, it’s essential for us to maintain premium standards so that our customers can source safe, effective, and versatile hemp extract.

Our range incorporates CBD tinctures, gummies, and bath bombs, so customers aren’t restricted to traditional products.

Additionally, consumers can check that a product doesn’t contain harmful ingredients through certificates of analysis (COA). As mentioned before, sometimes solvent extraction can leave contaminants in the hemp extract.

Reputable brands should always conduct third-party lab testing to check for this. Published COA’s are also a great sign that the products are high-quality, offering potential customers complete transparency.

Premium Jane’sJane’s products are tested for various contaminants that include microbes, pesticides, and heavy metals. Additionally, all reports are published in full on our official site.

Final Thoughts on CO2 Extraction

Ultimately, when you are purchasing hemp oill, it is best to save your money and wait for products where CO2 extraction is involved. First and foremost, it increases the likelihood of getting clean and effective products without harmful chemical residue.

Secondly, such products typically contain a full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes. An increasing number of experts in the field recommend such products, and some even believe they are superior to isolates. Finally, CO2 extraction equipment is expensive, so you know companies that use it are serious about providing the best products around.

While CO2 extracted oil is ultimately more expensive, you unquestionably get what you pay for. Find a full range of CO2 extracted CBD products on Premium Jane’s official online store.

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P F Perez

I am curious about the extraction method and its ability to separate the different components of the hole plant material from the initial CO2 extraction without the use of multiple progressive chemical extraction and selective separation of it components.

Ray Hayes
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CO2 extracted crude still must be winterized with ethanol so why not just do ethanol extraction?

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CO2 extraction is a process that uses pressurized carbon dioxide to pull the desired phytochemicals from a plant. In the world of cannabis, the process pulls all of the essential cannabinoids, terpene oils and waxes out of the plant material.

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CO2 is a naturally occurring compound.

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It is hard to explain, but you guys did a great job at explaining the process. Kind of long but durable…

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I had no idea that this method works well until I tried it…

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