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CO2 Extraction for CBD Oil: What It Is and How It Works

Jeff Yauck | April 25, 2021
what is co2 extraction and how does it work

One of the most important considerations one must make when searching for a quality CBD brand is the method of extraction the brand uses to make its products. For CBD users that don’t want to run the risk of ingesting solvent residue and other chemicals, purchasing from brands that use CO2 extraction is ideal. This process is entirely solventless and results in pure, high-quality CBD products that work.

What Is CO2 Extraction?

CO2 extraction uses pressurized carbon dioxide to “pull” naturally occurring phytocompounds (including cannabinoids and terpenes) from raw hemp plant material. In the end, CBD oils made using CO2 extraction have a healthy-looking amber color to them – verifying a full spectrum of beneficial hemp compounds.

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

Few people know that CO2 is a common supplementary ingredient in foods and beverages. For example, if you drink soda or sparkling water, it is the presence of carbon dioxide (CO2) that gives the drink its fizz.

Explaining CO2 Supercritical Extraction

Although there are other methods, supercritical CO2 extraction is widely regarded as the industry’s gold standard for making top-quality CBD products. The term supercritical refers to the way in which carbon dioxide acts as a gas at standard temperatures and pressures, but acts as a liquid at high temperatures and pressures.

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 sealed chamber. At this stage, the CO2 is subject to heightened pressure and temperatures as low as -70 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The gas changes into a liquid.
  • Once reheated and pressurized, 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 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 temperatures and pressures extract larger molecules, including waxes, chlorophyll, and omega-3 and 6 lipids. However, the process of winterization removes these substances, leaving behind the cannabinoid oil only.

Some companies also use subcritical CO2 extraction. This isn’t as common a method as supercritical, mainly because it takes more time, is more expensive, and produces less material. Subcritical is a similar process to supercritical, except it relies on lower pressures and lower temperatures. Subcritical extraction produces a material with a consistency similar to molasses.

Benefits of CO2 Extraction

One of the primary benefits of making hemp extract using CO2 extraction is its status as a ‘green solvent.’ For CBD products, the use of carbon dioxide provides a cleaner, healthier product. Unlike solvents such as butane and hexane, CO2 extraction contains no solvents or chemical residues. It is also recyclable and better in the long run for the planet.

The Entourage Effect

That being said, perhaps the biggest benefit of CO2 extraction is its capacity to extract dozens of cannabinoids and terpenes. The hemp plant has over 100 identified cannabinoids, as well as hundreds of terpenes, flavonoids, and beneficial omega acids. When all of these different phytocompounds are combined in a single product together, experts believe the range of benefits is amplified compared to products that contain CBD isolate only.

This phenomenon is known as the entourage effect. While high-quality CBD isolate certainly has its uses, full-spectrum products are generally believed to be more effective for a range of uses.

For example, cannabinoids such as cannabinol (CBN) and cannabigerol (CBG) are not as abundant as CBD, but they 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. When compounds like these are filtered off and excluded from CBD oil, users are missing out on a range of potential benefits.

Where to Find CO2 Extracted CBD Products

Luckily for consumers, CO2 extracted CBD oils and other 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 industry-leading standards so that our customers can source reputable, effective, versatile hemp extract.

The complete Premium Jane range incorporates a variety of CBD tinctures, gummies, topicals, and even hygiene products such as CBD bath bombs. In this way, customers are not restricted to traditional products.

Additionally, consumers can view our Certificates of Analysis (COAs) to see that our entire product line is free from toxins and harmful solvent-based ingredients. In addition to verifying cannabinoid content, COAs are crucial for ensuring the absence of microbes, pesticides, and heavy metals. All lab reports are published in full on our official site.

Final Thoughts on CO2 Extraction

CBD products made using quality CO2 extraction techniques typically contain a full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes; meaning amplified health benefits for the user. Also, CO2 extraction methods typically result in an end product that is cleaner, higher quality, and more environmentally conscious than solvent-based counterparts.

To browse some of the best-rated, highest quality CO2-extracted products online, be sure to shop the official Premium Jane online store and place your order today.


3 thoughts on “CO2 Extraction for CBD Oil: What It Is and How It Works

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

  2. 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.

  3. Thank you for your explanation of the extraction process. It was well understood.

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