The Cannabis market in the U.S is fast growing as the legal environment around it keeps getting clearer. Cannabis products come in several forms like edibles, oil extracts, and so on. For some of these products to be made, the required compound has to be extracted from the cannabis plant.
Now, there are several methods used for this extraction. One common method is CO2 cannabis extractions; this method is common because of how safe and effective it is. Products made using this type of extraction are often safe, clean, and pure.
In this article, we will take a closer look at this extraction method. We will start first by defining it. Then we’d go further to explain how it works and also talk about other important things you need to know about it.
CO2 Cannabis Extraction – What is it
CO2 extraction uses carbon dioxide to extract the chemical compounds (cannabinoids) from cannabis plants. Many other types of gases could be used in place of carbon dioxide for the extraction process. However, carbon dioxide happens to be the commonest one.
This is perhaps because once CO2 gets to the supercritical state; it becomes as strong as other hydrocarbons. During the process, cannabinoids, terpenes, and other essential waxes are removed from the plant. The result in the end is typically pure and potent oil. This can now be used either as vaporized or tincture.
How it Works
When the term “supercritical” is attached to the phrase “CO2 extraction”, the resulting phrase often sounds quite complex. However, supercritical CO2 extraction isn’t as complex a process as it sounds, rather the process is quite straightforward. But for someone to carry out this procedure, they need special training and special equipment. This is especially true of large-scale productions.
The first phase of this process involves taking carbon dioxide in its gaseous (natural) state and then exposing the gas to a very low temperature at high pressure. It is during this process that carbon dioxide liquidates; turning the gas into liquid brings it closer to a supercritical state.
Typically, CO2 in its gaseous state can’t get to the supercritical state. Hence, the step of converting the gas to liquid is very important.
Once the liquidation stage is complete, the fluid will then be exposed to a higher pressure than what was used in the previous stage and heated using appropriate temperatures. It is at this stage carbon dioxide becomes supercritical. Visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supercritical_fluid to learn more about supercritical fluid.
The next stage involves pushing the supercritical CO2 through the chamber holding raw cannabis. In the chamber, the CO2 serves as the solvent, simultaneously dissolving the oils and taking the essential cannabinoids.
Once this is done, the fluid is then sent into the “separation vessel”. In this vessel, pressure gradients and temperature change the fluid from its supercritical stage and it becomes immiscible.
The last stage in the process involves extracting the CO2 from the final liquid. This is usually done by letting the carbon dioxide stabilize and becomes gas again.
Note that this is merely an oversimplified rundown of this extraction method and several other things are involved in the process. For instance, some companies may use a method known as closed-loop. The closed-loop method allows the manufacturer to use their carbon dioxide more than once. Whereas, some companies always use a different batch of CO2 every time.
Why is CO2 Extraction Better?
As we have said, this method is quite common and this is because most people think it’s better than other types of extraction methods. But what makes it better? Below are some of the most common reasons why this method is considered a better option.
Before this method became commonly used, several companies used other types of extraction that uses hexane and butane.
But these weren’t completely safe as they often leave some trace of harmful residue. Also, using these chemicals as solvents is a lot more hazardous than using carbon dioxide.
2. It Easily Achieves Its Supercritical State
Making elements get to a supercritical state typically sounds like a hard and complex feat. However, this isn’t the case with carbon dioxide as it easily gets to a supercritical state.
3. Widely Available
Everyone knows that carbon dioxide exists naturally in our atmosphere. This makes obtaining it very easy. Furthermore, carbon dioxide solubility alters with pressure. Therefore, engineers can isolate several molecules based on the needed outcome. So, carbon dioxide is widely available in nature, clean, and working with it is easy.
Cannabis plants usually contain more than one hundred different cannabinoids. Click here to read more about the different types of cannabinoids. CO2 extraction can remove dozens of essential cannabinoids safely and cleanly. This is perhaps one of the best benefits it offers.
The CO2 extraction method involves the use of carbon dioxide as a solvent to extract cannabinoids from cannabis plants. This method is widely used because of its ability to extract several cannabinoids safely and cleanly. It offers several other benefits like its availability.