CBD Extraction – What is the CO2 process?

[ February 10, 2020 by rasbmedia 1 Comment ]

CO2 extraction is widely considered the best process for extracting essential oils from plants, and harvesting their botanical compounds & terpenes. The process is acclaimed for its safety as a method of industrial hemp extraction equipment, and is used in both food and herbal supplement industries – removing caffeine from coffee beans, for instance.  

The CO2 extraction process for CBD (Cannabidiol) is explained below.

How CO2 extraction works
  • Liquid CO2 is contained in the first chamber (the tank), and the extraction vessel (the second chamber) is filled with hemp plant material.
  • The CO2 is heated to the desired temperature to become a tunable solvent, enabling extraction of phytonutrients in the essential oils.
  • The CO2 carrying the essential oils is then captured in its supercritical state (gaseous enough to effuse, but fluid enough to dissolve materials)
  • The CO2 and oil mixture then flows to the pressure relief valve from the extraction vessel, before reaching the cyclone separator (the third chamber).
  • With the reduction in pressure, the CO2 becomes less dense; separating from the CO2.
  • The CO2 then recirculates back to the tank through the closed loop system, ensuring the CO2 doesn’t come into contact with external elements.
  • The remaining oil droplets from the hemp plant containing CBD are collected for further processing

What is supercritical CO2 extraction?

By ‘supercritical’, we mean the CO2 is prepared for the process at a high temperature & pressure, to extract large molecules and higher yields. 

There is also subcritical CO2 extraction (meaning low temperature & pressure), and midcritical, for the degrees of temperature & pressure in between.

Can I learn how to do CO2 extraction at home?
With the correct industrial equipment, or a CO2 extraction machine, it’s possible to conduct the process yourself. However, the process is very dangerous if not performed correctly. CO2 is highly flammable; at high temperatures it is vital that it doesn’t come into contact with the air & its external elements. For this reason, large scale CO2 extraction is much more expensive than other methods, but guarantees safety and quality. 

What other extraction methods are there?

A CO2 extraction system doesn’t come cheap, so many will use other equipment to extract CBD Oil from Hemp. Take a look at how the CO2 process compares with the other methods below:

vs Ethanol 

Ethanol extraction is the most common solvent process. Other solvents used include butanepropaneisopropyl, or alcohol

  • More dangerous as it’s a highly flammable liquid
  • Dissolves plant waxes for extra nutrients, but this includes chlorophyll which can cause a bitter taste
  • Solvent residue can contain toxins, such as petroleum, if not evaporated properly 

vs Oil

Olive oil extraction is one of the oldest, cheapest and safest methods.

  • Produces a lower yield, so a higher dosage may be required
  • Products have to be stored in cool & dark environments as they can perish very quickly.

vs Steam Distillation

Steam distillation is another old extraction process; popular for its low cost and low risk of extracting toxins & other contaminants.

  • It’s very difficult to obtain a consistent concentration of CBD
  • The heat can potentially damage the extract and affect the cannabinoids in the CBD oil
  • A very high quantity of hemp is required

At ReThink, we use a CO2 extraction for our Broad-Spectrum CBD products because it is generally advised as the most efficient method across the industry. It may be the most expensive & complex method available, but it enables us to create the best possible oil.

It allows for adjustable CBD concentration, high yielding extracts for potency, no toxic residue and no chlorophyll, for safer, better tasting, more effective CBD products.


For more information about Cannabidiol get in contact with us today!


– ReThink
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Comment [01]

  1. January 24, 2021

    This informative article is mostly about how to make two forms of cannabis oil in the home: medical marijuana oil (often called CBD OIL) and cannabis oil for edibles. We won’t address how exactly to make BHO, that will be butane hash oil. That’s extremely dangerous to test making at home. We’re perhaps perhaps not Bad that is breaking here. So for fun or for health, read on and learn how to make cannabis oil safely in your own home whether you’re in it…

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