Glass bottles of CBD oil lying on hemp leaves

Co2 Extraction Method: What Is It and How It Works

We’re going to focus primarily on the Co2 extraction method, as this is the one most commonly used by today’s most reputable hemp manufacturers.

There are numerous factors that go into producing a high-quality and ultimately effective CBD product, whether it be a CBD oil, topical, gummies. One of the factors that is more overlooked than the others is the extraction method that was used to produce the concentrate, which is then combined with other ingredients to produce a particular formula. So many of us concentrate on the milligram strength and chemical composition of the hemp product we are using, and this is important as these factors play a large role in our ultimate experience. However, the extraction method used can make or break the ultimate quality of the product, which is why we’re going to take an in-depth look into CBD extraction. We’ll also touch upon some of the other methods used, because not all CBD products are formulated in this manner.

A young woman places a dropper of CBD in her mouth

What is Hemp Extract?

Hemp extract is an oil-based concentrate that results from running the raw buds of the hemp plant through an extraction process. The buds contain naturally occurring CBD and other desirable compounds for which hemp is known. By creating a liquid oil extract, companies can control the purity levels, consistency, and concentration of any formula they create. Besides that, raw hemp flower is not active, as heat is required to make the compounds bioavailable in the body. And, adding ground up plant material to a tincture or gummy doesn’t exactly sound appealing.

Hemp vs. Marijuana Oil

Before we talk about Co2 extraction, we need to make the distinction between hemp oil and marijuana oil. The CBD oils that we see widely available come from the hemp plant, because hemp is federally legal while marijuana is not. Hemp contains up to 25% CBD (cannabidiol), while marijuana’s dominant chemical compound is THC, which is a psychoactive substance. What this means is that any standard bottle of CBD oil that you find in a store or online comes from hemp rather than marijuana, therefore, it is legal and will not get you high.

Co2 Extraction Method

Like we said, the Co2 extraction method is easily the most popular method for creating a hemp extract from hemp plant material. The process is highly advanced and can’t be done without the use of special equipment and proper training. Co2 extraction involves three chambers. One chamber contains the raw hemp material, while the other contains pressurized carbon dioxide. The Co2 is pushed out of the one chamber and into the one containing the hemp plant. Then, a third chamber collects the extract that results from this process. This method is largely considered the best of all because it preserves the chemical stability of the compounds while avoiding the introduction of impurities into the final product. This is also the method that we use, so you're getting the best of the best!

Other CBD Extraction Methods

Now, let’s look at other methods that are still used by some cannabidiol companies.

Method #1: Solvent

Solvent-based extraction methods are less popular for a few reasons. One reason is that solvents automatically introduce impurities into the final product. The other reason is that solvent-derived extractions are less chemically stable and can therefore degrade easily. The process involves pouring a solvent over the raw hemp material. The solvent is usually butane, ethanol, or isopropyl alcohol. This allows the solvent to naturally dissolve the wax of the hemp plant that contains a host of desirable compounds. What remains of the plant material is discarded, as it no longer has its original chemical composition, and the liquid solvent is evaporated to boost its concentration. Solvent-based methods should not be done at home because they are highly flammable by nature. They are also very difficult to do as they require lots of time and caution. This type of process is easier to do than Co2 extraction. It’s also faster and cheaper to boot, therefore, its appeal is easy to understand. However, this method is simply not good enough for today’s CBD market. The impurities can become a problem and can interfere with both flavor and purity levels. Moreover, the impurities also leave behind quite a bit of chlorophyll that lends itself to a more bitter flavor. This also decreases the ultimate potency of the extract. And, as we said, solvent-based methods typically have a shorter shelf life.

Method #2: Oil

Another common method is the oil-based method, which has been around for far longer than the other two, as it does not require any special equipment and is easy to do at home. In fact, this method likely dates back centuries. The process is simple. The plant material is put into a container, and oil is poured over it. Then, the oil is heated at a low temperature, and over the course of a couple of hours, the compounds slowly get infused into the oil. Then, the plant material is discarded, and what’s left behind is a compound-rich oil. Typically, the oil that is used is olive oil or some other culinary oil, but any other food grade oil will do. The problem with oil-based methods is that while they’re great for those looking to make an extract from home, they aren’t great for commercial use. By nature, oil-based extracts are very unstable and can degrade very easily, therefore, they do not last long. Further, they typically leave behind a good deal of chlorophyll which again can take away from the taste.

Method #3: Distillates

Distillates are a specific type of hemp-based product produced using an entirely different method. What they are is an isolate that’s extremely concentrated. Distillates are different from the standard products we are used to taking. Distillates are more potent and consist of 95% or more of a singular compound. They are produced using a distillation method which involves evaporation to create a vapor-based hemp concentrate, which is then purified repeatedly until it’s shown to have the proper level of a specific cannabinoid. The other five or so percent consists of additional cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds. Distillates definitely have a place in the hemp market and are often favored by more experienced hemp users who are looking for the effects of a specific cannabinoid. They are not lower in quality than Co2 extracted products.

Method #4: Concentrates

Like distillates, concentrates are more of a specialty product. Their main distinguishing factor is that, as the name implies, they are extremely concentrated. This is the result of specialized methods that require the use of solvents or other means of concentrating the compounds. Concentrates are remarkably potent compared to standard hemp products.

Why Co2 is the Way to Go

Without a doubt, the Co2 extraction method is the best method of all from a both a consumer’s and a brand’s perspective. It yields the highest-quality, purest, and most stable product possible. This means that it’s more likely to give you the potency you desire, have a clean taste, and boast a long shelf life.

How to Find Co2-Extracted CBD Products in a CBD Store

If you wish to purchase CBD that has been Co2-extacted, you’ll have no trouble finding some either in a store or online. Without a doubt, when we buy CBD, we’re mostly buying CBD that has been extracted via this means. Co2 extraction has become the norm throughout the industry. This means that you’re most likely to find a CBD product that has been Co2-extracted. Most companies do explain how they extract their hemp products, and if this information is not available on their website, you can always contact them directly via email or a phone call and ask. However, since you're here with us, and this is exactly what we do, you should be able to buy CBD products right here with us!
A woman reads the label of a berry-flavored CBD oil

Why the Co2 Method Matters for Pets as Much as Humans

Any pet owner looking to start their dog or cat on a hemp routine should maintain the same high standards when selecting a product that they adhere to when shopping for themselves. The quality of a hemp product makes a difference in our bodies as well as those of our pets. That being said, it’s just as important that you give your pet a cannabidiol product that was crafted using the Co2 extraction method over the other methods listed above. This allows you to know for certain that the product is as pure as possible, is chemically stable, and highly bioavailable to give your pets the best possible CBD experience. Besides that, there is always a possibility that some of the solvents used in methods that rely on these substances may be harmful to pets. Even small amounts can build up to unhealthy levels in animals’ bodies if taken on a daily basis.

Co2 Extraction is The Way to Go

It’s clear that Co2 extraction is the winner out of all of the various ways to create a CBD extract. And because it’s so widely used, you’ll be able to explore a wide-array of high-quality Co2-extracted products. FABCBD offers a rich variety of high-quality Co2-extracted cannabidiol goods that are fully stable, highly bioavailable, and as pure as possible. The next time you go shopping for CBD, look to see how the compounds were extracted to know that you’re getting a top-shelf, clean, and potent Co2-derived product.