CO2 Extraction of cannabidiol

CBD products are becoming increasingly popular, leaving many consumers wondering where to start. Plants contain essential oils but need specialized equipment or processes to extract the oil. Cannabidiol or CBD is one of the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. One of the most popular CBD extraction methods is CO2.

Several cannabinoids have various effects on the human body. Although research is still ongoing, CBD is one of the most studied elements of the cannabis plant. It is currently available in most markets in the western world. That is thanks to the CO2 extraction method for CBD.

Although the cannabis plant is illegal, CBD oils are legal in many countries. So you can find this and other products in different stores. With the growing popularity of these products, it is possible to find edibles, vape liquids, or even lotions with CBD.

It is common for questions to arise around CBD, mainly because of its origin. In this article, we will explain how you can extract CBD using the CO2 extraction process.

What Is CO2 Extraction?

Let’s start by explaining what CO2 extraction is. Carbon dioxide is a gas that can make many products, including the extraction of compounds from plant materials. The CBD oil extracted with the CO2 method uses gas in its normal state. It also uses supercritical or processed liquid form.

Cannabis extraction to obtain CBD. Using a pressure chamber, a closed-loop extractor, the CO2 gas is compressed until it becomes liquid. The liquid presses onto the cannabis material, where it removes cannabinoids such as CBD. The entire solution returns to average temperatures and pressures. At that point, the CO2 turns into a gas and evaporates.

How Does CO2 Extraction Work?

The most commonly used method for CBD extraction is CO2 extraction. There are different levels of CO2 extraction, including subcritical and supercritical. Generally, CBD oil manufacturers use supercritical CO2 extraction because of its high effectiveness.

This technique requires specialized equipment and knowledge. It works by using a closed-loop so that the process takes place in isolation without possible contaminants. First, the CO2 is -56°C, and then people increase pressure to 75 pounds (34 kg) per square inch (psi). It puts the CO2 in a supercritical state. That is, in a state that causes it to behave like a gas and a liquid simultaneously.

When in that state, CO2 behaves similarly to a solvent. It then passes into a chamber containing the plant matter. It remains dense as a liquid but can fill the chamber as a gas. These properties are perfect for extraction. Because they do not denature or damage the final product.

The CO2 extracts the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant. The result is put into a separator that breaks it down into different parts. The substances are out on a collection container. Then, the CO2 goes to a condenser to return to its original state. It can then do it again and again to repeat the process.

Is CO2 Extraction Safe?

Supercritical CO2 refers to a liquid state of carbon dioxide, which is not a volatile or explosive solvent. It stays at or above its critical temperature and pressure. Using supercritical CO2 to extract botanical oils can be more expensive.

It also requires more extraordinary skill to do it properly. However, it offers a more reliable and safer way to extract pure hemp oil. Other chemical solvents can persist in the extracted oil if not properly removed.

But is CO2 extraction safe? The stability of CO2 allows people to extract hemp with minor damage. Because of its low toxicity and low environmental impact, this method has become very common in the food industry.

CO2 extraction

Since it is also non-toxic and non-flammable, it is preferable to use it instead of other solvents. For instance, hexane, butane, and acetone. These can be toxic and flammable. They can also cause residual contamination in the oil if not properly separated. It can have adverse effects on health.

On the other hand, through this extraction, the original essence of the plant is maintained. It avoids that its odor is different from the natural one, for example, in separating caffeine from coffee to create decaffeinated coffee.

CO2 Cannabinoid Extraction Equipment

The primary CO2 cannabinoid extraction equipment needed is a closed-circuit extractor. Here’s the necessary equipment and contains three chambers:

  • Chamber 1 contains pressurized liquid CO2
  • The second one is used to fill the cannabis biomass
  • The third releases the extracted product

How To Extract CBD With CO2?

  1. In the first step, the extraction vessel is filled with carbon dioxide, cooled, and compressed. It allows it to become liquid carbon dioxide. Temperature and pressure are controlled and maintained.
  2. The pressure in the chamber is increased so that the CO2 can reach its supercritical state. Thus, it retains its gaseous and liquid state at the same time. This intermediate state of CO2 is now ready to fuse with the cannabis biomass, where the density of the liquid allows extraction—extracting the active compounds from the hemp biomass.
  3. CO2 passes through the plant material, dissolving cannabinoids and terpenes.
  4. The dissolved CO2, now carrying active compounds, passes into the next chamber. Where it loses its liquid state and becomes a gas. Since the extracted CBD is denser, it falls to the bottom of the vessel and is collected. The carbon dioxide gas is returned to the first chamber to condense again (for reuse).
  5. Finally, a CBD-rich extract is separated and harvested.

Pros Of CO2 Extraction Method

Here’s a list of some of the benefits of CO2 extraction:

  • The CO2 extraction method is one of the most popular and environmentally friendly extraction methods. Also, it is one of the gentlest and most complete.
  • It has also been used by many trusted food companies for years because it is so effective.
  • This process retains most of the plant nutrients compared to other extraction methods.
  • Although the requirement for sophisticated equipment, training, and operation make it an expensive extraction process. The final product contains no solvents or harmful residues. But the final product is pure and potent.

Cons Of CO2 Extraction Method

The significant and only disadvantage of this method is its cost. The necessary equipment is very complex. For avoiding accidents, its chambers must be of excellent quality. Also, in some cases, they can be too expensive.

All the necessary equipment can be challenging to access because they are so complex and specific, they are often costly. It depends on the scaling requirements. Machines capable of producing and fractionating large quantities of products can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is recommended that highly trained professionals in a laboratory service these machines.


If you were wondering how to extract CBD from the cannabis plant, now you know. There are several procedures to obtain it. But commercial manufacturers usually resort to CO2 extraction of CBD because of the high quality of the oil obtained. Undoubtedly, this is a costly and technical method but safe and efficient.

When buying CBD products, find out how the company has obtained the CBD. Most companies boast of using CO2 extraction. It is the best way to know that the oil comes from a recognized source you can trust.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Skip to content