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Carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction is not a new process, and you likely know more about CO2 than you realize. Have you ever opened a soda can or a bottle of ginger beer? The “whoosh” sound that occurs with that first opening is pressure escaping, thanks to the CO2 carbonation. But what happens when that can or bottle is left open for a few hours? The beverage pressure is normalized with its surrounding environment, which means all of the C02 has escaped and now the drink is flat. This is one of the greatest benefits of CO2 – it leaves behind no trace! No residue, no toxins, no chemicals.
But what’s really fascinating about CO2 is how it functions at different temperatures and levels of pressure. At specific temperatures and pressures, CO2 can be a liquid, a solid (“dry ice”) or a gas (carbonation, as we most commonly know it). When CO2 is heated above the critical temperature of 31.10C and the critical pressure point of 1,071 PSI, it becomes a supercritical fluid, which means it has properties of both a gas and a liquid.
This new substance works to gently dissolve membranes in raw cannabis plant matter (for example), which leaves behind the active compounds. Further varying the specific temperature and pressure of the CO2 will yield different molecules of the plant. Controlling and adjusting CO2 in order to change its effect on a substance is what makes CO2 extraction such a useful method for producing beverages, coffee, tea, flowers, vanilla, and CBD from hemp.
Subcritical CO2 uses the same principles of science, but at lower temperatures and pressures, allowing for even gentler extraction of temperature-sensitive oils and other components of the hemp plant. When the extraction process is complete, the remaining CO2 is once again adjusted for temperature and pressure, converting it back to a gas which simply dissipates, leaving no waste and no remaining contaminants.
CO2 extraction carries a variety of benefits. For starters, it’s a greener method of extraction, as no harsh chemicals or solvents are used. Disposal is swift and easy, as any remaining CO2 is returned to its normal state; in other words, the temperature and pressure are lowered until it returns to a gaseous state and dissipates naturally. Additionally, it’s non-flammable, entirely adjustable, cost-efficient, and has no adverse effect on the environment.
Most importantly, it’s a “cold” method of extraction, meaning it doesn’t degrade the extract and oils with high temperatures. CO2 extraction is exceptional in that it allows for the extraction of more cannabinoids and beneficial components of the cannabis plant, without leaving any toxic trace, as compared to ethanol extraction and other methods that involve solvents.
Pure CBD oil from NuLeaf Naturals is created through a twofold CO2 extraction process. First, supercritical extraction is used to procure the more delicate and temperature-sensitive oils from the hemp plant. This is then followed by subcritical extraction on the same raw plant material in order to elicit the remaining beneficial elements of CBD. While this two-part extraction process is more expensive and time-consuming, we at NuLeaf Naturals feel it is worth it as we are committed to delivering the highest quality CBD products possible.