What is CO2 Extraction?

Recently, more and more has been said about the extraction processes used in getting essential oils from plant matter. CO2 extraction has been one of the most talked about process to be specific. Developed just recently, CO2 extraction is a highly efficient essential oil extraction process that relies on the use of liquid CO2 as a solvent in dissolving the essential oils found in plant matter.

In the process, CO2 is pumped into a chamber filled with the plant matter. Subsequently, the gas is forced into a liquid state by raising the pressure and lowering the temperatures in the chamber. Once the liquefied CO2 has extracted all the necessary essential oils, it is allowed to revert back to its gaseous state and escape leaving the pure essential oil extracts.

This process has been said to be the best means of extracting the purest form of essential oils from plant matter as compared to other extraction methods used in the past.

CO2 Selects

In the CO2 extraction process, the extracts obtained usually depend on the amount of pressure used. CO2 selects are usually obtained when the pressure used is lower. The end product is usually volatile essential oils. This means that resins, waxes and color constituents remain in the plant matter. It is worth noting that although these oils are similar to those extracted through steam distillation in terms of composition, they may have more components. These are lowly viscous.

CO2 Totals

On the other hand, CO2 Totals are obtained when CO2 compression is higher. This enables the solvent to draw out both volatile and non-volatile CO2 soluble components of the plant matter. This yields an extract that closely captures all the characteristics of the plant matter. Waxes, resins and color components are extracted through this process. It is worth mentioning that the oils extracted here tend to be thick and pasty in nature. They can however be dissolved using viscous essential oils or vegetable oils, with the help of a little heat where necessary.

Benefits of CO2 Extraction

No Heat Degradation
One of the most significant benefits of using CO2 extraction instead of traditional methods is the fact that it preserves the natural chemical composition of the essential oils obtained. Essential oils tend to be very delicate; the high temperatures used in steam distillation, for instance, usually end up destroying some of the components being extracted from the plant matter.

Eco-Friendly
Using CO2 extraction eliminated the need for other solvents, including the harmful hexane. As such, the essential oil extraction process does not result in the production of environmental pollutants. Additionally, there is no chance of such products harming the user’s skin, or body as a whole.

Preference
It is worth noting that although CO2 extraction seems to trounce all other methods in every way, it does not always result in the best extracts. The resulting essential oils from the different extraction processes may have different aromatic properties that may appeal to different buyers. As such, it is up to the buyer to decide the essential oil products they prefer.