You might understandably think that just by choosing to vape (versus smoke) a substance like CBD, you’re making a positive choice for your health. However, the way your vape oil was extracted from its source is one of the most important factors in determining how clean and pure your vaping experience actually is. At CannaLeaf, we use CO2 extraction process for our CBD oil; and in today’s article, we’re going to show you why that’s not just a buzzword or trendy label we throw around lightly — it’s a commitment to our customers’ health.
Getting Started: CO2 Extraction Basics
There it is, your shiny new package from CannaLeaf that’s just arrived at your doorstep. The cleanly designed box opens smoothly, you lift the dropper out of its packaging, and you hold the bottle up to the light. The shimmering CBD oil glistens, and even after your first vape hit you can tell that you’re getting the kind of clean, pure, and smooth experience you were hoping for.
What you might not realize, though, is that a ton of work went into getting those few dozen milliliters of CBD oil into your hands so that you could have that premium vape experience. And arguably the most crucial part of that process is a little-understood step called supercritical CO2 extraction.
So, what is CO2 extraction? You probably already know that CBD originates as a compound contained deep within the hemp plant. Extraction is the process that removes CBD (or any other compound) from the plant matter itself, resulting in an oil or wax containing the desired ingredients. Now, here’s where things get sticky: because the legality and ongoing public awareness of CBD (and the hemp plant in general) is still fairly new, extraction techniques have been slowly evolving as well.
That means that in the beginning, one of the most common ways to turn a hemp plant into CBD oil that can be vaped was to use harsh chemical solvents. The difference between CO2 extraction vs butane (a common solvent used for extraction) can’t be overstated: the former is exceedingly pure and customizable, while the latter leaves dangerous residual chemicals in the resultant oil.
Is CO2 extraction better than butane? Absolutely. In fact, it’s better in almost every measurable way: for health, the environment, ease of manufacturing, sustainability, and cost.
Understanding The CO2 Extraction Process
How does CO2 oil extraction work, exactly? After all, it’s one thing to make bold claims about CO2 extraction vs. a solvent or distillation, so what does science have to say about it? What makes CO2 extraction so much better?
The fact is, the CO2 extraction procedure is so much cleaner and more pure than a chemical solvent-based approach, it’s hard to believe that anyone ever vaped oil extracted any other way. CO2 (carbon dioxide) is an incredibly abundant compound. In fact, every breath you exhale is CO2, as you probably know. Even the FDA considers CO2 to be natural enough to allow it in beverages sold in stores nationwide, and it is totally legal to be used as a method of CBD extraction.
By cooling CO2 to freezing temperatures and compressing the gas, it becomes what we refer to as “supercritical.” That means we’ve basically turned a gas into a cold liquid that still has some gas-like characteristics! For CO2, that’s especially interesting, because carbon dioxide doesn’t normally like to be in liquid form. As we said, CO2 is incredibly abundant in its natural gas form; and it’s not that hard to make it a solid, either (solid carbon dioxide is just dry ice!). In order to make CO2 act like a liquid, it needs to be under tremendous amounts of pressure, while being cooled to around -70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once this occurs, we can make the carbon dioxide “supercritical,” which allows the expert CannaLeaf lab staff to adjust the CO2’s solubility and fine-tune exactly what they’re trying to extract from the plant matter.
It’s a little complicated, but the general way CO2 extraction of hemp oil works is the following:
- Create supercritical (liquid) CO2.
- Alter pressure and temperature depending on what’s being extracted and the goals of the extraction.
- Pass the supercritical CO2 through an extractor containing the plant matter itself.
- A solution forms as a combination of the CO2 and cannabinoids/terpenes.
- Pass the new solution through a separator to quickly and easily remove (and recycle!) the liquid CO2.
- Leave the new wax/oil extract out to allow any remaining CO2 to naturally evaporate.
Benefits Of Supercritical CO2 Extraction
Why use CO2 extraction versus chemical solvents or distillation? The benefits and superiority of the CO2 extraction method are pretty clear:
- Isolation – Instead of getting a reduction from the plant that contains “who-knows-what,” CO2 extraction of cannabinoids allows for hyper-detailed targeting of exactly the compounds that the laboratory is trying to isolate. This leads to better products and more informed consumer choices.
- Health – Carbon dioxide is an abundant gas in our atmosphere, and is totally safe to be used as an extractant. Methods using harsh chemical solvents like butane leave residual heavy metals and other bad traces that do not belong in your body.
- Customization – Thanks to the “tunable” nature of CO2 extraction, the CBDfx labs are able to obtain CBD in an array of physical forms ranging from almost crystalline, to waxy, to oily, and everything in between.
- Taste/Aesthetics – Hemp oils that have been extracted using alcohol and/or butane have a very noticeable “chemical” taste to them, and are usually created absent the most aromatic terpenes. CO2 extraction preserves the natural flavor of the source plant and doesn’t inject nasty chemicals into the equation.
- Environment – As we mentioned, at the end of the process, the supercritical CO2 is recyclable. And even better, the residual CO2 in the CBD concentrate itself doesn’t need any fancy process to be removed — it simply evaporates on its own, exactly like a soft drink losing its carbonation after it sits out for a day!
CO2 Extraction of CBD Oil Is The Future
As you’ve hopefully learned from this blog, the use of CO2 extraction to create CBD oil (or any other hemp oil, for that matter) is by far the most preferable way to create these wonderful products.
Therefore, it’s very important for you as a CBD user to be an informed consumer when it comes to the products you buy. The sad reality is that there are many companies out there trying to make a quick buck off of hastily made, shoddy oils that are rife with butane residue or ethanol. These companies would rather keep making their oils the old way, risking both the safety of their staff (butane is highly combustible) as well as their customers’ health.
At CBDfx, it’s been our mission from day one to offer the cleanest, purest, most transparent product possible to our valued customers. We’ve thought about quality and sustainability at every step of the process, leading to products that:
- Are all organic (and mostly vegan, too!)
- Are made with CO2 extraction.
- Come from our Southern California laboratories with detailed lab reports that we make public.
- Originate from hemp farms that we personally select for their sustainable, organic farming practices.
Whether you use CBD once in a while or multiple times a day, it’s in your best interest to make sure that you understand a little bit about what you’re putting into your body, so that you can continue to make the right choices for yourself and your well-being. By committing to only using CBD products that have been CO2 extracted, you’re making a smart choice to support cleaner products and cleaner extraction methods . And that’s something that fits right in with our mission here at CannaLeaf.