Small-Batch Subcritical CO2 Extraction
Our main goal was choosing an extraction method that would preserve the quality and unique characteristics of our hemp. After trying multiple different techniques including ethanol, supercritical CO2, and lipid extraction, it was subcritical CO2 that produced the superior extract.
Much like the more common supercritical CO2 extraction, subcritical CO2 uses carbon dioxide to separate the resin from the hemp. What makes subcritical CO2 extraction different is that it uses lower temperatures and pressures during the process.
This is important because cannabinoids and terpenes can be lost due to high temperatures and pressures. Since subcritical CO2 extraction keeps these variables low, the resulting extract is preserves the full spectrum of beneficial plant compounds.
We Only Extract the Hemp Flower
Another key difference of our CBD extract is that we exclusively use the hemp flower. As mentioned on Our Hemp page, the flower is the part of the plant that contains the highest levels of cannabinoids and terpenes. Most extracts are made from hemp biomass which blends leaves, stems, and branches together with the flower. This increases the amount of material available but dilutes the flower’s quality with unwanted plant fats and waxes.
It’s important to note that the quality of the input material has a direct impact on the quality of the final extract. This is why we only use the highest quality hemp flower and never dilute it with other parts of the plant. By doing so, we create an extract with more cannabinoids and terpenes and less undesirables that would need to be refined from the extract later on.
Unrefined = Better Spectrum
Since we use subcritical CO2 and extract only the hemp flower, our extract is pure and potent right from the start. The vast majority of CBD extracts undergo further processing because they are full of unwanted plant fats and waxes. In ethanol and lipid extractions, this happens because the solvent naturally pulls undesirables along with the hemp resin. With supercritical CO2, this is caused by the use of high temperatures and pressures during the process. Couple this with the low quality hemp biomass that’s typically extracted and the result is an oil that’s nearly unusable in its current state.
To remedy this, these extracts are winterized and distilled. Winterization is the process of dissolving the extract in ethanol, freezing it so the fats and waxes separate and solidify, and then removing them from the extract. After this is complete, the extract is distilled which involves heating and cooling to further purify it into a consumable extract.
During both of these processes, cannabinoids and terpenes are lost. With winterization, beneficial compounds can stick to the fats and waxes and get removed along with them. And since distillation requires heating the extract, temperature sensitive compounds are lost, reducing the overall efficacy of the extract.
On the other hand, subcritical CO2 extraction avoids both winterization and distillation because only small amounts of fats and waxes are present in the initial extract. This is due to the low temperature and pressure used during the process as well as the quality of the starting material we use. By leaving our oil unrefined, it preserves the fullest spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes and delivers the most holistic effects.
Toxic Chemical and Solvent Free
Subcritical CO2 extraction is one of the safest ways to extract hemp because toxic chemicals and solvents are never used. The only compound used during the process is CO2 which is an inert gas we encounter everyday. Since CO2 is a gas at room temperature, it easily evaporates from the extract without leaving residue behind.
Unlike ethanol and supercritical CO2 extracts, our extract never comes into contact with ethanol. As mentioned before, even though supercritical CO2 extracts are processed with CO2, they are almost always dissolved in ethanol and frozen to remove unwanted material. Subcritical CO2 extraction bypasses this stage which keeps our oil pure and completely toxic chemical free.