Using Supercritical CO2 for THC Extraction

In today’s hot botanical extract market, growers need to be smart about their THC extraction approach when making THC oil from their harvest. 

With so many product types and extraction methods, ROI can be impacted, even for the worse, if you focus on the wrong things. Profitable products have changed over the years.  

In the past, it was flower power. However, the fact of the matter is that flowers have become a commodity in terms of pricing. It’s no secret that smoking anything, of any kind, is becoming less socially acceptable and carries significant health concerns.

 “Smoked herbal cannabis is the most common method of consumption for cannabis products around the world but can be unhealthy and dangerous [since] toxins and carcinogens are released from the combustion of materials [15]” (Aieta & Rovetto 2017).

 Instead, refined oil extracts and end products are where the market is at now. With the rollback of prohibition in many areas, new methods of manufacturing hemp-derived products are becoming more popular. Vaping has emerged as one of the most popular options of consumption available to consumers.

Vape cartridge oil quality varies depending on the extraction technique used to produce it. Not only that, but different THC extraction methods carry various risks from safety and product quality to color and consistency. 

 Supercritical CO2 extraction offers oil that is more fluid, and less viscous than alternative extraction techniques, which makes it perfect for vape cartridges.

How Does Supercritical CO2 Work?

Supercritical CO2, as the name implies, utilizes CO2 in its supercritical state to extract desired components from its source material. In order to accomplish this, elevated pressures and temperatures are implemented inside of an CO2 extractor to convert CO2 in its natural state into what is considered a supercritical fluid. The point in which this is achieved is called “the critical point.” 

 Once the critical point is reached inside the extractor, the supercritical CO2 fluid is introduced into the extraction chamber where the biomass is contained. This allows the CO2 to strip cannabinoids, terpenes, fats, waxes and other plant compounds from the biomass and into a collection vessel where the crude oil can be contained for further processing.

Secondary processes of winterization, filtration, solvent removal and distillation are necessary to create the most naturally powerful THC extraction without any chemical contaminants. Once fully refined, the CO2 extract can then be used to create THC via vape cartridges, as well as high-quality tinctures, flavored oils, and other products that can be consumed in a variety of ways.

 Using extraktLAB’s Supercritical CO2 processing equipment would be more affordable and accessible than other methods long term. The machines are capable of processing large quantities of THC extracts at a time to allow for maximum profit growth, which no other processes can offer. 

Why CO2 is Safer for THC Extraction

According to the paper “Supercritical carbon dioxide extraction of cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa L” from The Journal of Supercritical Fluids:

 “The extraction of cannabis to make other forms of concentrate is a function of the solubility of THC and other cannabinoids in different organic solvents (mainly hydrocarbons and alcohols). Solvents like methanol, ethanol, chloroform, butane, hexane, etc. are currently applied, however, safety considerations related to their toxicity and flammability exist [4]” (Aieta & Rovetto 2017).

 As our Senior Technical Advisor, Cole, pointed out in our December 2018 article “CO2 vs. Ethanol Safety Concerns,” people often ask him, “‘what happens once the city finds out I need gallons upon gallons of ethanol on-site?’ I can confidently tell them that the city will be deeply invested in monitoring their business [regularly].”

 Many extraction facilities run into bottlenecks in production. extraktLAB’s Model 140 CO2 extraction machine was designed with throughput and future scalability (up to one ton per day!) in mind. A 24 sq. ft. footprint and low energy use means lower overhead costs for production.

Our Model 140 supercritical CO2 extractors offer, “some of the fastest processing on the market,” according to the GreenRushDaily article, “10 Best Cannabis Extraction Machines on the Market.”

Why Use Supercritical CO2 for THC Extraction?

extraktLAB’s supercritical CO2 technology is 99% efficient and leaves behind less than 1% of your biomass’ valuable cannabinoid content. Supercritical CO2 also creates a clean, green, and consistent product as:

 “The extraction method features essentially define the quality of the final product. Among the various extraction techniques, we can highlight the use of supercritical fluids as extraction solvents…Supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) is a technology used on large scale for the extraction of essential oils and a large variety of bioactive components from vegetable matrices [16-19]” (Aieta & Rovetto 2017).

 Supercritical CO2 extraction is the longtime method used within the food, drink, and perfume industries because it’s safe and healthy when compared to alternative extraction techniques. extraktLAB’s certified products and GMP manufacturing process take these high standards to another level.

 If you’re a grower with loads of underpriced flowers on hand, then it’s time for you to benefit from highly valuable end products. extraktLAB’s Model 140 supercritical CO2 extractor turns 8kg of trim (17.6 lbs) into 600-1200 grams of crude oil every 60 minutes. In other words, you’ll see a fast return on your valuable harvest.

Other Benefits of the Supercritical CO2 Process for THC Extraction

CO2 is a naturally occurring compound, thus is not harmful when emitted into our atmosphere. 

Because CO2 is considered to be a safe extraction solvent, the supercritical CO2 extraction method is FDA-approved for safety.

Due to the advancement of the equipment and utilization of secondary refinement processes, there is a minimal percentage of contamination that can occur within any extraction process. That said, contaminants are rarely found with the CO2 method. This also makes the THC extract have high profitability since extra funding to remove toxins is not necessary. 

The supercritical CO2 method for THC extraction is not limited to solely cannabis or hemp. Various other products may also be extracted, depending on the type of business and type of consumer. Other products that may be extracted include, but are not limited to fragrances or perfumes, a variety of oils, and extraction of hops for alcoholic purposes. 

There are a variety of methods in existence, however, the supercritical CO2 method for extraction will provide the cleanest, purest product, produce the highest revenue, and will save time and money throughout the overall extraction process. Follow extraktLAB’s supercritical CO2 process and buy our advanced, user-friendly equipment to yield great profit.