Flower is still the most popular cannabis product, but it seems like it’s only a matter of time now until concentrates catch up. The marketplace for cannabis concentrates is becoming more developed as leaders in the industry find innovative ways to extract cannabis more efficiently and offer superior products. Dispensaries that want to earn loyal customers will have to offer the highest quality of extracts to stay competitive. To stay on the cutting edge, familiarize yourself with supercritical CO2 extraction.
How Are Cannabis Concentrates Made?
There are many ways to make extractions from cannabis, and the number of different methods is growing alongside the industry. While processes differ slightly, most cannabis concentrates are defined as either solvent-based or solventless. Compared to solventless options like water extraction and dry-sieve extraction, solvent-based extraction is regarded as the industry standard when it comes to yielding powerful results. Supercritical CO2 extraction is a solvent-based cannabis extraction process.
What Is Supercritical CO2 Extraction?
This method isn’t entirely new, but it hasn’t always been used to make cannabis extracts. Previously, supercritical CO2 extraction was used for things like vanilla extract and perfumes. The first step is getting carbon dioxide into a supercritical state, which can be achieved with pressure and temperature. Supercritical CO2 possesses qualities of both liquid and gas, which is what makes this extraction method so special. The carbon dioxide can behave like a liquid solvent, but it’s enough like a gas that it can penetrate the cannabis more thoroughly and reach places normal liquids couldn’t.
Benefits of Supercritical CO2 Extraction
Since supercritical carbon dioxide can interact with the cannabis plant material more completely, it can extract more of the cannabinoids and terpenes. Those are the components of the cannabis plant that consumers find most desirable, so it’s better to create a product with higher levels. Furthermore, carbon dioxide isn’t toxic or flammable, and it’s an abundant renewable resource. While some other extractions are made with solvents that can be dangerous or bad for the environment when used incorrectly, CO2 cannabis concentrates may be perceived as an eco-friendly choice.
Drawbacks of Supercritical CO2 Extraction
The downside to supercritical CO2 extraction is that the process is very labor-intensive. Since it requires very specific pressures and temperatures, skilled extractors must pay very close attention and use state of the art equipment. The process may also take longer than some other methods. All this considered, cannabis concentrates made through CO2 extraction are likely to be more costly than those produced in some other manners.
How Does Supercritical CO2 Extraction Compare?
Butane hash oil (BHO) extraction will generally be considerably less expensive than supercritical CO2 extraction because the required equipment is less sophisticated. Ethanol extractions can produce a similar quality to what you might expect from supercritical carbon dioxide extraction, but the ethanol-based process isn’t as well-suited for large batches. That makes it less appealing in an industry that’s only growing in volume as time goes on. As technology advances, it will become less expensive and even more efficient to produce supercritical CO2 concentrates.
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