The increase of legalization for cannabis has made it easy for the market to know more about the therapeutic benefits of this plant. In the USA, the cannabis industry experienced a sudden spike when the Farm Bill of 2018 was approved. It allowed the legalization of cannabis plants where farmers are allowed to sell edibles, oil extracts, and flowers.
When it comes to separating the plants’ extracts, a method known as supercritical carbon dioxide is often used. There is a supercritical CO2 extractor for sale that separates the various compounds and components commonly found in cannabis, such as the terpenes, flavonoids, phytocannabinoids, CBD, and others into their pure forms. This results in products that are safe, clean, pure, and useful.
How it Works
A gas such as carbon dioxide is used and heated. It reaches a supercritical state of about 31.1-degree Celsius at 1071 psi. When molecules are in this supercritical state, they can be considered as both gas and liquid. This can be used as an advantage by many manufacturers because the carbon dioxide can reach smaller spaces, and it can also dissolve components similar to that of liquid solvents. It’s easy to manipulate the properties of carbon dioxide in a supercritical state, and this is done so that it can bond to another molecule that the producers will choose.
Extraction Methods and Equipment
The size of the overall extracts will depend on the overall quantities of the batch. Some of the samples can be about 10 grams, and others can be up to 100 kilograms. Many systems may operate automatically so that the producers don’t need to be present when they are producing the oil.
Some extractions can take longer, especially when you compared them to other methods like adding butane. You can read more about the extractions when you click here. This is because there are continuous fluctuations in pressure and temperature. For instance, a 20-pound hemp plant can take up to 6 hours.
To start the extraction process, the plants should be ground and carefully placed in the vessels. The gas will undergo a rise in temperature and pressure, and then a pump will force the supercritical CO2 in the vessel where it combines with the plants’ trichomes. This allows the materials to be dissolved, and only some parts of the plant will remain.
There’s often a pressure valve present to allow the resulting material to flow into a separate container. In this other vessel, the internal heater and compressor are going to adjust the temperature and pressure.
With the change in these two factors, the molecules will bind to the carbon dioxide, and it will be separated from the hemp plant. Many systems will then reroute the carbon dioxide gas into a tank, where it will be used in the next batches. Extracts will then move into beakers or collection jars, where they will be further processed.
Benefits to Know
With the supercritical extraction method’s help, many producers can control the overall temperatures of their finished product and the procedure as well. Since carbon dioxide can be recycled, it will be a more environment-friendly option when you compare this to others. Another thing is that the FDA has already labeled CO2 as safe for mass industrial productions and extractions. Learn more about CO2 here: https://www.encyclopedia.com/science-and-technology/chemistry/compounds-and-elements/carbon-dioxide.
The gas acts as a cleaning agent that effectively kills mold, microbes, bacteria, and viruses in the process. The yields of extracts are higher than others, and the quality can be adjusted according to the manufacturers’ specifications. The adjustment usually happens in the physical properties of the gas.
If residues are found on the extract, they will evaporate when exposed to room temperature. This is because carbon dioxide becomes a gas when it goes back to its normal levels. The resulting extracts can be made into anything, including supplements, food, and beverages.
They are also important components in the medical field as they are used in medicines and therapeutic pills. They are purer compared to solvent-based products, and the plants are not usually subjected to high temperatures, so there’s no degradation involved.
More about Extractions Using CO2
Nowadays, the total consumption of carbon dioxide in the supercritical extraction process is more than 35,000 tons per year, which is expected to rise. Many facilities are using these because carbon dioxide is usually dense when it comes to purification and extraction.
The larger-scale plants are in the food industries like tea decaffeination, getting fatty acids from barley, obtaining nicotine, ginger oil, methyl ester, phytosterol, and vitamin E oil. The gas is also used to extract natural products, aromas, flavors, spices, and colors.
It’s important to know that the conventional processes have limitations in mind regarding factors like wastefulness, flammability, and toxicity. This area is where the commercial applications of CO2 are usually processed. Low reactivity and low critical temperatures allow the plants to produce their natural oils without essentially damaging or altering the products. Before this process, the usual methods are adding solvents like methyl acetate, methylene chloride, and butane for decaffeination.
Supercritical carbon dioxide extraction has many uses, and it’s especially prevalent in the cannabis industry. This is because it allows the extracts’ purification and gets the finest extracts from the crude plant materials. When the gas reaches a supercritical point, it can be controlled and manipulated so that it will become both gas and liquid. This allows the plants’ molecules to combine with the ones in liquid to a pure product that’s safe for consumers.