Cannabis CO2 extraction supercritical vs subcritical

Cannabis CO2 extraction supercritical vs subcritical

In the modern age of cannabis consumption, extracts are becoming more and more popular than ever. Moreover, patients and recreational users are gradually concerned with purchasing reliable, consistent, and safe methods of cannabis extracts. It’s been produced using some form of carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction technology, whether vaporizer pens, salves, edibles, or elixirs, chances are if it’s a quality cannabis product. Through this blog, we are going to share the major difference between supercritical and subcritical CO2 extraction. Most CO2 Extraction Companies using these two methods described below:

Working process of CO2 extraction

To pull specific compounds from a plant, CO2 extraction uses pressurized carbon dioxide. This is the most effective, expensive, and safest extraction method as it removes the various dangers that come with solvents. This technology is anything but green to the botanical extraction and food industries, although relatively new in cannabis concentrate processing. In fact, for many years, CO2 was used as a standard extraction method to produce carbonated soft drinks and to remove caffeine from coffee beans to crafting essential oils.

Supercritical CO2 extraction

While talking about CO2, it exists as a gas at standard temperature and pressure. However, it holds both the properties of gas and a liquid when heated above 31.10° and 1,071 psi which is critical temperature and pressure of CO2 respectively. As a solvent, this supercritical liquid can slide into porous materials in order to dissolve them. This fluid passes through a chamber containing raw cannabis material, gently dissolving the membrane of the trichrome to capture their active compounds in the application of cannabis. Compounds such as cannabinoids and terpenes are fractioned away with little fluctuation in temperature and pressure. In the end, the remaining CO2 is transferred to a condenser vessel where the temperature is. And pressure allows the fluid to stabilize back into a gas. When supercritical extractions produce a greater yield and take less time than subcritical extractions.

Subcritical CO2 extraction

Subcritical CO2 extraction is the same as that of supercritical CO2 extraction and the only difference between both processes is temperature and pressure. Lower temperature and pressure are used in subcritical CO2 extraction. Although this extraction process is longer, produces a smaller yield and also protects fragile components like essential oils and other sensitive chemicals within the plant. The difference in temperature and pressure results in very different cannabis products.


Although supercritical CO2 extraction was the most commonly acknowledged method of CO2 extraction, more importance is placed on full-spectrum plant products. And the role of terpenes in cannabis products, subcritical CO2 extractions have challenged mutual thought and practice. Hopefully, this blog will help you a lot regarding the CO2 extraction working process. Thanks!

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