CO2 Vs Ethanol Extraction Of CBD

Ethanol Extraction Of CBD
CBD Extraction Type

The quality of CBD products decides if they are worth your money and everything starting from hemp farming to CBD packaging plays its role in determining CBD quality. CBD extraction is one process that determines the potency and value of a CBD product largely.

Here we make a comparison of ethanol extraction and CO2 extraction of CBD.

Extracting Agent

As the name suggests, ethanol extraction is performed using ethanol while CO2 extraction uses supercritical CO2. Ethanol extraction is a solvent extraction process that is safer than other solvent extraction methods like butane extraction. CO2 used in CO2 extraction is converted into a supercritical state by subjecting it to high-pressure ad low temperature.

Toxicity Risk

Ethanol is a safer solvent when compared with other solvents like butane and propane and hence does not pose any risk of toxicity. After extraction, remaining traces of alcohol can be easily removed from the final CBD extract by evaporation.

CO2 extraction is also a safe method of CBD extraction as CO2 doesn’t have any associated toxicity risks, making CO2 extracted CBD especially popular in vaporizers.


Ethanol extraction uses grain alcohol, which is passed through the hemp plant material, recollected at the end, and circulated again within the extraction system if needed. The method allows optimal extraction of all essential phytochemicals and the end product will have a syrupy consistency.

In the CO2 mode of extraction, CO2 gas is converted to the supercritical stage, which is between liquid and gas by cooling the gas and subjecting it to high pressure. CO2 extraction machinery has three chambers, one that cools and pressurizes CO2, one for holding the plant material, and the third one to create a closed-loop system that recaptures CO2 in the end. Extraction is performed by passing supercritical CO2 through the plant material at suitable conditions.

Volume Of Phytochemicals Extracted

The polar nature of ethanol makes it a generalized solvent rather than a selective one enabling it to extract more phytochemicals, thereby improving the nutrient profile of the CBD extract. The method suits the extraction of full-spectrum CBD so well.

CO2 is picky in nature indicating that some essential phytochemicals can be missed out during the extraction process. The non-polar nature of CO2 often misses out on several polar, water-soluble plant compounds during extraction.

Each method of extraction has its benefits and drawbacks and choosing one over the other depends on the type of CBD product that is to be produced. See more about natural hemp oil here.