May 17, 2021

What is CO2 Extraction & Why's It a Good Thing for My CBD?


CBD — like money — doesn’t grow on trees. It’s inside the airborne parts of the cannabis plant: flowers, stalks, leaves.

So, to get that cannabidiol gold out of the hemp and into your favorite CBD oil products takes some work.

One of the most important steps is extraction. That’s why this post is going to concentrate (ß That’s a great pun, in case you’re not paying attention.) on:

  • Explaining what extraction is and why it’s done
  • Discussing different extraction techniques, with special focus on the CO2 method
  • Highlighting some of the safety considerations related to CBD extracts

What Is CBD Extraction?

In a nutshell, extraction is a process (or set of processes) by which certain characteristics of a thing are drawn out of that thing.

When thinking about botanical preparations, extracting pulls the beneficial properties out of a plant. This enables the processor to keep all the good stuff and discard the unneeded biomass.

What Is CBD Extract?

CBD extract is one of those just-mentioned botanical extracts. Extraction siphons off the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and so on. The left-over plant matter can be tossed in the compost heap.

Depending upon the type of CBD the processor is aiming for — isolate, full-spectrum, broad-spectrum CBD — the CBD extract may or may not filter out the other substances found in cannabis.

  • Full-spectrum CBD extract will leave other cannabinoids — like THC — in the concentrate.
  • Broad-spectrum CBD extract retains all the plant compounds except most of the THC (≤3%).
  • Isolate CBD extract is pure CBD with nothing else in it.

Full- and broad-spectrum CBD extracts are resinous and can look like tree sap, maple syrup, or liquid amber. Have you ever gone for a hot wax? Yah, it looks like the molten honey in that mini-vat.

Isolate CBD extract is crystalline. It can be pulverized into a whitish powder.

Why Extract CBD?

Extracting accomplishes a few important things:

  1. It separates the CBD (and other cannabinoids, terpenes, lovely cannabic compounds) from its hemp home.
  2. It preserves the CBD while putting it into a versatile concentrated form that processors can use to make a staggering variety of CBD products.
  3. It can make your CBD safer and more enjoyable by removing potentially harmful and/or unpleasant-tasting dirt, microbes, unnecessary plant components, etc. from your CBD.

It’s a CBD Extract…Now What?

You’re not gonna mosey into your favorite online CBD shop and buy raw CBD extract. You’re going to grab all those CBD tinctures and CBD gummies you love.

So, what happens between extraction and finished product? How’s that glorious CBD make its way into your CBD softgels and CBD creams?

The CBD processor takes that super-concentrated CBD extract and infuses or dissolves it into some sort of carrier medium. Often, that’d be something like oil — e.g., hemp, coconut, jojoba, or grapeseed oil — alcohol, or glycerin. In turn, this diluted CBD can be sold as-is or readily added to other product formulations.

What Is CO2 Extraction CBD?

Shifting gears a little, we’re going to come back to a common theme around here: Not all CBD is created equal.

This notion extends all the way back to the hemp source and all the way forward to the products you’re ogling on those virtual shelves. Somewhere near the starting end of this transformation continuum is the extraction.

There are plenty of extraction methods a processor may use. The most common approaches are probably CO2 extraction, steam distillation, and solvent extraction. We’re going to focus on the CO2 technique, though, because:

  • We think it’s a superior extraction process.
  • Pure Craft’s products all use CBD that’s been extracted via a CO2 process.

How’s CBD Extracted Using CO2?

Pure Craft uses a finely-honed, proprietary CO2 extraction method. This advanced approach was developed in conjunction with the brainiacs tucked away in MIT labs. All this is to say, we can’t share exactly what we do.

Plus, your eyes would probably glaze over the first time we flung a term like supercritical fluid at you…. You didn’t really come here to read a heavy academic tome anyways.

What we can do is explain the general steps involved in CO2 extraction. Just enough info for you to ace the next trivia match you’re in. In a typical CO2 extraction process:

  1. Carbon dioxide is pressurize in a metal tank until it’s in a state that’s simultaneously gas-like and liquid-like.
  2. The hemp is exposed to the CO2 in a pressurized and heated chamber.
  3. The CO2 splits out and carries away the desirable compounds from the not-needed leafy, planty bits.

At the end, is our hero ingredient — CBD extract. Processors can employ additional steps to refine the extract or create extracts with specific combinations of compounds. For example, a processor who’s creating broad-spectrum CBD would mix all the separated-out cannabinoids (except the THC), terpenes, etc. back together.

And at Pure Craft, we spin some magic to nanotize our CBD extract. It’s how we make it super bioavailable!

We make it sound simple here. But it’s actually quite a complex process to get CBD extract that’s the exact quality and composition you want. It requires a ton of high-tech CBD CO2 extraction equipment with “fancy” price tags.

Why Is CO2 Extraction Better For My CBD (& Me!)?

There are two sides to this question. There’s the commercialization aspect (aka the biz advantages) and the customer satisfaction perspective (aka positives you notice).

Here’s why CBD processors love CO2 extraction, as compare to other extraction methods:

Is CO2 Extracted CBD Oil Safe?


First, there’s the CO2 to contemplate. CO2 is carbon dioxide, which is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that naturally occurs all around us. According to the FDA, CO2 is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) and relatively nontoxic.

Next, there’s the actual extraction using CO2 to consider. Not only is CO2 extraction safer for the end consumer, it’s safer for the processor as well. Here are some of the top reasons CO2 extraction of CBD is a safe option:

  1. It doesn’t use additional chemicals or solvents. Many of the solvent-based extraction methods use solvents that can be toxic to humans and animals. While many of these solvents may dissipate throughout the processing, trace amounts or harmful byproducts may still contaminate the CBD extract. Ya don’t want to be inviting acetone residue into your body.
  2. It has fewer negative environmental impacts, so it’s safer for our planet and future generations.
  3. CO2 can be safer to handle than solvents and chemicals. It’s a noncombustible

The last thing to keep in mind is the hemp used in the extraction process. If the processor feeds garbage hemp into the extraction process, it’s going to spit out garbage CBD extract. No matter how amazing the extraction process — it can’t compensate for subpar inputs.

So, it’s important that the products you use started with pure, high-quality hemp. Organic American hemp is reputed to be the cream of the crop. Other hemp sources can be suspect — many known to have inconsistent plant lineage or to have harvests riddled with pesticides, for instance.

CO2 Extracted CBD For The Win

CBD extract is a concentrated product derived from cannabis. Depending upon its source and type, it may contain other cannabinoids and cannabic compounds. Extracts are generally diluted and then incorporated into the CBD products you use.

There are several extraction methods. CO2 is arguably the best because it’s safer, quicker, cost-efficient, and can yield better extracts. It’s also important to remember that — to get superior CBD extracts — the processor needs to start with high-quality hemp (or marijuana).

Pure Craft leverages a unique, cutting-edge CO2 extraction technique and additional processing to nanotize our CBD extract. We use only American-grown organic hemp. So, you know that you’re going to get the best and most-bioavailable broad-spectrum CBD available on the market.


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