What is a CO2 extract / oil?
Supercritical carbon dioxide isn’t only a efficient solvent for apolar compounds, in fact, if it’s combined with fluid modifiers like water, it becomes a very efficient solvent also for medium polar and polar substances (caffeine for coffee decaffeination). The extraction efficiency than conventional technologies based on chemical solvents is achieved by the following features offered by supercritical CO2:
The composition of a supercritical CO2 or subcritical CO2 extract is generally different from the equivalent essential oil. Because of these differences, CO2 extracts can have distinct therapeutic properties. For example, Ginger CO2 contains gingerols, constituents that give ginger its pungent taste.
There two principal types of CO2 extract:
Because the plant material is not exposed to air (oxygen) or heat, as compared to steam distillation, none of the compounds change or oxidises during extraction. Hence, the final extract is just the same as in the plant – the same composition and aroma. In the case of German Chamomile CO2 extract, matricin is not converted to the dark blue chamazulene, as in the steam distilled oil.
Major benefits of CO₂ extracts