Supercritical CO₂ extraction has been around since the 80s and 90s, where it first surfaced as an alternative to other methods of extraction on the market. Since then, the process has become widely used in many industries, from coffee decaffeination to essential oil extraction for perfumes to a more environmentally friendly solvent for dry cleaning. Within the cannabis realm, CO₂ extraction might still be a fairly new player – but the practice has quickly become one of the leading technologies for creating ingestible, high quality, and safe cannabis oils.
Also known as supercritical fluid extraction, the process separates components from each other using a specific type of solvent. These solvents are called “supercritical” because when exposed to high pressures and temperatures, they are able to move between the different states of matter (solid, liquid, and gas). In this state, supercritical fluids are able to break down structures for the purposes of extraction or separation.
Carbon dioxide, or CO₂, is most often used in cannabis extraction (and other industries) because its critical point can be reached at approximately 90 °F – a low enough temperature so that terpenes and other cannabinoids aren’t degraded. CO₂ is also a naturally occurring compound (one that is even produced by our own bodies!) and is among the safest for industrial extractions compared to petroleum-based solvents such as butane or propane. Finally, the solubility of CO₂ changes according to its pressure, meaning it is especially well-suited to pull out the various terpenes and cannabinoids within cannabis.
At Aurora, we use supercritical CO₂ extraction because it’s the best choice on the market for producing “whole plant” cannabis extracts that preserve the high concentrations of terpenes and other cannabinoids. Plus, the process results in a versatile product that can easily be blended with medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, which we use to produce our Aurora Drops. We chose MCT oil, a naturally occurring substance in coconut oil, because it is easily broken down by the body. This way, you receive the maximum effect of our THC and CBD oils as quickly and efficiently as possible.