Types of CO2 extraction (supercritical and subcritical explained) CO2 extraction is the process of using pressurized CO2 to extract desired phytochemicals (e.g. cannabis) from plants. At a certain temperature and pressure, CO2 acts like a solvent without any real danger. It is the most expensive extraction method and is widely regarded as the most efficient and safest plant extraction method in the world.

CO2 extraction is already the standard extraction method for the food and herbal supplement industries. CO2 is also a common food additive.

In fact, CO2 is used in the production of carbonated soft drinks, in the removal of caffeine from coffee beans to prepare decaffeinated coffee, and as an extraction solvent in the production of essential oils.

We usually hear about supercritical CO2 extraction, but this is actually only one method of CO2 extraction. You can also perform subcritical CO2 extraction and "mid-critical" extraction, which is usually somewhere between subcritical and supercritical.


Subcritical (low temperature, low pressure) CO2 extractions take more time and produce much smaller yields than supercritical, but they keep essential oils, terpenes and other sensitive chemicals in the plant. Supercritical, on the other hand, is a high-pressure, high-temperature process that damages most terpenes and heat-sensitive chemicals, but extracts larger molecules such as lipids (ω3 and 6), chlorophyll, and waxes.

A true full-spectrum CO2 cannabis extract (for Canna-Pet® use only) consists of first performing a subcritical extraction to separate the extracted oils, then using supercritical pressure to extract the same plant material, and finally homogenizing the two oil extracts into one.

In the essential oil industry, the extracts made using this specific process are called CO2 total extracts.

Supercritical CO2 Extraction Machine website: www.careddi.com/brc/66.htm