Essential oils: Secret and CO2 extraction process
Supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) fluid extraction is a environmentally friendly and highly efficient extraction technology that produces superior herbal extracts widely used in the food, natural flavoring, fragrance and herbal medicine industries. CO2 extraction can be selective – it can be employed to isolate and remove an undesired compound as in decaffeination, or to concentrate an exciting array of aromatic molecules in volatile form.
What is the most commonly used supercritical fluid extraction?
The main distinction between CO2 extraction and steam distillation is that CO2 is used as the solvent instead of superheated water or steam.
The extraction process begins by pumping pressurized CO2 into a co2 extractor (extraction kettle) with raw plant material.
Why is carbon dioxide used as a supercritical fluid?
The properties of carbon dioxide will change when the temperature is higher than the critical temperature Tc=31.26℃ and the pressure is higher than the critical pressure Pc=72.9atm. Its density is close to liquid, its viscosity is close to gas, and its diffusion coefficient is 100 times that of liquid. It has amazing dissolving power.
Because of the liquid properties of the gas, the CO2 functions as a solvent, pulling the volatiles and other substances such as pigments, waxes and resins from the plant matter.
The CO2 extraction temperature is low, the critical temperature of CO2 is 31.265℃, and the critical pressure is 72.9atm, which can effectively prevent the oxidation, dissipation and reaction of heat-sensitive components, and completely retain the biological activity of biomass objects;
The CO2 supercritical extraction process will, in some cases, produce a superior oil that has not been altered by the high heat associated with steam distillation. In this way, CO2 extracts more closely resemble the plant’s original chemical make-up, and contain a broader spectrum of constituents than is found in their corresponding essential oils.
Why is CO2 extraction better than steam distillation?
In some cases, we recommend the CO2 extract of a botanical due to its extraordinary features. In summary, the supercritical CO2 extraction process for aromatic herbs essential oils yields a wider range of compounds while reducing heat degradation. This method eliminates the need for solvents like hexane, used in the manufacture of absolutes, while providing pure aromatic oils via a kinder, earth-friendly process.