Do you know what the terms supercritical or C02 extracted mean? I know my oils, but I was a bit fuzzy on this terminology. It turns out that these terms refer to the way oil is extracted. But is this a better method than cold pressing or steam distillation?
We all want to use the purest products. Merchants realize this and as technology improves they find ways to give us what we want. Cold-pressed oils are oils made by first grinding the vegetable, seed, or nut into a paste. The resulting paste is then pressed to force the oil out. Sometimes, the merchant will use heat to extract more oil, but this changes the color and chemical makeup of the oil.
Steam distillation has been a standard way of extracting oils, but it’s not perfect. In this method, steam is used to extract oil from a plant or seed. Since heat is used, the oil may not be 100 percent identical to its source. In other words, some components are destroyed or altered in the process.
Using solvents is another option, but that requires lots of processing as well as chemicals. In solvent extraction, plant materials are mixed with a solvent which pulls out the oil together with any impurities. Another process removes the solvent, and then the oil is mixed with alcohol and purified. Yet another process removes the alcohol and any remaining contaminants.
Supercritical Carbon Dioxide (C02) Extraction
This method is gaining in acceptance because it combines the best of the other two extraction methods and produces very pure oil. The best explanation I can find, is from the book Aromatherapy for Beginners—
Supercritical carbon dioxide extraction uses carbon dioxide under extremely high pressure to extract essential oils. Plants are placed in a stainless steel tank and, as carbon dioxide is injected into the tank, pressure inside the tank builds. Under high pressure, the carbon dioxide turns into a liquid and acts as a solvent to extract the essential oils from the plants.
When the pressure is decreased, the carbon dioxide returns to a gaseous state, leaving no residues behind. Many carbon dioxide extractions have fresher, cleaner, and crisper aromas than steam-distilled essential oils, and they smell more similar to the living plants.
Scientific studies show that carbon dioxide extraction produces essential oils that are very potent and have great therapeutic benefits. This extraction method uses lower temperatures than steam distillation, making it more gentle on the plants. It produces higher yields and makes some materials, especially gums and resins, easier to handle.
Many essential oils that cannot be extracted by steam distillation are obtainable with carbon dioxide extraction. In the future, many botanicals that are not now available may possibly be obtained through carbon dioxide extraction.
Now that you’re up to speed on supercritical fluids, are you ready to try one? I suggest Supercritical Chia. Use it as is or add a few drops to your regular moisturizer. It full of Omega-3s, antioxidants, and vitamins. Since it is extracted with C02 it’s super pure and 100 percent vegan and organic.