What are CO2 Extracted Essential Oils? While the two main ways of extracting essential oils are steam distillation and cold pressing, there are various other methods of producing an essential oil.
We’ve talked recently about solvent extraction, but one other such way of producing essential oils, and our topic today, is CO2 extraction.
What is CO2?
We’re all likely familiar with carbon dioxide, or CO2. It’s a naturally occurring chemical all around us in the environment. We produce carbon dioxide every time we exhale.
The carbon dioxide that we exhale goes out into the environment and is absorbed by plants during photosynthesis.
CO2 is also used in many industrial applications such as cooling, metallurgy, wine-making, and there are even lasers that utilize CO2.
What are CO2 Extracted Essential Oils?
In CO2 extraction of essential oils, carbon dioxide (C02), a naturally occurring chemical compound, is put under extreme pressure that turns the gas into a liquid.
The liquid CO2 acts as a solvent and can pull essential oils out of plant material. Once the essential oil is extracted from the plant material, the CO2 is depressurized, allowing it to return to its natural gaseous form.
Unlike in solvent extraction, where a small amount of the solvent is left behind, all that is left behind in CO2 extraction is your essential oil.
This same type of extraction process can also be used to produce the fatty vegetable oils that we use as carriers. These fatty vegetable oils are said to contain higher amounts of therapeutic constituents because they aren’t exposed to heat like they are in other extraction methods.
Benefits of CO2 Extracts in Aromatherapy
CO2 extraction has some distinct advantages over the widely popular cold pressing and steam distillation processes used.
We all know that heat can alter the chemical compounds in the essential oils. CO2 extraction doesn't use any heat, so the components aren't at any risk of becoming too warm, rendering them ineffective.
In most cases, the level of constituents in each CO2 extracted oil is going to be higher than its steam distilled counterparts, which can make the oil even more effective.
Finally, the scent of CO2 extracted oils is generally more intense and fresher than other modes of distillation.
Safe Use of CO2 Extracts
Safety for CO2 extracted essential oils is just like that of any other essential oil.
- They should be stored in dark glass bottles (though some are super thick and may be sold in jars).
- They should not be exposed to heat or sunlight.
- Proper dilution should still be used, read more here.
- They should still be kept out of the reach of children and pets.
- As always, perform a skin patch test before applying topically to ensure there will be no allergic or sensitization reactions.
Where to Buy CO2 Extracts
CO2 extracts are becoming more popular in the aromatherapy world, with many companies now offering them for sale.
Some of the most common CO2 extracted essential oils you'll find on the market include:
Some companies also carry CO2 extracts such as vanilla and rosemary. I'm sure as time goes on, we’ll be seeing many other companies selling these and other CO2 extracted essential oils.
More Oily FAQ
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- What To Do When Essential Oils Don't Work
- How Do I Perform An Essential Oil Skin Test
- How Long Should I Diffuse Essential Oils?
- What Is Distilled Lime Essential Oil?
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