Supercritical CO2 Extraction: 77% Potency First Time?

Blog, CO2 Oil Production

What is potency anyway? Potency is defined as the extraction concentration of actives present in a formulation or solution to give a specific measurable response. The greater the potency, less product is required to get a response. Notice here that potency is not just simple concentration but also tied directly to a response.

CO2 Extract and its Potency Explained

Unless a response is measured, potency is not a really accurate way to talk about concentration.

For example, suppose you had highly concentrated CO2 extracts and you sampled at a medium dosage volume. Suppose further that you doubled that concentration and you sampled again at the same dosage volume. The response would be the same unless you also greatly reduced the dosage.

So you can see the advantage of high potency; namely, that the dosage can be very small for a given effect. Often times (like in the title), people will refer to potency as concentration. We now know that that is not the proper scientific vernacular! Let’s talk about how to obtain a high concentration in CO2 extracts (77%) right out of the machine.

First, let’s get some extraction basics down. The basic process of extraction is dissolution and conveyance. First, CO2 solubilizes the cannabinoids in the plant matter in an extraction column. This is accomplished by flowing CO2 over the plant matter. The CO2 + dissolved cannabinoid solution continuously flows out of the extraction column and into a collector column.

In the collector columns, the pressure is reduced and waxes, terpenes, and cannabinoids precipitate. You collect those precipitated cannabinoids into a vessel which then you can further process. The extraktLAB® machine produces this oil, and it is called crude oil or CO2 oil. Some people sell this crude oil in bulk.

We often get asked about how we get 77% potency right out of the supercritical CO2 extraction machine compared to other competitors who typically pull 50-60% potency in raw CO2 oil out of their machines.

The basic answer to this question lies in dilution. During an extraction, any plant component that is soluble in CO2 will be dissolved in CO2 and precipitated in the collector. If you only have one collector, you essentially precipitate all dissolved substances in that single collector. If you have more than one collector, you are able to separate the substances into fractions thus conveying the other dilution component away from the active product.

The “other components” are diluting your CO2 extracts to give an overall lower potency. The “other components” are a mixture of various plant matter that are soluble in CO2.


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Meet Our CEO and Founder Dr. Jon Thompson, Ph.D

Dr. Jon Thompson

Dr. Thompson is a separations scientist, entrepreneur, and inventor. As a scientist, he has a strong technical background and industry experience in analytical instrumentation, in-vitro diagnostics, biotech, mining, and homeland security markets.

During his career, Dr. Thompson has earned a strong track record of helping companies set up hemp and botanical extraction and processing facilities.

Dr. Thompson has assisted numerous companies to attain their goals in hemp manufacturing, as well as market development, strategic marketing, and worldwide business-to-business alliance formation (including international markets).

Dr. Thompson has a track record of writing winning licenses and has implemented hundreds of start-up operations in Canada, Europe and throughout the US for various clients. Dr. Thompson received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry, Chemistry and a Doctor of Chemistry degree from the University of Minnesota.