CO2 extraction is a process that uses pressurized CO2 to extract materials from plants (like essential oils) with the carbon dioxide (CO2) acting as the solvent (but without the downside of using a chemical solvent). CO2 is non-combustable and non-toxic so it is regarded as an environmentally friendly extraction process.
During this process, CO2 (in it's 'supercritical' aka liquid state) passes through the plant material and acts as the solvent to extract delicate plant elements (like essential oils). This is done in a very tightly controlled environment so there is little to no oxygen exposure = fragile oils stay un-oxidized = higher potency in your product when you open it!
The CO2 extraction process (also known as supercritical extraction) is a relatively new extraction process that is highly efficient but much more expensive than typical steam distillation or chemical solvent based extraction processes. CO2 extraction significantly reduces the heat that the ingredients are exposed to during the extraction process- we're talking 50-100 degrees reduction. This is a HUGE deal- heat can often significantly reduce the potency, breaks down essential oils, and degrades the antioxidants. It is also very efficient so it produces less waste than other extraction methods- including
cold pressed extraction (more on that in another post).
There is no exposure to chemical solvents during a CO2 extraction therefore the oils produced of a much higher purity than other extraction processes.
It's amazing how chemistry based organic skin care is! So cool!!