Co2 Extraction Tips

Supplement - Extraction Essentials

From Rachel Loeber, Chief Scientific Officer, Leafline Labs

Product family color-coded, branded capsules
Photos courtesy of Leafline labs

Tip: Invest in your solvent.

“When sourcing CO2, look for food grade (99.5 percent pure) or better. To avoid contamination, purchase new, dedicated cylinders that can be refilled by a reputable vendor. Have more cylinders on hand than needed to operate your extractor so you can easily replenish your solvent and avoid downtime.”

Tip: Quality flower = quality extract.

“The better the quality of dried cannabis you put in, the better the overall yield and higher potency oil you’ll get out. Performing an extraction run using ground flower containing minimal leaves and stems will give you the best cannabinoid yield and minimize the amount of chlorophyll and other undesirable components in the extract.”

Tip: Optimize your methods.

“Don’t be afraid to experiment. Manufacturers of CO2 extraction equipment generally recommend a set of parameters for cannabis extraction. While this serves as a good starting point, I encourage you to systematically experiment with different pressures, temperatures and run times to determine which settings work best for your material and process. When experimenting with different parameters, keep it simple. Only change one setting at a time so you know what impact that change had on the extraction run. Another thing to keep in mind when optimizing your extraction method is your lab’s workflow–do you want to selectively extract terpenes and cannabinoids in order to minimize post-processing, or do you perform other methods of purification on the extracted oil? Run time should also be considered. Is it better to sacrifice yield for faster extraction? All of these questions should be carefully weighed when developing your extraction methods.”

Right: Raw cannabis extract obtained through supercritical CO2 extraction. Left: LeafLine Labs is one of two medical cannabis manufacturers licensed by the state of Minnesota. All medications produced by LeafLine Labs are formulated from cannabis oil obtained through CO2 extraction of cannabis plants grown on-site at its 42,000-plus-square-foot facility.

Tip: Extraction is strain-dependent.

“The cannabinoid composition of your flower will greatly impact the extraction process. Strains high in cannabidiol (CBD) will behave much differently than those rich in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and will require method development to achieve the best yield. Interestingly, we have also observed differences when extracting a variety of THC-dominant strains. Bottom line: method optimization is key.”

Tip: Don’t skimp on cleaning and maintenance.

“Keeping your extractor in optimal working order begins with proper upkeep. As tempting as it may be to ignore the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning in between runs, you’ll avoid a lot of headaches later if you adhere to a consistent schedule. Proper cleaning will also help avoid any cross-contamination when switching between cannabis strains. For cleaning and maintenance tasks that are performed less frequently (changing filters, cleaning valves, etc.), I would suggest creating a maintenance calendar to ensure that these tasks are not forgotten. If your system requires parts that could be considered consumables (filters, seals, O-rings), I would recommend keeping several on hand, so you can change them out when needed and avoid downtime.”