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Butane vs. CO2 Which is the best extraction method?

Using water, alcohol, or even oils as solvents is one of the oldest methods of extraction. However, these methods result in very poor-quality crude products with numerous impurities. Although these methods are still widely used, industries prefer more efficient methods that help get purer products with the fuller extract.

One such way of getting high-quality natural extracts is using supercritical gases. Under high pressure and yet maintaining high temperature, it is possible to convert any gas into a cloud-like state. It is something in between the liquid and gaseous state. Supercritical solvents have much greater solubility, and they can readily penetrate natural raw materials, helping extract the most beneficial compounds. Moreover, this method allows altering the solvency of supercritical gas by altering the temperature and pressure, thus getting very different types of extracts.

Two of the most common supercritical gases used in the industrial extraction of CBD are hydrocarbon gases like butane or propane or using CO2. However, both these methods have their advantages and drawbacks.

Comparing BHO Extraction against CO2 Extraction

BHO stands for butane hash oil or CBD extracted using butane as a solvent. Butane and carbon dioxide are very different kinds of gases with entirely different physical properties. It also means that their properties as supercritical gas and solvent differ. It essentially means that CBD extract using these gases would differ considerably. Before looking deeper into the differences, let us understand more about these two ways of extraction.

What is BHO Extraction

It uses butane gas for extraction. Supercritical butane is an excellent solvent; thus, it has a fantastic ability to penetrate cannabis and strip not only cannabinoids but also terpenes, lipids, waxes. It creates quite a potent and full-spectrum end product.

Using butane for CBD extraction is one of the fastest and efficient methods. By altering the pressure and temperature, one can get different types of resins fit for various uses.

Many professionals like butane as it helps preserve various active compounds, textures, and aroma of the CBD. It is especially good for creating CBD distillate. The end result of such extraction is a high-terpene and broad-spectrum extract.

Since this method is among the faster methods, it results in time-saving and cost savings.

Once the extraction is complete, most modern machines would recycle the butane by removing it from the extract by heating or reducing the pressure. As most modern types of equipment are closed-loop, very little butane would escape along with the end product.

However, critics of butane may not like that some traces of solvent are still left in the final product. In addition, butane is toxic to the human body. Nonetheless, experience shows that it is left in minimal amounts to pose any health hazards. Another worry regarding its use is that butane is a highly inflammable gas, thus issues in handling it. 

Further, it is worth knowing that no closed-loop machine can recycle 100% of the gases. For most, 95% would be a limit. It means that about 5% butane is still released into the environment during each cycle. Thus, butane extraction has its environmental costs.

What is CO2 Extraction

Supercritical CO2 extraction is the most common way of extraction these days. It is good in the way that CO2 is a highly safe gas. CO2 is present in the air and is also produced as a byproduct of the metabolic activity of the human body. 

It appears that supercritical CO2 is an excellent solvent. However, it is not very good for extracting terpenes. That is why many machines using CO2 may use other solvents like ethyl alcohol to get full spectrum extract, but this can add up to the costs. Nonetheless, solvents like ethyl alcohol are safe for humans and the environment.

Additionally, CO2 extraction results in a resin that must still be processed before use. Thus, it must be winterized and go through fractional distillation to get the usable product.

Despite some hassles, CO2 is relatively safe to handle. Moreover, its leakage does not pose much threat to health.

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What is the Difference between BHO and CO2 extraction

Generally, butane (BHO) helps get CBD resin faster, more efficiently. BHO resins are also rich in the aroma as it preserves terpenes. Therefore, it is an excellent way of producing full-spectrum CBD. When used at an industrial scale, it is also cheaper than supercritical CO2 extraction.

However, things are not so simple as they may sound. Butane still leaves some residue in the end product, and CO2 does not. Further, handling butane requires additional licenses, and investment in the infrastructure, as it poses a threat. Butane comes under highly flammable and hazardous substances.

Every country would have some strict fire safety requirements for using butane. This means high expenses on ventilation. It also requires building an explosion-proof room, considerably adding to the setup costs.

Modern closed loop machines using butane are indeed highly safe. Nonetheless, each year tens of incidences of explosions and injuries caused by butane extraction machines are reported.

BHO vs CO2: Which Provides the Best Product

BHO extract is generally of higher quality, with better texture and aroma, and requires less post-processing. However, full-spectrum is not always required as it also means a more significant amount of impurities and residual solvent. Thus, CO2 extracts may have fewer terpenes, but it also has no toxic residual solvent. Thus, BHO may be good, but CO2 appears to be safer.

Further, it would be wrong to say that one cannot get full spectrum or broad-spectrum extract by using supercritical CO2. It is also a matter of expertise. To get various extracts, one can run the extract through multiple cycles, using different temperature and pressure settings. As far as terpenes are concerned, greater amounts of them may be extracted by adding ethyl alcohol as a solvent. Moreover, both CO2 and ethyl alcohol are absolutely safe.

How Essentia Pura Extract Hemp Medicinal Plants & More

For Essentia Pura focus is on the quality and safety of the products. Supercritical CO2 extraction using solvent helps get either CBD isolate or broad-spectrum CBD distillate. Both these products are free from impurities. Moreover, equipment like MoSES used by Essentia Pura is safe for the environment. Additionally, Essentia Pura produces both oil-soluble and water-soluble CBD isolate and distillate. As a result, Essentia Pura produces almost pharma-grade pure products for CBD businesses and consumers. 

Do you have any further questions about extracts? Send us an e-mail! For inquiries about our extraction system, please fill out our contact form.

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