Supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) fluid extraction is a relatively new, environmentally friendly, and efficient extraction technology that can produce high-quality herbal extracts widely used in the food, natural flavors, flavors, and herbal medicine industries. Carbon dioxide extraction can be selective - it can separate and remove unwanted compounds, such as decaffeinated, or to concentrate a range of volatile aromatic molecules. Many, but not all, carbon dioxide extracts can be used in aromatherapy and natural perfumes in the same way as steam distilled essential oils. Some CARBON dioxide extracts are solid or semi-solid at room temperature and therefore not recommended for diffusers.

CO2 extraction and steam distillation's main difference is that CO2 is used as a solvent instead of superheated water or steam. At the start of the extraction process, pressurized CO2 is pumped into a chamber filled with plant material. When carbon dioxide is put under pressure, it becomes "supercritical" and retains a liquid's properties while remaining a gas. Because of the gas's liquid nature, CO2 acts as a solvent, pulling out the volatiles and other substances such as pigments, waxes, and resins from the plant's raw materials.CO2 is "the preferred supercritical solvent for the extraction of flavors and flavor compounds because it is an odorless, colorless, highly purified, safe, low-cost, non-toxic, non-flammable and recyclable gas, allowing supercritical operations at relatively low pressures and near room temperature."Carbon dioxide extraction involves temperatures between 95 and 100 degrees, while steam distillation involves temperatures between 140 and 212 degrees.

Likely, steam distillation has always been considered the best way to get essential oils because carbon dioxide extract didn't exist in the early 1990s when aromatherapy became popular and was written into the literature. However, steam distillation produces changes in the oil-based on the temperature, pressure, and time parameters set at the time of distillation. The CO2 supercritical extraction process, in some cases, produces high-quality oils that are not altered by the high heat associated with steam distillation. As a result, the CARBON dioxide extract is closer to the plant's original chemical composition and contains a wider range of components than the corresponding essential oils.

After research, we found that heat is a great promoter of chemical reactions. During steam distillation of essential oil, the temperature involved changes the molecular composition of the essential oil. A good example is the German (blue) chamomile (Matricaria recutita), in which the mithramycin component of the oil is changed to camomile when exposed to high temperature during steam distillation. By the end of the German chamomile distillation, the mother inulin had disappeared, and the chamomile ene had been formed. German chamomile oil's blue color is evidence of this chemical change because chamomile is a rich dark blue. However, when carbon dioxide technology was used to extract chamomile from Germany, the extract was green. The extract's chemical composition is more similar to that of the original flower than that of the distilled essential oil since no chemical reaction occurs when exposed to high temperatures.

We recognize that many considerations are involved in selecting essential oils and extracts. However, some CO2 extracts are superior to steam distilled oils in aroma, and we do not believe that this is always the case. When carbon dioxide extraction is used, spice oils such as cinnamon, cardamom, and clove generally don't have the same aroma as the typical steam-distilled spice oils dioxide extract is often more complex, dynamic, and vital. This is not the case with all essential oils and their corresponding carbon dioxide extracts. Steam distilled patchouli essential oil is distinct from patchouli's carbon dioxide extract and has very distinct aroma characteristics. In this case, some people prefer the earthy, musky smell of the steam distilled patchouli oil to the fresh, green, delicate aroma of the co2 extract. Ultimately, in the case of any oil or extract, it comes down to personal preference, and it is inaccurate to say that one is better than the other.

Eden Botanicals is one of the first oil companies in the US to use CARBON dioxide extracts in aromatherapy and natural fragrances. To provide the widest range of quality aromatherapies, we offer many of these special CARBON dioxide extracts in addition to our traditional steam distilled essential oils. In some cases, due to a plant's particularity, we only provide its CARBON dioxide extract. In conclusion, the extraction of aromatic herbs by supercritical CO2 extraction can produce a wider range of compounds and reduce thermal degradation. This method does not require a solvent such as an n-hexane, which is used to make absolute values and provides a pure aromatic oil through a more friendly and environmentally friendly process.

The Garden of Eden offers a full range of CARBON dioxide extracts. Please click here to view our full list of CARBON dioxide aromatic extracts and click here to view our offering of carbon dioxide extracted base oils, including certified organic carbon dioxide extracts.

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