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Home Page > Aromatherapy Articles & Guides > What are CO2 Extracts?

What are CO2 Extracts (CO2s)?

CO2 Extracts
Bottles containing CO2 extracts.  

Oils extracted by the CO2 (carbon dioxide) method are commonly called CO2 Extracts or CO2s for short. In a nutshell, CO2 Extracts are extracted by pressurizing carbon dioxide until it becomes a liquid. The liquid carbon dioxide then acts as a solvent on the natural plant matter and the essential oil content then dissolves into the liquid CO2. Afterwards, the CO2 is brought back to natural pressurization, the CO2 evaporates back into its gaseous state and what is left is the resulting oil.

CO2 extracts are often labeled as essential oils as opposed to absolutes since no trace of a harmful solvent will remain in the final product. CO2s have an advantage over essential oils because none of the constituents of the oil are damaged by heat.

CO2 extracts are usually thicker than their essential oil counterparts and often smell closer to the aroma of the natural herb. CO2 extracts have been said to contain additional constituents than what is extracted from the same plant using steam distillation. This would seem to make sense since CO2 extracts generally are thicker oils and often seem to have a more rounded aroma.

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