Carbon dioxide. In cannabis concentrates, CO2 refers to a nonflammable solvent used to extract the desirable compounds from the cannabis plant. The CO2 extraction process can include the use of subcritical and supercritical fluids, which vary in pressure and temperature.

What is CO2 Oil?

CO2 oil, sometimes also called CO2 hash oil or CO2 cannabis oil, is the general name used to refer to any cannabis concentrate made using CO2 as a solvent. Beneath the umbrella of CO2 oil there are actually several specific types of cannabis concentrates. But as long as the process through which the concentrate was made uses CO2 as the solvent, the final product can be considered CO2 oil. This also includes CO2 hemp extraction, which uses hemp plants to produce CBD oils and other hemp-derived concentrates.

What is Supercritical CO2 Extraction?

Supercritical CO2 extraction is a process through which CO2 gas is compressed beyond its “critical point” so that it becomes a “supercritical fluid.” That fluid is then applied to cannabis plant matter, stripping away many of its cannabinoids and terpenes. After that, the entire solution is brought back to temperatures and pressures at which the CO2 reverts to gas and evaporates, leaving behind the chemicals extracted out of the cannabis plant material.

Supercritical CO2 extraction is known for producing a high quality product primarily because the CO2 gas can reach its supercritical point at pressures and temperatures that don't damage the cannabinoids and terpenes being harvested. Additionally, CO2 evaporates away cleanly and does not contaminate the final product.

How to Use CO2 Oil

CO2 concentrates are consumed primarily through vaporization. Concentrates like CO2 hash oil and CO2 cannabis oil are often used in a vape pen with a pre-filled cartridge. Concentrates like CO2 wax or some other form of CO2 THC extract are often consumed by dabbing. To consume CO2 dabs, you heat a “dab nail” until it's hot enough to vaporize the concentrate. Once the nail has reached the desired temperature, a small “dab” of concentrate is placed on the nail, where it immediately vaporizes. The vapor is then inhaled, typically through a water pipe.

How to Make CO2 Oil

To make CO2 oil, concentrate makers manipulate temperature and pressure to turn CO2 into a liquid. Cannabis plant material is then soaked in the liquid, which chemically strips cannabinoids and terpenes out of the plant matter. After this process is complete, the plant matter is removed from the solution. From there, the concentrate maker again manipulates pressure and temperature to turn the CO2 back into a gas. When the gas evaporates away, it leaves behind a concentrated substance comprised almost entirely of cannabinoids and terpenes.

How to Make Shatter With CO2

Shatter is a particular type of cannabis concentrate named after its thin, brittle, glass-like structure. Basically, it's called “shatter” because, unlike other much stickier concentrates, this one is dry and brittle enough to snap and shatter.

Shatter can be made using CO2 extraction methods. As with any other CO2 concentrate, cannabis plant matter is soaked in a fluid form of CO2, which strips away cannabinoids and terpenes. After the plant matter is removed and the CO2 evaporates away, the remaining substance is a concentrated form of cannabinoids and terpenes. To turn that into shatter, this substance is put inside a vacuum oven, after which it is spread out over a non-stick surface, and allowed to cool until it forms a solid sheet of shatter.

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on June 9, 2021.