Are CO2s Essential Oils?

CO2 extracts are technically not an essential oil but they are used in aromatherapy. Essential oils are steam distilled. If it is not steam distilled, it is not an essential oil.

CO2 is a processing method involving carbon dioxide extraction. CO2s are an extract. The process uses very low temperature and can be used for heat sensitive plants while yielding a higher amount of oil. Carbon dioxide extraction also known as supercritical extraction does not damage the plant and therefore can contain the entire constituents of the plant. There are no solvent residues as in the hexane solvent extraction for absolutes. CO2 extraction does not work for all plants.

There is a difference between German chamomile essential oil and German chamomile CO2. The essential oil contains chamazulene which is a result from steam distilling. During the steam distillation the constituent matricin and lactone decompose to chamazulene. The chamazulene gives the essential oil the dark blue color. This reaction does not occur in the CO2 extract. The matricine is still intact in the extract and the color is a yellowish-green. Both the essential oil and the CO2 extract are highly therapeutic. Some research indicates the CO2 extract is a stronger anti-inflammatory than the essential oil.

CO2 extracts available are calendula, German chamomile, frankincense, galbanum, ginger, marjoram, melissa, myrrh, nutmeg, rosemary and vanilla.

Do you have any experiences with using CO2 extracts versus the essential oil?

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