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CO2 Extraction vs Cold Pressed: Which Is Better?

CO2 Extraction and Cold Pressed are both methods used to extract essential oils, plant extracts, and other organic compounds from natural sources. The main differences between these two methods lie in their processes and outcomes.

CO2 Extraction

CO2 extraction uses carbon dioxide gas under high pressure and low temperature to extract essential oils and other organic compounds from plants. It produces oils that are very concentrated, pure, and consistent in quality, making it a popular method for commercial and industrial use. The process is relatively quick, takes hours, and requires specialized equipment, making it expensive. It is non-toxic and does not leave any harmful residues behind.

  • Pros: It can extract a higher percentage of desirable compounds, including some that can’t be easily extracted using other methods. It’s also more environmentally friendly than other extraction methods.
  • Cons: Co2 Extraction is a more expensive process due to high equipment costs. Also, due to its high pressure and low temperature, certain compounds can be left behind, depending on the equipment and process used.

Supercritical CO2 extraction in the cosmetic industry

CO2 Extraction vs Cold Pressed

Supercritical CO2 extraction of essential oils is carried out at close to room temperature (35-40°C) and under the cover of CO2 gas, which effectively prevents the oxidation and dissipation of heat-sensitive substances. Therefore, the active ingredients of medicinal plants are kept in the CO2 extraction essential oil, and there is no residual solvent substance, thus preventing the existence of harmful substances to the human body and pollution to the environment during the extraction process, and ensuring 100% pure naturalness.

300L CO2 Essential Oil Extraction Equipment
300L CO2 Essential Oil Extraction Equipment

Naturally, there is a growing demand to use supercritical CO2 extraction in the cosmetic industry. It ensures the freshness of flavor, color, and odor – as well as quality(By keeping temperatures low and extracting all the ‘active’ components, such as extraction of the Rosehip: the co2 extraction process is able to preserve and protect the complete botanical, skin-loving properties, and delivers 60% more regenerative sterols and 20% more fatty acids than your average Rosehip Seed Oil.), especially when used to create oils that are highly susceptible to oxidation and rancidity.

CO2 extraction oils are extracted supercritical CO2 fluid as the solvent. Supercritical CO2 fluid is an effective solvent, that allows all the desirable active constituents of a plant to be collected without the risk of heat degradation. CO2 extraction oils are the closest representation of the natural plant ever achieved. CO2 total extracts include the volatile components as well as the heavier, waxy components that give plants their color, and are therefore thick and waxy in consistency.

Top 6 Advantages of CO2 Extraction Essential Oils

CO2 Extraction
  • 100% pure and natural: CO2 extraction oil is best, because oxygen-free environments and low temperatures are particularly important, especially for fragile ingredients such as some flowers; CO2 extraction maximizes the ingredient benefits, keeping temperatures low and extracting all the ‘active’ components, able to preserve and protect the complete botanical, skin-loving properties of the biomass;
  • Creates a purer product: because the CO2 extraction process is carried out at a lower temperature by using carbon dioxide which is not only nontoxic but odorless too, the CO2 extraction oil has absolutely no solvent residues, and the final oil is impeccably pure. This includes the incredible natural color and smell;
  • Therapeutic Properties: In the extraction process of CO2 the constituents with the highest healing properties are selected and obtained to improve effectiveness, possessing the great ability to obtain the maximum level of therapeutic components from botanical materials like plants and herbs.
  • Pleasurable Natural Aroma: CO2-grade essential oils are widely cherished for their natural fragrance which resembles the original plant material as they are extracted without solvent & heat;
  • The shelf-life is longer: no pre-exposure to oxygen means reduced chances of spoilage, so the product and its benefits keep for as long as possible;
  • Better for the environment: the low temperature and lack of waste streams/emissions make it an extremely environmentally-friendly and safe method for oil extraction, and has no harmful effects on the environment.

Read More: CO2 Extract vs. Essential vs. Absolute Oil: Which is Better

Cold Pressed

Cold-pressed extraction is a mechanical process that involves pressing or crushing the plant or fruit to extract the oil.
It is a simpler and more traditional method, but it produces oils with lower concentrations, making them more suitable for medical and therapeutic uses. It is generally considered safe and leaves no harmful residues behind.

Pros: Cold-pressed is a more accessible and affordable option for home use. It is especially effective in extracting oils that are heat-sensitive. Also, it has typically high quality, character, and aroma.
Retention of Nutritional Value: Cold pressing operates at low temperatures, which helps preserve the nutritional value, natural flavors, and aroma of the extracted oil.
Minimal Processing: The method typically involves minimal processing and does not involve the use of chemical solvents, making it a natural and clean extraction method.
Accessibility: Cold pressing can be done with simple equipment and is suitable for small-scale or home-based operations.

Cons: The yield can be lower compared to Co2 extraction, and the end product may not be as concentrated as Co2 extraction.

Cold press of essential oil

The essential oil is extracted by cold pressing, which can avoid the residue of harmful impurities caused by the chemical solvent method and maintain the natural flavor of the essential oil. Cold-pressed essential oils can better maintain other active ingredients such as vitamin E, squalene, sterols, etc., and have a higher value. Since there is no heating in the whole process, the aroma and chemical structure of the cold-pressed essential oils is almost the same as those in the peel. But if pesticides are used during plant growth and harmful heavy metals and plasticizers are contained in the soil, they will also exist in the In cold pressed essential oils. Cold-pressed essential oils contain some non-volatile macromolecules (such as waxes and pigments), when the temperature is too low, the essential oil will appear foggy, but this will not affect the original quality and efficacy of the essential oil.

Contrary to its name, the cold-pressed extraction method may also involve using heat as a certain amount of heat is produced during the cold press process due to friction, averaging at about 40˚C. Such a process can adversely affect heat-sensitive oils and further reduce their shelf-life, delicate ingredients can end up less than ‘fresh’, and many of their therapeutic properties are lost.

There’s also oxygen present during cold-pressing, when dealing with oxygen-sensitive oils, cold-press may not be the best extraction method. This causes oils to oxidize immediately, making them more likely to become rancid before had a chance to use them up.

CO2 Extraction vs Cold Pressed
Cold Pressed

Essential oils can be extracted in many ways, among which cold pressing is the most commonly used method for citrus essential oils.
The essential oils of citrus plants are mostly contained in the peels. The extraction method is to add water during the crushing process of the peels. After collecting the juice, the essential oils are separated by a centrifuge. Essential oils are extracted in this way without using any heat source, which is called cold pressing.

Cold Pressed Process

From the above reading, we know that the cold pressing method is specially used on citrus fruits, and the exocarp, which is the outermost skin of the fruit, is used to make essential oils.

The specific extraction method is: the fruit will pass through a sharp file cylinder, which can wear the surface of the peel to break the essential oil capsule and release the essential oil. Water sprayed on the fruit will concentrate the released essential oils. The accumulated essential oil-water mixture will be filtered out, and the pulp or peel residue will be centrifuged to separate the essential oil and water (we will use a centrifuge in this process).

Several Other Common Cold-Pressed Extracts

  • Evening Primrose
  • Borage
  • Rosehip
  • Raspberry

Cold-pressed CBD

The most common method for producing CBD Oil is CO2 extraction. This involves heating CO2 to a state where it is both a liquid and a gas and using this as a solvent to extract the cannabinoids from the plant material.

Cold pressed hemp oils to require the hemp flowers to be crushed, squeezed, and mashed, and then the extract is washed with hemp seed oil (which does not contain any cannabinoids, but is super rich in Omega fatty acids). The temperature remains low throughout the whole process so the more delicate compounds are protected and a more naturally rounded oil is achieved.

This process is incredibly effective for selecting the perfect cannabinoid profile, but some people prefer a more artisanal approach to CBD. Cold pressed production method produces an unadulterated extract, and they contain all the naturally occurring cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, which can offer an “entourage effect”.

Read More: Supercritical CO2 Extraction Machine: Types, Extraction Tips

CO2 Extraction vs Cold Pressed


CO2 extraction is a more efficient method than cold-pressed extraction and can extract a higher yield of oils and other compounds from plant material. CO2 extraction can extract up to 90% of the available compounds, while cold-pressed extraction typically extracts between 40% and 70%.


CO2 extraction is a more selective method than cold-pressed extraction and can be used to target specific compounds in a plant material. Cold-pressed extraction, on the other hand, extracts all the oils and other compounds present in the plant material, including impurities and undesirable compounds.


CO2 extraction produces a purer product than cold-pressed extraction because it uses a clean and non-toxic solvent. Cold-pressed extraction may contain impurities and contaminants from the plant material or the extraction process.

Nutrient content

Cold-pressed oils retain more of the natural nutrients and flavor of the plant material than CO2 extracted oils. This is because cold-pressed extraction does not involve the use of high heat or solvents that can damage or alter the natural compounds in the plant material.


CO2 extraction is a more expensive method than cold-pressed extraction because it requires specialized equipment and expertise.


CO2 extraction is a scalable method that can be used for large-scale production, while cold-pressed extraction is more suitable for small-scale production. CO2 extraction requires expensive equipment and technical expertise, which can be a barrier to entry for small producers.

Processing time

CO2 extraction is a faster method than cold-pressed extraction and can produce results in a matter of hours. Cold-pressed extraction, on the other hand, can take several days or weeks to produce the desired yield.


CO2 extraction is commonly used to extract essential oils, terpenes, and cannabinoids from cannabis and hemp plants for use in the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and food industries. It is also used to extract oils and other compounds from a wide range of other plant materials, including herbs, spices, and fruits.

5 Key Reasons Why CO2 Extraction Is Better Than Cold Pressed

  • Reasons 1# – non-volatile macromolecules: Compared with cold-pressed essential oils, CO2-extracted essential oils do not contain some non-volatile macromolecules (such as waxes and pigments);
  • Reasons 2# – not contain pesticides and heavy metals: CO2 essential oils using the CO2 fractionation process will not contain pesticides and heavy metals (harmful substances obtained during modern plant growth) residues in cold-pressed essential oils;
  • Reasons 3# – more productive, gentler, and antibacterial: The active ingredients of medicinal plants are kept in the CO2 extraction essential oil, and there is no residual solvent substance; Compared to classic pressing, they are more productive, gentler, and antibacterial.CO2 extraction oil therefore the ideal raw material for natural active ingredient cosmetics;
  • Reasons 4# – 100% extraction efficiency: Compared with the cold-press extraction process, the CO2 extraction process has a higher extraction efficiency than the cold-press extraction process, especially for fat-soluble substances, and the CO2 fluid extraction process is almost 100% extraction efficiency.
  • Reasons 5# – longer shelf life: CO2 extraction is carried out in supercritical CO2 fluid, so CO2 extracts do not contain oxygen, the sensitive natural substances remain protected from oxidation, are more durable, and cannot become rancid so quickly. While the cold-press extraction process is carried out at room temperature and in contact with oxygen, so CO2 extraction has a longer time than cold-pressed shelf life.

Top 5 differences between CO2 extraction and cold pressed

  • Solvent: CO2 extraction uses carbon dioxide as a solvent, while cold pressing uses mechanical pressure to extract oils from plant materials.
  • Temperature: CO2 extraction is typically performed at low temperatures, while cold pressing relies on room temperature or slight heating to release oil from the plant material.
  • Efficiency: CO2 extraction can be more efficient than cold pressing in extracting essential oils and other compounds from plant materials.
  • Purity: CO2 extraction can produce extracts with high purity and specificity, while cold pressing produces oils with more of the natural impurities and pigments that give it its distinctive color and flavor.
  • Shelf life: CO2-extracted oils tend to have a longer shelf life than cold-pressed oils because they are less likely to be contaminated with impurities.

Cold-pressed vs CO2 extraction in CBD oil

CO2 Extraction vs Cold Pressed
CO2 Extraction vs Cold Pressed

Cold pressing the flowering process ensures the cannabinoids are at a level you’d find in nature, and the oil contains all of the compounds that nature intended. This included raw acid cannabinoids (CBDa and CBGa), terpenes, and flavonoids. The synergistic effect of everything together cannot be overlooked (known as the entourage effect). The process is said to create a more natural, more beneficial, and healthier oil.

There is one major drawback with cold-pressing oils: The cold-press technique is typically reserved for fruits like citrus contained in the skin, therefore, it cannot be used effectively to extract CBD from Cannabis, the production will always result in a low concentration of cannabinoids. While many CBD oils on the market can contain up to 10% and 20 %mgs, cold-pressed oil is more realistically about 3-4% in concentration. The benefit is that the oils are way more synergistic, so you’re going to get more, with less.

Terpenes: A False Fact About CO2 Extraction vs. Cold Press Extraction

According to public perception, the ability of CO2 to extract terpenes is weaker than that of cold-pressed extraction. The aroma of plants in CO2 extracts will lose a lot, and even the aroma of plants (terpenes) will not exist. In fact, the CO2 of supercritical CO2 extraction machines The separation vessel (CO2 oil collector) sets up a cold trap that also collects all the terpenes in the plant.

But, now I want to say but, the real fact is that the ability of CO2 to extract terpenes is stronger than that of cold-pressed extraction because in our many extraction experiments, we found that the extracted material (biomass) lost The original aroma is preserved, that is to say, a large number of terpenes are retained in the CO2 extract (the total extract is not a single plant essential oil). For example, roses, after being extracted by supercritical CO2 fluid, the original strong fragrance of roses no longer exists, and the CO2 extract will exude a strong fragrance.

Our conclusion is that under the CO2 extraction process, Terpenes of any plant can be extracted under the correct conditions of pressure, temperature, and raw material particle size, and exist in the CO2 extraction.
But obtaining this exciting CO2 extraction process will require one experiment after another. A long time ago, a student from a Chinese university conducted experiments in our factory for three consecutive months, and finally, he succeeded.

Is cold pressed CBD better than CO2 extraction?

Cold-press extraction is best used for the extraction of essential oils from citrus peels, preserving terpenes, omegas, flavonoids, chlorophyll, and other plant-based compounds too, but it cannot be effectively used to extract Cannabinoids from cannabis.

In terms of cannabinoids alone, CO2 extracts are much better than cold-pressed cannabis extracts. Not to mention the useless chlorophyll and waxes contained in the cold-pressed extract.

For cannabis extracts, CO2 extracts (the separation process uses cold traps to obtain more terpenes) are the essence; conclusion: CO2 extracts are better than cold-pressed extracts

Next time we will discuss CO2 extraction vs cold pressed for CBD oil, Who is a Fake?

Works Cited: What is a Cold Pressed CBD Oil (& is it different to CO2 Extraction)?