ECS Brands

Plant Extraction 101

The plant world is filled with a rich and diverse culture of options that we have found to be beneficial to our own bodies. Fruits and vegetables are an obvious example, but herbs, roots and their compounds that can be extracted from plants have also shown great promise. 


Anyone who has ever enjoyed root extracts in capsules or in smoothies, or those who have found the notes of lavender added to an aromatherapeutic routine, have enjoyed the benefits of plant extracts. The hemp plant is also one that can go through a post-harvest extraction process as it allows for the beneficial compounds to be pulled and used for multiple product options available today.


There are multiple types of extraction methods that are used today to be able to pull these beneficial plant compounds.


A fast, easy (and expensive) way to extract is by using a liquid solvent like ethanol, butane, alcohol or isopropyl. How it works is that the plant material is brought together and then the solvent is included to pull the compounds from the plant material. The solvent is diffused leaving behind a solid, concentrated plant compound base that can be used in products. There are some disadvantages like potential nutrient loss and being an expensive process to execute, however, it remains as the most popular form of extraction.


Another method of extraction is the Ultrasound Assisted Extraction (UAE) which involves the use of ultrasound ranging from 20 kHz to 2000 kHz in frequency. What happens is the sound waves encourage both the plant fiber and chosen solvent or carrier to be encouraged by the sound waves. That push by the waves helps the plant compounds integrate into the solution faster and with a good consistency in concentration.


The final and newest form of extraction is using C02, it’s the most advanced method, and can look like quite a complicated process. When this method is done correctly it is safe and delivers a potent result for product integration. This method keeps more of the plant compounds intact and the final product is much more unobstructed. 


This method is typically done with a piece of equipment called a ‘closed-loop extractor’ which has three chambers. The first chamber holds the C02, the second chamber holds the plant material and the third chamber separates the final product. The gaseous element is pumped from the first chamber to the second chamber which then renders it “supercritical C02”, which is the description of the state between liquid and gas. It runs through the plant material stripping it of its cannabinoids where it then flows into the third chamber where the C02 rises to the top of the chamber while the oils containing phytocannabinoids fall to the bottom and are collected for consumers. 


While this is an illustration of a few of the plant extraction methods available, today, more are being developed and new techniques are constantly being explored and patented for the betterment of the consumer. 


By taking the time to see what type of extraction method your plant compounds come from, it is easier to make an informed decision on what type of extracts are preferred.

Scroll to Top