Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that most people have heard of, thanks to the legalization of marijuana and CBD products. One of the most popular CBD tinctures is called Charlotte’s Web, made from hemp plants that contain only trace levels of THC, so it can’t get you high. As such, it’s often used as an alternative treatment for seizures and other conditions. To extract the cannabinoids from the plant, they use a process called supercritical CO2 extraction (or subcritical CO2). Supercritical CO2 extraction has gained much traction because it’s so efficient compared with other forms like steam distillation or ethanol extraction. Most people don’t know precisely what supercritical CO2 extraction is, so let’s learn about it.
However, before we dive into supercritical CO2 extraction and its use for Cheef botanicals CBD tinctures, let’s look at the chemistry behind this process. The word “carbon” comes from a Latin word meaning “coal,” likely because coal was one of the first materials that people discovered that had carbon in it. Carbon is an atom with 6 protons and 6 neutrons in its nucleus (the innermost area), while each of its electrons orbits around the nucleus at different energy levels called orbitals. The outermost orbitals are called the valence electrons, and they determine the chemistry of every element. The valence electrons prefer to be as far from the nucleus as possible (they’re not very fond of nuclear radiation). If there are empty orbitals close to them, they’ll jump in there, forming what’s called a covalent bond that holds the carbon atoms together. Because the valence electrons are so close, carbon is an electrically-neutral element that forms strong bonds with other elements when covalently bound.
When two atoms join in a covalent bond, they must share their electrons to even out the charge on each side of both atoms. This makes the new bond electrically neutral. If there are different numbers of protons and electrons, then one side of the bond will have a negative charge, and the other will have a positive charge. This is called an ionic bond, and it’s not very strong because electrons are constantly moving between atoms to even out the charge on both sides. There’s also a third type of bond called the polar covalent bond, with unequal numbers of electrons and protons so that one end has a partial positive charge (called “polar”). At the same time, the other end has a partial negative charge (also called “polar”).
In conclusion, all of the bonds mentioned above are covalent bonds, and that’s how carbon atoms can form many different compounds. Carbon has 4 electrons in its outermost valence shell that can be shared between other atoms. This is why it forms many different compounds compared to other elements like oxygen (O 2 ), with just 2 electrons in its valence shell. Keep this in mind as we transition into the next section on supercritical CO2 extraction because it also has something to do with carbon.