Supercritical Oil Extraction Explained

Mont Echo Naturels is the first company in North America to commercially extract our own Supercritical Sea Buckthorn Seed and Fruit oils ourselves, onsite, from Canadian-grown fruit.

As you read that statement, you may be wondering: What exactly does “Supercritical” mean?

Well, “Supercritical” refers to the method by which we extract our oils.

Sea Buckthorn oils are very difficult to extract and require care and specialized processes to ensure a pure, unspoiled product. When we were designing and developing our onsite processing facility in Sutton, Quebec, we considered many different methods of oil extraction for our Sea Buckthorn, such as solvent extraction, cold-pressing, hot-pressing, centrifuge, and maceration in another carrier oil. Some methods we ruled out immediately, such as solvent extraction (since we didn’t want to expose our oils to any hazardous solvents), hot-pressing (since the heat destroys valuable nutrients in the oils) and centrifuge (since Sea Buckthorn oil extraction by centrifuge usually requires the use of chemicals or extreme heat— both of which damage the oil). After considering our options, we selected a technique known as Supercritical Fluid Extraction to extract our fruit and seed oils. It was an easy choice for a number of reasons: Oils extracted using this method are very pure and highly concentrated, and Supercritical extraction is a modern, environmentally-friendly and safe method of extraction. The process requires no synthetic additives or hazardous chemical solvents. And oils extracted via this method can be certified organic by such international certification agencies as EcoCert.


Carbon dioxide pressure-temperature phase diagram

So how does it work? Well, in short, the process involves pressurizing carbon dioxide (CO2) until it reaches the supercritical stage, at which point the gas turns to a liquid. The liquid CO2 is then passed through a chamber containing the prepared Sea Buckthorn plant material. As it combines with the plant material, it extracts the oil from the plant material like a solvent. The CO2 is then depressurized, and naturally turns back into a gas, leaving behind the pure oil extract. The process does not create any new carbon dioxide, but merely recycles existing carbon dioxide. That means there’s no addition to any greenhouse effect.

Our oils are extracted onsite by our dedicated team, led by Mont Echo Naturels president, Brad Johnson. As a Biochemist with 10 years of experience working in diagnostic testing and processing efficiency for the food, beverage, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries, Brad is well-equipped for the task.

So, what does “Supercritical” mean? It means that our oils are pure, highly concentrated, and created using an environmentally-friendly process. And, since the fruit from which the oils are extracted is grown locally, in accordance with organic standards, it means that our oils are among the best available – and the only ones of their kind in the world.

2 thoughts on “Supercritical Oil Extraction Explained

  1. Pingback: Essential oil vs. Carrier oil: Do you know the Difference? « Mont Echo Naturels

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