Why Hop Oil Should be CO2 Extracted and Not Steam Distilled
Hops are a diverse and useful botanical extract, and the oils from hops have been used by humans for centuries to serve a variety of medical purposes before they were introduced into beer in the 9th century.
In addition to being a source of pain relief for headaches and other issues, improving the appearance of hair and skin, and serving as an aid to reduce anxiety, buying hop oil is popular among craft beer enthusiasts and homebrewers alike.
The most common and popular extraction method for removing resin, oils, and other desired extracts was steam distillation, but in recent years extraction using carbon dioxide (CO2) has become much more mainstream.
At Extractz, we believe that CO2 extraction is the best method for removing oils and other compounds from hops.
What is Hop Oil?
Hop oil is the distilled essence from hop flowers. Hop oil, in addition to being an excellent addition to any home brewer’s arsenal, is also used holistically to treat issues such as anxiety and headaches.
How is Hop Oil Extracted Using CO2?
To extract hop oil using supercritical CO2, dried hops (pellet or cone ) is placed in the extraction chamber of a closed loop, continuous flow CO2 extraction machine.
Gageous CO2, adjusted to exact temperature and pressure, undergoes a phase change transitioning from gas to liquid form and is then continuously flowed thru the hops. Being an efficient solvent, the liquid CO2 pulls hops' essential oils into suspension. The oil-laden liquid CO2 then enters a separation vessel where pressures are reduced. This reduction in pressure allows the CO2 to return to its gaseous phase and the hops oil falls out of suspension. The gaseous CO2, now devoid of hops oil, is repressurized and flows again thru the extraction chamber continuing the extraction process. This continuous flow processing will continue for 3-4 hours, that's the time it takes to pull all the desired oils from the hops.
How Hops are Extracted Using Steam Distillation
Hop oils which are extracted using steam distillation use a similar process to other essential oils: the hops are placed in a large container which is slowly filled with steam. As the steam comes into contact with the hops, it causes tiny pockets within the plant to release the essential oils which were previously trapped inside.
Once the essential oils have been extracted, the steam is filtered into a separate holding container which contains the leftover water vapor and oils which have been extracted during the distillation process.
Why is CO2 Extraction Preferred for Hop Oil?
CO2 extraction is a much more effective method of extracting the essential oils from plant matter. Unlike steam distillation, which can yield results which are lackluster in terms of smell and appearance, CO2 draws out and retains much of the original oils, leaving you with a purer product for brewing and personal use.