BHO vs. CO2 Hemp Extraction – Which is Better and Safe?

Creating cannabis concentrates is a fairly new concept. Within the recent decades, producers of concentrates have come up with ways to extract psychoactive and medicinal properties from cannabis, and concentrate them into one product. There are two very popular methods of doing so: through BHO or through CO2. If you enjoy dabbing, then chances are you have tried either BHO or CO2 concentrates at some point. But what is the difference between the two?


First, What Are CO2 and BHO?

Before you pick a side, you should understand what we are discussing in the first place. For those who enjoy regular cannabis buds and not concentrates, you may be lost at this point. But no need to worry, we are here to clear these things up. After all, that is what Reefer Post is all about!

Both BHO and CO2 refer to extraction methods of creating cannabis concentrates. What are concentrates? Well, these are highly potent cannabis products that come in many shapes and forms. Concentrates’ potency ranges from 50-90% THC, whereas regular cannabis typically ranges from 10-30% THC. There are many different types of concentrates, and each type is made in a different manner.

Related Post: Six Common Types of Concentrates

As you can see, concentrates are much more potent than buds that are picked from the plant. Methods to create these concentrates from the buds differ, however the two most popular extraction processes are through BHO or through CO2. During these extraction processes, trichomes are being taken from cannabis buds and concentrated (hence the name) into the extraction products. Solvents such as butane (in BHO) and carbon dioxide (in CO2) must be used in order to properly extract trichomes.

Pro’s & Con’s of BHO

Cannabis Shatter

What is BHO and why would you prefer it over CO2? Well, BHO stands for butane honey oil, and is a very popular method of creating concentrates. These types of concentrates are often used for dabbing.

Creating BHO products is much more dangerous than creating CO2 products, due its flammability. BHO extractions should be strictly left to professionals. Please do no try to make any at home, you could literally cause a massive explosion wherever you are doing it. Because of this, professionals create BHO products in a sealed environment to avoid explosions.

Even with its dangers and expertise needed to create them, BHO concentrates are more commonly found in dispensaries compared to CO2 concentrates. This could possibly be due to its potencies. BHO concentrates contain between 60-90% THC, making these products some of the most potent out there (more potent than those from CO2). Two types of BHO products are shatter and crumble.

BHO concentrates typically have stronger terpene profiles rather than CO2 concentrates, making these products much more flavorful. However, with all these pro’s of BHO, there are surely still some downsides to using it.

Related Post: What Are Terpenes?

One downside of using BHO products is that BHO leaves more residual solvents in its concentrates compared to CO2. These solvents can be very harsh and even harmful to the lungs. Professionally-made BHO products will contain far less residual solvents than homemade BHO (which again should not be practiced), but there will still be traces. BHO is also less environmentally friendly due to the solvents used to create its products.

Pro’s & Con’s of CO2

Bottom Dispenser on a Cartsdom Roulette

Now let’s discuss CO2. Is it any better for use than BHO? Of course it can be! But it still has its downsides. CO2 refers to carbon dioxide, which is used in the extraction process rather than butane (with BHO). CO2 concentrates are often used inside vape/wax pens.

This method of extraction requires very high pressures, which are quite harsh on the cannabis plant. It will literally suck the plant dry, making the remaining plant matter useless. Because of the high pressures, most terpenes do not make it through the extraction process. Since terpenes affect the flavors and scents of the product, most CO2 concentrates smell and taste the same (or at least very similarly). One terpene that does tend to make it through CO2 extraction is limonene, so most of these concentrates will be heavily influenced by it.

Related Post: The Terpene Limonene and Its Properties

CO2 concentrates typically hang around the 50-75% THC range, which is still much higher than regular cannabis buds. Even with less potency, CO2 products are usually more expensive than BHO products. This could be due to their rarity and cleanliness. CO2 extraction is healthier on the lungs compared to BHO due to far less residual solvents in these products. This extraction method is also non-flammable, so you will not cause a massive explosion attempting to make some (which you still may want to leave to professionals).

Which Is Better?

Now that you have the facts, it is time to figure out which one is better: BHO or CO2? More precisely, which one is better for you and your situation? The one that you prefer really depends on your appetite for concentrates.

If you prefer to dab your concentrates, go with BHO products. Or, if you prefer to use a wax pen, go with CO2 products. BHO products will be easier to locate and purchase from dispensaries. On the other hand, CO2 products will be healthier for your lungs. Oh, the decisions…

So, which did you pick? Drop a comment down below with your favorite: BHO or CO2? If you are not sure which one you have tried before, chances are that it is BHO, since these concentrates are much more common and affordable. Not that CO2 is extremely expensive, but it surely does cost more and is harder to come by. Well, enjoy those concentrates, whether they are made from BHO or CO2 extractions! Thanks for reading!

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Evan Weston

Evan Weston is a contributor to Reefer Posts, a growing community for exploring the developing market of Cannabis and CBD-related products. He spends a lot of time researching the development of health-related products that utilize Cannabis and CBD oils. He also keeps tabs on the developing legal environment regarding medical, recreational cannabis use, and production.

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