Supercritical Extraction & Why it's Critical (ahem) For Chia

Many folks have asked me why supercritical extraction is so key for chia oil, and I’d like to explain why with this post.

In recent years, cold pressing has become the most common way to extract oils, and you’ll hear brands extoll its virtues. While cold pressing extraction is great for some plants and seeds (depending on their characteristics), for chia it is not the best method of extraction.

With the advent of new technology in the skincare market, we’ve recently seen more sophisticated, effective and envionmentall-friendly methods for extraction, which are especially useful for working with certain oils prone to rancidity, such as chia. Supercritical CO2 extraction delivers the superior active properties of the plant without the use of any chemical solvents or the production of residues & impurities or issues with rancidity.

Supercritical Extraction: Here’s How it Works.

Supercritical extraction is a gentle, solvent-free, oxygen-free process in which the oil is extracted from the seed under pressure. This process takes place without any thermal stress and without the use of chemical solvents. Because CO2 is chemically inert the extraction is done in a vacuum, without the presence of oxygen. The low temperature and lack of waste streams/emissions make it extremely environmentally friendly. It leaves absolutely no solvent residues, and therefore the resulting oil is impeccably pure. In addition, the nature of the supercritical CO2 process offers virtual sterilization of the finished product. The resulting oil is untouched by chemical solvents and stays as natural as it was before extraction.

Why is it a superior form of extraction?

Supercritical extraction best protects and preserves the botanical properties of the plant. No oxygen means absolutely no risk of oxidization, which is particularly important for oils prone to turning rancid – such as chia. When chia is cold pressed, oxygen is present throughout the process and thereby causes the oils to start oxidizing immediately. Importantly, unlike cold pressing, where valuable antioxidants, omegas and sterols can be lost during the cold pressing process – the supercritical extraction method yields all of the biologically ‘active’ components (all the good stuff for your skin) of the amazing chia seed.

Maya Chia uses only supercritical extracted chia oil. We may use cold pressed oils for other seeds and plants when and if it makes sense, which depends largely on the characteristics of the plant. But we’re happy to say that our supercritical chia oil is richer, purer and most closely mirrors the virtuous properties of the original chia seed than any chia oil on the market.