SFE is an acronym for Supercritical Fluid Extraction. It is a process that involves isolating parts from each other through the use of a solvent to produce cannabis extracts and oils. The specific types of solvents used are labeled supercritical because when they come in contact with extreme heat and pressure, they have chemical structures that change between states of solid, liquid, and gaseousness.
When supercritical fluids reach this state, they have the ability to break down structures where they can then be isolated. The most common solvent used for supercritical fluid extraction is CO2. Sometimes modified solvents such as ethanol or methanol are used. For supercritical extraction methods, a temperature of 31 degrees Celcius must be reached and a pressure of 74 bar. Supercritical CO2 extraction has been around for many years. It first sprang up in the 1980s because of its known ability to be a lot cleaner than other methods of extraction.
The end goal is to create a high-quality oil that is pure, clean, safe to manufacture, and requires little effort in the post-processing phase. Toxic solvents like butane may require hours to purge out of the oil. Although the required equipment costs for the supercritical fluid extraction process can be expensive, CO2 itself is financially inexpensive and is able to be manipulated and tuned during the extraction process.
This gives the ability for manufacturers to specifically focus on and extract what compounds, terpenes, and cannabinoids they want in their oils. Because CO2 is also considered to be a sanitizing agent, this extends the shelf life of the oils.
Use of Term
I prefer my oils to be made through SFE because It provides the cleanest, purest, and most potent oils I have ever tried. I used medical grade oils for my inflammation, and SFE oils have never failed me.