How Is Krill Oil Extracted?

open air extraction

Before you make a decision on a krill oil supplement, you want to find out about the extraction process used by the supplier you’re considering. 

Because how your krill oil is extracted does make a difference in so many ways. From the actual nutrient count, to freshness and potential for oxydation – extraction matters. 

Solvent Based Extraction Methods

Most manufacturers today use some form of solvent based extraction. In simple terms, solvent based extraction uses a liquid or chemical of some kind – in this case, often hexane – to separate oil from the krill themselves. Once the chemical solvent is added, the solid bits of krill are filtered out. 

The amount of the solvent left in the oil depends on the filtration method. But in general, once a foreign substance is added it’s nearly impossible to get every trace of it back out. 

We’ve seen some manufacturers tout a “supercritical solvent extraction.” This is a slightly more complex process that involves using heat and pressure to get the solvent to it’s “critical point.” The critical point is a thermodynamics term that means the liquid in a state where it can be both a liquid and a vapor at the same time. 

Confused yet? 

The bottom line is this: Solvent based extraction methods unavoidably add a foreign substance to your krill oil that must then be removed. How thoroughly they’re removed will vary, but at minimum there will be traces of solvent in your krill oil supplement. And supercritical solvent methods also involve heat and pressure, which increase the risk of oxydation. 

Non-Solvent, At-Sea Processing

In the last 2-3 years, a new process has emerged for extracting krill oil at sea. 

With this method, krill are harvested using vacuum pumps that deliver the krill directly to the extraction equipment on board the ship, so the oil is extracted within minutes of capture. 

Instead of chemicals or solvents, the krill are taken through a process that ends with mechanical pressing to extract a higher grade of krill oil. 

This method is faster – there is no wait time between harvest and extraction. It’s cleaner – no solvents or foreign substances are ever added to the krill. And it delivers an oil that in some cases has even higher amounts of critical nutrients. 

What Happens After Extraction?

As Krill Oil has grown in popularity, we’ve seen a disturbing trend towards mass production. Many popular products have made some unsettling adjustments as the need for more and more output placed demands on their processes. 

In many cases this has led to extraction methods that use chemical solvents, as mentioned above. Worse, it’s led to giant warehouses where extracted oil waits for months at a time in metal drums to be encapsulated. 

These methods and wait times have added even more steps to the process as manufacturers have to further manipulate the products to achieve even the basic label numbers mentioned above.

But there is a better way, and we believe it’s the solvent-free method mentioned above. 

Our Recommendation: Captain’s Krill Oil™

Captain’s Krill Oil comes at the process from the opposite angle to those popular brands. They believe that fresher, purer, unaltered krill oil will meet nutrient numbers naturally.

In the beginning, they marketed the product on freshness and purity alone. They don’t list nutrient numbers on the label. But since so many have asked, they’ve recently begun testing Captain’s for nutrient breakdown, and can now definitively say that their small-batch processing leads to not only the freshest, purest krill oil on the market, but also delivers the nutrient numbers you want to see: 



For this reason, we are proud to wholeheartedly recommend Captain’s Krill Oil. 

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