The main goal for any cannabis extraction method is to create a final product with high potency. Each method has various benefits to the final product. Let’s further explore five of the most common cannabis extraction methods and see what they have to offer.
More and more producers are using ethanol extraction methods. Ethanol is considered a nonvolatile solvent for the purposes of licensing and therefore comes with less stringent regulations. The best way to produce ethanol extract is to start with cryogenically cooled ethanol at a temperature of -86 degrees Celsius or fewer. Commonly used equipment for this includes centrifugal extractors, which dry the product after extraction, transporting the extracted fluid to the solvent recovery system. Beaker & Wrench is in the process of launching its patent-pending solvent recovery system.
One of the most common cannabis extraction methods is solventless extraction. As the name implies, solventless extraction is an extraction method that doesn’t use a solvent. Common extracts in this category are bubble hash or rosin. With bubble hash, the cannabis plant is submerged into freezing water, and with some light stirring, the trichomes begin to separate from the plant. When the trichomes finish separating, they move through a screening process. The final product has a THC level of 50 to 70 percent. Rosin uses mechanical pressure and heat to press the cannabis oil out of the plant.
Butane Hash Oil (BHO) Extraction
Butane (or propane) extraction produces some of the best terpene extracts (live resin), since it uses a very cold solvent that evaporates easily. To initiate a BHO extraction, one needs special housing (C1D1 or D2) and will go through a more rigorous licensing process. The butane and cannabinoids will collect in a separate container. You can utilize a vacuum oven to remove all the BHO from the concoction, but typically, it will evaporate on its own. When you use the BHO method, THC levels will hover around 80 percent. Butane extraction also commonly produces THC-A crystals (“diamonds”), shatter, and crumble.
Supercritical CO2 Oil Extraction
Supercritical CO2 extraction has an end product similar to that of butane extraction in that it can collect terpenes when a very skilled operator fine-tunes the system. The solvent is also very volatile but easy to remove from the end product. However, the pressures required to run this type of machine necessitate very expensive equipment and a skilled operator. Winterization of crude oil is commonly needed since most extracts will produce a lot of wax that has to be removed in order to proceed to distillation.
Supercritical fluid extraction involves compressing CO2 until it reaches its “critical point,” when it rests between the liquid and gas phases in what’s known as the supercritical state. At this point, the CO2 diffuses through the cannabis like a gas but acts like a liquid, picking up waxes, cannabinoids, terpenes, et cetera. In this process, the supercritical CO2 heats up and passes through the buds on the plant. When the gas moves through a condenser, it reliquefies and is recyclable for future extractions. Industries such as beer, coffee, and tea utilize the supercritical CO2 method.
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