Hashish Extraction Strategies: The Good, The Dangerous & The Ugly


Whereas there are numerous cannabis extraction strategies to select from, there are benefits and drawbacks to every technique. Chemically talking, eradicating the cannabinoids from cannabis is an easy job. The energetic elements (cannabinoids and terpenes) are current on the skin of the flower and close by leaves (trim) within the well-known trichome glands. With a purpose to harvest the oils contained within the trichomes, the cell membranes of the glands should be disrupted. Non-polar solvents disturb the lipid bilayer, liberating the contained energetic elements. Most natural solvents are comparatively non-polar, and are able to extracting the trichomes. Water, nearly probably the most polar solvent, is repelled by the lipid bilayer, and cannabinoids haven’t any solubility in it. In distinction, extraction of water soluble compounds from different vegetation (assume tea or tobacco) is well completed utilizing water alone.
The non-polar solvents generally utilized in just about all cannabis extraction strategies embody hydrocarbons, alcohols and supercritical carbon dioxide. Let’s study the advantages and drawbacks of every.


Hydrocarbons, because the identify implies, are very non-polar compounds made up of solely hydrogen and carbon. Virtually all hydrocarbons are manufactured by the petrochemical trade, and are elements of pure fuel, diesel gas and gasoline. As you would possibly count on, these compounds are extremely flammable: however they’re environment friendly cannabinoid extractors. Whereas all hydrocarbons may probably be used for cannabis extraction, in follow solely the decrease hydrocarbons akin to propane and butane are used. Why are these extremely unstable, extraordinarily flammable solvents employed? Effectively, they work, and so they evaporate very simply, making restoration of the dissolved cannabinoids straightforward. The decrease hydrocarbons are additionally pretty selective for the non-polar cannabinoids, leaving the coloured pigments and chlorophyll behind. The convenience of solvent removing (because of the hydrocarbons low warmth of evaporation) permits the ensuing oil to be labored into the assorted types of “shatter”, “bubble hash” and the like.

Sadly, the properties of decrease hydrocarbons that are perfect for cannabis extraction (excessive volatility, low viscosity) make them extraordinarily harmful. All of the decrease hydrocarbons kind explosive mixtures (butane will explode at concentrations between 2 and eight% in air) resulting in the properly documented explosions at hydrocarbon processing labs. Certainly, butane, propane, and their cousins are gas/air explosives, appropriate for navy bombs. There isn’t a technique to make these hazardous compounds secure, thus intensive engineering controls MUST be employed to keep away from catastrophe. Even then, operator error, or insufficient SOPs can result in hazardous situations.

Hydrocarbons are the province of Huge Oil. They’ve the capital and expertise to deal with the hazards. Others ought to keep away.

Supercritical Carbon Dioxide

scCO2 is a non-polar “solvent” that’s efficient for extracting cannabinoids from plant materials. Actually, a number of patents from the early 2000’s declare the tactic. All CO2 techniques are thus infringing on current know-how patents: with a standard article of commerce, each CO2 system producer can be sued for patent infringement. If/when cannabis turns into federally authorized, then a reckoning ought to happen between the patent holders, and the infringers.

However I digress…

scCO2 is run at many occasions atmospheric strain, and makes use of a big amount of compressed carbon dioxide. Apart from the dangerous results CO2 has on the atmosphere, the excessive pressures and enormous volumes of the extremely toxic carbon dioxide results in main safely issues. Engineering controls should be in place within the occasion of CO2 launch, or else speedy suffocation is feasible within the occasion of failure. Due to the intense pressures concerned, scCO2 techniques should be product of strain rated metal, growing the capital outlay for startup and dramatically growing the necessity for diligent preventative upkeep.

scCO2 is an environment friendly extractor, maybe too environment friendly. Every thing will get stripped from the plant materials, together with waxes, pigments and cell-wall fragments. Thus, “winterization” is required to acquire usable extracts. Winterization is completed by dissolving the sludge from the scCO2 equipment into ethanol, chilling and filtering off the mass of unusable waxes, and so forth., after which evaporating the ethanol.
scCO2 extractions are actually a set of two extractions run in sequence: the CO2 run adopted by an ethanol extraction.

This begs the query: why do the scCO2 pre-extraction, when an ethanol extraction by itself would do the job?

Alcohol Extractions

Alcohol extraction of cannabis has been completed for hundreds of years. Cannabinoids have glorious solubility in decrease alcohols akin to ethanol and isopropanol, supplied that the water content material of the alcohol is low. Ethanol tinctures of cannabis are part of the Pharmacopeia, and earlier than prohibition, had been available for varied illnesses.
Whereas many decrease alcohols can be utilized for environment friendly extraction of cannabinoids from cannabis, ethanol is the popular solvent, since it’s comparatively non-toxic. Sometimes, the cannabis is put right into a filtration machine, and room temperature or barely colder ethanol is handed by. The ethanol should dehydrated to dissolve the cannabinoids successfully: greater quantities of water cut back the solubility of the cannabinoids and decrease the quantity extracted. At 80 proof (40% alcohol), little or no oil is extracted, because of the a lot decrease solubility of cannabinoids on this water-heavy solvent system.

After extraction, the ethanol is evaporated leaving the cannabis oil as a residue. Warmth and vacuum are then utilized to take away residual ethanol. Whereas that is extremely efficient, it’s an inefficient course of. A considerable amount of the costly dehydrated ethanol is required and the evaporation and purging of ethanol makes this cannabis extraction technique a time-consuming course of.

The Escet Technique solves the problems surrounding ethanol use, particularly by using low proof alcohol (vodka) and eliminating the evaporation step. Our secure, rugged technique produces focus for all put up extraction functions. Contact us for extra info right here.


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