Cannabis Extraction Methods

Cannabis Extraction Methods

If you have ever used a marijuana extract, you might be wondering how it is made. There are different techniques that companies can use to separate the weed plant into its parts. Each of these parts contains unique chemicals. With the right techniques, you can isolate the desirable parts. For example, many extracts contain higher levels of THC to give you more of a high.

Some producers might want to create one extract that has many parts of the cannabis plant. This is also known as a whole plant extract. There are more than 550 chemicals in the weed plant. This includes the terpenes.

You are probably interested in learning how your extracts are created. However, before learning about these methods, you will want to remember that extracting cannabis substances is not just cooking. You would need to have lab equipment if you were to try this at home safely. In many cases, the chemicals used can be highly dangerous. This means that many of these methods require the right equipment. It is best to leave extractions to the experts.

Alcohol Extraction for Marijuana 

Many common types of extraction use a solvent. This might be alcohol. The weed is soaked in the alcohol, and then the plant is removed. The producer can then filter the liquid and remove the alcohol using evaporation. 

One of the challenges of using this method is the polarity of the solvents, such as ethanol. That means the solvents can mix into the water and dissolve the chlorophyll. It is important to take this substance out because it can taste extremely bitter.

The producer will need to carefully control the temperature. This is especially true during the evaporation process. It will take some time and must be done safely. However, one of the benefits of alcohol extraction is that there will not be toxic chemicals in the extract. The method also allows terpenes and cannabinoids to be extracted together.

Cannabis Extraction with Carbon Dioxide

Cannabis Extraction with Carbon Dioxide

Another method uses CO2 instead of alcohol. This method does not use alcohol. Instead, the CO2 can remove the components from the cannabis plant. With the right heat and pressure, the CO2 will become supercritical. This means it is both a gas and a liquid at the same time.

A producer will pay a bit more for the equipment for the carbon dioxide method. However, in general, the yield is higher. In addition, not as much material is lost. The producer can also adjust the method so certain components can be removed. The different substances will be concentrated at different rates, depending on the temperature and pressure. 

Once the components have been extracted, the carbon dioxide will go to a condenser and become a liquid. That can be filtered out and reused. This makes the method economical for the producer and reduces waste.

Butane or Propane Marijuana Extraction

If you have ever seen butane has oil, it was likely made using this method. The producer will begin with liquid butane and cannabis. This will go into a heated and pressurized system. When a vacuum is used, the butane solvent will be removed. This turns the butane into a vapour, so it can be removed quickly and easily.

The product from this process is also known as shatter. It is clear and has CBD, THC, and other components in it. The terpenes must be low, so the substance hardens well. Otherwise, the terpenes make the extract too soft.

Some manufacturers might produce propane oil. With this method, the producer will use liquid propane instead of butane. The high pressure will ensure that the propane is still a liquid. The lower temperature allows extraction to still occur. By adjusting the temperature, the manufacturer can control the terpenes that end up in the product. 

Extractions Without Solvents

Extractions Without Solvents

Kief is made without using any solvent. Instead, the plant is ground up and placed through a sieve. The small crystals on the plant are part of the trichomes on the cannabis plant. These are produced by the female plant when it flowers. They act as protective structures by keeping away predators and making the plant unpalatable. However, you can add the powdery kief to different cannabis products to make the potency stronger. You can even use it by itself.

Another type of extract made without a solvent is hash. This is a basic type of extract. The trichomes have been separated from the plant material because they have a high concentration of good components.

With one method, you take frozen buds and break them up over a screen. This allows the trichomes to separate from the plant and go through the screen. Then, you can press them into blocks. Another method involves placing the buds in ice water to separate the trichomes. You can still press them into a block after this.

Another popular type of simple extract is rosin. This is made from hash, kief, or flowers. It is translucent and has a consistency similar to sap. The manufacturer or cannabis user applies pressure and heat to the marijuana material, resulting in a product that is similar to the one extracted using butane. However, this one is unlikely to have toxic solvents, such as butane, remaining on it.

Testing has shown that this approach can remove many of the terpenes and cannabinoids from the plants. Many cannabis users like this approach because it is simple and safe enough to try at home. If you have parchment paper, a hair straightener, gloves, and a tool for collecting, you are all set to make your own rosin extract. Commercial manufacturers use special presses to make the extract. However, the basic idea remains the same.

Closing Thoughts

Improving the way that cannabis is extracted has allowed new techniques for extraction to be developed. The next few years could hold even more unique ways of extracting the substance. The right type of extract will depend on your personal preferences. Trying many different types will help you choose the one you like the best.

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