To celebrate 7/10 we’re breaking down 3 common extraction methods that produce your favorite types of concentrates and extracts. Looking for a safe product to celebrate with? We’ve got you covered! Read on and check out some safe products, perfect for your 7/10 weekend (or any weekend).
Why do we celebrate concentrates on 7/10?
Like 4/20 (April 20th), the day dedicated to the celebration of cannabis, Oil Day (July 10th) is a celebration for cannabis concentrates and extracts. The numerological date is 7/10 (710) and when it is flipped over, it spells OIL, hence Oil Day came to existence.
What are concentrates and extracts?
Concentrated extracts come from cannabis or hemp plants, flowers, and leaves. There are several different methods to extract from cannabis flower such as solvent/alcohol-based extraction, supercritical CO2-based extraction, and solvent–less extraction. Concentrates are a product of solvent-less extraction and extracts are a type of concentrate that comes from solvent-based and CO2 processes. We will be discussing the various types of concentrate and extract products and dive deep into the different extraction methods for concentrates.
The Making Of: 3 Concentrate Extraction Methods
For solvent-based extractions, different types of alcohol and petroleum derivatives such as isopropyl alcohol, ethanol, butane, hexane, or propane are utilized in various methods. Because these methods are working with flammable and volatile solvents, that have the potential to cause explosions or toxicity due to the presence of residual solvents, they should be carried out in a professional lab setting with more advanced equipment.
The Quick Wash Method
In the Quick Wash Method, Ethanol and isopropyl alcohol are required. In this process, buds are mixed in alcohol, the alcohol is then strained purging out any water-soluble compounds like chlorophyll. The extract is dried leaving a concentrated byproduct resembling deep yellow or orange powder.
A closed-loop system is one of the most popular methods of cannabis extraction. This method can use various types of solvents such as butane, hexane, and propane. Extract processes that use hexane are called hexane honey oil (HHO) and extractions using butane or propane are considered butane or propane hash oil, (BHO or PHO). In this method there are no exposed areas or opening in the instruments for the flammable gas to escape from. The extraction takes place by first soaking the plant material in butane or hexane, which acts as a solvent to separate the cannabinoids and terpenes out. Pressurized tanks are filled with the solvents which is connected to a tube where the plant contents are washed with the solvents. The solvents are then purged out using heat and pressure. When this is complete, another connected tube will spew out the extract. The resulting byproduct is a thick and goopy substance ranging in yellow, orange, and brown colors.
Solvent-based extraction methods destroy plant fats and terpenes in the process, leading to a poor taste. Terpenes are infused back into some of these byproducts or distributed as a crude oil.
Some examples of solvent-based extracts like BHO or PHO (butane or propane hash oil) and HHO (hexane honey oil):
Budder/Badder: Usually yellow or orange in color and is very malleable. It is reminiscent of a glossy stick of butter or cake batter.
Crumble: The brittle and crumbly version of budder or badder. It looks dryer and is not glossy.
Crystalline: A crystalized form of a specific cannabinoid like THCA or CBD. It is usually found in powder form or as a crystalized rock. This is the purest concentrate since it is an isolated cannabinoid. It has no terpenes as it is lost during extraction.
Sauce: Has a viscous consistency. It can range in different colors from dark amber to bright yellow.
Shatter: Thin and glass-like, it is also very brittle resembling shattered glass. There are two types of shatter available, the main one it refers to is hard and breaks like glass. And the other is called “pull and snap” which has a similar feel to caramelized candy that can be stretched and snapped.
Sugar/Caviar: Resembles dampened coarse sugar. It is sticky and not dry as it looks and comes in lighter or brighter shades of yellow or orange.
One of the more preferred methods of extracting cannabinoids from plants is known as CO2-based extraction. There are many advantages to this method, one being that it does not use high temperatures or solvents, instead, it protects the cannabinoids with the use of CO2, a non-flammable and non-toxic gas. Due to the manipulation of pressure in this method, it can be performed at near ambient temperature. And since it turns back into a gas, low levels of residuals remain after processing, yielding a product that is pure and solvent–free, meaning the solvents that were once used in the process have been removed.
A little about CO2
CO2, carbon dioxide, is a gas at room temperature, but it can be used as a solvent at other temperatures and pressures. This is ultimately pressure versus temperature. By changing the temperature and pressure, you can induce gas, solid, or liquid forms of CO2. And when you have different temperatures and pressures, you can reach a region called supercriticality, where supercritical CO2 behaves both like a liquid and a gas simultaneously.
First, the raw material is put it in the same chamber as supercritical CO2 and the fluid is passed through the raw material. The passage of supercritical CO2 through the raw material stabilizes a significant proportion of the active compounds. Upon finally collecting all of the compounds, a slurry with the consistency of peanut butter is recovered. This is a very thick and goopy substance that contains the active components.
After the material is recovered from the CO2 based extraction, more purification is needed. Using a process known as winterization, an alcohol-based extraction process is used to purify out certain compounds from the CO2-extracted material. In this case, the material obtained from supercritical CO2 is dissolved in alcohol, and this alcohol is placed in a freezer, hence the name winterization. Various fats and waxes aggregate and removed leading to a liquid product that is fairly pure and highly potent, with approximately 65% potency or higher.
We’re Not Done Yet
Using a process known as distillation, that winterized product can be further refined using short path distillation. In this case, the oil that is obtained from short path, a methodology in which the winterized product is heated in a flask under a vacuum. Heating the product under vacuum lowers the relative boiling point of the cannabinoids from 156C to 250C, to more ambient temperatures where there is no stability concern. This is important because we do not want continuous heat on cannabinoids due to their temperature sensitivity and ability to degrade.
Vapors are collected from the distillate and continuously processed through multiple rounds, if needed. In this process, the terpene residuals are lost, but a potency that is even higher than winterization of 75% to 90% can be obtained. The loss of terpenes or phytonutrients are not necessarily a concern as they can be put back at various points of the formulation process.
Some examples of CO2 extracts:
Distillate: A refined, winterized product comprised of just one specific cannabinoid. It is stripped of all other compounds like terpenes. It has a runny consistency and comes in different shades of amber and is often translucent.
Live resin (vape): Extracted using fresh, live cannabis plants. This maintains higher terpene content compared to other concentrates.
Diamonds: Crystalline structures that form in sauce extracts or are isolated like crystalline rock. These are sometimes “mined” from live resin or sauce, meaning that the cannabinoids clump together into diamonds separating from the terpenes that remain in the sauce.
Solventless or non-solvent extraction is done without the interference of solvents and is achieved through mechanical means. There are different types of concentrates produced from solventless methods, some popular ones include ice water or bubble hash, dry sift hash, and hash rosin.
Ice Water Hash
The process resulting in Ice Water Hash, also known as Bubble Hash, involves soaking fresh cannabis flower in a micron bag with ice and cold water. It is kept cold to help the trichomes snap off when it is agitated or whisked. The trichomes don’t dissolve in the water, but instead sink to the bottom. The micron or mesh bag acts as a filter, separating the trichomes from the water.
Dry Sift Hash
The Dry Sift Hash process aims to isolate trichomes from flower buds. This method utilizes a sifter with micron screens to separate the trichome byproduct, kief, from cooled buds. The kief is then scraped and gathered into molds forming kief blocks or dry sift hash.
A rosin press is typically used to make hash rosin. The starting point can be dry sift, bubble hash, or even flower buds. It applies pressure and heat to the starting product, which the presses out cannabis resin containing the concentrated cannabinoids and terpenes. The heat is not high enough to cause terpene degradation.
Some examples of solventless concentrates:
Hash: Produced by mechanical and natural means, there are no solvents or chemicals included in the extraction process.
- Dry sift hash is the old school method of gathering kief into a block.
- Ice water hash or bubble hash is make with ice and cold water to help the trichomes (kief) separate from the plants.
- Hash rosin utilizes heat and compression of cannabis flowers or sift (kief). This results in resin being squished from the plants.