Extracting cannabis is as complicated as the process of growing its plants. The term cannabis extract is used to define an oil-like substance that can concentrate chemical compounds, such as CBD or THC from the cannabis plant.
There are a variety of methods that can be used to separate cannabinoids from the plant material and concentrate it into cannabis extract. Cannabis extracts are mainly better than dried flower due to the taste and the ease of use it offers. The extraction process, in general, is also environmentally friendly and kills any microbial bacteria. It’s also excellent at producing waxes, oils, liquids, budders, and shatters.
Most of these cannabis extraction methods also don’t need heat, which could damage or denature fragile terpenes. Moreover, operators usually have control over which compounds need to be extracted.
Most extraction methods also don’t require the use of heat which can denature or damage fragile terpenes, and operators can often control which compounds are extracted.
To extract cannabis in its concentrated form, the plant’s cannabinoids need to are extracted and condensed into a pure form. There are several ways cannabinoids can be isolated from the cannabis plant which include solvent and solventless methods.
Solvent methods, while providing products that are high-quality, need expertise and professional equipment to ace it. Solventless methods, on the other hand, while being simple relatively, do not offer similar cannabinoid and THC percentages.
This method involves using dried cannabis plants and shaking or beating them on a mesh screen to make trichome crystals fall off and, hence, be collected. The extracted powder, which is often called “kief”, can either be consumed, pressed into hashish, or mixed with dried flower. The THC content is usually 35 to 50 percent.
Commonly known as bubble hash or water hash, this method uses sieve-like bags filled with cannabis plants submerged in ice-cold water and stirred. This process pushes the trichome crystals to fall off and pass through a series of collection screens. The resulting hashish or kief can be smoked or dabbed and has THC level of 50 to 70 percent.
Perhaps the most popular method to extract THC, ethanol extraction is efficient, safe, and effective, utilizing the many advantages of other cannabis extraction methods. Ethanol has been deemed safe by the FDA and is commonly used as a preservative or food additive. This extraction method is an excellent option to commercially produce high-quality cannabis distillates, oils, edibles, and various cannabis concentrates.
This extraction method involves soaking cannabis into ethanol to extract its most valuable parts. The resulting extract is then refined into its purest form. While the ethanol does extract unwanted chlorophyll, the refining step removes those unwanted parts to create one of the most pure and high-quality THC extracts.
Ethanol extraction is sustainable, safe, and dependable and, as long as the extract is refined, it serves as a great product for niche and commercial production.
Rosin Press Extraction
The term rosin refers to a cannabis concentrate that has a shatter or buttery-like consistency and is created without the addition of solvents or additives to extract trichome crystals from the cannabis plant. It, instead, uses pressure and heat to extract the resin which contains valuable ingredients from the cannabis plant.
Commonly called an ISO wash, this method involves soaking a dried cannabis flower in isopropyl alcohol for a short time. While the flower is being soaked, the mixture is shaken and strained into another container.
The isopropyl alcohol effectively strips the trichome crystals from the plant into the solvent. Then, any leftover solvent is evaporated from the concentrated liquid in a vacuum over at around 181 degrees fahrenheit until the THC oil is the only thing lift. While the ISO wash extract is filled with cannabinoids, it also contains waxes, plant alkaloids, and chlorophyll. The longer you soak the flower, the greater the extraction will be.
Butane Honey Oil Extraction (BHO)
This form of extraction was popular in many industries, primarily food and perfume, but is now commonly used to extract cannabis due to terpene retention and potency.
The method involves filling a column or vessel with cannabis and attaching a filter at the other end. The cannabinoids are extracted when butane is sprayed through the cannabis and the cannabinoid-heavy butane is stored in a separate vessel. The cannabinoid and solvent mixture is either purged in vacuum oven or evaporated.
When not executed properly, BHO extraction can prove to be quite dangerous since butane gas is extremely flammable. Due to technology advancements, BHO extraction machines seal the solvent as it passes through the cannabis and keeps it under pressure to maintain the liquid form.
The vacuum oven purges the solvent residue from the oil and results in a golden oil that has around 80 percent of THC content. This extraction method is used to produce oils, shatters, crumbles, and waxes.
While everyone does have their preferred method of cannabis extraction, the method that’s considered the best is still up for debate. Many people prefer ethanol extraction, while some who prefer doing it at home would go for the ISO wash. Each method poses its own advantages and disadvantages so, ultimately, it’s up to you to decide which extraction method would work best for you, depending on the elements you need and why you’re essentially producing concentrates.
Do you have any suggestions on making the most of these extraction methods? Sound off in the comments below!