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How Marijuana Is Obtained From Its Plant Hosts

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By Author: Sativa Bliss Canabis
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Ideas may come to mind in the form of extraction machinery, ovens, submersion, etc., for obtaining a finished cannabis product. Both the solvent and solvent-free extraction methods for cannabinoids from cannabis illustrate some of these steps.

To help you find your way in the cannabis industry, here is a breakdown of the two main types of extraction processes: solvent and solventless.

Cannabis Extraction Using a Solvent

Extracts like live resin, shatter, wax, and vape oils are the primary products of solvent-based extraction methods.

The trichomes of the cannabis plant are dissolved in solvents (chemicals) and then the solvent is removed, leaving only the trichomes. Some people favor this approach because it lends itself well to mass production. This strategy has a proven track record of success, and it also increases diversity and effectiveness.

This approach has some problems, such as organic and safety concerns. Even if all of the solvent is removed, even if it's only 0.1%, a trace amount will remain in the final product. Extraction using solvents carries a high risk of fire and explosion ...
... if not done correctly. Don't try to extract cannabis on your own; instead, visit a dispensary like RISE, where you can rest assured that all of the products have been lab-tested to ensure that they contain no traces of harmful chemicals.

Substances Used in Solvent-Based Cannabis Extraction

CO2 Extraction

Carbon dioxide can be used to make cannabis extracts and concentrates. There is a need for extraction gear and expert instruction. The extraction process uses supercritical carbon dioxide, which is not only dangerous but also against the law in many jurisdictions. Mass fluctuation at high temperatures and high pressures is used to break down and separate cannabinoids, and this process must be carried out in a factory where safety measures can be taken to prevent any accidents. When carried out in this fashion, the result is unadulterated.

Considering that the process typically does not leave behind any residual toxins and that the solvent used is non-volatile, it is widely used in the food and beverage industry (think decaffeination of coffee). Terpenes are wonderfully preserved via C02 extraction, presenting cannabis extract with distinctive flavors and aroma profiles, making this method ideal for producing full-spectrum cannabis derivatives.


Extraction of Hydrocarbons

Hydrocarbon extraction using butane or propane, like carbon dioxide extraction, necessitates specialized tools, training, and a "blast-proof" work environment. This is not something you want to try at home, as the consequences could be disastrous. This can involve either open-loop or closed-loop apparatus. To what extent is there a distinction? Both open-loop and closed-loop systems have their advantages and disadvantages. Both see widespread use in business settings.

Propane and butane are two examples of the light hydrocarbons. Although butane is the most common fuel, some producers use a 70:30 mixture of butane and propane to keep more of the cannabis plant's terpenes intact during the extraction process.

Since butane and propane have a relatively low boiling point, they can be safely used in the extraction process without significantly altering the integrity of the plant material, making it possible to obtain a full-spectrum cannabis extract with minimal heat. This technique has also found application in the perfume business.

The method's benefits include a high therapeutic compound yield compared to carbon dioxide extraction, and the ability to produce a wide variety of cannabis compounds, including shatter, crumble, and live resin. Live resin, a premium oil, can only be extracted using a hydrocarbon solvent.

The three main stages of hydrocarbon extraction are the dewaxing, centrifugation, and cold ethanol winterization.

The butane or propane solvent is then evaporated in a vacuum oven at high temperatures. This technique is highly recommended for producing high-quality dabbable concentrates like budder, butane hash oil, shatter, resin, wax, crumble, and honeycomb due to the high level of strain purity it produces. Ingredients for vape cartridges, topical creams, tinctures, and edibles can be made from it as well.

Ethanol Extraction

Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol or alcohol extraction, has been used for botanical extraction for a long time because it is thought to be safe and simple to implement. Due to its low environmental impact, this solvent is often used.

When compared to extracting carbon dioxide or hydrocarbons, ethanol is safer and has a lower potential for explosion. Since it can behave as either a polar or non-polar solvent, it is very useful for extracting a wide range of cannabinoids and terpenes. [Source]

Cannabinoids and terpenes are fat-soluble, and since ethanol is a good fat solvent, indigestible cannabinoid-derivative products and crude products are often made using this technique. Vape cartridge oil, gel caps, edibles, tinctures, and topicals are all examples of refined products.

When employing ethanol extraction, results can be modified by adjusting the temperature of the process.

Many other compounds, including terpenes and other water-soluble compounds, can be extracted alongside the cannabinoids using warm or room temperature water.
Since cannabinoids and terpenes have a lot in common with fat-soluble compounds, the cold water: ethanol extraction method is very effective.
When the solvent has been soaked up at either temperature, it is evaporated using a vacuum and heat. Chromatography is then used to separate and purify the THC or CBD from the crude concentrate that remains. [Source]

However, ethanol extraction isn't great at separating cannabinoids like CBD and THC to produce a pure isolate. In addition, the solvent cannot be isolated from the terpenes, making it impossible to obtain a "living" end result.

Vegetable-Oil Extraction

Vegetable oil extraction, using oils like sunflower, coconut, or olive, is a low-cost method that, if done correctly, is safe enough to use in the comfort of one's own home. As a result of its high solubility and its ability to shield compounds from evaporation during heating, olive oil is frequently used in the marijuana extraction process. [Source]

The low volatile nature of olive oil allows for a high terpene yield. There are just a few simple steps to finish the process:

By heating the cannabis plant, cannabinoids like CBD and THC can be decarboxylated.
After adding cannabis to the chosen oil and heating it for a few hours, the result is an edible oil with a cannabis flavor.

The final product consists of the mixed solvent and the oil that was extracted from it.
Low potency and short shelf life are unfavorable results of vegetable oil extractions, so products should be kept in a cool, dry place.

Cannabinoids Extracted Without Harmful Substances

Hash, kief, and moon rocks are all forms of concentrated marijuana that are extracted without the use of harmful solvents. Because no chemicals are used, it is a more environmentally friendly option. The trichomes are instead removed by beating or pressing them off the plant.

Most dispensaries employ this technique for extracting their product. By switching to a solvent-free extraction process, you can get a higher quality end result without exposing yourself or the environment to harmful chemicals.

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