There are many methods for extracting cannabis and hemp biomass. And rest assured, everyone will tell you that their method is the best. Truthfully, there is not a “best” choice for everyone. Picking the correct extraction method is a strategic choice, and there are many factors to be considered.
We choose to build out systems around an ethanol extraction for a variety of reasons. For starters, Ethanol is considered “GRAS” by the FDA in the United States. This stands for “generally recognized as safe.” While there are many substances generally considered safe by their advocates we believe alcohol to be the safest especially at an industrial scale. This is because it has a lower flammability than Butane, and can be used without a pressurized system.
Butane is considered by many to be the solvent of choice for Cannabis and hemp extraction, but consider this… all it takes is a few molecules of this gas to mix with an electrical spark and BOOM. Say goodbye to your employees and facility. The bigger your scale, the scarier this becomes. Of course people who work with butane will say that this is why it’s so important to work in a Class 1 Div 1 room, have proper ventilation, and make sure rigorous safety standards are in place so that nobody makes a mistake. However, mistakes are human, and that for us, is reason enough to sleep easy knowing we aren’t anywhere near a butane extraction.
Another solvent that many operators swear by is CO2. Carbon Dioxide is in the atmosphere, and we breathe it all the time, so it must be safe right? Well yes and no. The type of carbon dioxide in the air is not pressurized. To reach the “supercritical” or even “sub critical” phase, the carbon dioxide must be put inside a pressurized vessel which can withstand between 800 – 5000 PSI. The bigger the vessel, the larger this giant pressurized system must be. Luckily this is not the case with alcohol. Butane systems must also be pressurized to a lesser extent, somewhere between 50 – 150 PSI.
The other issue that most butane and carbon dioxide systems face, are the lipids and waxes in the plant. These often get removed in the primary extraction… which leads to the need for a process called winterization where the waxes are removed from the cannabis plant by using a secondary solvent – ETHANOL! So when C02 or Butane extracted oils say they are “100% C02 extracted oil” this is partially true, although there’s often residual ethanol left from the winterization process which remains in the final product. And the worst part about this whole winterization business, is that is takes a lot of extra time and labor.
Here at CBD Inc, we value your time and safety.
Why bother with extra steps or extra precautions – when a perfectly suitable choice exists which has been used for making botanical extracts for hundreds if not thousands of years exists? Our guess is a lack of education. We’re here to help you understand the in’s and outs of cannabis and hemp extraction. Make sure to checkout our instagram for more fun facts and reach out on our contact page if you have questions!