Cannabis extract falls under the category of cannabis concentrates. Extracts are created using solvents to separate the cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant. There’s so much to discuss when it comes to cannabis extract. But this article will outline the five key steps in cannabis production and how they are carried out.
The cannabis plant material is prepared for extraction by grinding it into smaller pieces and drying it if necessary.
Cannabis extraction works to concentrate target components for specific products. A range of solvents can be used to extract cannabinoids including CO2, ethanol, propane, and petroleum ether. All of these solvents allow for separating cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. Each extraction method has its own benefit, but the goal of each is to offer a highly potent end product.
The crude oil(made up of cannabinoids, THC/CBD, waxes, fats, lipids, and terpenes) is then winterized to remove the unwanted lipids, fatty acids, and waxes once the oil is mixed with a polar solvent (usually ethanol) and subjected to a sub-zero temperature range for 24 hours, it is then filtered through a centrifuge, Buchner Funnel or a filter press.
Solvent recovery is the step in cannabis extraction where the majority of the solvent in the crude cannabis extract is removed, which is the most time-consuming step and can be a true bottleneck in production. Tools such as high-speed evaporators are well-suited to significantly decreasing the time taken to achieve solvent recovery. This process is vital, as it separates the bulk of the ethanol from the oil, which can then be reused in a closed-loop system.
Decarboxylation is the process in cannabis extraction which involves converting THCA and CBDA into THC and CBA via heating and drying and produces the desired effects when consumed. It is a chemical reaction that removes a carboxyl group using heat or chemicals. Decarboxylation traditionally requires the use of a reactor, chiller, condenser, and vacuum pump and will take up to ten hours. The time-consuming nature comes from using thermal fluid to heat the extract which is a very inefficient process.
To further refine the cannabis extraction, the oil goes through distillation allowing for precise control over the end product’s cannabinoid profile.
There are two different ways—short path and wiped film: Both options use vapor pressure (vacuum depth) to reach the lowest possible boiling points for compounds to avoid degrading what we’re trying to capture—so either way, you’ll end up with a high-quality end product.
The final product is further refined using various techniques such as filtration, chromatography, or crystallization to remove any remaining impurities and improve the purity and potency of the extract.
It is important to note that the exact steps involved in cannabis extraction can vary depending on the method used and the desired end product. Additionally, the production of any cannabis extract should only be done by trained professionals in a properly equipped lab, as the use of solvents can be dangerous and pose a serious risk to health and safety if not handled correctly.
Works Cited: The 5 Steps of Cannabis Extraction