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BHO vs CO2 Cannabis/Hemp Extraction

What is butane hash oil (BHO)? Three Pros, Three Cons

BHO is a full-spectrum end product: Butane and/or propane is an excellent solvent, and it has a fantastic ability to penetrate biomass. Using the closed-loop butane hash oil (BHO) extraction of the hemp/cannabis, the solvent mixture is washed over the dried or fresh-frozen biomass, which dissolves its chemical compounds such as cannabinoids and terpenes, and can extract not only cannabinoids and terpenes but also lipids, and waxes. It creates quite a potent and full-spectrum end product.

Once the extraction is complete, most modern machines would recycle the butane by removing it from the extract by heating or reducing the pressure. As the equipment is closed-loop, very little butane would escape along with the end product.

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Three Pros

  1. Faster runs than CO2 extractions
  2. Can produce a wide variety of extract solutions ranging from distillates to high-terpene full-spectrum extracts (HTFSE).
  3. Often considered a stronger product(The normal CO2 products generally have less THC and fewer terpenes than BHO products.)

Three Cons

  1. The highly flammable solvent can increase the risk of fire and explosion
  2. Potentially more risk of residual solvents
  3. May come with higher facility costs

CO2 extract oil: Three Pros, Three Cons

Supercritical CO2 extraction is the most common way of extraction these days. However, it is not very good for extracting terpenes, which means that CO2 products generally have less THC and fewer terpenes than BHO products. That is why many machines using CO2 may use other solvents like ethyl alcohol to get full spectrum extract, but this can add up to the costs.

600L supercritical co2 extraction machine

CO2 extract must be winterized and go through fractional distillation to get the usable product: CO2 extraction results in a resin that must still be processed before use, so it must undergo a winterization process, to remove the lipids and waxes using an ethanol solvent. The solution must undergo post-processing to remove the ethanol solvent.

Yet, there are some real benefits to CO2. CO2 extractions are thought to provide the lowest risk of residual solvent, which means that consumers are less likely to inhale unnecessary pollutants like butane.

Three Pros

Clean, less risk of residual solvents(“solventless” and non-toxic)
Easy to put in vapor pens
CO2 extraction can manipulate temperature and pressure settings to target specific compounds and avoid pulling out undesirable compounds.

Three Cons

  • Relatively longer run time than BHO
  • Standard operating procedures may result in a lower concentration of terpenes and cannabinoids in the concentrate(Often considered a weaker product)
  • Must be winterized and go through fractional distillation to get the usable product.

BHO vs CO2 Cannabis/Hemp Extraction: Which Is Better?

The cannabis/hemp or other biomass extraction industry uses a variety of solvents, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

BHO extract is generally of higher quality, with better texture and aroma, and requires less post-processing. However, full-spectrum is not always required as it also means a more significant amount of impurities and residual solvents. Thus, CO2 extracts may have fewer terpenes, but it also has no toxic residual solvent. Thus, BHO may be good, but CO2 appears to be safer.

Butane hash oil extraction usually does not require as much post-processing as CO2 extraction and can produce more terpene-rich oils. To get various extracts with CO2 extraction, one can run the extract through multiple cycles, using different temperature and pressure settings. As far as terpenes are concerned, greater amounts of them may be extracted by adding ethyl alcohol as a solvent. Moreover, both CO2 and ethyl alcohol are absolutely safe.

Works Cited: BHO Vs. CO2: Which Provides The Best Product?