Cannabis extraction provides your business with a way to create high-quality extracts to use in the products you plan on bringing to market. Several types of extraction methods are available in the cannabis industry, with one of the most common ones using liquid-liquid techniques. When you're evaluating the right methods for your business, you should consider the equipment required to put it in place, the types of end products you expect to see, and where it fits into your workflow.
Liquid Liquid Extraction Theory
Liquid-liquid extraction, which is sometimes referred to solvent extraction, can separate compounds from one another. This technique uses the different solubilities of two liquids to transfer the selected compounds into another liquid phase. Typically, the liquids used in this process as water with a non-polar solvent. After it receives this transfer, the solvent ends up in a configuration that is significantly more stable than it was previously. The end result is some form of an extract, and the left over material is a raffinate.
Types of Cannabis Extraction
Here are a few of the cannabis extraction methods that are available for the commercial production of extract.
Alcohol acts as a solvent with this technique. The cannabis is combined with ethanol. You take the plants out of the ethanol and ensure that there are no small pieces floating in it by filtering the liquid. The next stage of the process uses evaporation to take out the alcohol solvent. It may go through several filtering and evaporation stages, based on the compounds being worked with. One reason that this method is so popular is because it's easy to extract cannabinoids without introducing toxic chemicals into the end product.
CO2 takes the place of the ethanol in this extraction method. The cannabinoids get removed from the plants via incredibly high pressure environments. The CO2 goes into a supercritical state that enables it to be in gas and liquid stages at the same time. Between the pressure and high heat, the extraction gets produced. One benefit to this extraction method is controlling costs and speeding up the extraction process. Most of the CO2 is recovered, so you don't have a lot of reagent loss to worry about. It's also a flexible and highly customizable process, which allows you to make adjustment to the settings in order to optimize the extraction for each compound. The drawback is that the equipment to support this extraction method is pricey.
Butane is the reagent in this approach, and it goes through a similar process as alcohol solvent extraction. The equipment used for this method takes the plant matter and butane into a high heat and high pressure environment. It creates a vacuum to convert butane into a vapor, which removes it from the extract. It's critically important that all butane solvent is removed in this process, as it can leave toxins in the extraction otherwise. The dangers associated with using this reagent are extensive, ranging from high flammability to toxicity.
Some forms of cannabis extraction don't use solvents at all. Some of these methods are only suited to small scale production, but creating rosin can be achieved commercially through specialized presses. You can extract cannabis without any solvents by taking the base material and subjecting it to high heat and pressure. The advantage of this method is eliminating the risk of toxic or unfavorable compounds in your rosin.
When to Use Extraction
- Increase potency: You're concentrating the cannabinoids from the base material through the extraction method. This ends up creating an incredibly potent mix that is much more powerful than the initial ingredients.
- Create ingredients: If you use extracts in other products that you offer, you can create your own ingredients rather than ordering them in for your needs.
- Purify medical-grade cannabis: Medical marijuana patients depend on extracts and products using extracts as part of their medical treatment plan. A quality extraction offers a pure, toxic-free medication for each person.
- Food-grade cannabis extract: This is another area where you want high-quality ingredients that are safe for people to ingest. The edibles market is massive, both for medicinal and recreational consumers, and good extracts can make or break these product lines.
Cannabis companies need to consider creating their own extraction workflows and processes. When you have control over the source of your extracts, you know that it's the high-quality, toxic free offering that help your consumers put more trust in you.