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Explaining Different Methods of Cannabis Extraction:
Ensuring the Quality of Canadian Cannabis Products

When it comes to cannabis extraction, the primary goal is to deliver high-quality products to consumers. There are several methods of cannabis extraction available to producers to ensure the potency and quality of their products.

These extraction methods can be performed manually or with the assistance of machinery for handling larger quantities of cannabis or hemp.

The purpose of cannabis extraction is to isolate the various compounds present in the plant and utilize them to enhance the quality of cannabis for consumers. With over 500 different chemicals found in the plant, these extraction techniques are commonly used to concentrate specific chemicals of interest.

With this in mind, TOKE has compiled a list of the most common methods of cannabis extraction:

Solvent-Free Extraction

One popular product of solvent-free extraction is hash, which can be separated from cannabis buds simply by agitating them. Hash typically takes on a powdery appearance once separated from the buds and can be kept as is or further processed into products like rosin.

Another solvent-free extraction method involves making cannabis oil. Biomass is introduced to a heated air stream, where it vaporizes. The vapor is then shock-cooled to form a non-coalescing fog. Finally, the biomass fog reaches an electrostatic precipitator and is pulled back to liquid form, resulting in a full-spectrum concentrate. This method is energy-efficient, using only 1/14th of the energy required for CO2 extraction.

Cannabis Alcohol Extraction

Some cannabis extraction methods rely on alcohol as a solvent, allowing the cannabis to soak in the liquid before being filtered out. Alcohol extraction, also known as ethanol extraction, works through evaporation. This method can remove substances like chlorophyll, which can negatively impact the product’s taste.

When using alcohol as a solvent for cannabis extraction, temperature control is crucial to maintaining potency. Additionally, safety precautions must be taken due to the flammability and potential harm of alcohol and ethanol.

Despite its risks, alcohol extraction poses no risk of leaving toxic chemical residues in the final cannabis extract.

CO2 Cannabis Extraction

CO2 extraction involves removing cannabis components using carbon dioxide. By utilizing machinery with high pressure and heat, CO2 can be transformed into both a liquid and a gas.

This method allows producers to adjust for specific compound extractions by controlling temperature, pressure, and duration of the process. Different compounds concentrate at different rates, making process duration a critical factor.

Using a condenser machine, CO2 can be converted back into a gas, filtered, and reused. This feature reduces waste disposal needs, increases production yields, and conserves resources.

Cannabis Butane and Propane Extraction

One of the most potent cannabis products, butane hash oil, is produced using butane. A vacuum machine is typically used to convert the liquid into vapor, making it easier to remove from the cannabis. This method can also be used to create shatter, containing CBD and other plant chemicals like terpenes.

Careful temperature management is essential when using butane, as it is highly flammable. Safety precautions must be taken to prevent accidents, as butane poses significant risks to personnel.

Machines used in this process often include circulators to remove and recycle butane, allowing companies to obtain flavourful extracts with high terpene content.