Some of the most common ways to make edibles (also known as gummies) involves the use of solvents. Three popular solvents that extractors tend to use are CO2, butane, and ethanol. But which one is the best? In this article, we will analyze these three solvents and their extraction methods, and determine which one is best suitable for making edibles.
Butane Extraction Methods
Butane is a food-grade chemical, making it a popular choice for extraction. However, choosing butane as your solvent is only good for small-scale extractions and may be more trouble than it’s worth. This chemical has explosive properties and requires much more care when handling compared to CO2 or ethanol. Even after you’ve extracted butane from the new cannabinoid solvent, small traces may remain. It is food-grade, but the remnants tend to leave a bad taste, making it a not so premium choice for edibles, but more popular for waxes and smoke-friendly products.
Pros – Food-grade & safe for edibles
Cons – Leaves a bad taste & tends to be a slow and high-risk process
Carbon Dioxide Extraction Methods
Using CO2 to extract cannabinoids and other compounds ranks near the highest spot if not THE highest spot on the list for the best solvent for edible use. Compared to butane, CO2 renders a purer extraction that includes fewer remnants of chemicals and results in more cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds. There is less of a concern of ingesting CO2 because of this. However, CO2 extraction methods aren’t based upon temperature and pressure like butane and ethanol, making it easy to under extract the cannabinoids and compounds from the cannabis—meaning, you won’t get your money’s worth if the extraction isn’t performed correctly. In addition, CO2 can be deadly to workers if there is a leak and requires the installation of CO2 detectors and other professional safety equipment.
Pros – Renders a purer product & less concern of chemical content in end-products.
Cons – Easy to under-extract chemicals & requires immense care when handling.
Ethanol Extraction Methods
The final solvent used for extraction is ethanol. Ethanol still requires caution when handling due to its volatile and flammable characteristics, but is much easier to manage since temperature control is the most important safety precaution. Ethanol does a great job at extracting all cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds, but also may extract less desirable compounds such as chlorophyll. This is okay, but the new extracted solvent may require more post-processing to get rid of the chlorophyll. Ethanol is a food-grade chemical that is renewable and easy to store, making it a great option for larger-scale extractions.
Pros – Less toxic than butane & CO2. Quick & effective extraction.
Cons – Potentially longer post-processing to extract unwanted compounds.
Butane, CO2, and ethanol are all great choices for extraction, but when it comes to creating the best edible, CO2 and ethanol come out superior. If you’re looking for a purer product and have the patience and necessary safety precautions in place, then opt for CO2. If you’re looking to extract a more high-quality product in less amount of time with the potential of longer post-processing, then opt for ethanol. Either way, solvent extraction is the best method for edibles.
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