The Importance of Winterization in Cannabis Extraction 

The Importance of Winterization in Cannabis Extraction 

With the recent boom in the popularity of cannabis extraction, two of the most important qualities of any extract have become its CBD concentration and purity. Although there are many steps in the extraction process that contribute to increasing these qualities, one of which is winterization. 

What is Winterization? 

Once an oil has been extracted from a cannabis plant, it still has further processing to go through before it is ready for consumption. For this reason, oil in this stage is called crude oil or crude extract. It still contains many undesirable plant compounds, all of which contribute to some of the following: 

  • lower concentration 
  • less pleasant flavor 
  • cloudier oil 

Winterization is what separates these undesirable compounds to get a much cleaner, purer, and more concentrated CBD extract. 

How is Winterization Done? 

The main objective of this process is to freeze the lipids and fats while keeping the rest of the solution in the liquid state. This makes it easier to separate the two with a filter. Here’s what the process looks like: 

  1. First, the crude extract is dissolved in a polar organic solvent, commonly ethanol. 
  2. Next, the mixture is exposed to extremely cold temperatures (-4o F to -112o F) for an extended period of time, usually around a day. 
  3. The cold solution is then run through a filter (or filters) to catch all of the solidified fats, lipids, etc. 
  4. The remaining ethanol/CBD oil mixture is heated and/or depressurized to evaporate the ethanol out of the solution, leaving behind a pure, concentrated, high-quality extract. 

What is the Best Solvent for Winterization? 

As mentioned previously, the most common solvent used in the process is ethanol. While a large variety of polar solvents could be used, ethanol is widely considered the best for a variety of reasons. First, it’s relatively easy to separate the ethanol out of the solution with evaporation. Secondly, it is also easy to scale up when increasing the size of the extraction process. 

Interested in Developing a Winterization Process? 

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