With more and more countries beginning to legalize marijuana for recreational and/or medicinal use, the methods used to extract cannabis compounds are becoming a hot topic. There are various desirable compounds within the cannabis plant, such as THC and CBD, and these compounds are obtained through different extraction methods.
Popular Extraction Methods
Cannabis extraction can fall into one of two categories: solventless or solvent-based.
- Solventless methods typically involve either grinding or a combination of high heat and pressure. While solventless extraction is accessible and can be easily performed by anyone, it has certain disadvantages when compared to solvent-based methods, such as major differences in speed, scalability, and product purity.
- Solvent-based extraction involves adding a solvent to the plant material that chemically extracts the desired compounds, such as cannabinoids and terpenes while leaving behind undesirable compounds. These added chemicals are then removed, usually through evaporation, leaving behind a concentrated cannabis product.
Common solvents utilized for cannabis extraction include:
- Hydrocarbons, such as butane or hexane
- Alcohols, such as ethanol or isopropyl alcohol
- Carbon dioxide, which is used for supercritical extraction
Benefits of Solvents in Cannabis Extraction
- Hydrocarbon extraction – Using these types of solvents results in very fast extraction rates, higher yields from the same material, and access to a wide range of different products. Furthermore, they have characteristically low boiling points, enabling easy separation from the final product without causing any damage.
- Alcohol extraction – Extraction with alcohols is ideal for large-scale, industrial processes. It scales far better than other extraction methods and tends to be relatively cheap. Additionally, alcohols are polar, while hydrocarbons are nonpolar, meaning they can extract a different range of compounds. This polarity allows for the isolation of different concentrations, flavors, and terpene types.
- CO2 extraction – Supercritical CO2 extraction is popular for its safety to both consumers and the environment. This process involves heating and pressurizing CO2 to a supercritical state and using it as a solvent. CO2 is cheap, environmentally friendly, and non-toxic. However, the drawback of this process is the steep costs of the highly specialized equipment needed to perform extraction in supercritical conditions.
Where to Buy Solvents for Extraction
Here at Extraction Grade Solvents, we’ve been providing our clients with the perfect solutions for their needs since 1991. If you’re looking for environmentally conscious and cost-effective chemicals for your cannabis extraction process, check out our CBD solvents today! Reach out to our staff here for assistance in finding the best solvent for your business!