Can I Use isopropyl Alcohol for Extraction?
Short answer: yes… and no.
Long answer: Read on.
Understanding Isopropyl Alcohol
Isopropyl alcohol is a chemical compound that manufacturers package and sell in the form of rubbing alcohol in concentrations ranging from 70% – 99%. Consumers commonly use this product for disinfectant purposes, while others have found it useful for extracting cannabinoids and other compounds from the cannabis plant. But is this extraction method safe?
NO – Isopropyl Alcohol is Not Safe for Extraction
The “no” part of the long answer comes from the fact that this liquid is a highly flammable chemical that the handler should not take lightly. This is especially true when it comes to ingestion. While using this chemical compound to extract cannabinoids is a popular at-home extraction method, it’s one that extractors should use the utmost caution with and avoid whenever possible.
Ingestion of this liquid can cause:
- Rashes & hives
- Internal bleeding
The latter becomes more possible with prolonged use, but it’s important to take it into consideration. It’s necessary to understand that this chemical is just that—a chemical, and the handler should treat it as such to decrease the risk of these negative health-related side effects.
YES – Isopropyl Alcohol is Safe for Extraction
Avid cannabinoid extractors have developed a method known as “Quick-Wash Isopropyl,” or QWISO, to extract these coveted compounds from their beloved cannabis plants. Knowing what we know about this solution, it’s right for us to question the safety of this method. However, as the QWISO name hints, the contact between cannabis and alcohol is relatively quick.
During this process, the cannabis stays saturated within the alcohol for three minutes and then is quickly filtered out and separated from each other. Eventually, the person extracting will need to evaporate the chemical from the new cannabinoid-filled solution.
This is where things can really get dangerous.
As previously mentioned, isopropyl alcohol is HIGHLY flammable. When evaporating, do not put the solution anywhere near an open flame. The most exposure to flame it should get is by an open window where the sun’s rays can evaporate it, hopefully getting out all of the toxic chemicals.
So, Which is It?
Although there are more steps during and after the QWISO process, the ones mentioned are in direct correlation with the concern for safety. The QWISO method can work successfully to extract cannabinoids when following safety precautions, but there’s still the issue of ingesting remnants of this toxic chemical. Occasionally and in small amounts, this may be okay, but when possible, opt for a food-grade solvent for extraction to decrease your chances of experiencing any of the symptoms listed above—especially the last one.
Want to Buy Food-Grade Extraction Solvents?
Extraction Grade Solvents offers specialized industrial solvents for all of your extraction needs. To view our variety of products, visit us here!
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