The most popular solvents used to extract CBD from cannabis are butanol, CO2, and ethanol. While each of these solvents has its own pros and cons, ethanol consistently comes out on top as the preferable choice for commercial and at-home use. This grain alcohol is reusable, edible, safe to handle, and gets the job done in a variety of ways. Read on to learn more about the most popular ethanol extraction methods.
What is Ethanol Extraction?
Ethanol is simple grain alcohol known for its volatile and flammable characteristics. This compound is in alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine and is present in a variety of everyday and commercial use products. In order to extract cannabinoids out of a marijuana plant, manufacturers will soak the plant in this solvent to draw out the cannabinoids. After, they’ll remove the plant and put the remaining solution through a purification process.
There are fewer safety risks with ethanol in comparison to CO2 or butanol. Using this chemical also yields a higher ratio of extracted cannabinoids to solvent, and is an eco-friendlier choice since the alcohol is reusable. There are several methods that extractors use, and they fall under two different extraction categories: room-temperature/warm temperature, or cold temperatures.
Warm Ethanol Extraction Methods
While this process is relatively easy, it can take time to separate the liquid from the plant and evaporate the solvent. However, it only requires room temperature during the soaking process and appeals to at-home extractors.
- Soak the cut-up cannabis in the alcohol at room temperature.
- Filter out the solid cannabis material from the liquid solution.
- Use the proper evaporation tools to remove the solvent.
This process is relatively easy to follow and makes for a speedy extraction at a low cost. The alcohol is never completely saturated, meaning the plant isn’t mixed in with the alcohol as in the maceration method, so time isn’t spent filtering the plant when using the Soxhlet technique.
- Heat the alcohol in a flask or pot until it’s boiling.
- Condense the alcohol on a cool coil.
- Allow the alcohol to drip over the cannabis, stripping it of cannabinoids.
- The resulting mixture of alcohol and extracted substances will gather at the bottom of the flask.
Cold Ethanol Extraction Methods
This is a popular approach for commercial extractors. Heavy-duty extraction machines are necessary for chilling and extracting cannabinoids. This method produces the highest quantity of extracted CBD from the plant but can take longer than the Soxhlet or maceration method.
- Add the cannabis into the extraction chamber of the machinery.
- Cool the ethanol to at least -40 degrees Celsius, then saturate the cannabis with the chilled alcohol.
- The machine will pump the liquid out of the chamber into a separate one where evaporation of the solvent will occur.
- After evaporation, the extract will remain.
Looking for Extraction Solvents?
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