STEP THREE (optional): Once the oil is free of alcohol and plant wax, it can be further refined to separate individual compounds like THC using short path or fractional distillation processes.
The current thinking is that the oil is even more therapeutic when all the compounds are included; the whole plant has so many beneficial compounds, that together, they offer the greatest benefit.
The Entourage Effect
A raw marijuana plant contains several important compounds, and carefully controlled extraction methods can unlock others like THC. Many of these compounds change as they are heated. For example, cannabis contains THC in its acid form, THCa (non-psychoactive). When the plant material is exposed to heat, the THCa converts to THC.
Other extraction solvents, such as hydrocarbon-based propellants like propane and butane, hexane and pentane, or ethanol/alcohol mixtures, require additional distillation or purging beyond the supercritical CO2 extraction process to separate the solvent from the extracted oil. Carbon dioxide has a very low boiling temperature and wants to be a gas at room temperature, so it naturally separates from the extracted oil, without additional distillation or purging.
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CBD is a cannabinoid that is a chemical compound typically found in hemp and cannabis. Extracting this chemical can be done in a few different ways. Using CO2 to extract CBD oil is one of the most popular mechanisms used. Supercritical and subcritical are the two types of CO2 extraction.
The Fleet® can start with one system but the infrastructure is in place for expansion up to three systems. This efficient and intelligent method allows companies to customize their facility, in preparation for growth at a later stage. Each unit of the machine can be serviced individually which makes it easier to replace and prevents downtime.
How to Extract CBD: CO2 Extraction vs. Ethanol Extraction
At Apeks Supercritical, we developed The Fleet® platform, which allows customers to expand as the market demands it. The Fleet® uses a single outdoor chiller that services three systems inside the facility. The systems can be Duplex’s®, Force® systems, or a combination of both.
CO2 and ethanol extraction processes are similar because they both require the input of the plant material into a machine. Both processes require testing from independent labs to guarantee that THC levels comply with industry guidelines and regulations. It is important to note that regularly maintaining CO2 and ethanol extraction systems is essential to ensure the cleanliness of the extraction and overall preservation of the extraction machine.
Another common method for the extraction of CBD from hemp fiber is using ethanol extraction. The two types of ethanol processing of cannabis extraction are cold temp extraction and room temp extraction. These processes lead to the distillation of CBD and it turns into a heavily refined liquid form that has a honey-like consistency.
The PX40 Extraction System
The most industrial extraction products deserve intimidating names, and the Force is certainly no exception. Able to process a colossal 200 pounds of dried botanical material every day, Apeks Supercritical’s system is optimized to tackle the biggest workloads in the industry. This one’s for the pros.
Butane, or propane in some instances, can be seen as similar solvents to CO2 in many ways. The butane is pressurized and heated, which transforms it from liquid to a vapor, making it easier to remove. This process creates a shatter, a clear material of THC, CBD and other cannabis compounds like terpenes. Although effective, the process can be undesirable for medicinal products, due to the risk of contamination.
Ice Water Extraction
CO2 Cannabis Extraction
Some are industrial, some are the size of a kettle. Some use CO2 as a solvent, others utilize alcohol. All have their pros and cons which can be listed in a nice, handy guide to cannabis extraction equipment and machines. A guide just like this:
Getting real equipment takes some investment in a business and can be a huge barrier to start-ups with some setups costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. To help overcome these hurdles, companies such as Trust Capital have been set up to offer financing for cannabis equipment. If a manufacturer wants to make a professional extract, professional equipment must be used. Another approach is to borrow or lease the extraction equipment your business requires, enabling you to get off the ground without making any large capital investments and potentially explore various production methods whilst you are developing your ideas. For example, Apeks, a manufacturer of CO2 extraction systems, offer their equipment on lease for anything from a week right up to two years. They even throw in free servicing and in-depth training on the system.
Like Across International’s Rotovap, the Genius ASAHI Rotoray Evaporator’s choice of solvent, alcohol, helps to keep it affordable. Two cold chambers can help to keep chlorophyll trapped in the plant matter, making the final product lighter in color and more flavorful.