Houdini Lab

Cannabis Extraction: The Basics

With the legalization of cannabis and cannabis products including edibles, extracts, and topicals, cannabis extraction is gaining popularity. A processing licence (standard or micro) is necessary to extract cannabis and process extracts into other products. In addition to CBD, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) extracts are utilized recreationally in the form of vaporizers and edibles.

The extraction stage affects the final product’s form and use. For example, a therapeutic CBD extract is usually made from an oil-based product that is devoid of toxins and easily absorbed. But when creating vape oil for the recreational market, where vaporization and inhalation are required to be pure, a THC extract may be desirable.


Let’s look at some of the most common cannabis extraction processes.




Supercritical CO2 (carbon dioxide) extraction is rapidly gaining popularity in the cannabis sector, as it is in other industries like as tea and coffee. Using temperature and pressure, this method extracts CO2. Gaseous CO2 is transformed into a supercritical fluid. When CO2 flows over cannabis, it quickly extracts plant waxes and oils. Temperature and pressure can be adjusted to target certain substances like as terpenes (terpenoids) and THC/CBD (cannabinoids). This method produces a pure, clean, high-quality oil with minimal or no post-processing. Many people complain about the hefty upfront expenses associated with CO2 extraction equipment. This often discourages small firms or start-ups.




Alcohol extraction, which uses a solvent like ethanol, is another popular cannabis extraction method. Extracting cannabis flower using alcohol (also known as ethanol) is one of the most efficient extraction procedures. It can be done in hot, cold, or even room temperature. A specified length of time is spent immersing the cannabis in alcohol (typically ethanol) before removing the plant material. The leftover liquid is filtered and the alcohol is evaporated, leaving an extract rich in terpenes and cannabinoids (THC/CBD). The polarity of solvents like ethanol is a major issue in alcohol extraction. It is polar, therefore it tends to mix with water and other polar dissolved molecules like chlorophyll. Chlorophyll imparts an unpleasant bitter flavor to the final extract, thus it must be removed. Ethanol extraction is a fantastic approach to utilize because it is safe and effective. This method takes time and attention since ethanol is highly combustible.


CO2 Extraction


Hydrocarbon extraction uses a hydrocarbon component like butane or propane to extract. This approach extracts more terpenes from cannabis than the alcohol extraction method. These terpenes assist offer cannabis extract flavor and scent in products like vape oils and oral tinctures when other flavors are unlikely to hide the cannabis extract. The cannabis plant material is washed in cold butane to extract the oils. The butane solvent is then removed by cold boiling the oil. The cold-boil method retains temperature-sensitive terpenes. Solvents with low boiling points like butane and propane are useful when eliminating solvents without removing other organic molecules. These solvents are volatile and combustible, posing a safety risk to employees. Hydrocarbon extraction is a quick and efficient procedure. The method is quite hands-on and best done on a smaller scale.


As shown above, each extraction method has merits and cons. Choosing the type of extraction to do is a personal and business decision. Ensuring that your cannabis business is successful requires knowledge, education, and a sound protocol.