Houdini Lab

The Five Most Frequently Used Cannabis Extraction Methods

1. Extraction of HC
Shatter Extract

Hydrocarbon extraction, often known as butane hash oil (BHO), is a popular and successful solvent-based extraction process. Butane and propane are solvents generated from decaying organic material used in food preparation.


Hydrocarbons can be used to mass produce a variety of high quality cannabis concentrates. BUTANE AND PROPANE ARE LIGHT HYDROCARBONS, NAMED SO However, other extractors utilize a 70/30 mixture of butane and propane to preserve more terpenes.


Its low boiling point allows extractors to employ moderate temperatures, resulting in a full-spectrum extract with most of the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes. Butane and propane are non-polar molecules with similar boiling points:


Solubility: 31.1oF

-46.3oF for propane

Because amateur butane extraction methods fail to provide adequate ventilation for the combustible solvents, resulting in explosions, butane hash oil production has received some unfavorable attention.


Ventilation and gas detection systems, as well as other safety controls, are in place in a commercial lab setting that fulfills all building and fire requirements. Butane extraction methods and products are generally safe and effective.


This includes:


Hydrocarbon extraction is much faster than other methods like supercritical CO2. Because butane and propane have a low boiling point, processors can keep more cannabis and hemp components.

A higher hydrocarbon extraction yield than supercritical CO2 extraction means more medicinal chemicals from the same cannabis plant material.

Processors can make a variety of cannabis concentrates (live resin, shatter, crumble, HTFSE) using propane and butane solvent mixtures.

Live Resin: Only hydocarbon extraction can turn fresh frozen biomass into a high-quality oil called Live Resin Other polar solvents cannot extract oils from wet biomass (i.e. fresh frozen).

Processors employ FDA-approved hydrocarbons. Processes also occur at lower pressures than CO2 extraction.

Extracting CO2

Supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction is another popular approach for extracting particular cannabinoids from cannabis biomass. Carbon dioxide is one of the most non-toxic and eco-friendly solvents available today. CO2 extraction leaves no residual contaminants and is widely employed in beverage and food production.


Carbon dioxide is a gas at normal pressure and temperature, but when heated over its critical temperature (87.8oF) and critical pressure (1,070 psi), it transforms into a liquid-gaseous supercritical fluid.


Supercritical CO2 is washed over the cannabis buds during CO2 extraction. In this stage, CO2 can easily penetrate the biomass and separate THC, CBD, and other desired chemicals.


After separation, the CO2 is evaporated from the biomass and condensed into a liquid for reuse. Post-processing processes like winterization and distillation can help remove undesired lipids, waxes, and other components from CO2 crude extract.


Similar to supercritical CO2 extraction, subcritical CO2 extraction uses lower pressure and temperature. While subcritical extraction takes longer and yields less, it preserves more of the plant’s delicate oils, such as temperature-sensitive terpenes.


Subcritical extraction creates extracts that are viscous, as opposed to buttery supercritical extracts.


Some advantages of CO2 extraction:


Safe: CO2 is non-flammable and non-toxic, increasing consumer appeal. With sufficient safety controls in place, any cannabis extraction methods can be used and produced safely.

Accessible: CO2 is a cheap solvent, although extraction equipment can be more expensive than other approaches.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) behaves differently depending on temperature and pressure. Producers can fine-tune these settings to selectively isolate useful chemicals. However, CO2 is not a universal solvent and cannot extract all terpenes. It can extract terpenes apart from cannabinoids, but only a few terpenes. In the biomass or destroyed during extraction.

3. Extraction of ethanol

Oil Dropper


When dealing with hemp biomass, alcohol is a common solvent. Grain alcohol created from fermenting plant sugars, primarily corn. Using ethanol as a food-grade solvent efficiently separates cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis and hemp.


Depending on the outcome, ethanol extraction can be performed at a variety of temperatures. Technicians utilize cold or room-temperature ethanol. Cannabinoids and terpenes are dissolved in the solvent.


To improve the purity of the extract, the ethanol solvent is evaporated after extraction utilizing evaporator systems. To develop a delicious and pure ethanol-based concentrate for the hemp business, remove unwanted solvents.


Because ethanol is a polar solvent, it rapidly binds to water-soluble chemicals in hemp plants. As a result, ethanol can generate a crude extract with more undesirables that need to be processed.


Also, ethanol has a greater boiling point than hydrocarbons, reducing the concentration of terpenes in the final product. Ethanol is good for distillates and isolates, but not so good for full-spectrum products with more terpenes.


Alcohol extraction is safe and effective. In reality, the FDA considers ethanol to be a safe food preservative. Ethanol extraction is ideal for high-volume hemp extraction.


Other ethanol extraction benefits:


Storage: Facilities can store more ethanol than other extraction solvents.

Safe: As a food-grade solvent, ethanol is safe to use in cannabis extraction.

Besides eliminating THC and terpenes efficiently, ethanol saves money on electricity and labor. It can also be scaled as cannabis producers expand their output.

Non-solvent Extraction

Hand-pressed hashes are the oldest known solventless concentrates. No chemical solvents are used to extract the plant’s natural oils. Instead, they utilize heat and pressure to agitate the plant and separate the resin.


4. Animacy

Grinder Kief


Agitation can damage trichomes on cannabis flower buds or trim. Dry sift kief, for example, is separated from the plant using mesh screens or sieves. The sieves agitate the resinous trichomes, which settle to the bottom. Kief can be used to manufacture pressed hash or to boost the potency of joints and dried herb alone.


At home, a three-chamber grinder collects kief in the bottom and ground-up flower in the middle. For topping bowls and joints, kief accumulates in the chamber.


Ice water extraction involves soaking cannabis in a mixture of ice and water in a series of mesh bags. The cold water helps break the trichomes, which fall to the bottom of the bags to be collected later. These procedures can provide concentrations with 50-70 percent THC.


Agitation extractions:


A solvent-free extract gives many health-conscious consumers peace of mind. Without flammable solvents, there is no risk of toxicity or harm during production.

Dry sifting and ice water extraction are economical for residential and commercial usage.


Cannabidiol Melt


Using low heat and pressure, rosin pressing systems melt and squeeze sticky resin from plant material (kief, trim, buds). It’s like making olive oil. The extraction processes break the plant’s cells to release the plant’s oils for ingestion.


Rosin is the sticky, black, strong oil that results. Rosin can be dabbed or infused into edibles, tinctures, and topicals. Live rosin uses fresh frozen buds for a greater flavor and scent.


Squeezing out the resin with a hair straightener on the lowest heat setting is a simple way for cannabis users to do it on a smaller scale. In comparison to commercial rosin extraction, it produces a concentrated and strong result.


Why rosin press?


Rosin pressing is easier than solvent extraction.

No risk of home or lab explosions.

A variety of solventless extracts can be made by varying the heat and pressure.

Rosin pressing produces the highest quality concentrates.