Generally speaking, extraction technologies today may be divided into three categories: pure, relatively unprocessed rosin; solvent-based extractions; and highly specialized distillation and isolations. In the consumer market for concentrated cannabis products, each has a niche to fill; nevertheless, their goods are not interchangeable.
Despite the fact that flower continues to dominate the industry, extractions have gained a significant amount of ground in recent years. In 2027, Grand View Research estimates that extractions alone will account for $28.5 billion of the worldwide cannabis industry’s total revenue. In terms of customer demand for a clean experience or consumer goods firms looking for high-potency and consistent single cannabinoids, the extractions market is rather diverse, especially when we consider that all extractions are performed on the same plant.
A comparative examination of the three most prominent extraction methods used today: rosin, solvent-based, and distillate, is presented in this section. What exactly are they, and what are their pros and disadvantages when put against one another are you wondering?
ROSEINE TECHNOLOGY (ROSIN EXTRACTIONS)
Rosin extraction is the most straightforward of all the extraction methods. In order to extract cannabis resin from a base plant material, rosin presses must combine high temperatures with tremendous pressure (sometimes flower, but most commonly kief). The resin includes high amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes, which are beneficial to the body. Because the final rosin extract differs in color, clarity, and consistency depending on the ingredients, temperature, and pressure utilized, it is important to test the final product.
Rosin producers are devoted to the purity and simplicity of the extract, which they believe makes it more effective. In the hands of a skilled employee who understands the press, the final result is an identical reproduction of the profile of the source material, which is a rarity in the world of cannabis extraction. The rise of the rosin press can be traced back to a need for clean, full-spectrum extractions of plants.
Because there are no solvents or additives necessary throughout the production process, there is little to no chance of contamination in the finished product. Aside from that, rosin presses have progressed significantly from the reworked t-shirt presses of the past. Because the heat and pressure settings are highly adjustable, they may be adjusted in response to subtle changes between batches of plant material. Furthermore, it is likely the most economical of all the extraction processes — even for small producers — when compared to the others. Rosin presses require little in the way of regulatory red tape or special handling because they do not use volatile solvents or pose any substantial safety risks.
The problems of rosin are primarily related to its scalability. The current rosin press technology does not generate results that are even close to those obtained from solvent extractions. Furthermore, for those seeking maximum potency, rosin will never achieve the peaks achieved by high-quality, solvent-based distillate or isolate procedures. In the opinion of the publication High Times, rosin extractions tend to be slightly more potent than hash. According to their estimates, the typical potency of rosin is approximately 75%.
EXTRACTION ON THE BASIS OF SOLVENT
Among the extraction technologies, solvent extraction has been around the longest and has been the subject of the greatest debate. In the beginning, black market butane honey oil (BHO) labs made national news for bursting in residential districts, prompting the government to investigate. However, much as cannabis has undergone a legal transformation, solvent-based extractions have undergone a technological transformation. Solvent extraction technology is now more environmentally friendly, safer, and profitable than it has ever been.
The vast majority of extracts available on the market today are derived via solvent-based extraction procedures that employ petrochemicals such as butane and ethanol, as well as CO2 fed through a closed-loop system. No matter what solvent is used, the basic principle is always the same: flush solvents through a high-pressure chamber in order to remove cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant material being processed. Later on, the solvent is removed from the mixture. Making minor adjustments to the temperature and other parameters will result in the production of either high cannabinoid full-spectrum extract (HCFSE) or high terpene full-spectrum extract (HTFSE) (HTFSE).
It is far more difficult to preserve a full-spectrum copy of the source plant when using solvent-based extractions as opposed to rosin-based extractions. High temperatures degrade sensitive components such as terpenes and small cannabinoids, which are found in cannabis (ex: CBN, THCV, CBC).
The benefits and drawbacks of solvent extractions are diametrically opposed to those of the rosin process, as shown in the table below. Solvents perform poorly in areas where rosin excels, and vice versa. Petrochemicals, when handled improperly, can be extremely flammable and deadly. Before they can begin selling their products, producers must adhere to stringent regulatory guidelines, construct highly specialized extraction facilities, and through a maze of permitting hoops. The initial investment in a commercial solvent extractor is significantly higher than the initial expenditure in a rosin press.
However, in terms of output, the investment is worthwhile. While there are always waste problems when using a solvent extractor, the capacity and scalability of the machine are significant advantages over other methods. Several important technologies are becoming available, which have the potential to improve the color and spectrum of traditional solvent extractions. Color remediation and terpene reintroduction during post-processing are two instances of this.
TECHNOLOGY FOR SHORT PATH DISTILLATION AND ISOLATE EXTRACTION
The distillate and isolates extraction technologies are diametrically opposed to rosin extraction, which is the most easy of the extraction technologies. Cannabis distillates and isolates are frequently used as the primary active ingredients in vaporizers, edibles, and beverages, among other things. It is also important to note that isolates are essential elements in cannabis treatment and pharmaceutical research.
The distillation and isolate extraction procedures used by producers were directly derived from the chemical and pharmaceutical sectors. Despite the fact that it is quite complex, the procedure merely takes advantage of the fact that different boiling points exist for distinct cannabinoids and terpenes. In a closed-loop vacuum system, a crude cannabis extract is heated to precise boiling points in order to target certain components in the cannabis extract. A secondary chamber is used to condense the vapor, which results in a pure single cannabinoid extraction once it has been evaporated. This extraction method includes a number of methods, ranging from short path distillation to flash chromatography, and is divided into two categories: Other upstart technologies, such as Affinity’s molecularly imprinted polymer beads (MIPs) technology, which produces distillate without the use of conventional chromatography, are becoming more widely available. It is feasible to produce isolates with purity levels of up to 99.9 percent using certain systems and techniques.
The potency and purity of a distillate extraction are two of its advantages. Producers have the option of packaging the finished extraction for direct consumer use or using it as an ingredient in an edible, a vape cartridge, or another consumer product. As cannabis finds its way into more products and pharmaceutical formulas, the market for distillates is expected to continue to rise at an exponential rate.
Unfortunately, one of the drawbacks of this technology is the high level of capital and operational costs it necessitates. When combined with the requirement for a highly-skilled crew, the expenses associated with distillation technologies place them well beyond the reach of a small to medium-sized enterprise. Furthermore, the system’s performance and scalability are both subpar, therefore it is difficult to recommend it.
THE INDUSTRY HAS A PLACE FOR EACH EXTRACTION TECHNOLOGY AVAILABLE.
When comparing popular extraction technologies, it is clear that there are significant disparities between them. Extraction technology is fundamentally concerned with concentrating the medicinally and recreationally beneficial chemicals present in raw plant material. Despite this, each system generates a distinctly different final output. Every extract, from the full-spectrum and tasty rosin extractions to the 99.9 percent pure cannabis isolates, has a market for which it may compete.