Business is good for the cannabis industry, and we’re especially seeing a rise in popularity for cannabis concentrates. The sales of cannabis extracts may even surpass the sales of traditional cannabis flower within the next few years. Many companies are racing to become leading producers of cannabis concentrates as the industry develops. To rise to the top of this profitable segment, learn how to make the best cannabis extracts.

Types of THC Extraction

The type of extraction process you choose will have important effects on the finished product. While sales are high for many different types of concentrates, most customers would agree that they’re looking for a few important qualities when they make purchasing decisions:

  • Purity
  • THC Levels
  • Flavor
  • Cost

To ensure you’re meeting those needs, choose an extraction process that creates high yields of quality products. There are four common ways labs extract THC from cannabis, but most of our clients have found that solvent-based extraction leads to the best results.

Solventless Cannabis Extraction

Some people like solventless cannabis extraction because it seems like a very natural way to complete the process. People have been creating hashish with pressure and heat for centuries already. More recently, bubble hash and rosin have also become popular. Unfortunately, this type of process also has some considerable downsides.

For one thing, there’s a high risk of contamination from bacteria or mold. Since these processes often require the plant material to sit at dangerous temperatures for long periods of time, there are much greater needs for sterilization and quality control. The other downside of solventless cannabis concentrates is that it takes a lot more time and effort to create them without using solvents. While some people might pay more for a product that was created this way, most customers gravitate toward more affordable cannabis concentrates.

CO2 Extraction

Carbon dioxide (CO2) gets a bad reputation as a greenhouse gas, but it’s actually a completely natural gas that makes up some of the air we breathe. Additionally, plants depend on it to grow, which is why so many people buy dry ice for growing cannabis. CO2 has also been used safely in the food and drink industry for many years– products like decaf coffee and carbonated beverages depend on it.

As THC extraction goes, carbon dioxide is an extremely useful solvent. The startup cost of producing concentrates in this way is relatively high, but it starts to become worth it as labs scale up their production. CO2 can be recycled by closed-loop systems, and this gas is also renowned for safety, efficiency, and quality. Carbon dioxide is one of the most common solvents because it can be used in two different ways.

Subcritical CO2 Extraction

Subcritical cannabis extraction with carbon dioxide is known for producing flavorful concentrates with lots of terpenes. The term “subcritical” means that the CO2 is kept at a low temperature throughout the entire process. By keeping the temperature so low, extraction companies can produce concentrates with superior taste because they avoid damaging terpenes from the raw plant material. This process is harder than supercritical extraction, but the resulting concentrates also sell for a premium price.

Supercritical CO2 Extraction

Supercritical extraction works when CO2 is kept at a higher temperature but pressurized enough to have both liquid and gaseous properties. As a result, the pressurized carbon dioxide is able to move through cannabis plant material and dissolve cannabinoids and terpenes into the solution. Once the most desirable elements of cannabis have been collected into the solution, the extraction system removes CO2 to leave behind a pure concentrate. It’s important to purge the concentrate completely so none of the solvent remains.

Alcohol Extraction

Alcohol extraction, also known as ethanol extraction, is one of the most accessible methods for amateurs. It doesn’t require as much equipment and technical know-how as other types of cannabis extraction processes. Additionally, ethanol is easy to find, relatively safe to work with, and fairly inexpensive.

It’s important to keep in mind during the evaporation process that ethanol is still very flammable. One of the biggest downsides of using ethanol is that it also removes a lot of chlorophyll from the plant material, giving resulting extractions a grassy flavor. Alcohol-based cannabis concentrates may need additional work to improve the taste.

Hydrocarbon Extraction

Like CO2 extraction, hydrocarbon extraction is one of the most common ways labs produce cannabis concentrates. It’s become something of an industry-standard because hydrocarbons only dissolve cannabinoids and terpenes, which are the most desirable organic compounds in cannabis. Compare this to ethanol extraction, which can also dissolve unwanted elements like chlorophyll.

Another benefit of hydrocarbon extraction is that propane and butane have low boiling points, which means it’s relatively easy to purge cannabis concentrates of these solutions. The downside is that you need to be extremely careful with these solvents because they can be difficult to work with. While it would be dangerous to attempt a hydrocarbon extraction process at home, many labs successfully extract THC with hydrocarbons by having trained professionals use appropriate equipment.

Butane Extraction

This hydrocarbon is used to make butane hash oil or BHO. Pressurized butane strips cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis plant material, and the solution can be collected. At this point, butane can be removed from the solution. Testing is important at this stage because even small amounts of leftover butane can make the products toxic for humans. That’s why it’s so important to produce cannabis concentrates in legitimate labs instead of at home.

BHOs are known for having high levels of terpenes, which means they offer a superior taste that’s more like the original plant material. Some labs even remove some terpenes intentionally to create a more stable product because terpenes are more volatile than cannabinoids. That is, products with high terpene levels might not last as long. Terpenes can be reduced with heat or by starting with cured plant material.

Propane Extraction

Propane hash oil (PHO) is created by using a process almost identical to the one used with butane. The biggest difference that occurs when substituting propane for butane is that the process can occur at a lower temperature since propane’s boiling point is even lower than butane’s. Some labs even us a combination of propane and butane to fine-tune the finished product.

Pure Hydrocarbons for THC Extraction

Here at AdChem, we ship nationwide to provide labs with the hydrocarbons they need for cannabis extraction.  We even offer direct same-day distribution to labs in Colorado, California, and Southern Oregon. The combination of efficient distribution, excellent customer service, and years of packaged gas distribution experience makes us your one-stop-shop for consumables.

Since purity is so important when making premium cannabis concentrates, we use a proprietary interior cylinder cleaning method to ensure our hydrocarbons are at least 99.8% pure. As a leading provider of supplies for the cannabis industry, AdChem will do everything possible to maximize uptime by ensuring your lab has a steady supply of hydrocarbons. Contact us to learn more about what makes us a reliable hydrocarbon supplier or secure fast delivery by placing your order today.