5 Types of Cannabis Extraction Methods 

Cannabis flowers and cannabis extracts in jars and tinctures on wooden table

Cannabis flowers and cannabis extracts in jars and tinctures on wooden table

When it comes to cannabis, creating extracts is important, as this allows us to make a variety of products rather than simply just smoking flower. Since smoking isn’t everyone’s preference, or is difficult for those with particular medical conditions, such as asthma, having a variety of options available allows cannabis to be more accessible and functional. The products are sold at your local cannabis dispensary

 

Cannabis Extract Dosing

An extract is a concentrated form of cannabis. This means that it contains the ingredients that matter the most – cannabinoids. The creation of extracts allows for more accurate dosing and a stronger, longer-lasting product. Alcohol, butane, CO2, Cold Water, and ethanol are all common methods of cannabis extraction.

While cannabis is extremely safe to use, ensuring proper dosage is key to maximizing the health benefits that it has to offer. . Extracts allow manufacturers to know exactly how much of a cannabinoid is going into a product which means you are less likely to accidentally ingest too much. 

 

Butane Honey Oil Extraction 

One method that is used predominantly in the food and perfume industry is the butane honey oil (BHO) extraction method. For the start of this extraction process, cannabis is placed in a container prior to being sprayed with butane. Then, the cannabinoids and butane are collected in another container. 

After that, the mixture must be left so that the butane can evaporate properly, or a vacuum over may also be used to remove all of the butane as well. Due to the highly flammable nature of the substance, it is dangerous to do in certain conditions. Utilizing a closed-loop system specifically made for BHO extraction is much safer. 

As the end result, the BHO extraction should result in a substance that has about 80% THC levels.

 

Supercritical CO2 Oil Extraction 

A non-toxic, environmentally friendly method of separating cannabinoids from the cannabis plant is by using CO2 extraction. This method is highly effective and leaves behind zero toxins. This is great, especially because it is popularly used to be infused into beverages, such as beer, coffee, fruit extracts, and even teas. 

For the process itself, supercritical CO2 is heated and then passed through buds of cannabis. The liquid that is passed through the separator will help to remove any lingering CO2 gases from the trichomes and terpenes. 

In order to be an environmentally friendly method, the gas will go through a condenser, allowing it to be liquified once again and used in a future extraction process. This process is very specific and requires precise equipment, but is great for mixing waxes and oils. 

 

Ethanol Extraction

Because it is safe, efficient, and effective, a process that is rising in popularity is the ethanol extraction method. Ethanol is an organic chemical compound that is often used as a food preservative. According to FDA guidelines, it is considered ‘generally safe’ for consumption. 

To begin this process, a cannabis plant is soaked in ethanol to extract the THC. After that, the remaining product is put through a refining process, enhancing the purity of the product. The ethanol will work to remove any of the unwanted compounds, which aids in improving the flavor as well as the pure quality. 

Overall, this process focuses on creating an extract that is pure and well-refined. 

 

Cold Water Extraction

For a process that doesn’t use any sort of solvents or chemicals, opting for water extraction is a great choice. This method submerges the cannabis plant into a container or vat of freezing water. Then, the plant is stirred, causing the trichomes to separate and fall off. Once this happens, the trichomes will then pass through a series of screens.

While this process is relatively simplistic compared to the others, this results in a product that has anywhere from 50-70% THC levels. 

 

Isopropyl Oil Extraction

For this method, dried cannabis flowers are soaked in isopropyl alcohol and then shaken gently. The alcohol works to strip down the trichomes from the plant. From there, the mixture is strained into a dish. The solvent is removed using a special vacuum oven that keeps the temperature under 181 degrees. Once the solvent completely evaporates, the remaining substance is a THC-rich oil. 

Cannabis plant leaf next to vape pens with cannabis extract

Uses & Products

When it comes to actually using the extracts, it is important to take a look at the types of products they go into, and what options are available for purchase. 

 

  • Vaping
    Vaping is a popular choice, as it is portable, discrete, and you can choose from a variety of extracts and potency. The heating element in a vape is called the ‘atomizer’. When exposed to the atomizer, cannabis extracts are heated to the point of vaporization, which creates vapor rather than smoke. For those who don’t like to traditionally smoke, or who is after a different experience, try checking out vaping instead.  

 

  • Dabbing
    Another way to enjoy cannabis extracts is by dabbing them. This is a popular choice among the more experienced cannabis users as it does require some specialized hardware. However, this is a great way to increase potency while using less product. 

To learn more about this method, check out this in-depth article regarding dabbing and how to safely use it.

 

  • Infusing Edibles

Cannabis extracts can also be infused into food and beverages. This is an option for both THC and CBD extracts. 

Cannabinoids degrade when exposed to high temperatures, so it is recommended to add any extracts after the food or beverage is already fully cooked. Or, you can simply buy edibles professionally pre-made using various extracts. Reading the labels or product descriptions will aid you when trying to find the proper dosing as well.

 

Overall, the creation and usage of extracts is not a new concept to the world of cannabis, but learning about the varieties of options and how they are made helps the consumer become better informed. While you’re visiting a From The Earth shop, be sure to ask a team member more questions about what would be best for you, after all, the employees are there to help!  

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