Extraction techniques are employed to separate the components of cannabis and take away them from the plant matrix. Various methods can divide cannabis plant material into parts, or extracts, which contain different chemicals. With cannabis, extraction techniques are often used to isolate specific desirable compounds, and cannabis contains at least 113 cannabinoids, including cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). On the other hand, a producer may seek to create a single extract with lots of desirable cannabis compounds; sometimes called whole plant extracts. Like the better-known cannabinoids, scientists have identified a lot more than 550 chemicals in cannabis in general including components like terpenes. Extraction techniques are also used to concentrate chemicals of interest.
This article goes over the most common methods of cannabis extraction. Before discussing these techniques, readers should keep in mind that cannabis extraction is chemistry, not cooking. So, some skills in analytical methods plus real lab equipment must perform these methods correctly and safely. Most of the time, the reagents and how they are utilized can create dangerous situations. Consequently, most of the techniques require safety equipment, like a fume hood. Just as vital, the extraction process has to be performed correctly to produce a safe product for human use, and also the results ought to be confirmed independently with proper analytical testing.
Cannabis alcohol extraction – Several common types of cannabis extraction depend on a solvent, such as alcohol. In brief, the cannabis soaks in alcohol, usually ethanol, the plant material will then be removed, the liquid filtered, and the alcohol is taken away with some form of evaporation. One of the primary challenges will be the inherent polarity of solvents like ethanol-meaning it features a propensity to mix with water and dissolve water-soluble molecules like chlorophyll. Eliminating the chlorophyll through the extract is essential since it produces an undesirable, bitter flavor.
This technique can be done at atmospheric pressure, nevertheless the temperature is carefully controlled, especially during evaporation. This method can also take time and must be completed carefully to prevent danger as ethanol is extremely inflammable. One of the biggest benefits associated with this type of extraction is the fact that there is not any probability of leaving toxic residual chemicals inside the final cannabis extract and, it enables the co-extraction of all compounds of interest, chiefly cannabinoids and terpenoids.
CO2 cannabis extraction – Using a reagent of any kind can add cost and clean-up time, so various techniques is highly recommended, and one is CO2 extraction. Rather than using alcohol, this method removes cannabis components vrpmen the plant matrix with fractional co2. Here, though, high pressure as well as heat are employed to turn the CO2 supercritical-meaning it is simultaneously like a liquid along with a gas.
The gear cost for this particular technique is orders of magnitude higher than alcohol extraction, however it produces higher yields and much less valuable material is lost. Plus, this process can be adjusted to extract specific compounds by changing the temperature, pressure or runtime-much more likely a combination of these. Moreover, one study found that different compounds get concentrated at different rates inside the same process. So, the extract should be analyzed, especially where concentrations of specific compounds are desired.