The demand for cannabis continues to grow beyond the bud market and now includes hydrocarbon extraction. Using cannabis extracts for the production of edibles, cartridges and other products such as topicals, patches, capsules, and concentrates is important as hydrocarbon exploration grows. Knowing how to follow an extraction method both safely and in the most efficient manner possible can be extremely profitable.
Hydrocarbons are organic compounds that have only hydrogen and carbon atoms. This would be butane and propane when looking at cannabis extraction. Vape oil, edibles, topicals and the other number of extract products have used this method.
Although butane and propane do not sound like that should be taken into your body, hydrocarbons have been used for decades in the area of food extraction. They have been used in the production of flavors and colorings for years. The compounds are now utilized to make cannabis extracts with defined profiles as well. While the purity of hydrocarbon extracts varies, some have up to 90% of the plant’s cannabinoids which is high quality.
Production done properly means that hydrocarbons can be used safely so there are minimal production risks while making a high-end product.
Hydrocarbon extracts are made into many different forms. They can be oil, glass, budder, shatter, wax or hash. Along with these pure forms of the extract are the products made from it. This includes edibles, vape cartridges, capsules, along with topicals and patches.
If any of these cannabis products are to be profitable, then the extract has to be high quality. An example of this is found when a product uses nugs to make the extracted product rather than trim or shake. Nugs are going to be higher quality and make a better end product. The extraction process itself will also determine the level of quality and profile of a product. The refinement steps play a significant role.
Hydrocarbon extraction is usually done with butane as the main solvent. It can be done with others or with a combination of solvents, but butane is the primary one. When butane is mixed with the cannabis plant material, then the hydrocarbon dissolves the compounds that are part of the cannabis plant. Butane is used most often as it is a great solvent for extraction purposes. Its boiling point is low at 30.2°F and is used as a liquified gas when doing the extraction. The benefit of this is that you are not exposing terpenes and other plant parts that are sensitive to temperature to heat.
Propane has an even lower boiling point (43.6°F or -42°C) than butane so it is often used by producers in combination with butane. Propane allows additional compounds like terpenes to be extracted from the cannabis plant and also offers the ability to purge the leftover solvent more effectively.
Hydrocarbon extraction can be done in small batches or larger industrial-sized ones. The steps are similar.
The most important factor to note is that while hydrocarbon extraction can be done almost anywhere, there are significant dangers when dealing with flammable solvents. Butane and propane can be dangerous when not used with the utmost care. Larger facilities of legal extracts are careful to work in complaint production facilities and are using equipment that is designed to specifically work for this operation.
While hydrocarbon extraction is not the only method used for extraction, it is often the most preferable. However, it has both positives and negatives.
Hydrocarbon extraction of cannabis products is not a complicated process and offers a variety of high-end products. However, quality control is important, as is safety in overseeing the process. If those factors are addressed, then hydrocarbon extraction is a great way to produce high-end cannabis products, making a company a substantial profit.
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