Ethanol extraction is a new opportunity for cannabis businesses and investors. Right now, as weed is legalized in more countries and states, bud tends to be the focus. But is that really where you should your money, time, and effort in the cannabis industry? With price fluctuations and market saturation, you may find more bang for your buck in ethanol oil extraction. Understanding what ethanol extraction is and extraction techniques can lead you to a more profitable area of cannabis production and CBD products.
If you have ever had grain alcohol, that is ethanol. It’s a flammable liquid with no color that can also be utilized as a cleaner and fuel. It is created from the fermentation of various forms of starch and plant material, including corn, wheat, potato, or sugar cane. Ethanol in the US tends to come from corn since there is so much of it.
The FDA has ethanol classified as a Class 3 solvent and holds it to particular standards of quality control, assurance, and testing. Workers that do extraction have to meet exposure standards for safety over an eight-hour shift. While it is considered low toxicity, it must be monitored for worker safety.
Production facilities in the cannabis industry using ethanol must also be aware that it is classified as a Class 1 flammable liquid. They need proper ventilation and monitored air quality for the safety of everyone in the building where extraction equipment is being used. This is important to know if you are going to venture into the alcohol extraction side of the business.
The process of ethanol alcohol extraction can be done in temperate, cool, or cold conditions. You would use something such as the Soxhlet technique in warm conditions where you boil ethanol within a container then reduce the alcohol with a coil that has been cooled. This alcohol then trickles through tightly-packed buds. This particular process strips the cannabinoids and terpenes, leaving little residue.
This method of extraction is efficient and low cost but it’s much better for small-batch extraction to extract chlorophyll from the cannabinoids. These types of extractions may need more dewaxing and clarifying. It can also convert THCA to THC to activate the chemical compounds.
Warm extraction is restricted in the items that it produces since many of the cannabinoids are decarbed through the process. The alternatives are to do ethanol extraction at an ambient temperature or in highly cool conditions. The benefit of cold ethanol extraction is that it allows the retention of products that are used to make shatter, THCA crystals, and oral mixes rich in THCA. This process can reduce the number of plant pigments and waxes in the end product but also in the cannabinoid recovery. The cooler temperatures preserve cannabinoids in the precursor acid forms.
The extraction process mixes solvents with the cannabis bud to separate the cannabinoids and terpenes. Ethanol is used because it can dissolve cannabinoids along with molecules like chlorophyll. Leaving chlorophyll in the product gives you dark colors and a grassy flavor in the extracts.
The ethanol and buds are put into a column together and once the cannabinoids are taken out, the ethanol is removed through evaporation, giving you pure cannabis oil. This is said to be one of the most efficient methods to get rid of the residual solvents in the end product while also being great at getting the products needed to make things such as THCA crystals.
Cost and Efficiency
Ethanol extraction is also known to be cost-effective when working towards a big yield. It is safe to use when done properly and can be controlled through automation so the worker is safe. Closed-loop systems stop solvent leaks and lower the risk of fire. It has a fairly low start-up cost and labor costs, too. You get a high purity product at a low cost.
Ethanol extraction is versatile while easily making cannabinoid isolates and full-spectrum extracts. It is considered to be a universal solvent as it dissolves chlorophyll and all other plant matter, too. You get cannabis oil with the plant’s chemical profile without the earthy taste of the plant itself plus you can boil off terpenes and get a completely odor-free, strong oil. It can be used in edibles or tinctures so the end-user doesn’t get any off-putting cannabis taste.
Using ethanol extraction with cannabis products is not complicated and is trusted for its ability to create a safe and pure cannabis product. You won’t be worried about contaminants or off-putting flavor or color. When done properly in a controlled facility, ethanol is a strong and affordable solvent that gives you the high-end product that you want for your business. Your extended cannabis products can expand your business beyond the simple supply of buds. Using ethanol extraction gives you the opportunity to build your business by supplying vape cartridges, edibles, tinctures, topical products, and more.
In the new world of legalized cannabis, the business opportunities are vast and you need to think outside the box to make sure you pick the business that’s most beneficial for you. Ethanol extraction is a business where you can expand into an area of the cannabis market that is beyond simply growing and selling the plant itself. By stepping into the world of ethanol extraction, you have the opportunity to grow through different products becoming more popular as the knowledge around cannabis products grows. The general population is beginning to understand that there is more to marijuana than simply the plant and with that knowledge comes new business ideas and opportunities.
Olivia Solero is the Co-founder of Cannabis Stack. Olivia has an unusual blend of creative thinking and the ability to put that thinking into effect. She likes to write; loves to edit; she knows how to lead, follow or get out of the way; she is good with a buck and wicked smart when it comes to data.