The cannabis concentrate market continues to soar. To produce a commercially viable product, manufacturers need to pay equal attention to their extraction and refinement processes. Refinement is the next step after the raw extract is created. De-waxing and winterization are both methods used for refinement.
Winterization is a type of refinement process also referred to as an alcohol wash. Cannabis oil is immersed in a polar solvent, usually ethanol. The solution is then chilled to a specific temperature for a defined period of time, allowing for filtration of unwanted plant constituents like waxes. Cannabinoids like THC and CBD are separated creating purer, more potent final products. The extraction and refinement processes can be run multiple times. Terpenes can be lost with each step but they can be reintroduced to the mixture at a later stage.
After winterization, the extract needs to be filtered. The fatty lipids and other waste material should be at the surface of the mixture. There are multiple levels of filters (larger or smaller micron ratings) that you can use.
De-waxing is a slightly different process, although the objective is the same. This option is popular among large commercial operations because there are fewer steps involved. Everything occurs within the closed-loop extraction system.
Essentially, butane is poured over the biomass. The resulting concentrate then needs to be cooled to a sub-zero temperature. This forces the fats and waxes to separate, allowing for easy filtration. To maintain a consistent temperature, companies often use dry ice. A more precise, but also more expensive method is to use a chiller that integrates with the chosen closed-loop extractor.
If you’re concerned about the flavor of your concentrate, de-waxing may be more appropriate than winterization because it’s thought to preserve more terpenes. If you care more about potency, winterization may be a better option.
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