Determining the storage limits for solvents used in cannabis extractions and how they impact scalability.
Burgers can only be flipped as fast as they cook. A car’s oil can only be changed as fast as gravity pulls the black viscous fluid out of your car. Your taxi driver can only get you to the airport as fast as the speed limit allows.
In any business, bottlenecks exist that slow everything down. In the cannabis extraction industry, those bottlenecks are often the result of storage limits for the solvents being used.
Let’s examine how much solvent one can store on-site for cannabis extractions.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), controls on solvent storage are absolutely necessary to help prevent fires and potential injuries.
The American Planning Association backs them up. Although their official stance is that the solvents used in cannabis extraction, like butane, are nothing to be feared, they do indicate that high-octane gases like this are more prone to fire risks.
That’s why there are certain standards that must be followed when storing liquefied gases like butane and propane. For example, the NFPA notes, in buildings that are frequented by the public, propane can be kept in up to 1-pound storage containers for a maximum of 200 pounds of product.
They also indicate that there is a 300-pound storage limit for propane in buildings that aren’t frequented by the public. The individual storage containers are not restricted in size, just the overall limit, which places a possible bottleneck on the extraction process.
Lastly, there is a unique designation as a “Special Building” which allows for the storage of up to 10,000 pounds of propane and may be subject to a fire safety analysis before approval.
When it comes to the storage of ethanol, regulations are equally stringent, and can be overseen by more than one regulatory body.
For example, the NFPA indicates that ethanol is a Class IB flammable liquid, which means it must be stored with great care, including ventilation fans and temperature controls.
The Occupational Safety Health and Administration (OSHA) sets clear standards for the storage of ethanol, as well. They indicate that fire-rated buildings must be used to house ethanol when stored close to occupied buildings. If stored within 30 feet, a storage building with a two-hour fire rating must be used. Within 10 feet, a building with a four-hour fire rating is required for ethanol storage.
These requirements seem to be irrespective of storage capacity, and beyond 30 feet, fire rated storage buildings are not required. OSHA does, however, discuss storage in flammable cabinets. Standard 1926.152 reads “Not more than 60 gallons of Category 1, 2 and/or 3 flammable liquids… shall be stored in any one storage cabinet. Not more than three such cabinets may be located in a single storage area. Quantities in excess of this shall be stored in an inside storage room.” This document goes on to say that “No more than 25 gallons of flammable liquids shall be stored in a room outside of an approved storage cabinet.”
Depending on the scale of your extraction, solvent storage can be a limitation. How much solvent are you storing? Let us know in the comments!