One of the most important steps to maintaining a cannabis extraction facility is making sure all equipment and parts remain clean and sanitized. Being as this is both a lengthy and timely process, it’s ideal to invest in a clean-in-place (CIP) system. This technology functions to automatically clean the interior surfaces of equipment (filters, pipes, fittings, vessels, etc.) without the need to disassemble.
This can provide you with a reliable, safe source of cleaning that requires far less labor than manual cleaning.
There are a number of companies that develop/integrate CIP systems for cannabis extraction, including Soma Labs Scientific, ProExtractionUSA, and Diversey. According to Soma Labs Scientific, which integrates CIP into supercritical CO2 extractors, “A typical CIP system applies high energy, turbulent flow of cleaning fluid to pipe circuits and vessels.” They use a proprietary cleaning fluid curated for cleaning cannabis and hemp residue from equipment.
Manufacturer ProExtraction USA points out that CIP usually involves flushing and circulating a caustic solution (such as sodium hydroxide) with an additional acid solution wash and several distilled water rinses. Design is based on parameters that include temperature, flow rate, and conductivity. Measuring solution conductivity, for example, allows the system to automate the cleaning process.
Cleaning company Diversey developed (alongside Advanced Extraction Systems Inc.) a CIP system for supercritical CO2 extractors that eliminates caustic/volatile cleaning agents. Senior Director of North American Pharmaceuticals Robert Bowness described the company’s alternative as “an alkali process using a food grade cleaning agent.” The process aims to improve safety and reduce costs.
In terms of general extraction facility cleanliness, Dr. Rachael Loeber, Chief Science Officer of Leafline Labs offers a few pieces of advice to keep in mind:
- Understand the components of your extractor – Familiarize yourself with which components become dirtier or more worn out.
- Calculate the amount and frequency of cleaning required for each component – Make sure you meet the manufacturer’s expectations.
- Keep a schedule – Make sure to have a schedule for when cleaning operations need to take place.
- Always have backup parts – Keep replacement parts and consumables within your facility.
CIP systems are an efficient way to continue your operations, keep your manufacturers happy, and offer the safest, cleanest cannabis products to the market.