Botanical Extraction

Ice Water Extraction — Comprehensive Guide

Cannabis ice water extraction method
Written by Jason Collins

According to statistics, it’s estimated that the global cannabis market size is valued at about 22.5 million, with it set to continue growing in the coming years. Unsurprisingly, with the way cannabis has exploded, it feels like every time you wrap your head around one CBD concept a new one arises. The same is about cannabis extraction methods. Every year there is a new and improved method surrounding CBD extraction from butane and CO2 to ice water extraction; there is a method for every budget and need. With so many methods available, it can feel like you can use CBD and THC with anything these days. Although this isn’t accurate, the theory holds up with ice water. 

This method has become increasingly popular in recent years because it’s able to produce high-quality cannabis that is beautiful and pure. Yet, even though it is becoming widely adopted by weed connectors who want to try their hand at commercial CBD, not many people know what this method is. 

In fact, most don’t even know the benefits and equipment needed for ice water extractions. Should you fall into this group, you might find our comprehensive guide interesting as we discuss everything you need to know about ice water extractions. 

What Exactly Is Ice Water Extraction? – The Method

Here’s what ice-water extraction is before we discuss its benefits and equipment requirements.

First and foremost, this extraction method involves ice, water, and fermentation. Unlike other extraction methods, it’s unique because it doesn’t utilize chemicals to extract THC and CBD from a weed plant, resulting in a purer and more powerful batch. 

Ice water extraction also has the added benefit of offering less chance of contamination when compared to butane and carbon dioxide extractions. This is because ice water removes the leaves and trichomes from a cannabis plant and is highly effective at preserving cannabinoids and terpenes.

How Does This Extraction Work?

Now that you know what ice water extraction is, we want to discuss how it works. Before understanding how this extraction method works, you must know more about trichomes. The science surrounding trichomes is long and complex, so we won’t bore you with too many details.

Trichomes are found on a cannabis plant and have most cannabinoids like CBD and THC. You can see trichomes if you hold a weed bud and examine it closely. They are the sticky and sparkly bits that dust a bud. These trichomes are responsible for CBD’s calming effect and the THC’s psychoactive effects.

So how exactly does it work? First, ice water extraction is effective because the trichomes on a cannabis plant are significantly denser than water. So, when this extraction method is used, the cold water prevents trichomes from dissolving and instead allows them to float. Using ice water makes it easier to separate pure cannabinoids from plant material and water.

Yet, why is ice water used instead of hot water? Simple. Hot water can cause various cannabinoids to activate or, in worst-case scenarios – dissolve. As you can see, this method is simple but effective, which is why it’s becoming ever more popular. 

What Are The Benefits Of Such Extraction Method?

As with every extraction method, ice water extraction has many benefits. Below are the most important benefits you need to note if you want to dip your toes into this extraction pool. 

  • Aroma and Flavor: The way trichomes are extracted can significantly affect the aroma and flavor of THC and CBD because they are delicate. The ice water extraction method is not damaging and is an easy process. Due to this, this method captures incredibly aromatic and flavorful hash that shows an increase in terpene retention;
  • Purity and Potency: compared to every other extraction method, ice water extraction gives producers the best potency and purity. However, to ensure these benefits, you need the appropriate equipment to prevent contamination. In addition, the more potent and pure an extraction, the better the products; 
  • Yields: It’s been proven that dry sifting isn’t as effective as ice water extraction, which is why the latter offers better yields. Ultimately, unlike other methods, ice water extraction is less wasteful because it better collects trichomes. 

What Equipment Is Necessary For Ice Water Extraction? – The Machines

Although this extraction method is simple, you need specialized equipment to use this production method on a commercialized scale. CBD production dreams can be realized with ice water extraction, as solventless cannabis concentrates are in high demand.

So, if you want to set up an ice water extraction lab, you’ll need the following equipment items: 

  • Filter bags: They might not sound like an important equipment item, but filter bags are crucial to the ice-water extraction process. You will need multiple large filter bags to catch the plant material and fine filters to catch the trichomes you need for your products. Additionally, using numerous filter bags with differing mesh sizes will help you separate higher-grade material to ensure you produce more potent effects;
  • Water and ice (purification system): To utilize the ice-water extraction method, you will need large quantities of ice and water. Yet, you need to be careful of the water you use so as not to carry over any contaminants to the trichomes you’re collecting. Most commercial laboratories invest in water purification equipment to ensure a reliable source of clean potable water. Additionally, you might want to look into an ice maker to supply you with the ice you will need; 
  • Freeze-drying equipment: To produce an end product, you will need freeze-drying equipment. Even though you can air dry your extractions, it’s better to freeze dry if you’re extracting commercially. This is because using freeze-drying equipment will ensure you preserve more terpenes (volatile compounds that give cannabis flavor and aroma);
  • Sinks and benches: You will need to invest in heavy-duty sinks and benches as they will take the biggest beating throughout their working lives. This equipment is crucial for this extraction method because it helps extract trichomes properly while protecting against corrosion. 

Ultimately, it’s not possible to disregard the importance of good quality equipment for ice water extractions. Suppose you want to commercially produce products containing pure CBD and THC extracts that transfer to your final product. In that case, you need premium quality equipment – especially if you’re in the business for the long haul.

Wrap-Up On Ice Water Extraction

This extraction method is one of the best in the industry, especially for those who want to commercially produce CBD or THC products. This method is simple but effective and usually offers the best quality, pure, trichome results. 

With the right equipment, a grower can successfully utilize this method to maximize yields, which will help with profits. So keep in mind everything we’ve said if you consider using this extraction method.

About the author

Jason Collins