Imagine if Victor Hugo was teleported out of a mid-19th-century hash session and was offered a dab before he wrote his next poem. What would he have written? Cannabis extracts have changed significantly since then. He might’ve had to take a nap before writing.
Today, there are plenty of new and interesting ways to extract chemical compounds out of a plant. Here are the three most popular processes to extract cannabinoids and terpenes.
No one wants to overwork for their extracts, so many people prefer to use ethanol in their extractions. It’s simple. Doing so involves soaking cannabis in an ethanol solution. The solution needs to be heated to separate the cannabinoids and terpenes out of the ethanol. While it’s possible to do this with a hot water bath, machines like the Roto-Vap capture the evaporating ethanol and store it for later use (1).
Along with its ease of use, the variety of products that ethanol extractions make is the main reason it is so popular. Ethanol extractions easily transform into all types of concentrates, edibles, and tinctures.
Ethanol extraction is good for simplicity and versatility; butane extraction is good for potency. Unfortunately, butane extraction also carries its risks (2). For example, a sloppy purging of butane can easily leave behind pesticides, butane, and other noxious contaminants that are highly undesirable to inhale.
However, the risk is worth the rewards for many people who enjoy their shatter’s THC content being as high as 90%. Concentrations of this nature are particularly enjoyable to people who suffer from things such as sleep disorders and chronic pain, among others.
Some of us don’t realize that using a grinder with a kief collector is a form of extraction; we always thought it was a green parachute that saves us on a rainy day when our stash runs out. Surprisingly, it’s much more than that. Kief extraction is the process of separating flower from trichomes, resulting in a fine powder of crystalline deliciousness (3). It’s beautiful under a microscope.
Figure 1 Observing trichomes up-close.
It requires some hand strength (and stamina), but the tools are easy to use and make the job of breaking up the flower much easier. It’s the ‘win-win’ of grinders with kief trays that make this form of extraction so popular.
1: “What is Best for Pain Relief: THC or CBD? Herb. February 21, 2017. https://herb.co/marijuana/news/better-pain-relief-thc-cbd
2: “What are Cannabis Extracts?” MedicalJane. Accessed March 19, 2018. https://www.medicaljane.com/category/cannabis-classroom/extractions-methods/ – types-of-cannabis-extracts
3: “What is Kief and How can You Use It?” Leafly. October 15, 2014. https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/what-is-kief
Figure 1: Photo credit to Pixabay.