Applied Technology

Home Extractions Gone Wrong

Caleb Summeril
Written by Caleb Summeril

As more states and even countries legalize cannabis (congrats Canada!), there has been a steady rise in everyday folks attempting cannabinoid extraction at home. A growing demand for edibles, tinctures and vaporizers has seen the traditionally flower-dominated market become increasingly shared by extracts and oils. This spike has led to a growing number of severe accidentsdue to home set-ups gone awry.[1]

Many of these mishaps are the consequence of amateur extractors building piecemeal operations more resembling a witch’s cauldron than a chemistry lab. Cast the wrong spell and one faces lightning bolts, fireballs, disfigurement and a host of legal problems sure to ruin your Halloween.

The extraction process itself is best left in the hands of professionals who adhere to strict safety and manufacturing guidelines that ensure quality control and prevent calamity. These closed-loop systems are efficient and effective – a far cry from the bootleg workshops popping up—oftentimes blowing up—across the nation.

Colorado had a wave of residential explosions in 2014, prompting lawmakers to ban home extractions using common flammable solvents such as butane and propane.[2]  These easy to obtain and highly flammable gases are both heavier than oxygen, a trait that causes them to sink and sit like ghosts in the night on a poorly ventilated kitchen or bathroom floor. One spark from a refrigerator or boiler pilot light and KABOOM!,the amateur scientist is on their way to the ER (with horrific injuries, as in this 2013 explosion in a San Diego hotel).

A myriad of other disasters lay in wait for those still bold or senseless enough to extract on their own with poor equipment. A leaky tube or valve was the potential source of an apartment fire in Maine this past spring. Luckily, firefighters arrived before flames took out the entire complex. If fires and explosions aren’t scary enough, one man in New Zealand suffered horrific burns over 1/3 of his body that left him charred, zombie-esque and clinging to life after his illicit and poorly constructed extraction system blew up one quiet morning.

With potential for great destruction and possible death hovering on the horizon, it is best to steer clear of any attempt at manufacturing cannabis oil on your own. As the DIY experiments-turned-disasters illustrate, one error in judgement or faulty piece of equipment can easily have you pushing daisies in the local cemetery. No one wants their tombstone to read: “Died of a home extraction gone wrong.”

[1] Williams, Jason M. Marijuana Butane Honey Oil (BHO) Extraction Fire and Explosion Investigations; Ontario, Canada 2017

[2]18-18-406.6 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.)

A myriad of other disasters lay in wait for those still bold or senseless enough to extract on their own with poor equipment. A leaky tube or valve was the potential source of an apartment fire in Maine this past spring. Luckily, firefighters arrived before flames took out the entire complex. If fires and explosions aren’t scary enough, one man in New Zealand suffered horrific burns over 1/3 of his body that left him charred, zombie-esque and clinging to life after his illicit and poorly constructed extraction system blew up one quiet morning.

With potential for great destruction and possible death hovering on the horizon, it is best to steer clear of any attempt at manufacturing cannabis oil on your own. As the DIY experiments-turned-disasters illustrate, one error in judgement or faulty piece of equipment can easily have you pushing daisies in the local cemetery. No one wants their tombstone to read: “Died of a home extraction gone wrong.”

About the author

Caleb Summeril

Caleb Summeril

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