Botanical Extraction

The Cost of Extracting Cannabinoids

Written by Nicholas Demski

Several DIY extraction methods and their costs, are they worth it?

When I was young and naive, I once bought a DJ kit thinking that I would be able to deejay massive parties and be the center of attention (oh, how my values have changed!). What I didn’t realize at the time, besides that it was not a wise investment, was that the investment cost me way too much, even if I had become a popular DJ. I could have bought the same kit, used, for a much cheaper price and it would have given me the same exact value: an expensive dust collector.

Have you ever overpaid for something?

It could be easy to overpay for extraction if you don’t do your research.

However, the more expensive extraction methods may be worth their money for people looking to make the best products as quickly as they can.

Let’s take a look at a few extraction methods and how much they cost.

To begin with, does burning cannabinoids out of the plant count as extraction? If it does, then extracting costs as much as one stroke of a lighter.

If not, then the most cost-efficient way to perform an extraction is with a grinder.

Cost of extracting via a grinder: initial investment of less than $5.

After the initial investment, extraction is free. Except for the cost of your energy to twist and turn the grinder, that is.

As you grind your buds, the trichomes will naturally separate and fall into the keif collector. After an ounce or so is grinded up, you’ll find a lovely little coating of sparkling trichomes waiting for you in the tray.

Extraction couldn’t be any easier, nor any cheaper.

Now, let’s look at the next least expensive way to extract cannabinoids is with a simple oil, like olive oil.

Cost of extracting via Olive Oil: ~$5 for 500mL of olive oil

By placing cannabis plant material in olive oil, the cannabinoids are drawn out of plant. However, the ease and low-cost of extracting in this way come with downsides:

  • Oil is perishable.
  • Olive oil extract cannot be concentrated via evaporation1.
  • The boiling point of THC (157 degrees Fahrenheit) is lower than the boiling point of olive oil (570 degrees Fahrenheit), so attempting to vaporize it will destroy cannabinoids before you’re able to ingest them.

Next, let’s look at extracting with alcohol.

Cost of extracting via Ethanol: ~$12 for 375mL of grain alcohol

Just like the olive oil draws out cannabinoids, cannabis plant material needs only to soak in ethanol.

Ethanol extraction has its own downsides:

At the end of the day, you get what you pay for when extracting cannabinoids. Thankfully, the people who opt for ethanol extraction techniques tend to know what they’re doing. If they didn’t, they could place their bottles of Ever clear next to my expensive dust collector.

References

  1. Hazekamp and Romano. “Cannabis Oil: chemical evaluation of an upcoming cannabis-based medicine.” Cannabinoids. 2013:1(1);1-11. Times Cited = 45.

About the author

Nicholas Demski

Nicholas Demski's latest venture is TheCannabiologist.com. He's a poet, author, cannabis writer, and budding entrepreneur. You can follow his travels with his daughter on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram @TheSingleDadNoma

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