Our blog post this week is going to go in depth about the concentrates that we all love so much! We're hoping to break it down for you, since there is a TON of stuff involved with making concentrates, and for this reason should be left to professionals ONLY. Please do not try making concentrates at home.
First off, a bit of background information. The science of concentrate extraction is dependent on how easy it is to single out the cannabinoids and other active ingredients of the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are not water soluble, so to extract them properly the cannabinoids must be dissolved in a solvent. Butane, hexane, isopropyl alcohol and ethanol are all solvents that are commonly used in extraction. When the flowers are submerged in these solvents, the cannabinoids, terpenes and other active ingredients are dissolved into the liquid or gas solvent. The remaining solid plant matter is filtered out and the liquid solvent and cannabinoid mixture is purged to remove all solvents, leaving only cannabinoids and other active compounds of the cannabis plant.
Hydrocarbons are the chief components in natural gas, and the only hydrocarbon extraction methods in making concentrates are Butane / Propane and hexane.
The most commonly used solvent in cannabis extraction is butane; however, a mixture of butane and propane has recently become very common as well. These solvents are nontoxic, non-polar and they dissolve oils very efficiently without creating other unwanted byproducts. Butane and propane dissolve all cannabinoids and terpenes (aromatics) with great effectiveness while preserving the integrity of the delicate cannabinoids.
On the other hand, Hexane is completely insoluble in water, it boils at a higher temperature than butane, and is extremely flammable and potentially explosive. Although the general process for hexane extraction is similar to that of butane extraction, it requires significantly more care due to the fact that hexane is considerably more toxic.
Non-Hydrocarbons are anything that isn't a natural gas. This can be things like Dry Sieve, Water, CO2, and Isopropyl Alcohol.
Water and Dry Sieve extraction goes hand in hand as they are very similar. Both call for much mechanical agitation, by physically separating the plant matter. Dry Sieve is essentially Kief or hash,made by agitating the plant matter and shaking the trichomes off. Water extraction makes things like bubble hash, and Ice Wax, which are made by using dry ice to extract the trichomes from the plant matter to make the concentrates.
Arguably the least-toxic form of cannabis concentrate extraction, CO2, has become more popular as an extraction method because of its low environmental impact and nonexistent toxicity; however, CO2 extraction systems are considerably more expensive than butane or hexane systems.
Isopropyl alcohol is a commonly used solvent for creating cannabis concentrates using a ‘quick wash’ method. Where hexane is not water soluble, isopropyl alcohol is highly water soluble and will dissolve undesired plant materials (chlorophylls and waxes) along with the sought after cannabinoids.
Now that you know the methods, we can talk about which of your favorite brands use which methods. Mahatma specializes in Hydrocarbon extraction using butane specifically, while GoldenBarn and CannLabs focus only on mostly CO2 and other non hydrocarbons. Viola does a mixture of both, as they produce Wax, Shatter, and Live Resin, and each of their products receives special care.
Despite all of their differences though, they are all 100% safe when done properly, which is why we can't stress to not try to make concentrates at home. It's something to leave to the professionals!
The Weed Blog