Cannabis extracts are becoming increasingly popular, and for good reason. High-quality extracts are often much less harmful to use than buds you smoke in a bong or a joint. Moreover, they are bursting with cannabinoids. This makes it possible to get a targeted dose, should the need arise. Extracts can be used in almost any way – processed into edibles, e-liquids for vape pens and in wax/dabs for vaporizers and dab rigs. You can even turn them into an old-fashioned joint. The main advantage of oil extracts is that they do not contain plant materials that burn. In fact, when you smoke an extract you are not inhaling any burnt material. Instead, the semi-solid liquid sticky mass sublimates directly into gas. This happens without the release of secondary toxic free radicals. And that ultimately makes for a stronger and “healthier” user experience. But beware! Not all oil extracts are made the same way. To collect as many cannabinoids as possible, you typically need a solvent. There are an awful lot of those. Some are polar and some are non-polar. Some agents use heavy flammable petroleum distillates, while others are based on environmentally friendly noble gases. The latter also applies to carbon dioxide (CO₂) extraction; it’s the best way you can go. And you can just do it safely at home. We’ll show you that below.
A QUICK LOOK AT BUTANE HASH OIL TO UNDERSTAND THE BENEFITS OF CO₂ OIL
Before we delve further into co₂ extractions, let’s take a look at butane hash oil extractions. These are also called BHO. You can easily do this yourself. The materials you need are cheap and available everywhere. The problem, however, is that it is a very flammable and dangerous substance to work with. When you compress the extraction chamber, butane can turn into an extremely volatile explosive. Not only that; after the extraction process, you have to purge the remaining butane from the mix, and that’s a step that the majority of people who make their own extracts at home skip. In that case, you are literally smoking butane particles of pure petroleum along with the cannabinoids. To remove this toxic ingredient, you need a properly functioning laboratory-quality vacuum degasser. This significantly drives up the cost of the equipment and is often forgotten, out of ignorance or thrift. To rule out bodily injury and make BHO legally, you must adhere to special protocols established for the use and disposal of extremely hazardous substances. Most jurisdictions maintain strict laws regarding the requirements to work with them. There are many things to consider. These include specialized, filtered HEPA air extraction, fully antistatic and non-flammable materials, and special storage requirements. view EHLE-X-tract Glass Extractor
CO₂ OIL COMPARED WITH BHO OIL
Installation for co₂ extraction may seem like a hefty investment at first. It will cost you just a few hundred to thousands of dollars. However, the reality is that it is more expensive to perform a good BHO extraction. In the long run it is cheaper to work with CO₂. Moreover, it is environmentally friendly, non-flammable and non-toxic (as long as the particles in the air stay below 4000ppm). It also leaves no residue and can be recycled and reused. You do need an extremely skilled male to work as the operator of the system if you plan on doing supercritical extractions. For example, to perform the special operations needed to exploit the qualities of the terpenes. Or to preemptively remove THC prior to the CBD. Subcritical plants, however, are easy to operate and also a lot cheaper. You may already understand: CO₂ extraction is the champion for the purest, highest quality cannabis oil we know.
SUBCRITICAL VS. SUPERCRITICAL CARBON DIOXIDE (CO₂) EXTRACTION
Most gases can take a liquid form and vice versa. All you have to do to do that is regulate the pressure and/or temperature. You experience this yourself every day in the kitchen. Example: if you boil water in the atmospheric pressure of sea level (about 14.7psi) you need to heat it to 100ºC before it changes from liquid to gas. When you climb Mount Everest to 8850m altitude the air pressure drops to about 4.89psi. When you get there and heat a pan of water, the boiling point is already at 69ºC. This process is called evaporation. When you reverse the conditions, the gas condenses and changes back to its liquid form. In a similar way, this is true when you put carbon dioxide under pressure in a tube and it eventually becomes liquid. When it comes out of the tube, the temperature of CO₂ drops so fast that it instantly turns back into gas. In this example, we are talking exclusively about manipulating pressure at room temperature. In thermodynamics, such a reversal moment is called the “critical point” or the “critical shape.” At this point, the equilibrium is broken and the physical properties of the molecules change. But science has discovered a very intriguing phenomenon. When you manipulate both temperature and pressure beyond the critical point, some gases start to behave very strangely. They exhibit both gas and liquid characteristics at the same time. This opens up interesting application possibilities. Supercritical fluids have very low surface tension and diffuse through solid materials like a gas. At the same time, they can dissolve compounds as efficiently as a liquid. That seems like science fiction! The critical point of carbon dioxide is at roughly 31ºC and 1083psi. When the temperature drops rapidly, it returns to its supercritical liquid form. Conversely, maintaining temperature and decreasing pressure causes a similar effect. At 31ºC and 600psi, liquid supercritical CO₂ again takes the form of gas, separated from the oil and with no residue. In supercritical conditions, you can control the temperature and pressure to certain values. CO₂ can thus behave in a different kinetic way. And that acts on the weed in a proportionate way. The art of high-quality supercritical extraction is that of tuning the systems to get exactly the wanted terpenes and cannabinoids in the desired amounts.
INDUSTRIAL AND HOMEMADE CO₂ EXTRACTS
Both subcritical and supercritical extractions work basically the same way. The only real difference is the complexity of the equipment required. In a good setup for supercritical extractions, subcritical extracts can also be made. However, a device for subcritical extraction does not provide the ability to achieve supercritical conditions. With that, subcritical devices are by no means worse; they just work differently. Are you planning a commercial operation where you want to produce various products containing cannabis – think edibles, potions, flavorings, CBD oil, THC oil, e-liquid in various flavors and fragrances, drip tinctures and skin creams? Then you need to have a professional supercritical unit and an accomplished operator. Operating subcritical units, however, you can easily learn. You may not be able to get hold of the specific terpenes, but the end result is the purest and strongest possible. This getting hold of specific terpenes is also called “fractionation.”
A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE INDUSTRIAL SUPERCRITICAL PROCESS
The process may have minor variations. This depends on several variables, such as the quantity and producer. However, most supercritical extractions all follow the same basic steps. Basically, they are closed loop systems. It starts with preparing the dried, cured cannabis which of course must be of top quality. There is a special compartment where you have to put it and where you keep it sealed. This is called the “extraction vessel.” Next, you have a CO₂ reservoir/metal container that opens and allows the gas to flow into a pressure pump. The pump leads CO₂ into a heating chamber to pass beyond the liquid form to a supercritical state. This is often called the “accumulator.” Supercritical CO₂ passes through the extraction vessel and passes right through the weed. Thus it extracts all the delights in an oil leaving the plant material behind. Then the mixture goes to the next chamber, the so-called “separator.” Here the pressure is reduced so that CO₂ returns to its former liquid state and immediately after that back to gas. This means that the gas disappears completely and effortlessly from the oil. CO₂ can be collected for future use and the oil can be collected for further processing and purification. For example, suppose you set up the unit to fractionate the oil and collect only the THCA and wax. In doing so, you could apply “winterization” by adding pure alcohol and dropping the temperature below freezing. In this way, the fats and wax are separated from the essential oils containing THCA, which are then filtered out. What remains is THCA essential oil that still contains ethanol at that point. This is then placed in a rotary distiller to completely remove the remaining alcohol. What you are left with now is THCA oil of exceptionally pure quality.
INDUSTRIAL CO₂ EXTRACTS AT ZAMNESIA
At Zamnesia, our extensive range includes different types of CBD oil and products produced using the CO₂ extraction process. Trusted and established producers use both subcritical and supercritical extraction methods to produce a wide range of CBD products. Think capsules, creams, crystals and – of course – oils. For example, there are the Endoca Cannabis Crystals that contain as much as 99% CBD. These are also obtained by CO₂ extraction. This also applies to the range of CBD oil from Cibdol. But also for the Raw Oils from the Dutch producer Medihemp. Other products from Endoca are produced by the subcritical CO₂ extraction method. This also applies to the “non-raw” oil of Medihemp. Again: that is absolutely not to say that these products are of inferior quality. A different method has merely been chosen for one reason or another. For example, a producer may wish to produce smaller batches at a time. And that is where the subcritical method comes in handy. view CBD Oil
DO-IT-YOURSELF CO₂ HOME EXTRACTION
We are now going to show you a quick method for performing CO₂ extraction. Homemade CO₂ extracts of kief with dry ice (see below) is technically a do-it-yourself subcritical extraction method. It produces the same high-quality extract, but the process is slightly less efficient. To perform this safely at home, you will need the following:
- Heat resistant safety gloves (Beware! The temperature of dry ice is -78ºC. That will give you burns if you grab it!)
- Dry ice
- Top quality buds and cutting waste
- Some bubble bags with a different fineness of mesh (25/75/150/220 micron, for example)
- Clean bucket
- Glass storage jars
You start by placing the bubble bag with the finest mesh in the bucket. Put the weed in the bag and the dry ice in (with the gloves on)! Then you start shaking and shaking vigorously. Do this at lightning speed so that the weed freezes and the trichomes are released and drip from the buds and the cutting waste. After about 3-4 minutes, remove the bag and collect the kief from the bucket. This is the best kief you can get. Then store it in a glass weck jar or something similar. Repeat the process (with the same weed), but with the other bags that have larger mesh portions. All this results in a much yielding extraction of trichomes of different quality levels. view Ice-O-Lator
CO₂ OIL AND MEDICINES
If you are currently using cannabis products as medicine, consider co₂ extracts. These are by themselves a lot purer and easier to dose than other methods. The limiting factor of CO₂ extraction is the unprocessed cannabis used. However, if the harvested plant is organic, without pesticides, CO₂ extraction is ultimately pure. CO₂ oil additionally sublimates without combustion. As a result, it causes none of the health risks associated with burning plant material. The high concentrations of CO₂ also have a pleasant side effect on weed. Namely, it kills all types of fungi, microbes, bacteria, mildew, insects and mites. Moreover, you can process CO₂ supercritical oil in such a way that it has maximum effect. The only thing lacking is research into diseases and possible cannabinoid-based remedies against them. Hopefully, the process of CO₂ extraction will only improve more as studies of it and understanding of its methodology increase. Hospitals and research centers around the world are already able to take this statistical difference to a new level of complexity. CO₂ extracts will undoubtedly contribute significantly to the advancement of medicine. CBD oil is already ushering in a new era of cannabis innovation.