Here is a description on why and how we work with ethanol as the solvent of choice for cannabis extraction. Here’s why we believe ethanol is the overall best solvent for cannabis extraction when having the goal of concentrating the plant profile in an extraction (vs. targeted molecular extraction). Keep in mind that the objective is to render the original ratios and profile present in the plant: cannabinoids and terpenes.
- Butane is very well known and very common hydrocarbon solvent used for extractions. It has a “non-polarity”, which allows the extractor to capture the desired cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis without co-extracting undesirables including chlorophyll and plant metabolites. Butane’s boiling point also makes it easy to purge at the end of the extraction process, giving a relatively pure result. Butane is highly combustible and has been responsible for many explosions resulting in serious injuries. Considering that the extract will be consumed, only slight imperfections in the process can make the extract retain an array of toxins that are harmful to humans.
- Super-critical CO2 (Carbon dioxide) is a liquid gas which only extracts the non-polar chemicals of a plant; the solubility of many extracted compounds in CO2 varies with pressure, permitting selective extractions. The relatively low temperature of the process and the stability of CO2 also allows most compounds to be extracted with little damage or denaturing. Low toxicity and environmental impact are the main advantages. However, the lengthy purification process required to remove co-extracted constituents (such as waxes and plant fats) put in question the advantages yielded during super-critical CO2 extraction. Also, the use of carbon dioxide results in a very limited extraction spectra of the plant.
3 selection criteria
- polarity: ethanol is part of the polar protic solvents -> the only solvent that maintains the original chemical ratios contained in the plant. Alcohol is extracting both water soluble and oil soluble components
- low boiling point 79°C (118°C for Butan) -> makes it easy to purge without evaporating other components
- food grade compatibility -> ethanol is alcohol, present in wine, beer and other pharmaceutical preparations
It is a solvent made by the plants for the plants.