Estrazioni della Cannabis

Cannabis extractions: how are they done?

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Cannabis Extractions

In the European market, one of the lesser known areas is the emerging market for cannabis extraction concentrates. What do they look like, what do they contain, or how to use them for my condition? 
In this article we will analyze different types of extracts and explain techniques, methods and their application for certain modalities of use or for particular physical conditions regarding the extraction of Cannabis . I am not a doctor so my advice is based solely on the testimonies of people I have dealt with personally.
Extractive techniques are used to separate the components of cannabis and remove them from the plant material. Different methods are able to divide the cannabis plant material into different parts, or extracts, that contain different chemicals. In the case of cannabis, extraction techniques are often used to isolate specific desired components; in fact, the plant contains more than a hundred cannabinoids including cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). But a producer may also be interested in creating a single extract that includes many desirable cannabis components; this is called whole plant extract. In addition to the more well-known cannabinoids, scientists have identified more than 500 different chemicals in cannabis including terpenes, flavonoids, etc. Extraction techniques are also used to isolate individual substances of interest such as CBD, THC, CBG or terpenes and flavonoids.

Solvent-Free Cannabis Extractions

As the name indicates, the methods described in this section do not require the use of solvents. All that is needed is water, heat, pressure, and different types of sieves.

Ice-o-lator hash/bubble hash/water hash

Although they have different names, these three techniques are based on the same elements: a bucket with a capacity of 5-10L

(depending on the amount of plant material) and a specific kit for the realization of cannabis extractions

“Ice-O-Lator”, containing several mesh bags of different sizes to be placed in ascending order (first the one with the smallest mesh and the rest overlapping).

Cannabis Extractions

As a first step, you need to fill the bucket to 2/3 of its capacity with cold water and a good amount of ice, where you then immerse the bags containing the cannabis flowers. The cold water and ice facilitate the detachment of the resin trichomes from the buds, a phenomenon that can be further aided by keeping the flowers in the fridge for an hour before getting to work.

This mixture should then be stirred for 20-25 minutes, after which you can proceed to remove the bags carefully, letting the water out while collecting the contents of each bag. This should then be compacted manually and allowed to dry for about a week. To do this, just put it on a plate and leave it in the open air or in a room with a temperature between 20 and 22 ºC and a humidity rate of 55-60%. Keep in mind that if bad drying takes place can alter the flavor and favor the appearance of mold, making the product unfit for consumption.

Cannabis Dry sift

This is the simplest and cheapest method of cannabis extraction, and therefore also the most widely used. It is enough to choose a bag with the desired mesh size (like the ones used for the Ice-O-Lator method) and introduce the flowers to be sieved. The quality of the result will depend on the size of the mesh: the smaller it will be (50 micron mesh), the smaller will be the resin glands collected, thus being able to make extractions of cannabis with different levels of quality depending on the preference of the moment.

To start, you can use a 150 micron bag and do an initial sieving. In any case, a mesh size of 70 microns should be enough to get a very good quality dry sift hash. To sift, simply place the plant material in the bag with the desired mesh size and gently shake it with vertical movements on a dry, flat and sterilized surface where the resin trichomes can be collected. You will see that a kind of whitish/yellowish powder consisting of the coveted trichomes begins to fall out with the first movements.

The last step is to compact them with the help of a stiff paper, like a credit card, until you get a homogeneous hash fragment. Before starting, it is important to make sure that the plant material to be used is completely dry. Another fundamental preliminary step is to keep the material in the freezer for about an hour in order to favor the detachment of trichomes both in terms of speed and quantity. In this case, however, drying is not necessary, as it is a dry extraction method that allows immediate consumption.

Rosin Cannabis Extractions (Rosin Tech)

Cannabis Extractions

In order to perform extractions according to the Rosin technique, all you need is some cannabis flowers or plant material containing the resin, some greaseproof paper and a thermal pressing device. The easiest and cheapest way to proceed is to use a hair straightener, which also allows you to adjust the temperature manually.

Once the material has been prepared, the flowers must be arranged on greaseproof paper and made into a small, compact rectangular block to be pressed with the hair straightener. Thanks to the action of pressure and heat, the resin will become liquid and remain attached to the wax paper. And that’s it, the extraction is ready for tasting. If you want, you can experiment with temperature levels to get varying amounts of product.

Cannabis extractions with solvents

This section is dedicated to extraction methods that rely on the use of chemical solvents (hydrocarbons). The international cannabis scene is becoming more and more extensive, which encourages the development of new techniques and therefore also new forms of high quality concentrates. However, it is necessary to be well informed before deciding on one of these methods, since the handling of chemicals and certain technical devices can involve serious risks (explosion, fire, etc.). For your own safety, it is essential to study the chosen method thoroughly as well as take the necessary precautions.

BHO Cannabis Extractions (Butane Hash Oil)

As you may have already guessed, this extraction method is based on the use of butane gas. The use of gas/hydrocarbons as chemical solvents is in fact very common, and alternatives include propane, hexane, dimethyl ether, better known as dexso or DHO and a hybrid method combining BHO and DHO, called DBHO.

Cannabis Extractions

The extraction method does not change regardless of the chemical solvent used, which however affects the properties of the concentrate (color, density, viscosity, viscoelasticity, consistency, flavor, aroma, potency, etc.), resulting in cannabis extractions with different appearance and even different names (oil, wax, shatter, honeycomb, nectar, etc.).

The basic principle is very simple: the plant material is introduced in a container with hermetic closure where it is then injected under pressure the chemical solvent, which passes through the plant material extracting the essential oils containing the active principles of the plant (cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids).

Once this is done, it is necessary to remove the solvent residues in order to obtain a clean, safe and pure concentrate that is pleasant to consume. For this purpose, it is necessary to heat the concentrate to the minimum evaporation temperature of the solvent, so as not to degrade its organoleptic properties. The use of hydrocarbons allows the extraction of up to 90% of the cannabinoids contained in the plants.

Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)canna

The Rick Simpson Oil method produces a high quality oil that is often used for therapeutic purposes, to treat diseases of varying severity. Also known as Phoenix Tears, bears the name of its creator, a Canadian who in recent years has made much talk about his technique.

The RSO method is often used for therapeutic purposes, both in case of physical and psychological disorders.

The basic principle is very simple, just soak the entire plant in ethyl or isopropyl alcohol in order to activate the extraction of cannabinoids and then heat the solution to evaporate the solvent, for example on the stove. Once evaporated, you get the final concentrate, which has the appearance of a sort of dense blackish oil.

Typically, Rick Simpson oil is taken orally as a tincture. The most common way is to place a few drops under the tongue and then swallow, and although the taste isn’t always the best, the benefits of the product more than make up for this minor inconvenience. Most often, Rick Simpson Oil is packaged in syringes or small bottles to make it easier to administer the drops. Alternatively, the product can also be applied through the skin.


Cannabis Extractions

Cannabis tinctures are concentrates that are obtained through alcoholic extraction. The result is very similar to Rick Simpson Oil but with the advantage that the taste is generally much more pleasant. The main positive aspect of alcoholic extraction is that it allows the cannabinoids and terpenes to be obtained effectively without the need to use a heat source, as is the case with the BHO method.

They are usually administered in the form of drops to be placed under the tongue, as in the case of RSO, a product to which they closely resemble even though they have a more liquid consistency. Based on the results observed, the tinctures would be effective in the face of numerous ailments.

Live Resin

Cannabis Extractions

Live Resin is one of the newest methods of cannabis extraction . It was developed between 2011 and 2013 in Colorado (United States) by William Fenger, known by the pseudonym of Kind Bill, and Giddy Up, founder of EmoTek Labs, and consists of placing fresh cannabis flowers in the freezer immediately after harvesting them.

The main advantage over other methods of extraction is represented by the fact that it is not necessary to dry the plant material, and therefore the terpenes do not have time to degrade due to the action of air, light, heat or handling, allowing to radically improve the synergy terpenes/cannabinoids. Precisely because the herb retains all its properties, you get a much higher quality end result in terms of aroma, flavor and effect.

Supercritical Extraction (CO2)

Cannabis Extraction

The Supercritical (CO2) extraction method is the most elaborate to date and also the one that yieldsthe purest concentrates. Instead of using a chemical solvent, extraction is achieved through the action of carbon dioxide, which is compressed until a supercritical oil fluid is obtained. This oil is then used to extract the cannabinoids and terpenes of the plant in a similar manner to hydrocarbon-based solvents (butane, propane, hexane).

Thanks to the supercritical fluid, which is able to pass from liquid to gas and vice versa when subjected to certain temperatures, the technique of extraction with CO2, has incredible advantages, including the possibility of obtaining a final concentrate with about 10% more terpenes. On the negative side, the method requires the use of expensive equipment for technicians in the chemical industry that require a solid professional training due to the high risks associated (explosion, fire)..

The method is quite common in the medical field, where it is used to produce top quality cannabis concentrates, but given the skills required by the equipment involved in the process, we recommend you opt for another method unless you have the necessary technical skills.

Molecular Separation

This technique allows you to isolate the cannabinoids and terpenes of the plant separately, allowing you to avoid the degradation of the different molecules. The method is based on the use of a vacuum level of 0.01 mmHg (millimeters of mercury), which allows the low temperature distillation of substances with a high boiling point. Due to the fact that the molecules are not exposed to high temperatures for long periods of time, degradation of the compounds by the action of heat is avoided.

Now that a clearer idea about the different types of extractions that can be obtained from the cannabis plant, all that’s left is to wish you well.

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