Cannabis flower was once the go-to when you needed to medicate. Consumers can now choose several different forms of edibles, extracts, concentrates, and other cannabis-infused products.
Ethanol extraction has become an increasingly popular extraction method used to create such products. It is one of the 3 main types of extraction, besides CO2 and butane extraction.
Each producer uses its own extraction method based on cost, efficiency, and other factors. But, many extractors these days are using ethanol as a solvent to strip cannabis material from their preferred chemical compounds.
Ethanol extraction, as mentioned, is a growing cannabis extraction method. Now it is used for mass production of cannabis extracts, oils, and more infused products.
Here’s your complete guide to ethanol extraction and how it works.
What Is Ethanol?
Ethanol, often referred to as ethyl or grain alcohol, is a colorless and flammable liquid. It is used to create gasoline, solvents, paints, food additives, and many beauty products. Those who have consumed beer, wine, or spirits have likely had ethyl alcohol in their system.
Also, ethanol is utilized for extracting chemical compounds from the cannabis plant.
It is fermented from various sources and then refined. Corn happens to be the most preferred feedstock for ethanol production. And as for the other sources, you have wheat, barley, sugar cane, potatoes, grain sorghum, and so on.
Because ethanol is extracted from the plant material, it’s often considered an efficient, renewable source for energy.
The FDA stated that ethanol (C2H6O) has been rated as Class 3 solvent, meaning there’s little to no toxic hazards when applied to pharmaceutical manufacturing, especially where the residual goes under 5% or 5,000ppm.
Ethanol Extraction — The Process
Ethanol extraction is performed using alcohol as a solvent. Compared to other solvents like butane, the advantage here is that ethanol extraction poses almost zero risks of toxicity to the user.
Oftentimes, alcohol is used as a solvent. Unlike CO2 extraction, the ethanol extraction method can be performed without using expensive machinery. You could most definitely do it at home, but machines for ethanol extraction would provide a higher-quality product.
Because ethanol is considered a plant-based solvent, experts consider ethanol cannabis extraction to be the safest, most efficient method of keeping the plant’s chemical ratios steady. In the ethanol extraction process, cannabis is soaked in ethanol, then left to sit for a specific period (typically for 60 minutes). Because it is a bipolar solvent—it can mix with elements that do and do not blend perfectly with water— it is known to be a much more effective solvent than CO2.
Once the specified time passes, the plant material is eliminated from the container. As for the next step, the use of evaporation is implemented in order to remove the alcohol and purify the remaining liquid.
The downside? Because ethanol pulls all types of materials from the cannabis plant, at-home production will generally provide a bitter-tasting product, one that is a bit darker green color.
Ethanol is highly flammable, which is why this method must be utilized with extreme caution. For instance, the temperature must be carefully regulated during the whole process, especially during evaporation. While advanced machines can easily control this, people considering this method as a DIY-home trick should be careful.
Ethanol Extraction — The Benefits
Many manufacturers believe that ethanol has significant advantages over carbon dioxide and butane extraction methods. Although ethanol extraction has its fair share of limitations, like all the other popular solvents, this process all-but-eliminates the presence of residual solvents in the final product.
In addition, ethanol extraction provides manufacturers the ability to eliminate terpenes and cannabinoids efficiently to create products, such as THCA crystals.
When it comes to costs, ethanol extraction is both a cost-effective and safer option for manufacturers, especially those seeking a big yield. If performed under the perfect conditions, ethanol extraction is safe to work with.
Modern ethanol extraction equipment can be easily automated and controlled via a digital interface with little intervention. Moreover, closed-loop systems can prevent any fire hazards or solvent leaks.
Unlike other extraction processes, ethanol extraction has a lower startup expense in terms of labor, equipment, and throughput. The best part? Ethanol-based products tend to retain a high purity (nearly 90%). When warm extraction techniques are used, decarboxylation is able to create ready-to-use products.
In today’s growing cannabis market, extraction companies have an important role to play in making high-quality cannabis-infused goods. There are many different techniques of cannabis extraction, as we mentioned earlier, but each has its pros and cons. Speaking of which, here is why ethanol cannabis extraction successfully stands out:
- Easily scalable
- Inexpensive equipment
- The facility is cost-effective compared to hydrocarbons
- Less power-intensive as opposed to CO2
- Fast and efficient extractions – recommended for distillate items
If you have any thoughts or suggestions, feel free to leave us a comment down below.