With so many extract varieties on the market, it can sometimes prove difficult to educate consumers on how to find the right product for their cannabis needs. For this reason, we are launching an educational series focused on different extract types, in an effort to help educate and inform. In this post we will be shining a light on our preferred method of extraction.
Quick note: While the term BHO is a popular one in the extract market, it is a bit limiting. We prefer to use the term hydrocarbon extraction, or HCE, as it encompasses BHO production methods, as well as many other methods involving hydrocarbons such as propane, methane, etc.
HCE utilizes hydrocarbons as solvents to strip cannabis of its key intoxicating compounds. These compounds include, but are not limited to, THC, CBD, and terpenes. The process starts with loading cannabis material (known as the “input”) into a tank (known as the “column”). The next step is the “washing” phase, where the input is combined with low amounts of pressure and the chosen solvent(s) in a chilled state. This leaves a crude version of extract, which is then refined by getting rid of any possible plant material, such as chlorophyll and plant wax.
A Deeper Dive Into HCE
This extract is further refined by a method called purging, which removes all of the remaining solvent from the crude oil. This is often repeated multiple times, though it varies from extraction to extraction and producer to producer. There are myriad of different purging processes, and when combined with a variety of finishing techniques, can lead to wildly different extract consistencies (shatter, wax, crumble, etc).
Interestingly enough, different consistencies of HCE can lead to different cannabinoid and terpene profiles, and even different experiences. We will be explaining this further in later blog posts, so be sure to check back regularly!
HCE can be thought of as a “pressure cooker” method, meaning that it takes much less time to perform the initial extraction when compared to other methods. The quickness of the process allows HCE to be much more efficient in preserving cannabinoids and terpenes, which are infamously delicate and volatile. When done properly, HCE leads to a final product that closely matches the profile of cannabis from which it is extracted. HCE generally has a higher cannabinoid content than extract made from other solvents, and often has a higher (and much more accurate) terpene profile.
Though this is a very limited introduction to hydrocarbon extraction, it should operate as a good gateway into getting to know the products in your local dispensary. Be sure to check for spectrum of extracts that we offer, and feel free let us know what you like best in the comments!