The cannabinoid extraction market is continuing to show strong growth and expansion. Although the traditional flower sales have been at the top of the market for many years, cannabis extracts are now catching up to the flower sales in some markets due to the increased demands for products that are derived from cannabis extractions.
Today, extraction technologies are split into 3 main categories. These technologies include unprocessed rosin, solvent-based extraction, and distillate. So, what are these technologies?
Rosin Extraction Technology
Rosin Extraction Technology is the most straightforward and is the combination of heat and immense pressure to extract cannabis resin from the base plant material. There are high amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes in the resin and the final extract will vary in colour, clarity, and consistency depending on the temperature and pressure used.
During the production process, there are no solvents or additives required as rosin has little to no risk of contamination. The heat and pressure used are able to respond to the differences between each batch of plant material. Out of the three technologies, rosin is the most affordable. It requires no special handling as there are no volatile solvents or serious safety concerns.
Solvent Based Extraction
The solvent extraction technologies have been on the market the longest and most extracts sold come from solvent-based extraction techniques. Kalmex Inc. uses water and a certified non-GMO ethanol solvent derived from sugar/grains to create organic full spectrum extracts. Kalmex has identified a huge demand, globally, for pure CBD and other extracts which will outpace current market production levels for the remainder of the decade; resulting in highly profitable processing opportunities to service the need for medical-grade extracts, which include Full Terpene, Flavonoid, and Cannabinoid Profile.
The solvent-based extraction system can completely recycle valuable solvents, making it cost-efficient. Butane and ethanol or CO2 are also used to pump through a closed-loop system. Through this process, solvents are flushed through a high-pressure chamber which washes the cannabinoids and terpenes from the flower. Once this process is complete, the solvent is evaporated off. The cannabinoid and terpene extracts are then pumped out.
Unlike Rosin Extraction, it’s much more challenging to preserve a replica of the plant with solvent-based extractions. During the extraction process, if the petrochemicals are mishandled, they can become extremely dangerous. Producers have to follow strict protocols and build specialized facilities for the extraction process.
Distillation and Isolate Extraction Technology
Cannabis distillates and isolates are the fundamental ingredients for cannabis medicine and pharmaceutical research. This process is highly technical and takes advantage of different boiling points for cannabinoids and terpenes. In a closed-loop vacuum system, crude cannabis needs to reach specific boiling points that targets distinct compounds. Once evaporation has occurred, the vapour is then condensed into a chamber to form a pure cannabinoid extraction. There are many systems from short path distillation to flash chromatography.
The benefits of a distillate extraction are the potency and purity produced. This market for distillates will continue to grow as cannabis is added to more products and pharmaceutical formulations.
Each extraction technology has found a place in the industry and at its core, extraction technology aims to concentrate the medical and recreation value of compounds from raw plant material. Each technology produces a different final product, from full-spectrum to 99.9% pure cannabinoid isolates.