Glossary of Common Cannabis Extract Terms
While the process of creating a quality cannabis extract is pure science, there are several different methods and techniques you can take to get to the end result. Some people try one technique, stick with it and perfect it. Others jump around, trying different methods until they find the system that works best for them and the product they want to create. We felt a glossary of common terms and products used in the cannabis extraction process could be highly beneficial, no matter whether you’ve perfected your system or are still searching for the right technique. NOTE: As always, it’s worth mentioning that the vast majority of the chemicals listed below are not safe for consumption due to their toxicity. When working with solvents and chemicals, safety should always be kept to the highest standard. Many chemicals used to create cannabis extracts are also highly flammable and should only be handled by professionals. Acetone – Acetone’s chief role in the cannabis extraction process is to serve as a cleaning agent for your product. It can be used as an alternative to ISO but, due to its flammability, should only be used in commercial extraction processes by those with experience. Activated Alumina – Activated Alumina is an ideal chemical for use as part of your filtration process. During winterization, it is adept at pulling the unwanted fats, chlorophyll, wax and color from your cannabis extracts. Activated Hardwood Carbon – This is basically another term for powdered charcoal, which is used in filtration techniques. It’s also popularly used as an adsorbent scrubber in a wide array of cannabis extract processes including distillation, pesticide removal, color removal, wax purification, odor elimination and general improvement of the extract. Activated hardwood carbon is noted for its neutral pH. Chromatography – A process used to separate THC and CBD. Citric Acid – If you need to reduce the pH of your solution, citric acid can often do the trick. Crystallization – A method in which solvents, low pressure and heat are applied to a target, promoting solidification to achieve a higher purity. Degumming – The process of removing gums and phosphitides from a cannabis extract. Denatured Ethanol with N-Heptane – When Denatured Ethanol is mixed with N-Heptane, it becomes a high-quality solvent for cannabis extraction, particularly when cleansing the extract during winterization. Denatured Ethanol with N-Heptane is praised for its thorough evaporation with no residual taste. Distillation – A process of purifying cannabis extracts through controlled heating and cooling. Enzyme – Often used as a degumming agent, enzymes are comprised of phospholipase. They can efficiently break down triglycerides, sugar lipids, and gums such as phospholipids. Carbon Chemistry suggests using 2g of enzyme per 1kg of oil with a 7.5 water pH at 40°C. Ethanol – High proof ethanol is often used as a polar washing agent during cannabis extraction. It can also be useful during the winterization process. High proof ethanol is always recommended with the 200% proof ethanol being less polar than the 190% proof. Polarity can affect a variety of chemical properties including melting point, solubility and surface tension. Ethylene Glycol – This is an inhibited chemical, sometimes referred to as 2-Ethanediol, popularly used in extraction chillers. Isopropyl Alcohol – A popular cleaning solution and solvent for cannabis extracts, isopropyl alcohol is also often used for winterization. Offering a 99% USP, it’s sometimes referred to as 2-Propanol. MagSil PR – Providing an efficient means of removing pesticides from cannabis extracts, MagSil PR is prominently used during oil purification as a packing agent in columns. This activated magnesium silicate is sometimes used in chromatography processes as a stationary phase. MagSil PR can also be used to remove color. Methanol – Sometimes referred to as Methyl Alcohol, this pure solvent is used as an antifreeze during winterization. Molecular Sieve Beads – Used in the refining process of cannabis extraction, molecular sieve beads come in varying pore sizes (the beads offered through our site are approximately 10A pore size). The porous nature of molecular sieve beads allows them to co-adsorb diverse chemicals such as H2O, CO2, H2S and chlorine compounds. However, the beads must be dried and reactivated between use. Since molecular sieve beads can adsorb chlorine compounds, they can also be somewhat effective in treating extracts for pesticides. You can also prevent your product from sticking to glass until it cools down by simply adding sieve beads to your flask. N-Heptane – A non-polar solvent, N-Heptane is used for cleaning cannabis extracts during extraction and crystallization processes. It’s valued during crystallization for offering premium control due to its single-molecule structure. N-Pentane – Another solvent that is commonly used during cannabis extraction and crystallization processes. Silica Gel – Silica Gel is a powder frequently used in column chromatography as a stationary phase. Specifically, it excels at separating portions of compounds that are travelling through the stationary phase. Silica gel powder is mixed directly into the solvent. Then, the solvent is drained leaving the silica behind in the column. Sodium Bicarbonate – Used to increase pH, sodium bicarbonate is typically used following bleaching scrub processes. T-5 – T-5 is a type of activated bentonite clay with a neutral pH that is used in the filtering process of cannabis extraction. This type of bentonite clay can be used in a wide variety of techniques including winterization, pesticide extraction, distillation, purification and general improvement of the cannabis extract. T-5 is used as an alternative to Celite 545 as well as diatomaceous earth. T-5 is favored for quick, efficient filtering and low occurrences of clogging. T-41 – T-41 is an acid-activated form of bentonite clay that is most popularly used in scrubbing and bleaching processes but can also be utilized in a myriad of techniques including pesticide extraction, preparation for distillation, purification, and odor reduction. T-41 is also noted for its low pH and its carbon content. Thermoltec HTF – Used during the distillation process, Thermoltec HTF is a form of white mineral oil that can be used as a transfer fluid in extreme heat (315°C). It acts as a heat jacket when inserted into the wiper or reactor body. Thermoltec HTF is prized for its cost-effectiveness. Winterization – A technique that removes waxes and lipids from cannabis extracts by dissolving the non-polar oil into a polar solvent in sub-zero conditions.