What are Solventless Concentrates?
There are two primary methods of concentrating cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis: solvent-based (chemical) and solventless (mechanical) extractions. Let’s explore the differences together.
Solvent-based extractions are the most common way to extract cannabis. These methods gained popularity in the early 2000s and are still the most efficient method for large-scale commercial cannabis.
Chemical solvents like butane, CO2, propane, or ethanol are used to clear the plant of certain compounds and to separate out the cannabinoids and terpenes (aka the essential oils of the plant material). Through the use of a method called purging, chemical solvents either evaporate or naturally separate from the extract. Depending on the solvent, this can be done with a heated vacuum or water and vacuum process.
Solvent-based extracts can be found in products like rosin, vape cartridge oil, hash, capsules, tinctures, wax, shatter, and budder. When properly purged, most extracts only contain small trace amounts of solvents. This can sound scary, but the process is well regulated and has been used outside of the cannabis industry for decades. The State of Washington also has regulations covering the topic of allowable residual solvents, which helps concentrate producers maintain a level of consistency.
If you’ve seen “Solvent-Free” on a package, it doesn’t necessarily mean that solvents weren’t used during its production. If a majority of the remaining chemicals are removed during purging the product can be called “solvent-free” despite the fact that chemicals were originally present and used to extract.
Solventless extraction is the method of extracting the trichomes from a plant without ever using solvents. This type of extraction is done by using mechanical processes rather than chemicals to remove the trichomes from the plant. Mechanical separation methods tap into centrifugal action, gravity separation, and filtration, and can include the following:
- Sieving: put ground plant in a sieve in either a hand or mechanical tumbler and the screens remove the exposed trichomes.
- Ice-water method: put plant material, ice, and water together and shake! The trichome glands break off the plant and sink to the bottom of the container.
- Cold and warm press methods: use heat and pressure to remove cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant.
Solventless methods are generally inexpensive but lack the efficiencies required for large-scale commercial production. However, Solventless concentrates have taken off in popularity with medical and recreational folks alike at least in part due to the fact that solvents never touch the product.
Find Solventless Concentrates at Agate Dreams!
Solventless concentrates like hash, bubble hash, and rosin are all making a comeback in the cannabis industry and we almost always have some on our shelves if you’re ready to give them a try.
Look to brands like Astro Cannabis, Buddies, Green Rush, Just Cannabis, Sitka, and Skagit Organics. Still not sure where to start? Ask our Agate Dreams budtenders to help you find the best concentrate for you! No matter the extraction method, they’re here to help!
Curious about more concentrates 101? Talk to our crew or check out our other blog posts.