With the advancement in science and technology, extraction industries have released many new technologies. Every new technology claims to be the best new thing in the extraction industry. You may have seen technologies, but you would not have an idea of science and why each method has limitations and benefits. Just like other extraction methods, ethanol extraction also has some pros and cons. In this article, you will get a brief note on why ethanol extraction is favored by some producers and what are its advantages and disadvantages of it.
Why producers favor ethanol extraction?
One of the main reasons why many producers choose ethanol extraction over others is that the process of its method is cheaper than others. Co-founder of Scientia lab, ROBIN TORF, explained analytical cannabis. Producers prefer ethanol extraction because it generally has the lowest electrical costs per pound. Similarly, it has a lower labor cost per pound of biomass. It is considered the cheapest equipment scale when safety concerns are taken into consideration.
Apart from the lowest rates, ethanol extraction extracts a broad range of compounds from the plant rather than another solvent. Cost-effectiveness and extract profile are the two major factors when producers favored ethanol extraction over others.
What type of ethanol extraction is used in cannabis applications?
If you have decided to use ethanol in your extraction, the next step for you is to choose the method which suits you the most. Here, I am going to list some types of methods with their pros and cons. You can choose the one which suits you the most.
Room temperature and cold ethanol extraction:
Room temperature and cold ethanol extraction follow the same basic steps. The only difference that varies in them is their temperature which yields different results. If you want to use these ethanol extractions, you do not require to use heavy specialized equipment to carry out the process. Following are the simple steps involved in the process.
- Place a raw cannabis plant material in a suitable vessel. You can place it inside a bag (consider a large teabag). Completely cover the plant with ethanol and left it to soak. The time requires to soak is depends on the ethanol temperature and desired profile of the product.
- Soaking ethanol will solubilize the cannabinoids, including THC and CBD. It also solubilizes the other compounds present in the plant-like terpenes, pigments, and plant lipids. Quantities of these compounds depend on the temperature of ethanol and various plant aspects like strain, plant part, and the condition of raw material.
- Once you are done with the soaking process, separate the ethanol solution from the plant material. If you are using a bag, then the step would be very simple, as if removing the bag from the vessel. If you are using a loose plant, then filtration would be applied.
- These steps depend on few factors like the temperature of ethanol to make a desired final product. For instance, a winterization step is used to remove undesirable plant lipids from the extract. If you are using cold ethanol, then the solution will be accepted as it is.
- Now remove the ethanol from the extract. This process is carried out by vacuum distillation in a rotatory evaporator. If you are doing a large-scale production, then you can use a falling film evaporator in this process.
- These are the methods that are generally used to remove ethanol from the extract, but it depends on you which method you choose. Other options which you can choose are a vacuum oven and a hotplate stirrer.
Extracting the ethanol at room temperature helps the extractor to achieve a robust plant profile, this way, you do not require heating and cooling equipment. While explaining the benefits of room temperature extraction, TORF revealed that it costs lower equipment and gives a fuller product profile. These two factors influence to choose the room temperature ethanol over others.
Warm ethanol extraction
Warm and hot ethanol extraction requires a special type of equipment. One of the most popular methods which are used to carry out this process is the Soxhlet technique. In this method, the raw plant material is placed in a special piece of equipment which is called a soxhlet extractor. The process takes place by passing the material multiple times, and the solvent is recycled numerous times. After the extraction process, additional steps such as winterization are carried out as needed, and a rotatory evaporator removes the ethanol. If you want a full-spectrum extract, the warm ethanol extraction will solubilize a broad range of compounds from the plant matter. This means it's a good choice to use a warm ethanol extraction. If you find some undesirable compounds in your extraction, you can easily remove them, but it will require multiple steps, and the process would be longer than usual.