What are the Different Kinds of Hemp Extraction Processes?

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(Newswire.net — October 31, 2018) — Hemp extraction can produce a wide variety of distinctive benefits for consumers and, as time goes on, scientists are continuing to discover new methods for producing the best results possible. Though all hemp extractions are derived from the same cannabis plant, there are many different ways in which this can be done. This article will explore the different forms of hemp extraction and discuss which ones are the most appropriate for consumers.

The primary focus of hemp extraction—as opposed to traditional cannabis consumption methods—is to offer consumers the greatest concentration of effective cannabinoids possible. Cannabinoids are naturally occurring compounds that can directly interact with the human body. The most commonly known cannabinoid is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is recognized for its intense psychoactive effects. Other common cannabinoids include CBD (cannabidiol), CBN, CBC, and many others. Because the hemp extraction process yields concentrate, consumers are able to enjoy the same effects while consuming significantly smaller amounts. Additionally, the hemp extraction process is something that can promise much purer outcomes.


Solvents versus Solventless

Generally speaking, there are two primary categories of cannabis concentrates. Solvents are substances that are capable of dissolving in a solid. This results in a liquid solution. Solvents are usually created using propane, CO2, butane, or other comparable substances. Solventless concentrates, on the other hand, do not introduce any other substance other than water. Though the final products formed by these processes may seem to be rather comparable at first, the differences between them can have a major impact on purity, consistency, and overall content.

Cannabis extracts are often described as shatter, wax, budder, and numerous varieties of consistency. But, in many ways, consistency is something that can be easily altered. In fact, using a process such as CO2 extraction can actually produce numerous different varieties of extracts. Usually, the components of the extraction process that are considered to be the most important are the specific extraction method used (and thus, the foreign chemicals that are introduced) as well as the quality of the cannabis that is actually being extracted from.

Typically, the solvent based extraction process produces a final product that is referred to as “oil.” Many people prefer consuming oil extracts because it can be cleanly vaporized in a way that produces very little residue. Examples of Solventless extracts include butane hash oil (BHO), propane hash oil (PHO), CO2 extracts, isolates, and numerous others. 

Butane Hash Oil (BHO)

In most states where all forms of cannabis extracts are completely legal, butane hash oil is the most popular concentrate available on the market. BHO is made by putting (cannabis) plant material in a large column that has a filtration screen at the end. The butane then passes through the column and separates the bulk of the plant material from its cannabinoids and terpenes. The solution is then heated to the point of evaporation which helps remove the butane as well as any other unwanted substances.


By the end of the process, there is almost no butane left in the substance, creating an end product that is generally considered to be quite pure. In fact, many states actually require a certain level of purity (as in, lack of butane) in order for the product to be sold to the public. Butane is popular because it can produce extracts in a wide variety of consistencies including shatter, budder, sap, and sugar.

Propane Hash Oil (PHO)

Typically, the consistency that is produced using a propane hash oil process is known as budder, but it is possible to produce other consistencies as well. Just as butane, chemically speaking, has many similarities with propane, the BHO and PHO processes are also remarkably similar to one another. The primary difference between these processes is that the PHO extraction process occurs at higher temperatures. On the other hand, the boiling point for propane is actually lower.

Due to the fact that higher temperatures will strip away different components of the cannabis plant, the end product is distinctively different. The PHO extraction process can often produce higher levels of terpene preservation when done correctly. In order to blend the apparent benefits of both processes together, some manufacturers will actually use a mixture of both butane and propane.


CO2 Concentrates

If you have ever seen someone consuming cannabis extracts from a vaporized pen cartridge, then the substance they are consuming was very likely produced using the CO2 concentrate extraction process. Though BHO extracts are typically the most popular, many people prefer CO2 concentrates because they are generally considered to be the safest. The unique properties of CO2 extraction offers a very clean product that is rid of essentially all bacteria, residuals, and sources of toxicity. This is not to suggest that the other products are unsafe, but the differences between these processes are very important to some consumers.

Usually CO2 concentrates will be delivered in a plastic syringe and will have a golden coloration. But, for those who are willing to pay more, secondary extraction processes can help increase the level of cannabinoids in the final product and also offer superior levels of purity.


Isolates are produced using a process known as fractional distillation. Because various cannabinoids have distinctively different boiling points, a batch of “full spectrum” oil can be boiled in order to separate the distinctive fractions of the original substance. While the cannabis plant naturally contains many different cannabinoids—in fact, there are currently 113 different cannabinoids that are recognized by scientists—being able isolate them allows producers to create the exact distribution of cannabinoids they were hoping for.

Usually, the isolation process is focused on creating the highest levels of concentrates available. For example, some isolated extracts are able to achieve an impressive CBD level as high as 99%. One of the most popular varieties of isolates is known as THC Free Isolates. As the name might imply, the primary goal of these isolates is to remove THC to the greatest extent possible. Though 100% THC free isolates may cost more than comparable alternatives, they have become quite popular because of their purity and the fact that they can be legally possessed in a much wider number of states.

Full Spectrum Distillates

Full spectrum distillates are made using a process similar to the one mentioned above, but instead of focusing on isolation as an end result, producers focus on balancing different cannabinoids in order to achieve optimal results. A full spectrum distillate may include any number of cannabinoids including CBD, CBN, CBC, and many others. When multiple different cannabinoids are maintained in the same substance, consumers can benefit from an interactive synergy of ingredients known in the industry as the “entourage effect.” When compared to other distillates, full spectrum distillates are often among the most frequently recommended by industry experts.


Solventless Extractions

Many individuals prefer to consume solventless extracts because, instead of using chemicals such as butane or CO2, the only outside substance that is introduced is water. This process creates a final product that many people claim to be much purer than others. Solventless extracts require more steps to create and, because of this, they are often more expensive. However, for those who are obsessed with purity as many in the cannabis industry are, the increase in price may be worth it.

Currently, there are many different varieties of solventless extracts available on the market.

  • Dry Sift is created using numerous different screens in order to separate the trichome head (the most potent part of the cannabis plant) from the rest of the plant
  • Ice water hash is similar to dry sift but it uses ice water to help refine the substance even further
  • Rosin tech (aka solventless has oil) has become quite popular because it is the safest way for consumers to make oils on their own

The differences between solvents and solventless extracts—as well as the differences between each variety of these—may seem to be rather small at first. However, in an industry that has become obsessed with attention to detail, understanding the differences between these substances can be very important. With a firm understanding of the current options available on the market, it will ultimately be much easier to know which hemp extract is right for you.