Over the ages, alcohol was the main solvent for plant extraction. Using ethanol for botanical processing is nothing new. In fact, it can even be regarded as an ancient technique.
Our ancestors would take cannabis leaves, soak them into alcohol, and would leave them there for a while. Even the alcohol is the same as the product you can buy today from the Simple Solvents store.
Although we haven't used this method for a while (due to cannabis illegality), solvent extraction has become popular once again. Keep in mind that the creation of any hemp or marijuana product starts with oil extraction. Whether you're creating gummies, CBD capsules, creams, or something else, you would first need to extract CBD oil from the plant and then infuse it in an appropriate vessel.
While alcohol extraction is a rather simple process, and everyone can do it, you can get variable results with this method. Occasionally, you might even destroy cannabinoid substances.
Perhaps, some plant material will remain within the oil. This is why extraction needs to be performed by a chemical veteran.
Ethanol extraction and CBD
Ethanol extraction is a pretty simple process that can be done with minimal knowledge and investment. However, if you wish to get better results, you would need some expertise.
During the process, a company will take pure naphtha, grain alcohol, or isopropyl. They will soak cured plant matter into one of these liquids.
After that, a manufacturer will remove the plant matter from alcohol by either purifying or evaporating the liquid. In the end, you will get high-quality CBD oil.
While you can make various ethanol extracts with this procedure, it is mainly performed for cannabis. It is perhaps the optimal way of creating CBD oil as it is not very expensive, and if done right, it can give you a high-quality substance.
Cannabis alcohol extraction is especially good for larger companies as it scales well.
Why do we use ethanol for extraction?
Chemicals within ethanol make it an ideal solvent for extracting substances from plants. It is an old process that was first mentioned in the American Pharmacopeia, which was published back in 1851. Even then, people knew how to get valuable matters from this plant by utilizing alcohol.
Although the cannabis extraction process has become more advanced since then, it still comes down to the same principles. Cannabinoids can be dissolved in this liquid at a 1 to 1 ratio.
In other words, 1g of CBD or THC is soluble in 1ml of alcohol. When you rinse the active ingredients from hemp or marijuana, aromatic chemicals will be retained.
How safe is alcohol extraction?
Alcohol is a substance that was rarely prohibited throughout human history. Even now, the US FDA considers it as a safe chemical compound.
You can use the liquid to create various drinks and for creating food-grade products. Furthermore, the substance is often utilized as a food additive, and if you check labels of some common groceries, you will likely notice alcohol on the list.
Based on that, processing food with alcohol will also be safe. Even if you were to do it yourself, in the comfort of your own home, there shouldn't be too many issues. The process is pretty simplistic and straightforward and, if you're careful, nothing should go wrong.
The great thing about ethanol extraction is that you don't need expensive equipment to perform the process. This makes it very different from propane, butane, and CO2 extraction. On top of that, alcohol is much easier for storing, and you can buy it almost anywhere. Regular grain alcohol should do the trick if you want to perform this procedure at home.
Of course, there will be a few precautionary measures you will need to take. For example, you shouldn't set alcohol on fire, and you would need to have proper ventilation. However, all of these things are common sense, and no one should make sure mistakes.
What are the main issues with alcohol extraction?
Perhaps the biggest issue with this extraction method comes in the form of ethanol’s polarity. In other words, this alcohol is a polar solvent.
This means that it will do a great job separating plant matter from its oil. At the same time, it will also be able to dissolve water-soluble molecules.
One of these molecules is chlorophyll. So, when you make the substance at home, you will notice bitter flavor and dark coloration. This is because chlorophyll was dissolved into the oil.
At the same time, ethanol's polarity can also bring about some positive things. In other words, it will create a complete full-spectrum extract.
Otherwise, chlorophyll is always lost during post-processing. By having chlorophyll on top of all other cannabis chemicals, you will be able to achieve full "entourage effect."
In other words, all these substances that remain within the oil have a synergetic effect and would provide an even better boost to your wellbeing.
Is ethanol extraction better or worse than CO2 extraction?
A lot of manufacturers prefer CO2 extraction due to its purity and the fact that the plant material will be intact. In many ways, CO2 and ethanol extraction are very similar.
Both of them work by rinsing trichomes and dissolving planter material. What makes CO2 stand out is that it relies on compression.
During the process, this molecule will become a supercritical fluid, a substance that is gas and liquid at the same time. When the substance becomes like this, it will be able to break down all the plant matter.
Ethanol extraction is important for water-soluble chemicals. As mentioned, it will give us other plant materials that couldn't be extracted with other processes.
Their combination would contribute to the entourage effect. Although this process will not create the same slurry as CO2 extraction, it will still lead to the creation of thick concentrate.
If you wish to get the best results possible, make sure to buy pure ethanol from the Simple Solvents store.