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Essential alcohol-based extraction FAQ

 

Do you provide an Operating Manual and Customer Service?

Yes. A detailed E-Manual is supplied and Customer Service is always only an email, text or phone call away.

 

What’s the difference between “Extraction”, “Filtration” and “Concentration”?

All of the above are parts of a multi-step process that ends with a final form of extract.

Step 1: Extraction is the first step where the alcohol dissolves the essential oils and target compounds from the biomass. Often, the alcohol and biomass are pre-cooled in a freezer (or with dry ice) to minus 15C or lower, and then mixed to allow the alcohol to dissolve the target compounds. Cold alcohol/biomass is used to minimize the extraction of wax, fats and chlorophyll. This part of the overall process is called the “wash” and there are often two washes per batch of biomass. Primary variables affecting the wash are: alcohol temperature (often between minus 10C and minus 40C); mixing time (often between 30 seconds to 60 minutes); and biomass “texture” (the biomass should be pulled apart by hand – using a blender/grinder is NOT recommended as it will rupture cell walls causing the release of more undesirable fats/lipids/chlorophyll into the extract). Then the mixture is coarse-filtered to remove large particles whereafter the mixture is put back in the freezer to re-cool to cause any waxes and fats to harden and separate, leaving the target compounds dissolved in the alcohol. At this point the extraction part of the process is complete and nothing from the System has been involved. The colour and wax/lipid content of the extract is determined by this step and has nothing to do with the System.

Step 2: Filtration is where the System involvement begins with the unwanted fats, waxes and fine particles being removed using a process called Winterization. Once the coarse-filtered mixture from Step 1 has been subjected to cold freezer temperature for 24 hours the waxes/fats will have hardened and can be filtered out using the System’s Filter Base. A filter paper is positioned on the Filter Base and the Lid is attached – there is a rubber seal that keeps any solution from bypassing the filter. The Lid/Filter Base are mounted on top of the Boiler. The suction hose is attached to the Lid with the open end of the hose placed in the cold to-be-filtered mixture. The vacuum is started and the cold mixture is sucked through the filter in the Filter Base. The fats/waxes and fine particles are captured by the filter and the clarified solution accumulates in the Boiler. The clarified solution may be re-cooled and/or filtered multiple times using various filter media before moving to Step 3.

Step 3: Concentration – the Lid is removed from the Vacuum Base and installed on the Boiler. Vacuum and heat are applied and the boil-off/recovery of the alcohol begins. This boil-off/recovery is where the concentration happens. The boil-off time is dependent on the amount of alcohol in the Boiler – typically the rate is approx. 1hr/gallon. After the alcohol has been boiled-off/recovered, the concentrated extract is retrieved from the boiler for use. At this point there will still be some residual alcohol in the extract and this residual alcohol can stop the extract from hardening. If the desired end result is a hard, “taffy-like” extract/concentrate, the residual alcohol needs to be removed using a process called “purging”.

Step 4: Purging – this is done by applying gentle heat and vacuum over a long period of time. The System’s Boiler and vacuum pump are controlled by timers that automatically apply heat and vacuum at specified intervals over the purge period – often between 8-96 hours.

 

What can I use the Essential system for?

Essential can be used for extraction/concentration of all sorts of essential oils from all types ofbiomass. Anything that can be dissolved in alcohol can be concentrated.

 

What type of extracts/concentrates are produced?

Typical extracts are concentrated forms of essential oils. Depending on how you run the extract/filter/purge, these extracts can present as shatters, budders, waxes, or oils.

 

Why is this system better than the EtOH Pro by ExtractCraft?

a) No need to set temperature to compensate for altitude;

b) auto-shutdown – set and walk-away possible;

c) built-in, micron-level filter – no need for a separate buchner-type filter apparatus;

d) included purge lid means no optional purge lid is required;

e) large capacity, dual collector jars – means less swapping during concentration.

     Also minimizes vapour contamination of third-party vacuum pump oil;

g) optional expansion ring allows for larger third-party boilers;

h) includes a primary filter bag and high-walled silicone purging tray;

i) fully-adjustable purge conditions (temp/time) with walk-away, auto shut-off;

j) lower price;

k) highly-discounted upgrade path to a CO2-based extractor.

 

What types of alcohol can be used?

95-100% ethanol is recommended. 95-100% isopropyl alcohol can also be used. Alcohol purity is important as water will pull out chlorophyll that will cause extracts to become “green”.

 

Does the system operate under vacuum?

Yes. Operating under vacuum lowers the boiling point of the alcohol, reduces the thermal stress on the extract, and assists recovered alcohol flow through the Condenser. A lower boiling point means less heat is transferred to the Condenser and this lessens the amount of alcohol vapours that pass through the system pump, maximizing the alcohol recovery. Ethanol boils at 78.4C at sea level but when 50% vacuum is applied, the boiling point will fall to approx. 62C (144F). Higher vacuum will cause the boiling point to fall even further. Vacuum causes ALL boiling points to decrease, both alcohol and terpenes. See the following chart:

Vapor Pressure of Liquids MedXtractor
 

The system’s mini-vacuum pump will usually operate between -14mmHG and -20mmHG while alcohol recovery is running. This can reduce the ethanol boiling point from approx. 80C (176F) to approx. 62C (144F). When purging the mini-vacuum pump will pull up to -20mmHG. If a stronger vacuum is desired, there are many third-party vacuum pumps available on Amazon that can be connected to the System’s external vacuum port.

 

Does altitude affect the boiling point?

Yes. Because all boiling points naturally decrease as altitude increases, adding vacuum lowers the air pressure and this produces the same affect as increasing altitude, i.e. higher vacuum produces lower boiling points. When boiling alcohol, the boiling temperature of the alcohol cannot be exceeded until all of the alcohol is evaporated. Think of boiling water – water boils at 212F (100C) and no matter how high you set your heat at, the water temperature will not go above 212F when boiling. If you add vacuum, the boiling point will decrease and the boiling temperature will not exceed the lowered boiling point. It works the same way for alcohol. This said, more heat will increase the rate of evaporation and it will take less time to “evaporate-off” a given volume of alcohol.  Because of this natural phenomenon there is no need to set temperature for specific altitudes.

 

Will the Boiler automatically shut off?

Yes. Once the alcohol is boiled off, the rising temperature will trigger an automatic Boiler shut off. Additional protection is provided by a system timer that shuts everything down after an operator-set time period.

 

Are the terpenes (“terps”) affected by the Boiler heat?

Somewhat. Although the temperature in the upper Boiler doesn’t get high enough to vaporize the terps, the temperature at the point of contact of the heating element with the stainless steel container can become hot enough to vaporize some terps that can then become “entrained” in the hot alcohol vapour and be carried to the Collector Jars where they become dissolved in the cooled alcohol as it reverts back to liquid. This means some terpenes may be present in the first part of the recovered alcohol. Terpenes are more likely to be lost during purging when heat and vacuum are applied over long periods of time (sometimes days). This chart shows the vaporization points of some common terpenes:

common terpenes MedXtractor
 

Does the extract become “decarbed” in the Boiler?

Not to any great extent.  The alcohol recovery operates at a maximum of 65C (150F) and you can see on the following chart that decarbing occurs at significantly higher temperatures, and over longer exposures to heat. Boiler temperature never gets high enough for long enough to cause any significant level of decarbing. Following is a common decarb chart.

decarb chart MedXtractor
 

How long does the alcohol recovery take?

Alcohol recovery rate is up to ~1 gallon (~4 litres) per hour.

 

How much space does it take?

Minimum size is 2′ X 2′ but we recommend a table that is at least 4′ X 2′ in size.

 

How long is the warranty?

6 months.

 

Do you offer expedited and International shipping?

Yes. Please contact the Company for rates.

 

Can I return it?

Yes. Within 14 days of receipt, at the buyers expense and subject to a 20% restocking charge. Returns require a Return Merchandise Authorization (“RMA” – contact the Company) and must be sent back completely cleaned, undamaged, in the original packaging and at the buyer’s expense. Any damage will cause an additional re-stocking charge that will be dependent on the damage.

 

Can I trade it in for a Medxtractor CO2-based extractor?

Yes. We will apply 50% of your ExtractCraft EtOH Pro purchase price toward the purchase of a Disruptor 16 CO2-based extractor, and 50% of your purchase price of a Source Turbo against any of our extractors. You must send your trade-in to us, fully-cleaned, in the original packaging and at your own expense.

 

Can I trade in my ExtractCraft Source Turbo or EtOH Pro?

Yes. We will apply 50% of your ExtractCraft EtOH Pro purchase price toward the purchase of a Disruptor 16 CO2-based extractor, and 50% of your purchase price of a Source Turbo against any of our extractors. You must send your trade-in to us, fully-cleaned, in the original packaging and at your own expense.

 

How does the filter work?

The filter is an enclosed vacuum chamber that allows the operator to apply a variety of filtration levels using commonly-available, large surface area, 185mm filter papers and is designed to vacuum-filter the winterized mixtures from any size container holding the mixture. A clamped rubber seal prevents any to-be-filtered solution from bypassing the filter.

 

How does the Purge function work?

The Timers are used to “pulse” heat and maintain vacuum. This keeps the vacuum level as high as possible and the heat as low as desired. The Timers are fully adjustable by the Operator.

 

Can the purge process run unattended?

Yes. Two timers are provided to control the Boiler heat interval/purge time frame and the other controls the vacuum application during the purge period. Purging can be set to run for extended periods (or days) as desired and the Operator can be absent during the purge.

 

Do I need a separate vacuum pump?

No. However, while the system’s mini-vacuum pump is sufficient for system operation, there are some benefits to connecting a third-party vacuum pump to the system’s external vacuum port:

a) during the alcohol recovery – the boil temperature can be reduced by higher average vacuum. This adds to the efficiency of the alcohol recovery and also further minimizes potential thermal degradation of the extract;

b) during filtering – the flow rate through the filter can be accelerated by higher vacuum;

c) purging – a more complete purge can be accomplished in a shorter time using higher vacuum.

 

Does the system have protection against sucking vacuum pump oil from a third-party pump back into the system?

Yes. There is an inline mechanism to prevent this from happening.