Questions & Answers
Frequently Asked Question
How does it work?
Our extractors use an elegant patent-pending process employing heat differentials to control the extraction process. This eliminates the need for expensive mechanical pumps and specialized infrastructure. This results in a price a craft grower can easily afford.
What is the extractor capacity?
The extractors are specified for 2, 5 or 16 ounces of properly-prepared raw material. Many operators are over-loading by up to 40% with great results meaning the 16oz model can process up to 35lbs per month, the 5oz can process up to 14lbs per month, and the 2oz can process up to 4lbs per month (the specified capacities can be doubled if using post-pressed rosin chips – see below). Using multiple extractors can inexpensively increase capacity.
What pressure does it use?
The factory settings will generate pressure between 900-1200psi. Many operators increase the CO2 supply weight and/or heat to operate between 1200-1400psi. Pressure is dependant on the amount of heat applied to available CO2 density.
CO2 vs. Rosin?
Rosin leaves a lot of cannabinoids in the post-pressed chips. How do we know this? Because one of our customers put a bunch of post-single-pressed chips into his extractor and extracted a LOT of very potent, terpy oil – see the picture above. Even if you are rosin-dedicated, you can use our CO2 extractors to maximize the yield from your post-pressed chips!
What is the “yield”?
Yield-by-weight and yield-by-target-compound are not the same thing. Once most the target compounds have been extracted, if the raw material is subjected to additional runs more extract may accumulate in the collector – but there may not be much target compound in it because most of the target compounds have already been extracted. After the target compounds are extracted, the CO2 (or any solvent for that matter) will continue to dissolve compatible non-target compounds, and while these compounds may increase the yield-by-weight, they do not increase the yield-by-target-compound. Actually, adding non-target extract to target extract simply dilutes the target compound content in the overall mix.
What are the three most common issues when running an extraction?
1. Improper preparation of the raw material – the material MUST be properly prepared prior to extraction. This involves correct decarbing, grinding and packing. A preparation document is included with every purchase and MUST be followed or efficiency will suffer;
2. Lack of liquid CO2 – partially–filled supply tanks will yield poor results. Recommendations in the operating manual MUST be followed or efficiency will suffer;
3. Low-quality raw material – these extractors can extract very high percentages of the available oil – but they cannot extract what is not there. Low-quality feedstock = low volumes of oil and high quality feedstock = high volumes of oil.
What is the yield of CO2 vs. other solvents?
Generally speaking the yield-by-active-compounds of CO2 is similar to other solvents such as butane or ethanol. HOWEVER, because the CO2 doesn’t extract as many non-active compounds, the yield-by-weight by CO2 will usually be significantly less.
How can I lighten the colour of the oil?
Raw CO2 oil will often be darker than “finished” extracts. There are many methods used to clarify and lighten essential oils – one example is at https://skunkpharmresearch.com/getting-the-green-and-waxes-out-afterwards/
How much extract can I expect to get?
Assuming fully-dry, fully-decarbed, properly ground, high-quality raw material, and proper extraction process, tests have delivered between 8-12% yield-by-weight from a 50-50 mix of quality flower and trim. Trim alone can yield 5-7% by weight (depending on the quality of the trim) and flower can yield 10-14%. These yields-by-weight are less than other extraction solvents because CO2 extracts contain less undesirable compounds. Because there are less target compounds to extract as the extraction process proceeds, the amount of extract-per-unit-of-CO2 will decline as the process continues.
Extractions are affected by:
a) humidity – moisture will reduce the amount of extract and may make the extract “greenish” in colour as the moisture dissolves chlorophyll. Very dry raw material is best (see “decarbing” below);
b) grind – if the material is very “oily” and the grind is too fine, the raw material may “cake” under pressure, obstructing CO2 contact and transport. On the other hand, if the grind is too coarse, the extractor will not hold much raw material. Because the raw material may consist of various different parts of the plant, experimentation is required;
c) plant section – due to genetics, all parts of the same plant will yield the same “quality” of extract. However, the “quantity” will vary significantly by section;
d) decarboxylation (“decarbing”) – a carboxl group in a molecule will decrease that molecule’s solubility in CO2. Removing the carboxyl group by applying heat will increase the solubility and result in higher yield per Cycle. Generally speaking, raw material heated to 240F for 50 minutes will be satisfactory. Decarbing also helps to fully dry the raw material. There are many articles about decarbing on the Internet.
How long does an extraction take?
A typical 2oz extraction would probably take 4-5 hours but your attention is only needed for approx. 30 minutes during that period. A 16oz extraction can take 8-12hrs.
Do I have to monitor the extractor when it’s operating?
Once the extraction has started, the operator can leave the extractor unattended until swapping the CO2 tanks. Swaps can occur in as little as 2 hours (16oz) and 3 hours (2oz). The extractors can be left for as long as the operator wants between tank swaps.
How much CO2 is recaptured?
Expect to recapture ~90% of the CO2.
Is it closed-loop?
Using an innovative approach the system is effectively “closed-loop” in that the vast majotity of the CO2 is recaptured and recycled.
How long have these extractors been in the market?
The first versions were introduced in 2015 and there are multiple versions installed on four continents. There have been four major revisions and the current highly-developed extractors are the result of years of extensive field-testing.
Can these extractors extract CBD from hemp?
If the hemp strain contains >10% CBD these extractors can be used. If the hemp strain contains 1-2% CBD (like the industrial hemp in Canada), these extractors will not be appropriate.
Is there an operating manual and training?
Yes, a detailed Operating Manual is provided. Email/telephone support is free for 90 days.
Can I return it?
If you are in Canada, yes (subject to certain terms & conditions). If you are outside of Canada and have used the extractor for hemp or cannabis extraction, no. This is due to potential issues at the border related to residual cannabinoids that may be present in the extractor components.