Grow, harvest, test, grind, decarboxylate, test again, extract… What’s next? Depending on your extraction method of choice, it is very likely that the next step in creating your hemp or cannabis concentrate will involve winterizing wax and filtering your mixture to begin the distillation process. Be Winterization is necessary to create a higher purity of cannabinoids. Removing lipids results in a higher quality product. One of the main steps in extracting cannabis from biomass is winterization. Learn why the winterization step is so important to a high-quality product.
What You Should Know About Filtration, Winterizing Wax and CBD Extraction
Grow, harvest, test, grind, decarboxylate, test again, extract… What’s next? Depending on your extraction method of choice, it is very likely that the next step in creating your hemp or cannabis concentrate will involve winterizing wax and filtering your mixture to begin the distillation process. Because the crude oil that is created with methods like supercritical CO2 extraction will often contain waxes and lipids, it becomes important to remove them to create a quality final product for the consumer. So, let’s take a look at this important process and why supercritical CO2 extraction benefits from it.
What is Winterization?
Winterization is the process of removing fats and waxes from the hemp extract. The process involves dissolving the CBD oil coming out of the CO2 extractor in food grade ethanol and subsequently chilling the ethanol oil mixture down to -20 degrees Celsius. The fats and waxes are less soluble at those temperatures and they will precipitate while the cannabinoids remain in solution. The fats and waxes are then filtered before solvent removal.
Why Winterize and Filter Your Oil?
Depending on the product that is being created, remaining waxes and lipids can cause a number of issues for both producers and consumers: For the producer, remaining waxes and lipids can dilute product potency, and cause a lesser quality distillate overall. Quality and clarity of a hemp or cannabis extract often go hand-in-hand, and remaining waxes can cause a final distillate to be cloudy or of undesired consistency – not the result a producer wants to see after all the hard work.
For the consumer, waxes and lipids left in an extract can result in a shoddy product as well. For example, smokeable cannabis extracts or “dabs” as they are often called can come in the form of what is called “shatter” given its translucent clarity and breakable consistency similar to glass.
Both clarity and consistency mean quality shatter and a happy customer, but when residual waxes are left in the product it can cause what is called nucleation making that clear, brittle shatter turn into a soft, sticky opaque consistency.
Furthermore, fats and waxes left in any cannabis concentrate can be harsh or have undesirable tastes when smoked or vaporized. Because of this, it is very important to properly winterize and filter those remaining waxes and lipids. And, there are many methods to do this.
As a proud proponent of supercritical CO2 extraction, extraktLAB does not use denatured ethanol for an extraction method for a number of reasons. However, a common method of winterizing wax involves the use of ethanol. So, we often face a recurring question in the dewaxing process…
Why Use CO2 Extraction When You Use Ethanol for Winterization?
Though it is undoubtedly the cleaner extraction solvent, biomass, fatty acids, waxes and resins can be co-extracted along with the cannabidiol and other cannabinoids when CO2 is used to extract hemp. The amount that is extracted depends on the pressure of the CO2 extraction.
In general, the higher the pressure and longer the runtime, the more acids and waxes will be extracted. Low pressure CO2 extraction methods, known as subcritical CO2 extraction, produce extracts that require very little post processing.
Many companies actually skip the winterization process depending on what they are using the oils for. The trade-off for lowering the extraction pressure to subcritical is that the run time increases greatly. The flow rate must be increased to compensate for the lower run time. In the case of our extraction equipment, the flow rate increases as the pressure goes down so those customers desiring runs of critical methods are able to do so with significant efficiency.
In the case of supercritical CO2 extraction, winterization is likely going to be needed. The cannabinoids and CBD oils that remain in the solution are then introduced into a falling film evaporator. The ethanol is removed from the solution and may be recycled once it has been re-conditioned and tested for reuse. The amount of ethanol that is used in the winterization process is very small compared to the amount of ethanol that is used during an ethanol extraction.
For example, one gallon of ethanol is required to fluidize one pound of hemp for ethanol extraction. 1000 lb of hemp by extension requires 1000 gallons of ethanol. In contrast, 1000 lb of hemp at 10% cannabinoid will produce approximately 100 lbs of CBD oil. 100 lb of CBD oil – Approximately 30 gallons Of CBD oil, so 180 gallons of ethanol is needed to winterize 30 gallons of CBD oil.
Why is the Winterization Process Important in Cannabis Oil Extraction?
The winterization process, in simple terms, is the removal of fats, lipids and other unwanted materials from crude oil extract. Winterization is necessary to create a higher purity of cannabinoids. Lipids dilute the cannabinoid fraction, therefore removing them results in a higher quality product.
The transparency of the product is also affected by lipids in distillate. When lipids are not removed, the distillate will not be transparent – this is a sign of a lower-quality and lower-valued product.
Another adverse effect that lipids have in distillate is the way that they burn on coils in vape pens. Lipids will make the vape pen taste burnt which is unsatisfactory to the consumer. Winterization is a key process that differentiates a product from being either low quality or high quality. That directly affects the value of the product that you are creating.
What is the winterization process?
During winterization, a non-polar oil extract is dissolved into ethanol or other polar solvent. The solution is placed in sub-zero temperatures (usually in the range of -20 to -80 degrees Celsius). When using ethanol, the ratio of ethanol to extract is often 10mL ethanol to 1g of oil. However this ratio often ranges between 5ml to 1g and 20ml to 1g.
During this process in the sub-zero temperatures, the lipids float to the top of the solution because of their lower solubility. The ideal time to leave the solution in cold temperatures is at least 24 hours.
There are multiple filters that the solution can go through such as paper filters and metal micro-filters. The lipids are filtered out of the solution through the filtration process and what is left is a high-purity distillate.
Why is winterization important in the cannabis and hemp oil extraction process?
To truly compete in the cannabis and hemp oil industry, winterization is a vital process. As mentioned previously, a winterized solution has more value than a solution that is not winterized.
Not only is value a factor, but customer satisfaction also plays a big role in this process. When an extract has fat and lipids left in it, it burns, vapes and tastes bad. Consumers will not buy this low-quality product again.
The saying “look good, feel good” does not only apply to people, it also applies to distillate. Everyone likes a shiny new product, not a cloudy and murky one. This is especially true for distillate consumers as transparency is an easy indicator of the level of purity in an extract. To ensure that a product can compete in the cannabis industry, winterization must be included in the extraction process.
Want to learn more about the winterization process and how Maratek can help automate and perfect the process with our expertly engineered Turnkey Automatic Winterization System (TAWS)? Contact us today. We would love to answer any questions that you may have.
What is the Winterization Process in Cannabis Extraction?
When attempting to extract cannabis and hemp from biomass , one of the main steps in completing this process would be winterization.
The plants normally contain various compounds such as plant waxes, lipids, and chlorophyll, which all must be removed prior to distillation. Without them being removed, producers risk their cannabis products lacking in purity, and ultimately the quality of their cannabis products.
An example of this would be if the compounds were present inside a vape cartridge. With compounds such as lipids and waxes being present, the cartridges would cause the distillation to burn, ultimately making inhaling the product tougher on the throat, and souring the experience for the consumer.
That’s why the winterization step is so important to a high-quality product.
Download our TAWS Winterization Brochure!
What is winterization?
When talking about winterization, think about attempting to remove the fats from a roast that you decided to put inside the refrigerator after cooking. You will notice after leaving it inside the fridge overnight that the fats have surfaced to the top, ultimately coagulating and being removed from the rest of the roast.
The result of this came from the colder temperatures impacting the roast, which is similar to the winterization process when performing cannabis extraction. Winterization removes the compounds mentioned previously from the crude oil before the distillation process by using a plethora of steps to ensure the purity of the THC/CBD oil.
How to perform winterization
The first step to successfully performing the winterization of cannabis extraction would be to maintain sub-zero temperatures. In order to remove the compounds that are negatively impacting the quality of the purity of the cannabis, you should aim for temperatures around -40C.
If your sub-zero temperatures range closer to a value around -20C, you may be looking at not being able to perform winterization efficiently, given that the temperature would more often than not be too high.
There are various options when attempting to winterize cannabis for extraction, such as chillers, walk-in freezers, or even surrounding the product with dry ice. After maintaining it for 24 hours and having the compounds coagulate to the top, this can lead us to our next step, which is filtering.
This is normally assisted by a vacuum to pull out any of the coagulated substances within the oil as a result of the sub-zero temperatures being used earlier. If these temperatures are not maintained throughout the entirety of the 24 hours, then it would cause the winterization process to not be completely as efficient as it could be, since the fats and lipids of the plant would not separate as a result.
What is the distillation process?
Distillation is also a critical step with regard to winterization, since it contributes towards separating molecules from the cannabis extract and also removes the ones that are unwanted. As a result of this, you will notice that the oil has a slightly higher level of purity, and as a result, would become more potent as well as an overall product.
This process can be performed repeatedly until the plant matter, residuals, and chlorophyll are all gone and can no longer impact the quality of the product anymore. Many systems are in place for this process to occur, and most of them are very highly-technological for functioning.
Distillation is normally performed by processing manufacturers attempting to mass produce CBD or THC oil for cannabis extraction.
What about dewaxing?
Similar to winterization, dewaxing involves fewer steps and is linked more closely towards the extraction process. The main difference is that the steps for dewaxing normally occur inside a closed system that consists of multiple columns.
Just like with winterization, you want to make sure the extract is within the climate of below -20C, so the desired cannabinoids are not lost. Once the unwanted lipids and chlorophyll have been removed, then they can be filtered out. Finally, you can boil the final product to remove the solvent being used to complete the process.
Want to learn more about the winterization process in cannabis extraction?
Winterization is a process that noticeably enhances the satisfaction of the consumption of cannabis products by increasing the purity of the extraction oil. Done through very few steps, the process is quick and convenient and requires minimal labour in order to get the best out of your use of cannabis.
Materials to be used such as solvents or freezers are also readily available for consumers at numerous locations for purchase and are also affordable. If you find yourself interested in improving the potency of your cannabis oil, this process would be the most efficient to participate in.
To discover more about the various ways to perform winterization, view our winterization equipment and find out how you can optimize your experience handling cannabis – or contact us today . The Maratek team of extraction specialists would be pleased to help.