We published a blog earlier this year that gives an overview of the various cannabis extraction methods in use today. But we’re often asked what methods UCG uses for our extraction facilities, and the reason behind our method(s) of choice. There is no one “best” extraction method – the best method for a concentrate company to use is subjective and depends on numerous variables, primarily the type of product you want to produce but also including a facility’s size, capabilities, and team.
While UCG utilizes a number of different extraction methods and post refinement technologies, we generally use hydrocarbon extraction as it focuses on products that are high in cannabinoid and terpene content, and is geared toward preserving the full spectrum phytochemical profile of the plant.
We also utilize ethanol extraction for processing materials that will be put through a distillation process, which strips them of all compounds except for cannabinoids. These distillate based products can be infused into various topicals, edibles, and vape cartridges.
Hydrocarbon extraction is one of the most popular methods of extraction, and for good reason. This form of cannabis extraction uses a hydrocarbon-based solvent (such as butane and propane) to extract compounds from the plant material. The polarity of the solvents is highly advantageous in that it allows the operator to be selective in what compounds are extracted, which allows the less desirable compounds such as chlorophyll and water-soluble compounds to be left behind. With good operators and techniques, the product that is produced from hydrocarbon extraction is very cannabinoid and terpene rich, which is desirable for connoisseur type products.
In certain circumstances, ethanol extraction can be a preferred choice, especially with products in which terpene or full spectrum phytochemical preservation are not a high priority. Ethanol does not offer the same level of specificity toward desired compounds as hydrocarbons do, so ethanol extraction will often result in, in terms of cannabis extraction, undesirable compounds such as chlorophyll, fats, and lipids. The advantage of ethanol extraction is that it often has the added benefit of the lowest price point, in terms of entry costs. It doesn’t always require as much capital expenditure in terms of high-end equipment, buildout, and permitting concerns, and the process can be quite simple at a small scale. Some of the largest extraction facilities we’ve seen in the Hemp space are using ethanol-based extraction to process 10,000 lbs+ in a single day.
Most high output facilities often utilize multiple extraction methods and solvents. With proper planning, you can maximize your facility’s versatility, output, and profitability, and service the market with a wide range of SKUs at a cost-efficient production point. We are experts at bridging the gap between the facilities’ desired output goals, and the design, equipment specification, and installation considerations. We’ll be happy to serve and assist you in your endeavor.
Want to read more about the various cannabis extraction methods used by the legal market’s best concentrate brands? Click here to read our blog that gives a more in-depth overview of each type.