This is where extract vaping starts, with the extraction process, makes sense, right? There are different extraction processes, all of which are pretty complex and shouldn’t—or can’t—be tried by amateurs in their home, or anywhere else. Each extraction process is either very expensive, potentially very dangerous, or both.
That is why starting up a homemade extraction plant is not the same as starting your own growhouse. Here’s a look at the most common methods of extracting concentrates from the marijuana plant, don’t worry, it doesn’t get too complicated.
Also called supercritical fluid extraction, this is the method most commonly used, so any wax or oil that you buy is likely to be extracted using this method. It is also the most complex method because it uses a lot of advanced lab equipment that needs to be handled by professionals. The upside to this method is that it produces an extremely pure extract. As you continue reading, you will see that there is a risk of contamination with some of the other methods, but that isn’t the case with CO2 extraction.
It has been used for decades in making decaffeinated coffee, so it is scientifically sound. Another advantage to CO2 extraction is that certain compounds can be isolated and extracted, like CBD for example. So, this method is what is used to get high CBD, low THC wax or oil. If you want a quick summary of the pros and cons of CO2 extraction, take a look.
CO2 Extraction Pros
- Produces a very pure product with no chance of contamination
- Allows for the separation and isolation of compounds in the marijuana plant
- Safe, proven extraction method
CO2 Extraction Cons
- It is a complex process that requires specialized equipment that needs to be operated by specialists
- Products created by this method are expensive
As the name indicates, butane is the primary ingredient used in this extraction process, and the product created using this method is called butane hash oil (BHO). Once that process is complete, the wax or oil produced needs to be purged of butane. If it isn’t, then the product could become contaminated, impure, and unsafe to use.
This process can be performed by professionals and amateurs alike, though it should be left to the former since butane is a flammable substance. Professionals are also likely to do a better job of removing the butane from the wax or oil prior to the completion of the extraction process.
Butane Extraction Pros
- Fairly inexpensive extraction method
- It can be done by amateurs—though it should be done by pros
Butane Extraction Cons
- Products produced by this method can become contaminated
- Flammable material can be dangerous to handle
This is a fast and clean method that uses ethanol to extract the wax or THC vape oil from the marijuana plant. However, this is also an expensive method of extraction and the cost is reflected in the price of any products made using this method. This is a lengthy process that should be done carefully because ethanol is a flammable substance.
Also, this method pulls chlorophyll from the marijuana plant, and that chlorophyll needs to be removed from the final product because it produces a bitter, grassy, unpleasant taste.
Ethanol Extraction Pros
- Produces a very pure product
- No chance that wax or oil can become contaminated
Ethanol Extraction Cons
- Slow extraction method
- Care must be taken to remove chlorophyll from the extracted product
This method is one of the few that can be safely performed at home, even by amateurs. Hopefully, those amateurs have a lot of time and money because this method takes a while and requires some expensive equipment. That is also why water extraction is relatively rare compared to other methods. However, the extract it produces is very clean and very flavorful. That final product is usually called, bubble hash, full melt, or water hash.
Water Extraction Pros
- Very clean and safe extraction method
- Produces very pure and flavorful extracts
- Can safely be done at home
Water Extraction Cons
- Very expensive method
- Can take a long time to complete
Types of Extracts
Okay, now that you know about the different ways that extracts are made, it’s time to learn what kinds of extracts are made.
Butane Hash Oil
Also called BHO, you might recall—or can figure out—that this is made via butane extraction. It comes in two different forms which are dependent on the terpene content of the final product.
This is a thick, viscous, translucent liquid that becomes a brittle, vitreous substance when it hardens. This is generally called shatter or pull and snap and it is created when the terpene content of the marijuana plant is low.
If the terpene content is high, then it acts like a solvent that keeps the final product soft. The result is usually called wax. The softer forms of wax are sometimes called budder, while the harder wax goes by names like honeycomb or crumble.
This is made by using CO2 extraction as you might expect. It produces an amber-colored liquid that can be used in pre-filled or refillable cartridges.