With the cannabis industry reaching a breathtaking $75.6 billion in worth, it's easy to see why people are trying to get in on the ground floor.
One of the big changes in practices since the black market was the norm instead of the exception comes from methods of cannabis extraction.
In the past, extractions were often done in extremely small batches using butane.
The truth is that ethyl alcohol has some pretty impressive advantages. Without further ado let's dive right in and see why ethanol is taking the cannabis world by storm.
1. It's Customizable
One of the most common solvents used these days for bulk cannabis extraction is supercritical CO2.
It does a magnificent job as well, but the startup costs of purchasing a unit are very steep. In addition, most CO2 units require a specific amount of both solvent and plant matter.
Ethanol extractions, on the other hand, can be sized according to your current needs. Without the need for hyper-specialized equipment, the startup costs are also lower.
2. It's Safer Than Butane
Reports of home fires from butane extractions are distressingly common. Butane is extremely volatile and the quick evaporation of the solvent at room temperature has led people to make mistakes in the past.
Frostbite is also a possibility when people opt for the DIY route, the rapid expansion of the liquid form of solvent as it leaves the nozzle of a canister creates intense cold.
Ethanol is still flammable but the fumes aren't nearly as explosive. You don't have to worry about frostbite either. It's just a safer route overall.
You can compare the MSDS data if you don't believe us.
3. Ethyl Alcohol is the Cheapest Route
Ethanol is actually the cheapest way to get into cannabis extraction by a long shot.
Both butane and supercritical CO2 setups are rather expensive to get up and running. You'll need equipment that simply isn't used for anything else.
Meanwhile, all that's really needed for an alcohol extraction is a form of temperature control and drums to soak the product.
There are certainly more advanced methods available but even then the difference in equipment costs isn't a few bucks... it's a couple of orders of magnitude.
4. It's Environmentally Sound
Butane is created from petrochemicals, often from the same processes that produce natural gas.
Unfortunately, that also means it has a large carbon footprint.
Ethanol can be created from nearly any source of sugar if treated properly. It's remarkably energy-efficient, uses renewable resources, and isn't very toxic for the environment.
In a closed ethanol extraction system, almost all of the solvent can be recaptured as well, keeping the carbon sequestered in the solvent as it's used time and time again.
Since the process requires less manufacturing to create the equipment as well, even the best ethanol systems are still greener than industrial level butane and supercritical CO2 operations.
Alcohol extractions fell out of favor when cannabis became illegal. Small scale extractions became the norm, as opposed to prior to 1937 when ethanol extractions of cannabis were on the shelves in nearly every pharmacy across the country.
Ethanol extractions can require more work to "clean" than butane setups but ethanol is also cheaper and you'll be able to recover it with the proper systems in place.
The big advantage here is that ethanol works for nearly every quantity of product which is input. When you're processing hundreds of pounds of plant matter at a time the savings on solvent costs add up.
In recent years the extraction process has been extensively studied and further processing methods to end up with extremely high-quality extractions can be found easily.
6. It Works at Atmospheric Pressure
One of the biggest problems with CO2 and butane systems is the need to keep the entire thing under pressure.
Without the proper pressure in place, large scale extractions will fail. It's one of the driving factors behind the higher cost of these systems since they have to be sealed and able to have their pressure settings modified.
While temperature controls are still a must, ethanol extraction occurs easily at normal pressures.
While not common, pressurized systems can also experience catastrophic failures. This can lead to loss of product, the loss of your solvent, or even injury for the system's operator.
With our Extractohol it's not something you'll ever have to worry about.
7. Ethanol Pulls Terpenes
One of the biggest disadvantages of butane extractions is that a high-grade butane extraction often limits the number of terpenes contained in the final product.
Unfortunately, terpenes are largely responsible for the subjective effects of any strain of cannabis. They're also responsible for much of the smell and taste of the flower.
Ethanol is fairly non-selective in what it pulls from the cannabis. While you may need to further refine the extract to remove chlorophyll it also means you'll be able to maintain the character of a strain despite it being a concentrated end product.
8. There's Virtually No Residue
One of the biggest problems with butane extractions is that butane is often impure and has a tendency to deposit other petrochemicals that aren't quite as volatile alongside the extraction itself.
CO2 reactors avoid this problem but with the cost of a start-up hovering in the mid to high six figures, it's pretty prohibitive to get into.
Meanwhile, 190 or 200 proof alcohol evaporates cleanly and leaves virtually no residue in the final product. On top of that the small amounts of ethanol which may be trapped in the extract break down into harmless CO2 and H20.
That means even in the event of an improper extraction it's still harmless to the end-user.
Thinking About Ethyl Alcohol Cannabis Extraction?
The industry is booming and it waits for no one. Cannabis extraction is rapidly turning into an enormous subset of the industry.
For those who are looking for low costs, green technology, and superior safety there's no better way to go than ethyl alcohol.
If you're getting ready to start extracting, why not go learn more about why we've chosen to make Extractohol our business?