The Top Extraction Methods of Cannabis: A Beginners' Guide

by Sherryn De Vos 8 months ago in industry

How to get started the Cannabis extraction process? Simplified guide

The Top Extraction Methods of Cannabis: A Beginners' Guide

The last decade has marked a significant change in the way society views Cannabis products such as hemp and CBD oils. There has been a slow but steady movement to the reduction of the stigmatization as well as the lifting of restrictions of the products. Most countries around the world have legalized the selling of the products for medical purposes, while a handful like Canada, have lifted all restrictions. This means the products can be used for recreational as well as medical purposes.

Many people are now growing and manufacturing their own products from the plant for their personal use, as well as to sell for medical purposes. It has been proven that they relieve the ailments and symptoms of diseases and chronic illnesses like:

  • Joint/muscular pain;
  • Anxiety and depression;
  • Cancer-related symptoms;
  • Acne and dermatological ailments;
  • Neurological disorders like Epilepsy and Multiple Sclerosis;
  • High Blood Pressure;
  • Diabetes;
  • Arthritis.

With the mass movement toward the popularity of the plant as well as its qualities, we thought that we would take a look at how you can get involved in the Cannabis movement. If you are looking to make use of the extraction process, we have a beginners’ guide on extracting the vital components of the plant and making use of the various compounds. Let’s take a look first at components that make up the plant.

What are you Extracting?

Before we get started, it is important to know just what is being extracted from the cannabis plant. If you are starting out your own extraction process, you will need to know what you are doing first! Cannabis contains compounds called cannabinoids which hold various properties. In fact, 113 types of cannabinoids have been identified in cannabis plants. The two most important are THC and CBD.

Cannabidiol (CBD) belongs to a group of chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids can be broken down into three categories, namely Endocannabinoids (naturally produced in mammals’ bodies), Phytocannabinoids (produced in the cannabis plant) and Synthetic cannabinoids (which are man-made). CBD and THC (Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) are the two most important components of the cannabis plant. The CBD component is known for its natural health benefits, while THC is known for its intoxicating qualities.

Safety Come Before Everything

There are a few things that you need to keep in mind before you simply launch yourself into the process. Firstly, you will need to have some basic safety knowledge and have a working knowledge of the equipment and how to protect yourself during the process. Secondly, you will need to have a good analytical predisposition before simply kicking off. You will need to go through various steps to make sure that not only are you safe in the process but that you are producing a product that is safe for human use. So, make sure you do thorough research into the full process before simply setting off on your new journey.

Alcohol Extraction

Alcohol extraction is also known as ethanol extraction as the main component used is ethanol. The cannabis plant is soaked in alcohol for a period of time. The plant is then removed and the alcohol is filtered. The alcohol is then evaporated to leave behind the desired compounds. This process is used essentially to dissolve the active cannabinoids. If you are looking to kick off your small to medium-size enterprise, you can find ethanol extraction devices that will reduce the time and effort that goes into this method.


One of the biggest advantages of this method is the fact that any residual chemicals pose no risk or threat to the final extract. It also helps extract the chief compounds that you are looking for, ie. the cannabinoids and terpenoids.


The biggest downfall with this method is the fact that you could be producing a less pure and less potent product than if you were using the CO2 extraction method. Ethanol and alcohol tend to mix with water and bind with the water-soluble components. This can be avoided by making use of incredibly low temperatures, however, this has been noted to cause other problems to the final product.

CO2 Extraction

The process works by pressurizing carbon dioxide in tanks to such a point that they become supercritical (liquid and gas). The fluid then extracts the right compounds from the cannabis plant and is separated from the oil, shatter, and budder. The fluid can be reused several times in the extraction process.


Firstly, there is a significant reduction in the wastage of the materials. The results are purer, and you gain higher yields from the process. Lastly, with the change of temperature, pressure or run-time, you can zone in on the compounds that you want to extract.


The cost of this equipment and the full process involved are a lot higher than the other processes. So, if you are a budding producer with a smaller budget, you are less likely to start off with this.

Hydrocarbon Extraction

Hydrocarbon refers to the use of butane or propane in the extraction process. It is passed through the plant to collect the cannabinoids and terpenes and then heated. It is then heated and pressurized to evaporate the propane or butane and leaves behind the extract. In essence, the vacuum that is created when it is pressurized removes the excess propane and butane.


This is certainly one of the more popular methods of extraction. It has the lowest running and production costs. It also produces a more flavourful product with higher levels of terpenes.


Due to the heating process, this method can be highly hazardous. There is a higher risk of the gasses exploding and a removal system needs to be included to remove any left-over butane. The levels of butane are critical in any product, and if they are too high, they are not suitable for human consumption.

Wrapping Up

If producing top-quality cannabis products is what you are after, you can do more research into the costs involved with each of these methods. You will need to weigh up the risk of each and decide on your own which risk is worth it in the production process. As mentioned, each comes with its advantages and disadvantages, but you will need to try each process to ascertain what works for your production business.

 Sherryn De Vos
Sherryn De Vos
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Sherryn De Vos
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