Extraction 101


In recent marijuana history, the industry has exploded with concentrates of all shapes, colors, and consistencies.  These concentrates come from a variety of extraction methods, touting descriptive words like BHO, solvent-less, rosin, sugar, distillate, shatter, wax, budder, and many others.  There are so many new cannabis related terms out there, with even more on the horizon.  So, what is it?   A concentrate is exactly like it sounds, a dense substance refined from cannabis flowers that contains higher levels of THC, CBD, terpenes, and other beneficial components of the plant.  

Let’s take a minute to break down some of the industry’s most popular forms of extraction.

Butane extraction (BHO)
BHO products include the majority of your favorite dab products like shatter & wax and are made by dissolving THC with butane, and then purging the butane from the wax to create a cleaner product.  Many prefer this method, as it offers a wider spectrum of cannabis constituents (like cannabinoids & volatile terpenes) than other methods.  Some with respiratory issues will argue that butane is harsher on the lungs, if the butane is not purged completely.  This is currently the most popular extraction method, but in previous years, has received a bad rap due to amateur BHO home lab explosions.  These extractions should never be done outside of an industry compliant, well ventilated, closed-loop lab.  

Ethanol / Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)
This is one of the older methods of extraction and is typically ingested, as opposed to smoked.  The dried plant/flower is first soaked in ethanol (ethyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol) to remove the THC, cannabinoids, terpenes, and trichomes.  Then the solution is strained to remove remaining plant matter, and the alcohol is evaporated, leaving a darker, denser matter.  If you’re interested in why it’s also called “Rick Simpson Oil” you can check out his story here.

Contrary to some belief, CO2 oil is not a solvent-less extraction process. While similar to the BHO extraction process, the extraction product with CO2 is a much more viscous product, unlike the waxy or hard BHO product.  It has gained more popularity in recent news with the FDA approval of safety, as the solvent is non-toxic.  CO2 allows for less carbon emissions into the atmosphere, making it a cleaner product for the environment, too.  

Rosin is a true, solvent-less extraction process that uses heat and pressure to expel desired THC, terpenes, essential oils, and cannabinoids from the plant matter.  Most consider this the cleanest and safest way to make dabs, as there are not solvents or additives than the plant matter alone.  

There is no good or bad decision for oils, as all extraction methods have their own benefits and taste profiles.  Our recommendation would be to talk to your budtender and find your favorite!