Ultimate Guide to Producing Hemp and Cannabis Extract

Ultimate Guide to Producing Hemp and Cannabis Extract

The Equipment and the Processes: Hydrocarbon vs Ethanol Extraction

There are many are reasons to utilize either hydrocarbon or ethanol for your solvent based extraction.

Depending on the end products desired to be produced, the equipment, solvent and processes utilized vary substantially. Hydrocarbon (Butane, Propane and Pentane) solvent extraction is best for certain products and ethanol solvent extraction for others.

For Example:

Shatter, butter, live resin, sauce, THC-a crystalline and THC HTFSE (high terpene full spectrum extract) are not able to be produced utilizing ethanol as a solvent.

Other products, including but not limited to THC distillate, full spectrum CBD (THC free) CBD isolate, CBD distillate, and CBD full spectrum extract (low THC), are readily produced with ethanol, albeit utilizing different processes than hydrocarbon.

See the chart below for a comprehensive breakdown of products versus processes in cannabis and hemp extraction (definitions for products and processes on side bars and below).


The Processes Defined:

  • Primary Extraction: The process of removing the desirable plant components (cannabinoids, terpenes) via an organic solvent.
  • Degumming: a process that removes phospholipids from a primary extract using a catalyst such as citric acid.
  • Centrifugal Terpene Removal: The process of separating terpenes from a primary extract using a centrifuge device.
  • Winterization: The process of removing plant lipids from a primary hydrocarbon extract via a secondary solvent, freezing, and filtration.
  • Absorbent/Decolonization/Carbon Scrubbing: The process of removing the dark color and undesirable components of a primary extract via various filtration media.
  • Dewax: The process of reducing and removing plant lipids via a low temperature single solvent isolation and filtration.
  • Vacuum Purge: The process of removing residual sovents via a low pressure low heat oven cycling.
  • Decarboxylation: The process of removing the carbolic acid group from primary cannabinoids via heat.
  • Desolventization: The process of removing solvent from solute of a extract.
  • Multi-Plate Chromatography: The separation of a cannabinoid mixture by passing it in solution or suspension or as a vapor (as in gas chromatography) through a medium in which the components move at different rates.
  • Co-Solvent Separation: The process of isolating one or more cannabinoids via matching various solvents to cannabinoid polarity.
  • Co-solvent Crystallization: The process of isolating cannabinoids via crystallization by matching various solvents to cannabinoid polarity.


  • Crude: A low quality primary solvent extract to be refined to make distillate.
  • Shatter: A cannabis extract with a hardened and glass like consistency.
  • Butter: A cannabis extract with a cake batter type consistency containing a moderate amount of terpenes
  • Live Resin: A cannabis or hemp extract made with fresh frozen material generally in a butter like consistency containing a high amount of terpenes.
  • Sauce: an extract that contains a mixture of THC-a isolate/crystals mixed with isolated terpenes.
  • HTFSE (High Terpene Full Spectrum Extract): An extract containing the highest possible amount of original terpenes normally in a syrup like consistency which may also contain naturally occurring THC-a crystallization forms.
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