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The Step by Step Process of Cannabis Distillation

You may have noticed that over the last five years or so, there has been a lot more talk about cannabis, CBD and the products that are associated with them. Globally, there has been more and more acceptance and a move away from the stigmatization that used to be attached to the plant. In fact, laws and bans have slowly been lifted on the use of it in countries throughout the world.

In most countries, the use of marijuana-based products is legal for medicinal purposes. However, in select countries like Canada, South Africa, Georgia and some states in the US, you are allowed to use cannabis for recreational use too. There are a number of conditions to using the herb, but for the most part, weed has started becoming more and more accepted globally.

One of the biggest reasons for this is due to the fact that cannabis has been proven to ease the symptoms of many chronic illnesses and diseases. People suffering from cancer, Alzheimers, diabetes, joint and muscle pain, acne and skin related diseases have claimed that cannabis has alleviated the symptoms and pain that comes with their affliction. Currently, CBD oils have been merged into various products including oils, balms, vape pens, bath salts, edible food products and dropping oils to suit anyone’s personal needs and tastes. So, if you are wanting to jump on the cannabis bandwagon, and start producing your own products, we broke down how you can go about the distillation process yourself.

There is a Difference Between CBD and THC Distillate

To start out with, you will need to know that there are various different parts to the cannabis plant, and you need to know what exactly you are wanting to extract. 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.

There are three types of CBD in the world, namely endocannabinoids, that are produced by mammals; phytocannabinoids found in the cannabis plant; and synthetic cannabinoids which can be produced in a laboratory. 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.

You will need to know which distillate you are wanting to produce. Distillate refers to the runny translucent oil that is left over after the full cannabis extraction process. You can choose whether you want the CBD isolate product, which will not get you high, or the THC distillate, which will. Before you can distill the product however, you have to go through the extraction process to actually have oil to distill. There are a number of ways to do this which we will touch on.

The Extraction Process

There are three types of extraction processes that you can choose from. Each comes with its own benefits and downfalls, so make sure you know which one is going to work for you by doing some research. You will find that the extract is a waxy or tarry substance that you will need to distill to purify. It will contain a number of cannabinoids, pesticides and organic substances that you need to remove. Alcohol extraction is also known as ethanol extraction. 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.

The CO2 extraction process pressurizes 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 hydrocarbon process refers to the use of butane or propane in the extraction. It is passed through the plant to collect the cannabinoids and terpenes. 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.

Purifying the Product with the Distillation Process

You are now left with a product that is most likely contaminated and contains the mentioned by-products. In order to get rid of these, you will need to go through the distillation process. The first step is the winterization process in which you freeze the extract for up to 48 hours. You can do this by mixing the product with ethanol and introducing it to a very cold environment. All of the plant waxes, fats and lipids will fall to the bottom, leaving a pure, oily liquid at the top.

The next step to the distillation process is heating it up, which will kick in the psychoactive properties of the THC if you so wish. Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid will convert to THC when introduced to heat and will be the active property to make you high.

The last step is the purification process. This is to achieve a large concentration of cannabis distillate as possible. Here, heat, steam and vacuum processes are used to extract the terpenes and flavonoids, leaving behind the cannabinoids. In order to further refine the CBD oil, you can put it through a short path distillation. Here, the product is heated and each element is separated to isolate each one as they all have different boiling points.

In order to be left with the highest quality, and purest product that you can, you will want to distill it several times. Make sure that the right amount of heat and steam is introduced to not ruin the product. You will need to carefully monitor the process to have a pure, uncontaminated product.

Last Thoughts

Before going into producing your own CBD-oil-based products at home, you will need to thoroughly research each extraction method as well as the distillation process. Each one of the steps can be hazardous as you are dealing with heat, steam and vacuuming processes which if you are not careful, can be dangerous to you. Make sure you have protective clothing and gear and go through various safety steps before simply kicking off. You will also need to make sure that you have the right equipment. Investing in adequate equipment will mean that you can produce high-quality products that are pure. You need to keep in mind that the oil you are producing needs to be safe for human consumption, so do not cut corners on quality, safety, and basic hygiene.


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Written by Marcus Richards

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