Butane Extraction vs Ethanol Extraction

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Butane Extraction vs Ethanol Extraction

Which Extraction Style Is Better: Ethanol or Butane?

When discussing the business plan for your extraction lab, a business owner must decide on the equipment they will be using and the products they will be making. This could mean using butane extraction equipment or ethanol extraction equipment depending on the end goals of the facility. This article will go over the Pro's and Con's of each of these styles of extraction and their end products. Learning these pro's and con's of ethanol extraction and butane extraction will allow business owners to make a more educated decision when developing their extraction lab business plan and 

Ethanol Extraction Equipment

PRO's - Ethanol extraction is the current choice of extraction for clients looking to make distillate, or crude oil for distillation, as an end product on a large scale. Using a centrifuge to extract with cryogenic ethanol as a solvent allows clients to filter fats and lipids as soon as it is extracted, inline with the extraction line prior to solvent recovery. The ability to do this without "winterization" eliminates a majority of post processing done in butane extraction or C02 extraction needed to filter a "crude oil" properly before distillation. This oil can then be pushed with pumps and hoses directly to a recovery and decarboxylation reactor. Saving the extraction lab almost 12 hours of freezing the product with a 10:1 ratio of ethanol (which we are now using as a primary solvent anyway). This allows more extraction of biomass and more production of distillate or crude oil. The C1D1 Labs CCE30 Centrifuge is our recommended centrifuge. What is wonderful about ethanol extraction equipment as well, is that they are rated C1D2 vs C1D1 (required for butane extraction). This is a lower electrical / hazard requirement in the extraction room which will make your life easier when wanting to control the equipment with control panels, motors, or pumps. 

Extraction equipment for distillate

CON's - Though an extraction lab which uses ethanol extraction equipment as their desired methodology can process a very high amount of biomass, the only real valuable end product is distillate. Distillate is not considered a "full spectrum product" and is quickly being replaced by live resin in cartridges and edibles across the country. A "full spectrum" product or live resin is not refined to remove terpenes, cannabinoids, or other compounds that would be found in the original profile of the plant. When making distillate, often terpenes are left behind and not reintroduced, and the oil is then distilled to capture a very high percentage of one cannabinoid. Another con of ethanol extraction equipment would be the cost and energy required to heat and chill the solvent throughout the process. Prior to extraction the ethanol must be chilled to -40 degrees (Celsius or Fahrenheit, as they are the same at this temp) from room temperature. This requires a serious mechanical chiller (or chillers) for a heat exchanger which will be expensive and use lots of 3 phase power. Or it will require an also expensive LN2 powered chiller so that the extraction machine has at least 30 gallons of cold ethanol every 30 minutes. In addition, that solvent used for the extraction after it's chilled must be heated up to be separated from the crude oil and then chilled again to be recovered from a vapor to liquid to be used for another extraction. All of this, in addition to the many pieces of equipment required to get from solvent chilling to distillation (see process flow diagram below) makes large scale production expensive and a large use of power. 

Butane Extraction Equipment 

PROS - Anyone who has used butane extraction equipment or have tasted the products notices the benefits of this style of extraction almost right away. First, butane or propane extraction leaves the desired terpenes in the extract / product that give high quality extracted products their strong smell. Terpenes like pinene and limonene are extremely potent and delicious to smell and taste. In addition, the extract that comes out of our equipment does not need to filtered into distillate. This means what you put is in what you get out. Creating a full spectrum product that is far healthier than isolating a cannabinoid. Finally, butane extraction can be MUCH more affordable than ethanol extraction. 

Cannabis Extraction Equipment

CON's - Fire in fire out. Unlike distillate, which is filtered then molecularly distilled, butane extracts are a direct reflection of the biomass put into the equipment. What goes in, goes out. Which is why it requires high quality input, cut and cured correctly, to create product with the color and taste client desire. Having old material, outdoor material that isn't closely watched, material that isn't cut in time, or even drying your material incorrectly can create dark undesirable product. Freezing product correctly and storing it correctly is how most companies maintain quality in their trichomes as they harvest and prepare for extraction. Luckily, we've got machines with color remediation technology to help if this is the case. Contact us if you have any questions!