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What is the significance of distillation in cannabis production?

Medical Cannabis Network explores the significance of distillation in cannabis production.

Once cannabis has been extracted from its raw plant form, it can be further distilled, resulting in a purer product with CBD or THC content of more than 90%. So, how does distillation in cannabis production work?

In much the same way that the post-harvest curing and drying process for cannabis is influenced by processes introduced in tobacco production, primary methods extract distillation in cannabis production take their cue from the production of alcoholic spirits.

Extraction

Once a cannabis crop has been harvested, the process of extracting the active compounds from the raw plant matter can begin. Common extraction processes are either physical – including sieving and rosin pressing – or chemical, using solvents or other diluents to break down the plant matter. The extraction process results in an unfiltered substance called crude oil, with CBD or THC purity above 50%.

Post-extraction processing

The crude oil produced through the initial extraction must be purified, in order to maximise the cannabinoid content of the final product and eliminate contaminates and superfluous byproducts. Winterisation, whereby the oil is subjected to very low temperatures, separates out extraneous fatty byproducts including lipids, waxes and chlorophyll. This is followed by decarboxylation, which subjects the concentrate to sustained heat in order to activate the cannabinoids it contains.

Distillation in cannabis production

Cannabis production typically uses fractional or short path distillation, a process which – as its name suggests – sees distillate travel a relatively short distance. Short path distillation, which requires less pressure to be exerted on the distillate than longer distance processes, is particularly favoured when working with volatile compounds or when purifying small quantities of a substance. The distillation process applies heat, humidity and pressure to cannabis extract, forcing out any remaining impurities and residual traces of extraction solvent. Terpenes, the fragrant compounds which give cannabis its flavour, and flavonoids are removed from the concentrate, to be infused back into the final product once the distillation process is complete.

Through the steady application of a controlled temperature increase, short path distillation breaks down cannabis extract into its constituent compounds. The cannabinoids within the extract, most notably THC and CBD, can be separated out at different temperatures as each cannabinoid has a slightly different boiling point.

Once each compound has evaporated, the resulting steam is passed through a cooling tube, to condense it into liquid form. This process is repeated for each cannabinoid once the terpenes and flavonoids – these have the lowest boiling point – have been removed from the concentrate. By evaporating and then liquefying each compound individually, we can be certain that the final product will contain no residue or impurities.

With the correct equipment, the distillation process can be conducted by an amateur in their kitchen; but as with any other chemical purification procedure, cannabinoid distillation is much more effective and results in a far superior product when it is undertaken on a large scale, using industrial level equipment.

Cannabis distillate

Cleanly distilled concentrate can boast CBD or THC content of over 99% purity. Distillates, nicknamed ‘the Clear’ or ‘the Pure’, present as a clear, transparent oily substance with high cannabinoid potency: where the distillation process has been undertaken to the appropriate quality standards, pure distillate is essentially tasteless, with the reintroduction of terpenes at the final stage preferred by some users to boost the flavour profile. Pure distillate oil is more expensive by weight than almost any other single consumable currently on the market.

Distillates can be used singly or combined – for instance, by mixing high-THC distillate with high-CBD concentrate – to activate the entourage effect. The purity and potency of the final product, in combination with its receptiveness to added aromas and flavours, mean it can be used in a wide variety of products, from vaporisers, to edible gummies or baked goods, to oils which are administered sublingually.

This article appeared in the second issue of Medical Cannabis Network which is out now. Click here to get your free subscription today.

Medical Cannabis Network explores the significance of distillation in cannabis production.

Vapor Distillation: A Natural Extraction Process Yielding Ultra-Pure CBD Oil

Whole flower, natural extraction without the use of harmful solvents or other adulterants – only heated air contacts the plant material preserving beneficial terpenes and delicate flavors.

One of PurePower’s core tenets is education, which is why we’ve dedicated our lives to spreading the word about hemp-derived CBD and other powerful plant medicines. We seek opportunities to expand our knowledge of this quickly budding industry, and we view each opportunity to learn as an equal opportunity to share the knowledge we’ve gained.

In a recent interview showcased on Matthew Kind’s CannaInsider podcast, Russell Thomas, CEO and Founder of Vapor Distilled™, explains the process and benefits of vaporizing hemp with heated air, instead of traditional methods that use solvents. The innovative extraction technology is quickly progressing the CBD industry with its refined engineering and high-quality results.

According to VaporDistilled.com, their products are ultra-pure and terpene-rich, and their process is completely unique and patent-protected. In this blog, we’ll explore exactly what those claims entail, using examples from Thomas’ interview with CannaInsider, the Vapor Distilled™ website, and online news source, DopeMagazine.com .

Let’s unpack these claims:

  • Ultra-Pure – Natural extraction, using only heated air, creates activated hemp extracts that have stronger effects. The potency of Vapor Distilled™ oils is heightened due to the focus on a proprietary vaporization and condensation process that is minimal and allows strain profiles to remain more intact . Thomas, in his interview with CannaInsider, explains why this method works so well, stating that their Flash Activation™ is so fast it doesn’t break down cannabinoids or damage terpenes, thus preserving the full spectrum of the hemp plant and rendering a highly potent, purer oil. This makes the end product ideal for topical infusions, edibles, and vapor cartridges.
  • Terpene-Rich – First of all, you might be asking, what are Terpenes? If you don’t know, here’s a quick definition: Terpenes are the aromatic and flavorful component of plant essential oils . Vapor Distilled™ oils taste better due to the fact that no solvents actually touch the plants and leave residue. When solvents like butane, ethanol, or other adulterants are used to extract oil from the plant material, they must touch the plants themselves. This results in traditionally extracted oils having a “grassy” or “plantlike” taste. With Vapor Distilled™ extraction, only heated air contacts the plant material. This results in a purer and more enjoyable taste, an experience which we can all get behind.
  • Completely UniqueMethod – Vapor Distilled™ is the first company to apply vaporization to extracting oil from cannabis. And, it’s only been perfected within the last year or two. According to DopeMagazine.com’s article, “ Vapor Distilled: Better Oil Without Harsh Solvents ” the Vapor Distillation™ process works by “quickly vaporizing hemp with heated air, then condensing the vapor that is produced into a concentrate.” While that sounds simple enough, the process is wholly unique and actually took the company a hefty amount of time and money to get just right . The article continues detailing the process, stating that the plant material is heated right to the point of vaporization, so that the plant material and its oils are separated, and then the vapor is quickly recondensed. Russell Thomas describes the process as being similar to the pasteurization process of milk, which sterilizes milk by heating (but not cooking) it and then immediately cooling it down. Thomas says in the interview, in his own words, “We have over ninety-nine percent activation in less than two seconds.” Two seconds!

Though the Vapor Distilled™ extraction process is relatively new, it definitely has started to make waves in the hemp-derived CBD industry, and, most likely, will soon be the norm of the industry. The science behind the operation is so refined that its benefits cannot be denied. The consistency, efficiency, and affordability – due to the fact that no solvents are needed, so no solvents are purchased – truly has us here at PurePower excited to watch this technology take the CBD industry by storm. And grateful that it’s used to make our Performance Hemp™.

Vapor Distillation: A Natural Extraction Process Yielding Ultra-Pure CBD Oil Whole flower, natural extraction without the use of harmful solvents or other adulterants – only heated air contacts