An Introduction to Cannabis Extraction Methods

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an introduction to cannabis extraction methods

Cannabis has been around for centuries, but in recent years its popularity has seen a significant rise. Extracting the active compounds of cannabis can be a tricky process, so having an understanding of the various extraction methods is essential if you want to make sure that your product is safe and effective.

In this article, we’ll explore the different types of cannabis extractions and provide expert advice on which method might suit you best. Whether you’re an experienced grower or just getting started with cannabis cultivation, learning about these extraction techniques will give you greater control over how you use it.

From simple water extractions all the way through to more advanced solvent-based processes like supercritical CO2 extraction, there are plenty of options available to get the most out of your crop!

Water Extraction

Ah, water extraction.

What a wonderful way to provide the user with maximum potency and minimum environmental damage!

It’s so easy that even an amateur can do it – no special equipment required!

Just get yourself some botanical terpenes, add them to your lipid infusions, and let the magic happen.

I’ve used this method myself many times over the years, and I must say – there is nothing quite like being able to extract all of those precious oils from cannabis without having to use any solvents or other hazardous materials.

Plus, you don’t need to worry about ruining your product by using too much heat during extraction; as long as you keep everything at room temperature, you should be good to go!

So if you’re looking for a clean and simple way to get the most out of your cannabis while still keeping things green-friendly, then water extraction is definitely something worth trying out!

To move on from here though, we’ll have to explore one of the more advanced methods: solvent extraction.

Solvent Extraction

Solvent extraction is the most commonly used method of cannabis extraction. It involves using a solvent, such as ethanol or butane, to extract compounds from plant material. The process begins with grinding up the plant matter and soaking it in the desired solvent for several hours. This allows the active cannabinoids and terpenes to be pulled out into solution while unwanted components remain undissolved.

The following are key benefits associated with this type of extraction:

1. High efficiency – Solvents are able to quickly pull out large quantities of cannabinoids and terpenes from relatively small amounts of plant material.

2. Selectivity – Different solvents can be chosen that will selectively draw out certain compounds depending on their boiling points which allow users to control what they want extracted from the plant matter.

3. Cost-effectiveness – Solvent extraction methods usually require less equipment than other more expensive processes like supercritical CO2 extraction.

It’s important to note that there are also non-solvent based options available for extracting cannabis oils, including solventless infusion techniques such as rosin pressing and water/ice hash making – all without any use of chemical agents or hazardous materials!

These types of extractions offer an alternative approach that may suit some people better due to safety concerns associated with working with solvents at home or in a commercial setting.

From here we now move onto another popular way of extracting cannabinoids known as ‘supercritical CO2 extraction’…

Supercritical Co2 Extraction

Moving on from conventional solvent extraction, we now turn to Supercritical CO2 Extraction – an incredible process that revolutionized the cannabis industry! It’s no exaggeration to say that this technique is like rocket science: low-pressure and incredibly precise. Plus, it doesn’t require any solvents at all – making it a great choice for solventless extractions. Let’s take a look at some of its advantages in more detail.

Advantages Disadvantages
———- ————–
Non-toxic Expensive
Odorless Temperature Sensitive
Selective Extracts Time & Pressure Intensive

As you can see, there are definitely pros and cons when using supercritical CO2 extraction methods. But the end result is always worth the effort – high-quality extracts with amazing flavor profiles and potent effects. The temperature control allows us to modulate specific cannabinoids while preserving terpenes, creating targeted relief without compromising taste or aroma. It may cost more upfront but yields stronger results overall, making it well worth the investment for any serious grower or user who wants to experience the best of what cannabis has to offer.

From here we’ll explore subcritical CO2 extraction – another powerful method used by top producers around the world.

Subcritical Co2 Extraction

I’m a big fan of subcritical CO2 extraction – it’s got some great advantages, like a low risk of fire or explosions and no need for solvents. Plus, the equipment used is relatively simple and cost-effective.

It’s a great method for extracting terpenes, cannabinoids, and other compounds from the cannabis plant. Usage is pretty straightforward, just adjust the pressure, temperature, and flow rate to get the desired results.

All in all, it’s a great way to get the most out of your cannabis.


When it comes to cannabis extraction, subcritical CO2 extraction is a great alternative method. Not only does it provide superior quality extractions with minimal environmental impact, but its advantages are numerous as well!

Firstly, this type of extraction produces extracts that have higher terpene concentrations than other methods. As a result, the flavor and aroma profiles of these extracts tend to be more robust and true-to-plant than those produced by other methods.

Additionally, due to the low temperature used during extraction, many cannabinoids remain intact which can lead to greater medicinal benefits for users who want maximum potency from their products.

Finally, in terms of cost efficiency, subcritical CO2 extraction is an economical choice since there’s no need for additional solvents or processing aids – making it ideal for businesses looking to maximize their ROI on product production.

All in all, when it comes to choosing an extraction process that offers both superior results and environmental sustainability, subcritical CO2 extraction is definitely worth considering!


When it comes to subcritical CO2 extraction, the equipment you use is just as important as the process itself.

There are many different types of machinery available for this type of extraction, ranging from low-cost home microwaves to high-end commercial grade systems. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages depending on your needs and budget.

The most common pieces of equipment used in subcritical CO2 extractions include mechanical separation devices such as centrifuges, rotary evaporators, and filter presses; cryogenics like liquid nitrogen tanks; and microwave extractors that can be used at lower cost than other methods.

Additionally, there are also specialized tools available for specific tasks such as fractional distillation or terpene isolation.

With so many options out there, finding the right piece of equipment for your particular application can seem daunting – but with a little research and guidance from an experienced cannabis professional, you’ll be able to find exactly what you need!


Once you’ve chosen the right piece of equipment for your subcritical CO2 extraction needs, it’s time to consider how you’ll be using it. Depending on the type and quality of material you’re extracting from, there may be specific regulatory or therapeutic uses that dictate what kind of process should be used.

For example, if you’re looking to create a medicinal product then extra care must be taken in order to ensure that all active ingredients are extracted properly. On the other hand, if you simply want to produce concentrates for recreational use then the process can be much simpler and less regulated.

No matter what purpose your extractions serve, proper usage is essential for achieving desired results. It’s important to carefully follow all instructions provided with any machinery being used as well as adhere to any safety measures recommended by experienced cannabis professionals.

Additionally, temperature control is key when using cryogenics like liquid nitrogen tanks – too hot or too cold can ruin an entire batch! Finally, since each strain has its own unique properties, it’s wise to experiment with different times and temperatures before settling on one method as standard procedure.

Ethanol Extraction

Ethanol extraction is one of the most popular methods used by cannabis growers and users. Ethanol, also known as grain alcohol, has been a key component in many industries over the years.

Compared to other solvent-based extractions, ethanol extraction is relatively safe and cost effective. It can be done on a large scale with minimal risk of contamination or chemical residues left behind.

The process begins by grinding up the plant material into a fine powder that will allow for maximum contact between the ethanol and cannabinoids located within. This type of mechanical separation helps create an even surface area which allows for the greatest efficiency when infusing it with liquid solvents like ethanol.

The resulting solution is then filtered through several stages to remove any unwanted particles before being heated gently at low temperatures to evaporate off any excess liquid.

In order for ethanol extraction to be successful, proper temperature control must be maintained throughout the entire process; too much heat could cause decomposition of terpenes or cannabinoids while too little might not effectively separate them from their starting components.

Additionally, this extraction method does not require expensive equipment or complex machinery making it ideal for home use without having to invest heavily in specialized tools that are required with some more advanced solventless extraction techniques.

By using these simple guidelines, anyone can produce high quality cannabis extracts suitable for consumption without going through extensive training or costly investments.

Hydrocarbon Extraction

Hydrocarbon extraction is the pinnacle of cannabis extraction methods. This incredible process uses solvents like butane, propane and pentane to extract compounds from biomass. It’s a revolutionary approach that allows growers to produce an incredibly pure product with very little effort — all they need is their solvent of choice and some ice-cold water!

Hydrocarbons are able to strip away cannabinoids, terpenes and other beneficial compounds without leaving behind any impurities or residues. Plus, because no heat is used in this method, it results in a much more robust flavor profile than traditional techniques.

The primary benefit of hydrocarbon extraction lies in its ability to separate out multiple types of compounds at once. By using a combination of pressure and extreme cold temperatures (created by immersing the material into an icy bath) the desired compounds can be separated from one another quickly and efficiently. What makes hydrocarbon extraction so unique is the fact that it’s completely solventless; meaning there’s no risk of contamination from residual solvents or chemicals left over after processing has occurred.

Not only does hydrocarbon extraction provide an excellent way for growers to produce high-quality products quickly, but it also offers significant cost savings as well due to its low operational costs compared to other methods such as CO2 or ethanol extraction. As far as versatility goes, hydrocarbon extraction stands head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to being able to isolate specific components within a cannabis plant while still retaining their original properties intact – something many other forms of extraction simply cannot do.


Cannabis extraction methods have come a long way since their first use and there’s no denying that they are incredibly important in the world of cannabis today.

As an expert grower and user, I can confidently say that each method has its own advantages and disadvantages – it all comes down to what you need for your desired outcome.

With water extraction being the simplest but least efficient, and hydrocarbon extraction being complex yet highly effective, there is a perfect option out there for everyone.

Whether you’re new to this or been at it awhile, these tried-and-true techniques will always be around; they’ll never go antiquated.

Photo of author


Meet Edward, the passionate gardener turned cannabis enthusiast who is dedicated to exploring different strains and maximizing their yields. With his background as a hydroponic agriculture technician, he brings a unique perspective to the world of cannabis cultivation. As the head field tester at HempGrowly, he shares his technical expertise and insights to help readers achieve their own successful hydroponic grows. Through his easy-to-follow documentation of his findings, Edward hopes to help cannabis growers of all levels achieve maximum yields and enjoy the benefits of this amazing plant.