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Hydrocarbon vs. Supercritical Extraction

I’m more of a grower and haven’t gotten into the particulars about extraction, but I often get asked by customers what method of extraction should they invest in. I’m sure each have their pros and cons, but is the industry trending toward one type of extraction? And if so, why? Can someone better explain the benefits and drawbacks of each method?


following this topic, great question. Love learning.


The general sense I’ve gotten is that most people who want clean extracts prefer supercritical or rosin press extraction.

Hydrocarbon is easy to do, but the extractors I’ve spoken with feel it’s less safe overall, for both the consumer and extractor.

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It all depends on the scale of the project and the particulars of the local market. CO2 offers the most precision, so it’s best for analytical applications or in markets with a negative stigma around hydrocarbon extractions. Unfortunately the high first costs, steep learning curve, and low throughput are all limiting factors on this technology.

Hydrocarbon extractors are relatively cheap and easy to operate and have massive throughput, although they do require extra safety precautions. Although the negative stigma around these extracts is still an issue, clean products are easily achievable with the technology available now. Often the extract will be further processed for use in edibles and vape pens, in which case the initial solvents are completely removed.

Rosin is a great option for home growers and caregivers. It’s easy and safe, and can yield some impressively tasty end results. Unfortunately the starting material needs to be high quality and processing is labor intensive. Scale is an issue.

I think in the future we’ll see the majority of large-scale processors move to ethanol (or ether) extractions, especially when the market demands edibles and vape pens. Throughput is higher than CO2 and safety concerns and stigma are less of an issue than with hydrocarbons.


This has been a trend I’ve seen as well, agreed.

It all depends on what you’re after really. I’ve seen a local company making alcohol extraction machines with a built in centrifuge that can run 6-8 pounds of material in 20 minutes, and turns out 98-99% pure extracts. At 60K it’s cheaper than a supercritical machine, and yields purer extracts. I find that both types remove most of the terpenes, but some people really just want pure extracts.

I don’t care for rosin presses, the quality is great but the returns are so low. Annoying on a large scale to have to process something twice (like rosin press then alcohol extract.) But if the math makes sense to do both, do both.


Why would you do that out of curiosity? The appeal for pressing rosin is to NOT introduce a solvent?

Or do you mean process them separate and offer both to consumers, rosin extract and eth extract? And apologies if I misread :smiley:

Yeah rosin pressing gets you about a 10% return at best, so set that aside and then run an alcohol extraction to get the remainder

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Oh I understand now! At home we take the spent chips and put them in a crock pot, double boiler style with coconut oil and make a pretty amazing cooking oil with them.

Is cannabis cooking oil a marketed item? It should be.

Yeah I’ve seen it for sale in medical clubs. They usually make clean concentrates then add it to oil so the dosage is precise and repeatable


Id be really interested to know who that company is?

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The cannabis cooking oil?

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Check out Delta Extraction machines in Santa Rosa CA.


I have @SHOproducts Rosin Tech Pneumatic Single Ram and it is one of the most welcome additions to my setup. I’m still learning and playing with temperatures and pressures (that’s code for: I love pressing rosin and that’s a great excuse to press often!)

It’s very clean though and the smell/taste is bar-none some of the tastiest stuff you’ll ever experience.

If you’ve never pressed fresh rosin from dank buds on a super cold, winter day and had the pleasure of smelling those terps releasing into the air, it’s like smelling fresh ground coffee beans and the roast that follows. The first disappointment of pressing some amazing looking buds and getting a small return. The first victory of pressing something you didn’t think would produce and seeing a FLOWING river of rosin gushing out. It’s something to experience for sure.

From my limited experience with it (in disclosure,) I’d say the time factor is probably a drawback (it takes time to press, even with larger plates.) The yields, from what I’ve researched, are some of the lowest compared to other extraction methods. Not sure how rosin tests out for potency compared to other extraction methods for the same weight of material, etc.

Food for thought, I talked to an owner of a company that produces extraction equipment for BHO blasting. The insurance requirements for the facility change depending on the type of solvent and classification for the solvents being used, so there may be a some considerations there as well when looking at a solventless option for producing extract material.

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