Short path distillation is essentially exactly as it sounds: it’s a technique where the distillate travels a short distance, typically from one flask to another, to separate compounds using alcohol and hyper-controlled temperature. Extract material is fed into a flask that’s gradually heated, and a vacuum pulls the ensuing vapors up first into fractionating tubing, then into a condensing tube. This process can be repeated multiple times to refine your end product. Short path distillation is great for creating highly concentrated THC and CBD distillates, as the truncated pathing avoids excessive compound loss during the extraction process.
Molecules such as THC and CBD have higher varying boiling points. Short path distillation uses vacuum pressure, steam, and heat to manipulate boiling points so that compounds are subjected to much cooler temperatures when they pass through. Depending on the distillation process, these volatile compounds can either be fractioned individually or simultaneously for collection.
How cannabis compounds are isolated to create distillates
Fractionation and short path distillation in and of themselves are nothing new. In fact, these common methods have been used for many years, both in the early days of cannabis distillation research as well as in other commercial industries. The techniques have been adopted from the botanical oil extraction markets by cannabis processors to make various oil distillates—fragrance, essential oil, and cooking oil industries can be credited for piloting many of the same fundamental refinement principles that we see overlapping in today’s cannabis distillate manufacturing scene.
Follow along as we review the inside scoop on how these super potent oils are processed, how easy they are to both consume and infuse with, as well as their potential in offering solutions in various niche markets within the burgeoning cannabis concentrate industry.
The application and infused possibilities associated with cannabis distillates is staggering. Pure cannabinoid oils that contain little to no residual flavors or aromas are perfect for all kinds of practical applications. By breaking down cannabinoids and terpenes into their individual compound solutions, they can then be recombined into various formulas with complete control and precision, allowing processors to individualize concentrates with accuracy like never before.
Once extracted, the mixture is combined with 200 proof alcohol and stirred vigorously until completely mixed. It’s then placed in a deep freezer overnight. In the morning, the mixture looks cloudy and is ready for filtration. One way to filter out the fats, etc. is to run it through a filter paper into an extraction jar. A common piece of equipment for this is a Buchner Funnel. Once it’s been filtered to satisfaction and the undesirable elements have been removed, it’s time to remove the alcohol. This is done using heat. The extraction is warmed and as its warmed, the alcohol evaporates since the boiling point of alcohol is lower than the oil. The removed alcohol may then be used on a different batch of crude oil.
Andy is on a panel of experts, answering questions from the community. We compiled a collection of questions and answers below, about hemp and cannabis oil extraction processes and techniques.
First question: What are the safest ways to extract? When it comes to extraction, safety is an important issue and has many areas to consider. The list below represents some of the major areas that need to be addressed with the popular solvents being used in the cannabis industry today:
What are the safest and the most effective ways to extract and produce CBD oil? CO2, oil, or ethanol?
So the answer to the question about safety really doesn’t have anything to do with the solvent, rather the equipment chosen and the facility where the extraction is performed determine safety. The solvents commonly used in extractions today all have pros and cons, and all can be operated safely as long as proper guidelines and regulations are followed.