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What Is Hydrocarbon Extraction?

Hydrocarbon Extraction

As the legal cannabis industry continues to grow and grow, a great deal of attention has been given to the technology that enables producers to create better agricultural yields, more pure concentrations, and have control over the THC and CBD content of their products. 

One of the technical processes that are extremely important in cannabis product creation is extraction. During the extraction process, a chemical agent is used to separate the constituent parts of the cannabis plant. Producers may want to completely isolate the CBD in order to sell it as a therapeutic, non-recreational wellness aid. They may also want to isolate the TCH so that it can be made into a concentrated recreational or medical product. 

One of the most effective ways of successfully extracting elements from cannabis plants is using the hydrocarbon extraction process. 

What Are Hydrocarbons?

Hydrocarbons are a class of chemical compound. All hydrocarbons are made up of the elements Carbon and Hydrogen. Butane, Cyclopentane, Propylene, and Benzene are all Hydrocarbons. By far the most common Hydrocarbon used in cannabis component extraction is Butane. 

What Equipment Is Used?

Hydrocarbon extraction equipment is rather specialist. If you intend to begin extracting, you’ll need to consult a firm experienced in producing lab equipment before rushing in. You’ll need a large quantity of Butane, a fire-resistant laboratory, extractor fans, a pump, and a vapor extractor. All legal laboratories have to comply with very strict safety regulations and all personnel is required to wear protective equipment.

What Does the Process Involve?

Hydrocarbon extraction is complex. Here are the stages that need to be completed in order to achieve a consistent extraction:


Cold Butane is put into contact with the plant material and slowly washed over the entire batch. The cannabinoids contained in the plants will then dissolve into the butane for collection.

Winterization/ Defiltering

The Butane washing process does not completely isolate the cannabinoids. The mixture has to be dewaxed using extremely cold surfaces in order to purify it.


The cannabinoid concentrate is then collected by using heat to remove the Butane, which should evaporate and rise away into another container. 


Once the solution has been collected it will likely still contain some Butane. Concentrate should be laid out on thin Teflon sheets and purged of butane in a vacuum oven for a minimum of 48 hours. The completed product will then be extremely pure, with no lingering taste of hydrocarbon. 

What Products Can Be Made?

The resulting pure cannabinoid product is very versatile. It can be added to foods to create edible cannabis products, distilled into tinctures, and sold as drops or mixed with liquids in order to produce vaporizer liquid. It makes the transportation and distribution of legal cannabis far more efficient, as the concentrate takes up very little space compared to plant matter. Advanced technicians use hydrocarbon extraction techniques to produce concentrates aimed at producing certain levels of effect and potency that can be controlled to a very fine degree.