From Bud to Product - Manufacturing & Extraction

Here we look at how extraction and manufacturing is carried out to get to the final product.

Cannabis manufacturing – It is the process conversion of raw plant material into tinctures, oils, resins, etc. Recently, as cannabis is being legalised across many countries & consumer preferences are shifting from smoking cannabis to other modes of consumption (edibles, topicals, & beverages), there has been considerable innovation in manufacturing & extraction practices.

Broadly speaking, cannabis constituents can be extracted from the raw plant using solvents such as CO2 or butane or by solventless methods such as application of heat and pressure. Some of the most common cannabis products and how they are extracted are listed below –

 

  • Kief – Also known as the hair or cream of the cop. It is made up of resin glands founds in the trichomes of the plant. These glands contain a concentrated amount of terpenes and cannabinoids that have extremely potent effects when consumed. Kief is extracted by sifting dry flower, using a grinder, no solvent is needed. Consumption of Kief – Can be sprinkled on the flower before smoking.

 

Trichomes (left); Kief (Right)
Source: Leafly

 

  • Hash – When heat and pressure are applied to Kief we get hash. Hash can be extracted without using a solvent i.e. manually by rubbing dry cannabis flower in between palms of hands and then scraping off the resin. Hash can also be extracted using ice-cold water as a solvent. Consumption of hash – Dabbing, orally or in a beverage
 
 Hash
Source: Leafly; Mysterious Himachal

 

  • Rosin – Solventless extraction technique. Essentially, two heated plates are pressed on both sides of the cannabis plant at a high pressure squeezing resinous extract from the plant. Consumption of Rosin – Dabbing
 
 Rosin
 Source: Dankr.ca

 

  • Butane Hash Oil (BHO) – Highly potent concentrate that can have various consistencies like a glassy appearance also known as ‘shatter’, 'budder, wax & more. It is extracted from the cannabis plant using butane so there is a risk of residual solvent in the final product. Consumption of BHO – dabbing & vaping
 
BHO Extractor (left); BHO extract or shatter (right)
Source: bhobusters; Colorado Pot Guide

 

  • CO2 oil – As the name suggests, it’s an extraction process that uses CO2 as a solvent which is more environmentally friendly than butane. However, there is a risk of loss of terpenes due to high pressures involved and the final concentrate is also usually not as potent as BHO. Consumption of CO2 oil – Vapes, oral, and topical
 
CO2 Extraction
Source: Honest Marijuana

 

  • Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) – This method involves the extraction of cannabis in naphtha or isopropyl alcohol. Once the solvent evaporates, a thick black liquid remains with cannabis extract. Consumption of RSO - orally or topical
 
RSO Extractor (left); RSO (Right)
Source: Picclick; Rick Simpson Oil Company

 

  • Tinctures - Are produced by extracting cannabis constituents by using alcohol as a solvent. It is often a time-consuming process but does not leave any residue of complete evaporation. It is very critical to operating with care during extraction as alcohol is flammable. Consumption of tinctures – orally (food & beverages)
 
Alcohol Extraction (left); Tincture bottles (right)
Source: Leafly

 

Further Reading:

A history of cannabis extracts - https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/where-did-cannabis-dabs-come-from

Choosing the right extraction method - https://mjbizdaily.com/choosing-the-right-cannabis-extraction-method/