Solvent-based Cannabis Extractions: A Look Into What They Are and The Products Made Through The Method

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Added 31 July 2023

Cannabis, an incredibly versatile plant with therapeutic properties, has fascinated many people, whether they are medical professionals or users that love the high. At its core, cannabis is known to contain a plethora of cannabinoids that are deemed beneficial according to the scores of studies over the years. 

Out of the many cannabinoids cannabis is known to contain (research suggests it could be more than 100), THC and CBD are the most popular, and then come the flavonoids, and terpenes that play an important role in how the buds smell and taste

Whether you love cannabis for its medicinal properties or just love getting high during the weekends, you will appreciate it only if the cannabinoids deliver. In short, people love buds that go a long way even if a little is used. 

And, in the quest for strong stuff, the cannabis industry has various types of concentrates set to blow your mind. But, why should you use concentrates? Aren’t regular buds enough to do the job? Well, the answer depends. For medicinal users, concentrates are a blessing as they are known for their high doses and swift action. Even recreational users love taking it up a notch with the concentrates. 

However, you should be cautious when it comes to cannabis concentrates. Since they have the power to deliver a lot in a short time, things can go south quickly if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

There are various ways to make concentrates and while some use solvents, some don’t. In this article, we will focus on the solvent-based method of extracting cannabis, and the products, so you can make an informed choice before purchasing them. 

Solvent-based extractions, or chemical extractions, are all about separating specific compounds (cannabinoids, in particular) from the herb. Several solvents such as ethanol, hydrocarbons, or supercritical CO2 are used to achieve this. Then, the product is processed further to arrive at the final product containing potent cannabinoids. Of course, you can make any of these at home, but we won’t get into that as you should leave some things to the professionals. 

If you’re looking to buy solvent-based concentrates, read on to know more about how they are made in this article. 

What is Solvent-based Extraction?

What is Solvent-based Extraction?

Many companies favor solvent-based extractions because of their ability to separate highly potent material from cannabis flowers. Ultimately, this method helps to unlock the benefits of cannabinoids, which are sold as isolated extracts or full-spectrum extracts containing most cannabinoids. 

A variety of solvents including ethanol, butane, supercritical CO2, and propane are used to dissolve and accumulate the elements needed from the plant. But, since the chemical solvents are inflammable and pose health risks, extractors utilize closed-loop systems to reduce the risk of explosions and fire during extractions. 

While cannabinoid extractions using solvents are very reliable and efficient, you must remember not to try them at home. First off, you may hay not have the tools required. Secondly, it takes a lot of experience to get it right, not to mention how fatal it could be. In many regions, it’s illegal to attempt such processes without a license. Needless to say, you shouldn’t attempt any of these extractions as home as they are dangerous. Best to leave it to professionals with experience. 

After the solvent separates the cannabinoids from the flowers, you first get a by-product known as slurry. Although the slurry contains a potent mixture of cannabinoids and other cannabis goodness, it’s not safe to consume…yet. It still contains the solvents that have to be removed completely to ensure the final product is safe.  

Therefore, the slurry is purified once more by purging off any residual solvents, and the final product is ready. As you can see, it can be very difficult to eliminate the solvents completely at home, which is why it’s deemed unsafe. 

Extract specialists use various techniques to remove the solvents. While some methods include just letting the solvents evaporate, other methods like vacuum pumping involve vacuuming the solvents out of the slurry. It offers more control over the process and also produces high-quality extracts with very less residual solvent. 

Very less residual solvent. So, does that mean that there’s still some solvent no matter how minuscule it is? Yes, there’s the possibility of some solvent left over, but don’t be alarmed. The possibility of cannabis concentrates posing any serious harm is greatly reduced when there are strict regulations. 

If you purchase from trusted manufacturers that test their products through third-party companies, there’s nothing to worry about. Moreover, the manufacturers are careful to remove a majority of the solvents from the material during the purging so their products are safe. Many concerns over the safety of the solvents have been raised in the past, but there’s no substantial evidence to prove that the solvents are extremely dangerous. 

Also, residual solvents aren’t found only in cannabis products. They are present in minimal quantities in many household products including air fresheners and various types of sprays; however, since you’ll be consuming the extract it’s best to remain cautious. The next time you buy a cannabis concentrate, be sure to check out the tests to know more about the product. 

To conclude, solvent-based marijuana extracts offer a great way to enjoy the benefits of cannabinoids in high doses in short periods of time. However, although it sounds easy to read about them or watch them on Youtube, you shouldn’t attempt to make them at home. 

Types of Solvents Used To Extract Cannabis Concentrates

Types of Solvents Used To Extract Cannabis Concentrates

Extracts made using solvents are great when it comes to taste and potency, thanks to an abundance of terpenes. No wonder solvent-based extracts are popular. If you’re a regular cannabis user, chances are that you’ve dabbled with some of these products. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular types of solvents used to extract cannabis concentrates. 

1. Butane Hash Oil (BHO) Extraction

Butane Hash Oil (BHO) extraction has become one of the most popular and widely practiced techniques for cannabis extraction. It relies on using butane to dissolve cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant, particularly the trichomes, which are the resinous glands that house these valuable compounds.

The procedure starts by passing fluid butane into cannabis material. Butane is an effective solvent that breaks the trichomes down and removes the cannabinoids, waxes, chlorophyll, and terpenes. Thanks to its low boiling point of about 31°F or -1°C, the extract will preserve a lot of the plant’s compounds that are typically degraded when introduced to high heat. To refine it further, it goes through a process known as winterization that eliminates plant matter like chlorophyll and waxes. 

Granted, the extract is pure and potent, but the extractors must now separate the butane from the extract to make it safe. This is super important as butane is dangerous if you consume it in large amounts. The resulting product, called "butane hash oil," is a highly concentrated and potent extract that captures the essence of the cannabis strain used in the process. 

Most users and companies prefer BHO extraction as it produces highly potent extracts containing more than 80% THC in many instances. In addition, butane is used to create extracts with various textures with unique characteristics. For instance, while wax is soft, shatter is brittle and resembles glass. 

2. Propane Extraction

Propane extraction is very similar to BHO, but the difference is that propane is used as the solvent to separate cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant here. Propane shares some similarities with butane but is considered safer for cannabis extraction due to its higher pressure and lower boiling point, meaning it evaporates effectively during the purging process, leaving behind fewer residual solvents in the final concentrate. 

Thus, Propane Hash Oil, or PHO, is considered cleaner. Although it’s more expensive than butane, extraction artists are okay with spending more to get high-quality concentrates that taste better. 

3. Ethanol-based extraction

Ethanol is popular in many industries but it can also extract concentrates when used as a solvent. Here, ethanol is used to dissolve plant matter including terpenes, chlorophyll, cannabinoids, and other great stuff from the plant. This process is thought to be relatively risk-free, effective, and ideal for both small and large-scale operations, making it a preferred choice in the marijuana market.

The procedure commonly adheres to these basic principles:

Plant Material Preparation: The extractors prep the plant material where they break or grind them into several small pieces to increase the surface area which allows for the solvent to penetrate more and extract more goodies. 

Agitation: Next, the herb is soaked and agitated in ethanol where it reacts with the plant matter to extract all the desired compounds. The duration of soaking or agitation can vary, typically ranging from a few minutes to several hours.

Splitting up: After the extraction, the ethanol mixture with all the dissolved compounds is then separated from the herb. This process can be achieved either through centrifugation or filtration which essentially allows the extraction artists to collect the extract. 

Removing the solvent: At the final stage, the solvent or ethanol in this case must be removed in order to create a high-quality cannabis extract. For this, the ethanol is evaporated or vacuumed to end up with an extract that preserves the active components of the plant. The artists also remove the chlorophyll from the final product to ensure it doesn’t give a grassy taste. 

4. Hexane Extraction

Hexane is a very effective and reliable solvent used to extract cannabis concentrates. Used mostly in research settings, hexane is a non-polar hydrocarbon solvent that efficiently dissolves terpenes and cannabinoids in plant material. 

However, not many extraction artists use hexane in the cannabis industry due to safety issues and regulations. This is because hexane could pose health risks if it contains any impurities. As a result, companies that use hexane are super careful and test their products rigorously to ensure they are devoid of any harmful residues. 

5. Cryogenic Extraction with Liquid Nitrogen

Cryogenic removal utilizes liquid nitrogen that’s extremely cold (-196°C or -321°F) to extract concentrates. Manufacturers let the herb material freeze with liquid nitrogen, and the trichomes become brittle and detach themselves from the herb at that point. Then, they agitate the frozen cannabis to release the trichomes, resulting in a concentrate with a higher concentration of trichomes, which are rich in cannabinoids and terpenes. 

One of the most substantial benefits of cryogenic removal is its capability to protect the terpenes that are fragile. This way, the final product tastes amazing and captures the essence of the strains used to make the extracts. In addition, the low temperatures used in this method help to alleviate the loss of aromas that are prevalent in other extraction methods. 

6. Terpene-Assisted Extraction

In this process, the manufacturers choose terpenes that are known to have strong abilities to dissolve the compounds in the plant material so they can extract them. The primary advantage of this technique is that it offers immense control over the process of extraction where the artists can customize the concentrates according to their preferences. 

7. Ultrasonic Extraction

Ultrasonic extraction is another powerful method where high-frequency sound waves are used in mediums such as coconut or olive oil to extract cannabinoids. Unlike other processes that destroy the trichome’s cell walls to extract cannabinoids and terpenes, this method dissolves cell walls to do the same. In addition, the yields are higher and faster. Moreover, the gentle and non-thermal nature of ultrasonic extraction helps preserve the integrity of the extracted compounds, ensuring a concentrate with enhanced flavor and potency.

Types of Solvent-Based Extracts

Types of Solvent-Based Extracts

Solvent-based approaches to extract cannabinoids have revolutionized the cannabis industry, giving rise to a wide array of popular cannabis concentrates that cater to the diverse preferences and needs of consumers. These products are known for their potency, purity, and versatility, making them highly sought after by cannabis enthusiasts worldwide. Let's explore each of these solvent-based extraction cannabis products in more detail:

1. Shatter 


Shatter is a very powerful and aesthetically striking cannabis concentrate that owes its appeal to the butane hash oil (BHO) extraction approach. This glass-like concentrate is recognized for its clarity together and brittle appearance, making it very easy to break it into smaller pieces for you to consume. Shatter boasts a high THC content, often exceeding 80%, providing intense effects and strong medicinal benefits. Its purity and potency make it a favorite among dabbing enthusiasts who seek a powerful and efficient cannabis experience.

2. Wax


Cannabis wax

Wax is yet another product made through BHO extraction that stands apart for its velvety and pliable consistency. Wax varies in consistency. While some are soft, others are brittle and crumbly, depending on the way the extract is processed and the strain used. Wax concentrates are known for their rich flavor profiles, preserving the aromatic terpenes present in the cannabis plant. If you love flavorful concentrates, you will appreciate the versatility of wax, as it can be used in various consumption methods, including dabbing and vaporizing.

3. Budder


Budder is a BHO concentrate that shares similarities with wax but has a smoother and creamier texture. This product is created through a specific extraction and purging process that results in higher terpene content, which is why it has a distinct flavor and aroma. You can handle Budder easily and will love it if you’re searching for potent extracts that are buttery and full of flavor. 

4. Live Resin

Live Resin

Live Resin is an extract that has extraordinary appeal for the way it preserves the terpenes and other fragrant compounds of the cannabis plant. Typically, Live Resin is created by using freshly harvested cannabis that is immediately frozen to preserve its terpene profile. Extractors use hydrocarbons like butane or propane and purge the slurry carefully to eliminate any residual solvents. Live resin offers a true-to-strain experience, with intense flavors and potent effects that closely resemble the original plant's essence.

Live Resin also varies in color, ranging from light amber to yellow-gold, and its surface boasts a moist, shiny appearance, indicating its potency. The rich, robust scent that emanates from live resin is a testament to its high terpene content, making it an enticing choice for cannabis enthusiasts seeking an unparalleled sensory experience.

As Live Resin is a sought-after product, extraction artists manufacture numerous products with varying consistencies. Various "live" products have emerged, each boasting elevated levels of terpenes and cannabinoids due to the use of fresh-frozen starting material. For example, if you have tasted Live Sugar, it’s nothing but a form of resin that looks like a sugar patty, which is different than Budder which features a smoother and more malleable texture.

Despite the varying consistencies of the same extract, all versions share one common trait where they provide the finest taste of the strains that are used to create them. This quality has garnered a loyal following from many cannabis enthusiasts who can choose any iteration depending on their preferences. 

5. Distillate


Cannabis distillate is a highly refined and potent concentrate. This extract is made using techniques that separate and purify specific cannabinoids, such as THC or CBD, resulting in a concentrate with high cannabinoid content. Distillates are known for their versatility and consistent potency, making them a popular ingredient in various cannabis products, including vape cartridges, edibles, and topicals.

Distillates represent a sophisticated advancement in concentrate production, employing advanced scientific equipment and techniques to extract and purify the THC and CBD compounds found in cannabis flowers. Extractors use precise heating and vaporization methods, and the cannabinoids are separated from the plant material and residual solvents, resulting in a pure and potent end product.

Manufacturers extract distillates using a technique known as short path distillation that separates the cannabinoids from contaminants, ensuring that the final distillate is clean; however, since this technique employs high temperatures, there’s a reduction in the terpene content as these aromatic compounds are delicate and sensitive to heat. 

Some companies recognize that consumers love cannabis concentrates primarily because of the taste and fragrance, so they implement innovative strategies. So, basically, once the extraction process is complete, the extraction artists reintroduce terpenes back into the distillate, creating unique flavor profiles. This practice allows you to enjoy the benefits of pure cannabinoids while still savoring the delightful tastes and scents associated with your favorite strains.

6. CO2 Oil

CO2 Oil

Concentrates made using CO2, presented in the form of oil, have experienced a significant surge in popularity in recent years. The extraction technique, called supercritical fluid extraction, separates the cannabinoids from the plant material efficiently. The end product is a rich amber-colored oil. 

CO2 is exceptionally efficient, versatile, and preferred by many companies. One of the primary advantages of CO2 extraction is its ability to yield purer and cleaner products with minimal processing and low residual solvent content. As carbon dioxide is natural, CO2 oil is regarded as a natural solvent with fewer health concerns compared to other hydrocarbon-based solvents like butane or propane. This aspect makes many extractors use it to extract concentrates.

In addition, CO2 extraction offers a unique advantage where you can fine-tune the extraction process, and achieve desired results with precision. This level of control over the extraction process ensures consistency and quality — factors that are highly valued by manufacturers.

Also, CO2 has a sterilizing component that plays a crucial role in extending the shelf life of the final products. This characteristic helps preserve the oil and its potency for longer periods compared to some other extraction methods, enhancing your overall experience.

CO2 oil is commonly found in pre-filled oil cartridges used in vaporizers, providing a convenient and efficient way for consumers to enjoy their cannabis concentrates. Moreover, CO2 oil is also incorporated into edibles, broadening its application and appeal to a wider range of cannabis enthusiasts.

7. Full-Spectrum Oil

Full-Spectrum Oil

Full-spectrum oil is made using ethanol as a solvent. What makes full-spectrum oils superior is that they offer the entourage effect, meaning you get the effects of the entire plant rather than specific isolates. As a result, full-spectrum oils contain cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, and everything the plant has to offer. 

Unlike other types of extracts that focus mostly on the recreational aspects and contain more THC, full-spectrum oils contain CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids that are valuable as well. In short, the compounds of the plant work synergistically to enhance the overall therapeutic benefits. This type of concentrate is often used in tinctures, capsules, and infused edibles, so if you’re looking for a holistic experience, this extract is made for you. 

8. Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)

Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)

Rick Simpson Oil, commonly known as RSO, gained popularity ever since Rick Simpson, an individual from Canada, made videos talking about its therapeutic effects. Produced using ethanol, you can make RSO at home, provided you take precautions as ethanol is flammable. It’s best to use a rice cooker or an induction stove to “cook” the extract as you don’t want to be working anywhere near an open flame. 

RSO is rich in cannabinoids, including THC and CBD. It is highly sought by medical cannabis patients seeking relief from various health conditions, such as chronic pain, cancer symptoms, and nausea. However, there’s no concrete evidence yet, so you may want to talk to your physician if you want to use this for any ailments. 

9. Pie Crust or Honeycomb

Pie Crust or Honeycomb

Pie crust or honeycomb concentrates are made using Butane as the solvent. These concentrates are known for their distinctive appearance resembling a honeycomb structure, hence the name. 

First, the solvent is passed through the herb. The slurry is then collected and vacuumed to remove the solvent. The purging techniques allow air to escape during the extraction process. Then, the extract is pressed, which gives it a honeycomb or crusty look. The result is a textured concentrate that is both visually appealing and potent, offering an enjoyable dabbing experience.

10. Caviar 


Caviar and jelly hash are innovative and luxurious cannabis concentrates that combine different extraction methods to achieve unique textures and potency. Typically, Caviar is nothing but cannabis buds coated in hash oil. It is then rolled in kief, producing a highly potent and flavorful product. It is very similar to Moon Rocks. Although it’s a bit difficult to find, some specialty extract artists make them frequently. You could also make them at home if you have some hash oil. 

11. THCA Diamonds

THCA Diamonds

THCA diamonds are made by isolating pure THCA crystals from the plant material. This concentrate is created through a combination of hydrocarbon extraction and crystallization techniques. The result is visually stunning diamond-like crystals that are nearly 100% pure THCA. 

Many companies mix THCA diamonds with terpenes to make up for the lack of taste as THCA doesn’t contain any terpenes. The result is known as "diamond sauce" or "THCA sauce," which offers a robust and flavorful experience. As you can understand, THCA diamonds are super potent, so you should be cautious while using them. 

Summary: Solvent-based Cannabis Extractions: A Look Into What They Are and The Products Made Through The Method

As the cannabis industry continues to evolve and innovate, solvent-based extraction methods have opened the door to an impressive range of cannabis concentrates. From ethanol to butane, various solvents are used to make the products appealing. And, the products made using these solvents are simply stunning, to say the least. 

Whether you use shatter or wax or live resin or distillates, each product showcases unique textures, flavors, and potencies that are sure to offer a pleasurable experience. These popular solvent-based extraction cannabis products continue to push the boundaries of cannabis consumption, offering an ever-expanding array of choices for you to explore and enjoy.



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The original RSO recipe uses isopropyl alcohol vs ethanol. It was designed to be done at home as big pharma did not provide anything like it at the time. So if anything do this one at home lol. Rick made this and gave it out for free many years before the cops shut him down. Lots sites use his likeness to sell RSO but he is not official affiliated with any of them and they are stealing his identity. ricks offical blog is can read up about his story before the sites shutdown or they no longer pay its fees. any other site is fake and a scam if they selling "his" oil. I see some places have it for 300+ dollars. fuck that. I'd rather use ethanol for anything going internal into my system or CO2 based, all the rest of the listed solvents are bad idea long term for the residue that remains in them. most BHO type things are done in home labs with vacuum chambers to increase the boiling point and evaporate it out but its never 100% and the solvent is never 100% clean or pure.
@m0use, True, this is why I have stated that these shouldn't be tried at home. Even RSO can be dangerous if you use an open flame IMO. Best to let the pros do it and purchase it from them.