The rich market that sprung up around CBD is booming, and as it continues to mature, consumers are looking for new products and new ways to get their regular dose of CBD. Extracts, in particular, are becoming wildly popular for the range of possibilities that they afford and the purity of the product.
Ethanol is safe. The FDA considers ethanol “Generally regarded as safe” (GRAS). While ethanol is flammable, it isn’t especially toxic or volatile. After all, pure ethanol is just grain alcohol. It’s frequently used as a food additive, and it’s used in other extractions for medications and similar products.
Extraction systems using ethanol are also generally safer to operate than the alternatives. Hydrocarbons are highly flammable and combustible. Hydrocarbon extraction labs must follow strict safety procedures, and leaks pose a serious danger to employees.
Carbon dioxide extraction systems aren’t much better. While carbon dioxide isn’t flammable, the danger of leaks is still present. Too much carbon dioxide in the air can cause suffocation. At the same time, CO2 needs to be highly pressurized for extraction. There is an ever-present danger of a rupture in the system.
For the consumer, few options measure up to ethanol for safety. A proper ethanol extraction system will evaporate nearly all the ethanol from the product. A quality closed-loop extraction system will contain and recycle that ethanol to be used again. The end product the consumer receives is safe, with a high degree of purity. Plus, if you choose, you can run organic ethanol in the system to create a completely organic product.
Ethanol extraction systems aren’t just safe; they’re efficient as well. Ethanol hemp extraction generally has a lower cost to operate than the alternatives in raw materials, energy, and labor.
Hydrocarbon solvents are costly. As cost-effective alternatives go, ethanol is hard to beat, and it’s easier to store at higher volumes.
Ethanol-based extraction systems also used less energy on average than their hydrocarbon and CO2 counterparts. A properly designed system makes the most of the energy expended and the resources used both cannabis and ethanol.
When it comes to full-spectrum extracts, ethanol is unbeatable. Ethanol is a polar solvent, meaning it will pull just about everything out of the plant material. That includes the full range of cannabinoids found in hemp as well as terpenes. It should be noted the one possible mark against ethanol systems is the distillation process. Distillation will create a more pure product and eliminate unwanted plant compounds, like chlorophyll, but it will also break down terpenes.
For other plant components, there’s a more elegant solution. Fats and waxes also get extracted from hemp, but a proper cold ethanol extraction system will automatically separate those out, eliminating the need for winterization. Winterization is the process of using a cold substance, usually ethanol, to separate out unwanted waxes from extracted crude oil. Because a quality ethanol extraction system will already be using cold ethanol, the process happens without any extra intervention.
Somewhat unfortunately, the hemp extraction market is one of volume. More often than not, brands compete on price, rather than quality; although, quality is certainly important too. As a result, hemp extraction companies are forced to produce the greatest volume of products possible. Thankfully, ethanol extraction is capable of serious output volume.
Ethanol is an extremely effective solvent, and it can break down plant material fairly quickly. Also, since ethanol-based extraction systems don’t rely on the pressures associated with C02 or the volatility of hydrocarbons, they usually can handle a much greater volume of hemp. In fact, ethanol extraction systems are known for their high throughput.
Even smaller extraction systems, like the ENTEXS MINI 3, are capable of processing 450 pounds of hemp per day. At a couple of steps up, the ENTEXS MINI 18 is able to handle an impressive 1800 pounds per day. It doesn’t stop there, though. The ENTEXS MAXI can power through a whopping 20,000 pounds of plant material in a single day.
The benefits above apply to nearly all ethanol extraction systems, but not all systems are created equal. Closed-loop ethanol extractions are superior to their open-loop counterparts. Not only do they make the most of the previously discussed benefits, but they have several more that make them a clear choice for CBD extraction.
Closed-loop extraction systems aren’t just efficient, they’re hyper-efficient. Because the system is closed, nothing is able to escape from the system during the extraction process, and no external contaminants are able to get in. Plus, the whole process is tightly controlled, and in the best systems, automated. The result is a much greater output. Some systems, like the ENETEXS MINI range, are able to capture as much as 98% of cannabinoids, like CBD, from raw hemp.
With closed-loop systems, there’s an added safety benefit as well. The closed nature of the system prevents leaks, greatly decreasing any risks associated with the solvent. An automated closed-loop system is even safer since there is minimal if any, intervention needed during the extraction process.
The solvent is one of the chief costs associated with any extraction system. Since closed-loop systems don’t allow any solvent to escape, they are able to recycle the ethanol solvent to reuse it multiple times and dramatically reduce the operating costs of the system. ENTEXS extraction systems, including the massive MAXI, are able to recover 97% of the solvent used and reuse it for maximum efficiency with minimum costs.
Altogether, a high-quality closed-loop ethanol extraction system is the ideal choice for CBD extraction. These systems are safe, efficient, and capable of processing massive quantities of hemp in a single day. They produce clean produce with very little waste while keeping operating costs low and customer satisfaction high.