An isolate in the cannabis industry is the purest product you can achieve. After extracting crude oil from the initial biomass, then winterizing, decarboxylating, and distilling the oil, you are left with a 99%+ pure cannabinoid crystal.
The isolate process occurs after distillation and separates the cannabinoids fully. It is the furthest you can take biomass to refine it into a pristine substance.In this blog, we’re going to explain exactly what an isolate is in the cannabis production industry, and which pieces of equipment you need to use to produce CBD and THC isolate effectively.
What is an isolate in the cannabis industry?
The result of the isolate process is a crystalline or powder product containing pure CBD, THC or other cannabinoid. The isolate can then be used in other products for consumption or to create specific combinations of different isolates.
The benefit of an isolate is it allows for precise measurements, and therefore controlled dosages of the desired component. It's especially popular for patients who want to use only CBD, an isolate product that has the lowest percentage of other substances present.
Most CBD isolates are more than 99% pure CBD, and can provide comfort to people who do not want the effects of THC.
An isolate is also free of odour and taste as all those terpenes and components of the cannabis or hemp plant have been removed during the process. It is also colourless because any chlorophyll has been removed leaving just the clear/white crystals.
This is also a reason an isolate is desirable when creating products with cannabis. It can be used to make edibles, drinks or topicals. It can also be consumed sublingually by placing the powder underneath the tongue. The isolate itself has a longer shelf life than other products because it is so pure. It is comparable to sugar, the plant itself would not last too long before going bad (without drying), but the isolate or pure product can last months or longer.
What equipment is needed to produce CBD or THC isolate?
The process of producing a crystal or powder isolate occurs due to precise temperature, pressure, and agitation. The distillate oil is combined with a solvent, usually pentane, and slowly heated while being stirred.
Once it hits a certain temperature, agitation will slow as the temperature is slowly brought down. This will cause the CBD or THC to “crash out” meaning it will begin to crystalize. The crystals can be removed from the vessel and rinsed with cold pentane, or another solvent, which will help to remove any unwanted remains. The crystals can be then milled into a powder, depending on what their use or final product will be.
Important things to consider before producing THC or CBD isolate
The equipment to produce an isolate can be expensive, and processing the oil further can significantly reduce the volume of product to be sold. Depending on the scale of your operation and the current sale price of isolate, it can be expensive to produce with little output and the equipment may not be beneficial at this time.
The price of isolate powder had a big drop in 2019. This may be due to the increase of supply as legalization expands and more processors are further refining their product into an isolate.
Another factor to consider is the biomass you are initially starting with. If the initial potency of your biomass is low, it will take a large volume of flower to produce any isolate. Your company may be more profitable selling a distillate rather than processing it further into an isolate. A comparison between the increased value of an isolate and the decrease in yield needs to be completed to see if the operation would be profitable.
There is also a discussion in the community about the benefits of multiple cannabinoids working together to create an entourage effect that increases the overall benefits. An isolate would not produce that due to the purity of the product.
To learn more specifics about equipment and if isolate production is viable for your company, click here to get in contact with Maratek today. We would love to answer any questions that you may have.