Ethanol extraction is a process used to separate unwanted materials from desired products using the solvent ethanol.
It is commonly used in the cannabis and hemp industry to improve the quality and concentration of the cannabis flower. Ethanol is an ideal solvent for extraction because of its properties that allow for high-volume extraction, while effectively removing 99 percent of waste from the desired product.
Ethanol extraction helps manufacturers of cannabis improve their products, providing a higher-quality commodity for the consumer.
With that in mind, in this blog we’re going to take a complete look at the history, and evolution, of ethanol extraction and what the future has in store for it.
The Evolution of Ethanol Extraction
The introduction of technology in the early 2000s allowed for new innovations in various industries, including ethanol extraction. As technology rapidly improved - think PLC screens and automation - the efficiency and quality of the extraction processes also improved, leading to better end products.
The three main evolutions of ethanol extraction are maceration extraction, Soxhlet extraction, and cold ethanol extraction.
1 - Maceration Extraction
The first development of ethanol extraction was the maceration extraction method. In this method, ethanol is soaked in the product before extraction so that it can be easily filtered using the rotary evaporation method. This method is popular with low-capital or start-up companies because it is relatively cheap for an ethanol extraction device on the market. However, the extraction quality of the cannabis is not ideal, as the concentration of THC diminishes with an increase in unwanted substances and waste.
2 - Soxhlet Extraction
The second development in the evolution of ethanol extraction was the Soxhlet Extraction. In this method, ethanol is heated to produce a vapor that interacts with the plant material, creating a soluble solution that is collected for storage. The advantage of this method is that the plant material is contained separately from the solution, eliminating the need to filter it out.
3 - Cold Ethanol Extraction
The most recent advancement in the ethanol extraction industry is the cold ethanol extraction method, also known as cryogenic ethanol extraction. In this method, ethanol is frozen to cold temperatures and then released onto the desired product. The product is then pumped into a container involving rotary evaporation or falling film evaporation, where it undergoes double filtration for higher purity. This method results in the highest level of purity compared to other methods, but it is expensive and time-consuming.
The Future of Ethanol Extraction
Each of the above ethanol extraction methods has its benefits and disadvantages, but the ethanol extraction, which is a vital process in the cannabis and hemp industry, will continue to evolve with new innovations being implemented regularly.
The advancements in technology, materials, and knowledge allow engineers to continue to craft complex ethanol extraction systems that succeed at a high rate, and this will continue as we move into the future.
Interested in learning more about ethanol extraction and how choosing the right equipment can help you produce higher-quality cannabis and hemp products? Get in touch with Maratek today.