What is the Winterization Process in Cannabis Extraction?

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When attempting to extract cannabis and hemp from biomass, one of the main steps in completing this process would be winterization. 

The plants normally contain various compounds such as plant waxes, lipids, and chlorophyll, which all must be removed prior to distillation. Without them being removed, producers risk their cannabis products lacking in purity, and ultimately the quality of their cannabis products.

An example of this would be if the compounds were present inside a vape cartridge. With compounds such as lipids and waxes being present, the cartridges would cause the distillation to burn, ultimately making inhaling the product tougher on the throat, and souring the experience for the consumer.

That’s why the winterization step is so important to a high-quality product. 

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What is winterization?

When talking about winterization, think about attempting to remove the fats from a roast that you decided to put inside the refrigerator after cooking. You will notice after leaving it inside the fridge overnight that the fats have surfaced to the top, ultimately coagulating and being removed from the rest of the roast. 

The result of this came from the colder temperatures impacting the roast, which is similar to the winterization process when performing cannabis extraction. Winterization removes the compounds mentioned previously from the crude oil before the distillation process by using a plethora of steps to ensure the purity of the THC/CBD oil.

How to perform winterization

The first step to successfully performing the winterization of cannabis extraction would be to maintain sub-zero temperatures. In order to remove the compounds that are negatively impacting the quality of the purity of the cannabis, you should aim for temperatures around -40C. 

If your sub-zero temperatures range closer to a value around -20C, you may be looking at not being able to perform winterization efficiently, given that the temperature would more often than not be too high. 

There are various options when attempting to winterize cannabis for extraction, such as chillers, walk-in freezers, or even surrounding the product with dry ice. After maintaining it for 24 hours and having the compounds coagulate to the top, this can lead us to our next step, which is filtering. 

This is normally assisted by a vacuum to pull out any of the coagulated substances within the oil as a result of the sub-zero temperatures being used earlier. If these temperatures are not maintained throughout the entirety of the 24 hours, then it would cause the winterization process to not be completely as efficient as it could be, since the fats and lipids of the plant would not separate as a result.

What is the distillation process? 

Distillation is also a critical step with regard to winterization, since it contributes towards separating molecules from the cannabis extract and also removes the ones that are unwanted. As a result of this, you will notice that the oil has a slightly higher level of purity, and as a result, would become more potent as well as an overall product. 

This process can be performed repeatedly until the plant matter, residuals, and chlorophyll are all gone and can no longer impact the quality of the product anymore. Many systems are in place for this process to occur, and most of them are very highly-technological for functioning. 

Distillation is normally performed by processing manufacturers attempting to mass produce CBD or THC oil for cannabis extraction.

What about dewaxing? 

Similar to winterization, dewaxing involves fewer steps and is linked more closely towards the extraction process. The main difference is that the steps for dewaxing normally occur inside a closed system that consists of multiple columns. 

Just like with winterization, you want to make sure the extract is within the climate of below -20C, so the desired cannabinoids are not lost. Once the unwanted lipids and chlorophyll have been removed, then they can be filtered out. Finally, you can boil the final product to remove the solvent being used to complete the process.

Want to learn more about the winterization process in cannabis extraction? 

Winterization is a process that noticeably enhances the satisfaction of the consumption of cannabis products by increasing the purity of the extraction oil. Done through very few steps, the process is quick and convenient and requires minimal labour in order to get the best out of your use of cannabis. 

Materials to be used such as solvents or freezers are also readily available for consumers at numerous locations for purchase and are also affordable. If you find yourself interested in improving the potency of your cannabis oil, this process would be the most efficient to participate in. 

To discover more about the various ways to perform winterization, view our winterization equipment and find out how you can optimize your experience handling cannabis - or contact us today. The Maratek team of extraction specialists would be pleased to help.

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