The Problem With Large Scale Ethanol Batch Extraction: Typically, large scale ethanol extraction has a number of drawbacks. Here is a list of a few…
- Dilution = Poor Yield: Since recycled ethanol is imperative to low cost processing operation, the dilution of the pure ethanol becomes compromised (water keeps diluting solution) which results in poor extraction efficiency.
- Poor Terpene Retntion: Ethanol has poor terpene retention (terpenes become volatile and simply evaporate).
- Poor CB D Extraction: Finally, many fly-by-night ethanol processors who do a quick-turn extraction, end up with lots of bitter green tasting chlorophyll. To filter out the bitter green, they use activated carbon filters (referred to as carbon scrubbing), which also filter out most of the valuable components ( source: Romano LL, Hazekamp A. Oil: chemical evaluation of an upcoming based medicine. 2013;7(1):1-11.
- Poor Customer Product: Many fly-by-night ethanol extractors will label their product as CO2 extracted, or claim a “full spectrum hemp oil” which fools the customer into believing they’re getting a quality oil. When the customer doesn’t get any results, they do not come back, or simply try another product.
- High Slippage Costs: Slippage is the amount of ethanol you can’t recycle. Typically it’s 5-10 percent of production, which can amount to millions each year. You may save on the initial capital equipment costs, but in the long run, you spend more. The ole Cannabis adage “it’s all about cash-flow, not profit” applies to ethanol hemp oil extraction.
- High Nitrogen or Chiller Costs: Some ethanol processors use nitrogen or expensive chillers to chill the ethanol down to -70F to winterize (in-situ) the solution. It’s a great idea that really works. We’ve tried it in our shop in 5-gallon buckets, and it’s fast to chill cold. The only problem is that nitrogen or CO2 chilling is even more expensive than the ethanol. We easily blew through $100 of cooling with only one 5-gallon bucket of ethanol in 20 minutes.
- Permitting Nightmare: Want to permit a highly flammable and explosive ethanol plant? Hire a consultant or specialist to work with the local fire marshall, zoning committee, and other government entities who will require extensive permitting. This costs you lots of time and money. Also plan on lots of facility enhancements, like ventilation, flammability control. Want to see what OSHA says about ethanol ? please review: https://www.osha.gov/dts/osta/otm/otm_iv/otm_iv_5.html
- Working Around Ethanol is Bad for Workers: Try working around ethanol for a day, and you’ll see how unpleasant it is. It’s an irritant. When we started experimenting with ethanol in our shop, the workers complained. It’s not only annoying to work around, it can be dangerous for your health. Please review: https://www.anses.fr/en/content/assessing-risks-ethanol
- Poor Quality Oil = Lower Sell Price: The poor quality of ethanol extracted oil will bring a lower price when it comes time to sell. Both on wholesale and retail, the price is lower. As savvy consumers research oils more, they will realize that better quality full spectrum oil is achieved from CO2 or water. The lower sell price means that your ROI will be longer, and your customer retention shorter. This means you have to constantly find new buyers, versus retaining a loyal customer, who returns time and again, and also gives you referrals.
- Long Term Strategy = No Ethanol: Ask most ethanol processors if they intend to use ethanol processing in the future, and most will say no. Consumers will ultimately be the driving force for eco-extracts, that do not involve controversial solvents.
- Is your Ethanol Processing Operation GMP and CGMP and FMSA (or HACCP, GFSI, SQF, BRC) Approved ? There seems to be some question as to whether or not recycling ethanol is cGMP.
Sources For Ethanol Processors Wanting to Comply with USA Federal Regulations:
Science Source for Carbon Scubbing: https://brinstrument.com/blog/cannabis-distillation/four-pitfalls-of-carbon-scrubbing-for-cannabis-extract/
“4 pitfalls of carbon scrubbing of extract Carbon scrubs and other filter media for botanical oil extracts: Carbon scrubs can be used to remove color from oil extract and distillate. Other materials are also used as filter media such as diatomaceous earth, fullers earth, bentonite, kaolinite and alumina silicate. While filter media may remove color from [weed extracts], it may also isomerize or destroy CB D and components used to make isolate. It’s heartbreaking to hear stories of $10,000 of high-quality crude extract accidentally converted into low potency distillate when using filter media.”
CO2 or Water Extraction is the Better Choice for Quality Craft Oil Extraction
CO2 or Water Extraction Produces a Fantastic Quality Oil: CO2 extraction, while lower production capacity, produces a far greater quality full spectrum oil. CO2 extraction commands a higher price, because it’s a better quality product, which consumers love. Water extraction produces a high quality full spectrum oil, with huge capacity, and no permitting issues associated with ethanol.