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Cannabis Distillates: What They Are and How to Make Distillate

Cannabis has already travelled far from the bud. However, a new production technique is now hitting the commoditised world of weed. It is called distillation. It is also very likely to be the future of commercial marijuana.

Distillate – in other words, cannabinoids that have been distilled from concentrate or plant matter – has arrived. Distillation is a technique for creating cannabis extracts that are pure on a molecular level. It is possible to isolate specific cannabinoids. It is also possible to create odourless and tasteless THC (or CBD) that is 99% pure concentrate.

What is cannabis distillate?

Cannabis distillates are concentrated extracts that are almost always close to 100 percent pure. Distillates often have an extremely high THC content, but some distillates are instead created with the intention of producing a high CBD content. Since cannabis distillates are concentrated, only a little bit needs to be consumed as compared to consuming raw cannabis flower. Fortunately, both medical and recreational cannabis users can experience nearly immediate effects after consuming distillates utilizing distillate dabs.

How are distillates created though and what processes are utilized to produce these concentrated products? To create cannabis distillates, different extraction processes can be used including “short path distillation” and “short path wiped film distillation”.

How to Make Distillate?

Short Path Distillation Process:

Regarding the short path distillation process, users must operate a specialized set-up that allows them to properly distribute the extracted cannabis material. A heated flask facilitates the intake of cannabis extract material . As the extract material is fed through the flask, an increased amount of heat is applied. A vacuum is also used so it can help draw vapors up into what’s called, “fractionating tubing”.

From here, the extract material flows through the fractionating tubing, which is then directed to a condensing tube. If individuals want to improve their product’s refinement, the extracted cannabis material can be run through the distillation process several times.

Short Path Wiped Film Process:

Another extraction method is the short path wiped film process, which focuses on the melting points of cannabinoids. So, what happens during this specific distillation process? First, users must utilize a compact, specialized system that consists of a feed vessel, which serves an important purpose. This feed vessel is meant to send the bulk of the extracted cannabis material through what’s called a “heated evaporation vessel”.

Within this evaporation vessel is a rotating wiper blade, which is used to evenly distribute the extract material onto the vessel’s walls. Then, inside the center of the evaporation vessel is an internal condenser. This is the area in which different parts of the extract material are separated and concentrated.

The wiper system works to move the extract material through the heated vessel and it evaporates into the internal condenser, which is converted into a liquid. This specific liquid accumulates, is collected and is then deemed a distillate. To catch excess terpenes and other plant material, another evaporator is used to distribute these compounds into their own designated flasks. What’s interesting about both of the short path distillation processes is that no solvents are required. These processes do their part to divide cannabis into high concentrations of CBD and THC in a solvent-free manner.

Solvent-free Cannabis Distillate–Benefits & Why Consumers Opt For These Concentrates

When you hear the term, “solvent-free”, what do you think it means? In regards to the cannabis extraction process, a solvent is a liquid that’s meant to separate THC or CBD from raw cannabis flower. Unfortunately, it’s possible for residual solvents to remain in cannabis concentrates if they weren’t properly flushed out. For example, if butane or propane were used as solvents during the cannabis extraction process, and if small quantities of them remain in the final product, it’s possible for consumers to experience adverse effects that can ruin their overall experience.

Oppositely, a solvent-free cannabis concentrate contains zero leftover residual solvents. One main reason why these products are preferred is because consumers don’t have to worry about accidentally ingesting harmful solvents that may make them feel bad or worse than how they initially felt. Overall, solvent-free concentrates including solvent-free distillates are a safer and healthier choice as compared to concentrates that were created by using butane or propane. As a result, solvent-free distillates are slowly becoming a top extract of choice.

To this day, numerous cannabis consumers are becoming more health conscious and mindful of the products they put in their bodies. This applies to cannabis concentrates like distillates and the ingredients used to make them. If you could choose between buying solvent-free cannabis distillate or cannabis distillate in which solvents were used, which one would you spend your money on?

Versatility of CBD and Pure THC Distillate Products:

Furthermore, distillates have become versatile products in the cannabis industry because nearly any cannabis strain can be used to produce a distillate. Also, numerous terpenes and flavonoids can be added into cannabis distillates towards the end of the extraction process. This gives consumers the ability to choose a concentrate like a pure THC distillate or distillate oil that’ll suit their needs and wants.

Also, nowadays, it’s common to think about how to make THC distillate at-home. Fortunately, there are several ways to do so, which makes distillates a versatile concentrate in the ever-changing cannabis industry. What’s even more captivating about producing these products is that cultivators have the freedom to choose which cannabis strain and distillation process they wish to use.

Drawbacks And Criticisms

The biggest critique of the distillation method so far is that it usually destroys all terpenes. The culprit is heat. Terpenes are quite delicate and can only be extracted at lower temperatures. That said, extractors can sidestep this issue by separately extracting terpenes, then infusing them with cannabinoids later.

This practice has already evoked a storm of criticism from those who claim this is the dawn of “engineered” cannabis. That said, this practice will likely continue because of the level of customisation it offers manufacturers. Flavour, in other words, can be added from any flower downstream of the extraction process. Distillate is not only odour, but taste free.

Distilling also cannot remove all pesticides. That is one of the reasons this process requires raw product that is safe. Finally, distillate is far more expensive. That said, there is a reason; it is a highly concentrated cannabinoid extract. You can use less of it than traditional methods to achieve similar effects.

Cannabis distillates are concentrated extracts that are almost always close to 100 percent pure. Distillates often have an extremely high THC content, but

How to Make THC Distillate: Everything You Need to Know

THC distillate is a highly-concentrated cannabis preparation that has grown in popularity in the recreational and medical cannabis markets.

by Kelly Pitts – February 14, 2020

Have you ever wondered how distillates are made? We’ll go over the steps to make THC distillate and learn a little more about this new, potent cannabis product.

What is THC Distillate?

THC distillate is a highly-concentrated cannabis preparation that has grown in popularity in the recreational and medical cannabis markets. THC distillate goes through a refinement process that is similar to that of CBD extract.

It can reach over 99% potency and, like other cannabis concentrates, THC distillate emits less odor than dry flower when heated and produces stronger effects with less product.

How is THC Distillate Made?

Want to know how to make THC distillate? Distilling THC requires expensive and advanced equipment and is best performed in a controlled, professional laboratory setting.

Due to the high startup cost and difficulty involved, it is generally a more safe and economical choice to leave this one to the professionals.

The process involves several levels of extraction and purification to yield a product that is highly-refined, pure, and potent.

Step 1: Crude Extraction

The first step towards creating THC distillate is to separate the resinous trichomes from the bulk of the cannabis plant material. This extraction of crude material can be accomplished using either physical or chemical methods.

  • Sieving is the process of physically separating trichomes by sifting the dried and cured plant matter over a fine mesh screen. This is one of the traditional methods for extracting resin to make hash . The benefit of this method is that it is chemical free, but it requires more physical labor and causes more impurities from the plant matter to enter the crude product that must be removed in the next stage of refinement.
  • Butane can be used as a chemical-based solvent to extract cannabis oil. The resulting product is known as butane hash oil , or BHO. Using makeshift tools and attempting this method at home is not recommended, as it has resulted in a number of mishaps involving personal injury and property damage. It’s best to only source high-quality, lab-tested BHO from a licensed dispensary. Commercial extractors use a closed-loop system with a variety of safety measures to mitigate the risk of igniting the highly flammable solvent.Plant material is ground and soaked in butane, then added to a holding tank and pressurized to extract the resinous cannabinoids. The butane is collected in a recovery tank to be recycled later.
  • Supercritical CO2 extraction has become the preferred method for professional distillers due to its versatility. When heated and compressed into a supercritical state, carbon dioxide(CO2) retains some of the properties of both gases and liquids. Its gaseous properties allow it to reach into all the small spaces of the ground plant matter while its liquid properties act as a solvent to extract the raw cannabinoids. Supercritical CO2 is considered a cleaner alternative to butane and other chemical methods because there is no residual solvent—residual carbon dioxide evaporates as a gas at room temperature. It also acts as a sanitizing agent , killing bacteria and mold and prolonging shelf life.

Step 2: Winterization

The process of winterization serves to further purify the cannabis concentrate by separating the cannabinoids and terpenes from the remaining plant matter. Winterization removes impurities including:

  • Fats
  • Waxes
  • Lipids
  • Chlorophyll

The concentrate is mixed with ethanol and kept at extremely low temperatures(anywhere between -20°C and -60°C ) for up to 24 hours.

The solvent combined with the cold temperature causes the impurities to separate from the cannabinoid extract.

Once these waxes and other plant byproducts are removed, the extract is filtered and sent through a rotary evaporator to remove the residual ethanol.

Step 3: Decarboxylation

At this stage of the refinement process, the extracted cannabis compounds must be converted to active cannabinoids in order to interact effectively with the human body.

Decarboxylation is the process of removing carboxylic acid from the acidic precursors to cannabinoids, including THCA, CBDA, CBNA, and so on.

When THCA is exposed to the proper amount of heat over time, it converts to the active cannabinoid THC, which produces strong psychoactive effects.

To activate the THC, the cannabis concentrate is decarboxylated at around 225°F(107°C) for up to 40 minutes.

Step 4: Distillation

The final step in creating THC distillate is to isolate specific cannabinoids and terpenes from the rest of the extract. Each cannabinoid has its own unique boiling point and molecular weight.

Using vacuum pressure and heat, distillers can isolate the individual compounds and distill them at up to 99% purity .

In its raw form, THC distillate is tasteless and odorless. Makers of THC distillate may combine THC with other cannabinoids and strain-specific terpenes to enhance the flavor profile and bring about more balanced effects.

What is THC distillate used for?

THC distillate is as versatile as it is potent, and it can be consumed in a variety of ways.

  • Dabs – THC distillate is a highly-refined cannabis concentrate and can be used in the same way as other concentrates like wax, shatter, or bubble hash. Simply heat up your dab rig and dab as usual, keeping in mind that THC distillate can be over 99% pure THC. Start with only a very small amount.
  • Vaping – THC distillate can be vaped from a vape pen or other vaporizer product. When purchased from a reputable source and extracted with supercritical CO2, vaping with THC distillate can be a cleaner option compared to butane hash oil.

There are also a number of dab-free and vape-free ways to consume THC distillate. Distillate has already been decarboxylated during the refinement process, meaning it does not require heat to become active.

Some may choose to make their distillate into a tincture and take it sublingually, allowing the cannabinoids to absorb under the tongue.

Decarboxylation also means that THC distillate is ready to use for all kinds of edibles from green smoothies to a chocolatey space cake .

We recommend you leave THC distillate-making to the professionals, but we hope you enjoyed learning more about the process. Consider picking up some THC distillate on your next trip to the dispensary.

The cost per gram can be higher than other cannabis products, but the potency, purity, and versatility of THC distillates can make it well worth the price.

Have you ever wondered how distillates are made? We’ll go over the steps to make THC distillate and learn a little more about it. ]]>