Cannabis extraction was done via a number of methods before the introduction of the supercritical CO2 extraction method. One of the ways CBD was extracted was through the use of solvents. One of the most common solvents used was alcohol. Ethanol is used to soak up the components that are useful, which can then be extracted by means of evaporation. One of the greatest hazards of using ethanol is that it is highly flammable. Temperature changes can also alter what comes out in the final product. Care needs to be taken when using alcohol extraction methods.
Across International Rotovap
The Rotovap from Across International is a small scale extraction machine that is relatively safe to use with basic instructions to prevent problems. While the machine is smaller and simpler and allows for easier evaporation, there is no cooling system. Chillers and pumps and other accessories would need to be purchased separately. There is only a minimal loading capacity, making this machine suitable for small scale extraction. The cheaper price makes this an option for those wanting a small amount of CBD on a regular basis that doesn’t cost and arm and a leg. Extra treatment is needed to get rid of the unwanted co-extracts.
While this machine is not yet available commercially, this is a revolutionary design that allows for extraction using low-proof alcohol. That makes it quite a bit safer than the ethanol-based extraction machines (and cheaper). The alcohol is a lot less harmful to use and less special equipment is needed. The alcohol extracts will need a lot of clean up though. This machine is still patent-pending but hopefully available for small scale users soon.
Perfect for the small scale extractor who is on the move. The machine can be operated via an app and triggered remotely to start production whenever needed. It can also adjust for altitude, for improved performance wherever it is set up. May require extensive cleanup of alcohol extracts and the production quantities are quite low. This is a good starting point for a very small scale extractor (usually for personal use). It is easy to use and does not need harmful solvents.
Genius ASAHI Rotary Evaporator
Better suited for commercial use, this machine makes use of solvent alcohol to remove the cannabinoids and terpenes at low temperatures. It is available in a range of sizes to allow for medium to large capacity extraction. There is also two cold chambers which trap much of the unwanted chlorophyll, giving the end product more of a golden colour as opposed to being greenish. The entire process is completely manual requiring more manpower. Maintenance and cleaning are fairly simple and you can choose the loading capacity needed by choosing the right model for the amount of biomass you want to process.
While alcohol extraction is not the purest method and may leaving behind some of the solvent if not properly evaporated, it is usually cheaper than the CO2 method. There are safety precautions required, especially with the ethanol-based extraction machines. The smaller the extraction, the safer the process though. This may be a solution for those that want a cheaper machine and who are not as concerned about traces of alcohol in the end product.