Cannabis Extraction Methods: The Basics

Cannabis Extraction Methods 101

distillation of cannabis oils

If you’ve walked into a Las Vegas cannabis dispensary or browsed an online cannabis menu, you know that there are a lot more options to choose from than just flowers and pre-rolls. Cannabis extracts are all the rage, but what exactly are they— and how are they made? Here are the basics of cannabis extraction and how it affects the final product.

The Difference Between Solvent-Based vs. Solventless Extraction

Many cannabis extracts use what’s known as solvent-based extraction. Experts use specific chemicals that dissolve the trichomes, or primary elements, of the cannabis plant. They then remove the solvent, leaving behind an extract that can take the form of wax, vape oil, or a brittle substance known as shatter.

Other extracts, on the other hand, are made without solvents. The trichomes are extracted using mechanical methods like rubbing, pressing, or beating. The end result is a dry material like hash or rosin, known generally as concentrates.

Extraction Methods

Lab formulating cannabis productsWant to know some of the most common ways that cannabis trichomes are extracted? Here’s our list of some of the most popular, including the advantages of each.

Note: While some of these extraction methods can technically be completed at home, we generally recommend leaving cannabis extraction to the experts unless you’re very experienced and are sure that you can do so safely, legally, and without endangering yourself or others.


Alcohol Extraction

Many concentrates and extracts are made by using alcohol as the solvent base. Cannabis plants are placed in the alcohol, eventually dissolving into their concentrated parts. 

Other solvents are becoming more common as well, including some seen as more natural alternatives to alcohol. That said, alcohol is still one of the most common and reliable solvents for creating cannabis extracts.

CO2 Extraction

CO2 extraction involves the use of carbon dioxide to separate the compounds in cannabis from each other. The CO2 is kept at an extreme temperature and high pressure, allowing it to change from gas, liquid, and solid then back again. This process allows for the breaking down and separation of cannabinoids.

Butane or Propane Extraction

Creating cannabis oil sometimes involves the use of butane or propane to create pressure and heat— which can be extremely dangerous if not done in a very controlled environment with high-quality equipment and extensive safety protocols. 

Solventless Extraction

With the recent advancement of heat extraction methods, solventless ‘hash’ style concentrates have come back into style. Just a few years ago, your only options for finding cannabis extracts that didn’t come from the use of solvents were kief or cold water hash. Now, solventless extracts are on the rise as a more natural option that retains the purity of the cannabis itself while maximizing potency and concentration.

One of the most popular and high-quality forms of solventless extraction methods is rosin. Rosin uses a combination of pressure and heat, and instead of applying these forces slowly over time, they’re applied almost instantly. You start with either a full marijuana flower or hash/kief, and the process results in a translucent material that’s similar to shatter and can be consumed via dabs.

Rosin has been proven to be as potent, high-yield and flavor-rich as solvent-made extracts when made currently, and cannabis consumers are definitely standing up and taking notice.

What are Full-Spectrum Extracts?

full spectrum cannabis extract products

When you hear or read the phrase ‘full-spectrum, it’s referring to an extract that has retained the cannabis plant’s entire profile of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other beneficial compounds. While these products are obviously beneficial, they’re more difficult to produce. When you see ‘full-spectrum’ on a product’s packaging at our Las Vegas cannabis dispensary, you know that the creator has gone to great lengths to ensure quality and purity.

Green is proud to feature a wide range of cannabis extracts. Simply browse our Las Vegas cannabis menu and place an order for pickup or delivery today.