Solvent-Based vs. Solventless Cannabis Extracts

Solvent-Based vs. Solventless Cannabis Extracts

Solvent-Based vs. Solventless Cannabis Extracts

Concentrates have become an increasingly popular alternative to flower. And just like traditional bud, there’s plenty of options to choose from. Wax, hash, rosin, shatter, and crumble are just a few of the different forms of concentrates you can enjoy. All vary in potency, appearance, and consistency, which means it’s easy to find a product perfectly suited for your needs and preferences. 

The easiest way to differentiate concentrates, other than by their consistency, is how they were extracted from the cannabis plant. Concentrates can be broadly divided into two categories: solvent-based vs. solventless. The way in which they were extracted can affect the THC content and terpene profiles, so it can be incredibly helpful to know the differences before buying.

What are solvent-based concentrates? 

Solvents are chemicals that dissolve a solid into a liquid solution. In cannabis extractions, they are used to separate the resinous trichomes from the marijuana plant. Trichomes contain terpenes and cannabinoids, so when they’re separated from the bud, it creates a highly potent concentrate. Butane, propane, alcohol, and CO2, are the most commonly used solvents for cannabis extractions. Here are the solvent-based concentrates that can be made using them:

  • Butane Hash Oil (BHO): This is the most popular solvent-based extraction method. Cannabis is soaked in butane, which strips it of its cannabinoids and terpenes. From there, the residual butane is purged using a vacuum oven. 
  • Propane Hash Oil (PHO): This process is similar to butane hash oil, but uses higher pressures, a lower boiling point, and propane as its solvent. It is believed more terpenes are preserved and fewer residuals are left over by using propane. 
  • Alcohol/Ethanol: Ethanol or isopropyl alcohol is used to soak the bud briefly at a low temperature. Many concentrates use this method, including Rick Simpson Oil, which gained popularity for its medicinal properties. 
  • CO2 Oil: Many vape cartridges are made using carbon dioxide as the solvent. While it is a safer alternative than propane and butane, some consider it less flavorful. Nonetheless, it produces more consistent results and has a lower carbon footprint compared to hydrocarbon extractions. 

What are solventless concentrates? 

As the name suggests, solventless concentrates do not use solvents or chemicals. Most contain only the trichomes of the cannabis plant, which as mentioned, contain the highest levels of terpenes and cannabinoids. 

Common solventless concentrates include:

  • Rosin: Rosin is one of the newest and safest forms, made by applying pressure and heat. It’s so simple that many concentrate enthusiasts can easily make it at home without any botany or chemistry background. Read our full “What is Rosin?” blog to learn more. 
  • Ice water hash: Bubble hash, also known as ice water hash, is made by soaking and shaking the bud in ice water. In low temperatures, the trichomes become brittle and break off. They are then filtered through to separate them from the rest of the plant matter.
  • Dry sift hash: A dry sift hash is made by passing flower through a filter to separate and gather the trichomes. Grinders do this, creating what is known as kief. This can then be used to pack on top of bowls or inside joints. 

Solventless vs. Solvent-Free

It may be easy to assume these two terms mean the same thing, but that’s not true. In fact, “solvent-free” means that solvents were used in extractions. However, properly made solvent-based extracts have all of the chemicals removed before being sold. This means they can be labeled “solvent-free,” despite solvents being used in the manufacturing process. 

Solventless extracts, on the other hand, contain no chemicals and they also weren’t used in their production. So be careful if you feel strongly about the use one way or the other. 

When in doubt, leave it to the professionals. Green offers a wide range of concentrates, as well as flower, edibles, tinctures, and more. Check out our full menu here. For all additional questions, please feel free to contact us.