Cannabis oil is often viewed as the most versatile cannabis plant byproduct. It represents much of what the cannabis culture is today. But have you ever wondered how is it’s possible to get such a clear, pure oil from this plant?
Most companies use two very common methods to refine oil that has been extracted from the cannabis plant through our cutting edge CO2 Extraction technology: Winterization and Distillation. These methods create an oil of superior quality, allowing them to produce the purest oil for our consumers.
The visual differences between the distillate and winterized cannabis oil.
(Distillate to the left: With a more clear and bright oil color / Winterized to the right: With a translucent amber color)
Winterization and Distillation
It’s important to note that extraction and refinement are two different processes and they are done in very different ways. The refinement process is done after an initial extraction procedure using Supercritical CO2.
The winterization process involves putting the raw cannabis extract through an alcohol wash that filters some of the undesirable materials. The raw extract is immersed in the alcohol, where it is then frozen, hence its name. This process separates the cannabinoids from other compounds like terpenes and wastes such as waxes, lipids, and plant chlorophyll. This process creates a superior oil, reaching the rate of up to 65% potency.
The non-removal of the lipids may negatively affect the final product. As fats lower the purity of the cannabinoid and may cause the distillate to become less transparent, their presence will damage the final result. Also, when used in vape cartridges, the oil can get burnt. The amount of fats in the final product may vary depending on the extraction method used and the type of refinement applied to it.
Distillation: this method occurs through a process called “short path distillation”, which separates and refines valuable molecules, as well as contaminants, resulting in a clean and practically transparent concentrate. In comparison with other refinement means, the distillate is in a level above because it obtains a pure oil of very high potency. Most companies produce CBD and THC distillates with 75-85% potency, in addition to the ultra-premium THC distillate oils that can reach up to 90% potency.
You may be wondering why the distillation method creates such high potency cannabis oils. This is because the boiling points of cannabinoids are very high, causing manufacturers to distill at lower temperatures than in other molecular distillation processes. Cannabis distillates, however, are created using a short path distillation technique that differs from a typical solvent extraction. Heat vaporizes the cannabinoids, which is then transferred to a cooling system for consolidation and eventual collection into beakers. This process is repeated over and over again to create pure cannabinoids without chlorophyll, plant matter, or residual solvents.
It’s important to note that after obtaining a solvent-free oil through a CO2 extraction and a winterization or distillation refinement, most of the terpene properties are lost, but they can be re-introduced later by the manufacturer.
The terpenes have peculiars smell and taste when compared to cannabinoids, and when it’s combined with other compounds of the plant, it may result in different tastes, smells, and effects. Besides that, the terpenes control how the THC levels react in the human body. You can learn more about them here!
In the end, the importance shouldn’t be placed on which method was used to refine it, but in whether it was done correctly and if it is of good quality.
When choosing products made with distillate or winterized oil, you should be aware that these products might be more concentrated, thus having a greater effect on the user. Always remember to consult a doctor before consuming any medicinal product in order to determine the best product for your condition, as well as to obtain information regarding the correct dosage and strength required.