Hydrocarbons are organic compounds consisting of only hydrogen and carbon atoms. They are the most widely used organic compounds on the planet. Hydrocarbon extraction is an FDA approved method of extraction essential oils from plant material. The solvent type that you choose along with the purging process will determine the outcome and quality of your end product, whether it’s a shatter, wax, crumble, or sauce.
Butane (C4H10) is an alkane natural gas found in two chemical forms: n-butane and iso-butane. Butanes are odorless and colorless. N-butane is the more common of the two, and can be found in cigarette lighters and cook stoves. Butane’s boiling is 32.2F, so it can be easily recondensed without extreme pressures or temperatures. This makes butane the solvent of choice for passive recovery, and will yield a more stable product. Butane is the solvent of choice for processors who want to to yield high cannabinoids from their starting material.
Propane (C3H8) is a non-toxic solvent. Propane is odorless and colorless, and is mostly used for heating, and extractions for oils in the fragrance and flavor industry. Propane has a boiling point of -43.6F, which means that it creates higher pressures with room temperature. This means that your solvent temperature will be much lower without losing pressure. Lower temperatures helps stop extraction of certain plant materials such as fats and lipids, and will give a higher terpene profile to your oil. This is good for an extraction that has a better smell, as there is a more pure essential oil.
Blended solvents is preferred among many extractors because with a blend of solvents, you get the best of both worlds. A blended solvent is a tank of solvents that has been blended with a ratio of different solvents to produce a different end result. By blending solvents, you’re able to create an artisanal extract with your signature flavor and potency. A popular blend is a 70/30 mix of n-butane and propane, which will create a high cannabinoid, high terpene product. Another popular mix is 60/20/20 of n-butane, propane, and iso-butane. When using blended solvents, it’s important to note that there will be a difference in optimal pressure and temperature of the gases.
If you have any questions about how to incorporate blends into your extraction process, give us a call and one of our extraction experts will schedule a consult.