How are Chillers Used in the CO2 Marijuana Extraction Process?

October 11th, 2019 by

Everyone knows that something happens to marijuana when it is heated up. However, few understand how important and chemistry-related that temperature reaction really is. As marijuana becomes legal across an increasing number of states, the science behind refining it into concentrated vapable substances is coming to light. Not only is it legal for marijuana chemists to experiment with the best ways to extract the TCH, CBD, and terpenes safely. It’ has also become highly profitable.

More and more people across the states have begun their own marijuana processing facilities and are exporting their successful extracts to nearby dispensaries for commercial or medical use.

Interestingly, an important part of several marijuana concentrating processes requires the need of a commercial-grade circulating chiller. Chillers are a vital part of the marijuana industry and, in fact, medical marijuana would not be possible without the intensive and specific chemical processes that include chilling both the extracts and the solvents to incredibly low temperatures for specific durations.

In this article, we will be focusing on the standard extraction process of using supercritical carbon dioxide, a process that is also used commonly in extracting essential oils and decaffeinating coffee among many other everyday extractions.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2)Extraction

Carbon dioxide extraction is among the most common ways to process chopped marijuana leaf into high-quality concentrates. This method is better known in the medical and manufacturing fields as Super Critical Carbon Dioxide Extraction. Why? It’s all because of the chiller.

You see, the way that carbon dioxide extraction of marijuana concentrates works is by running a liquid solvent through the leaf. It is necessary to keep the process incredibly cold in order to preserve the THC-A and CBD-A which are the non-psycho-active precursors to the substances so adamantly spoken about and sold. Both THC-A and CBD-A along with other similar cannabinoids are nearly inert until heated, at which point they drop their carbon dioxide and become the reactive THC and CBD we know, but this also degrades the concentrates if the chemical reaction is triggered too early.

Chillers Condense the CO2 into Liquid for Cannabis Solvent Filtration

However, the release of THC-A’s carbon dioxide molecules is not the carbon dioxide we’re talking about in terms of extraction. The marijuana extract’s sensitivity to temperature is why Super Critical Carbon Dioxide is necessary to essentially wash the concentrates from the leaf rather than cooking the concentrations out with heat.

This is where chillers come into play. In order for the carbon dioxide used to wash the extracts to be rendered into a liquid, it must be cooled down to a temperature where the usually-gaseous CO2 condenses and can be used as a solvent. The chiller super-chills the CO2 into super-critical CO2 in liquid form, which is then used to wash through the chopped plant material.

CO2 is Evaporated, Leaving the Marijuana Extracts Behind

What is washed out is a hyper-concentrated solution of both CO2 liquid and marijuana concentrates including THC, CBD, and Terpenes. Because cold CO2 was used instead of heat, the quality, flavor, and aroma of the concentrates has been preserved rather than altered or destroyed. As you may have guessed, the next step is to separate the liquid CO2 from the extracts.

Fortunately, this is extremely easy because CO2 defaults back into a gas when allowed to return to room temperature. As the once super-critical CO2 is allowed to warm up, it evaporates cleanly and completely from the concentrates, leaving nothing but the concentrates themselves behind.

Marijuana Concentrates are Chilled to Preserve Quality and Shelf-Life

Through this process, cannabis concentrated oils, waxes, crumbles, waxes, and shatters can all be produced based on minor variations to the routine and how the process is completed. However, the one thing all marijuana concentrate products share is that they last longer when chilled. Remember that THC-A and CBD-A are the unactivated molecules, activated and then spoiled by heat over time.

Most, if not all, marijuana product manufacturers invest in coolers to store both unprocessed leaf and finished products to improve their quality and shelf-life before these products are finally sold to a consumer or medical marijuana patient.

For more information about the use of commercial-grade chillers in the marijuana manufacturing industry, contact us today. Whether you are curious about the process or looking into starting your own manufacturing facility, we can help you find the ideal chiller for your concentration and storage needs. MN Chillers, MN Low Temperature chiller, Low Temperature chiller, rental Low Temperature chiller.

Sources:

https://www.jcyounger.com/cannabis-cbd-chillers/

https://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/547446/LX%20Landing%20Pages/JULABO_whitepaper%20final-1.pdf

https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/what-are-co2-marijuana-concentrates