November 10, 2022
One of the most important investments when designing a cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facility is the equipment that will turn crops into your desired product(s).
Epstein’s design team is experienced in all methods of extraction, giving us the ability to deliver the best solutions for our clients' needs. Recognizing the opportunities and obstacles for each is critical - Epstein’s well-versed process engineers are acutely aware of these nuances.
Extraction - Hot & Cold
During the extraction process, molecules found in raw cannabis material (flower) convert to a usable form. Plant oils are removed leaving behind various compounds such as THC, CBD and other cannabinoids that turn into products such as oils, edibles and topicals.
Hydrocarbon, ethanol and CO2 are all various methods for solvent-based, traditional extraction. However, rosin and bubble hash are options for non-solvent based methods dependent on the desired outcome.
Hydrocarbon extraction, for example, provides a quick and efficient method for large and small batches, preferably for wax and live resin. A major consideration should be post-extraction processing that, in this instance, requires additional steps to remove butane or propane used during the extraction. We must ask: Is this timeline suitable to our client’s needs?
Practice shows that ethanol extraction is the more aggressive of the methods and is performed using extremely cold temperatures. However, the upside is it reduces unwanted extracted compounds. Ethanol also requires more post-extraction considerations, much like hydrocarbon. When compared to hydrocarbon or CO2 extracts, potency is generally lower in crude ethanol extracts before it reaches post-extraction processing.
The CO2 method utilizes temperature and pressure to manipulate CO2 molecules. A plus to this is the ability to target specific subsets of molecules in the biomass, meaning the grower has greater power over the consistency of a product.
Non-solvent methods utilize natural processes for extraction such as pressure or temperature. Bubble hash freezes the trichomes on the flower and then, quite literally, shakes them off the plant before filtration and collecting resin. Rosin, on the other hand, uses high heat and pressure to melt compounds from the flower. This method, while used best for live resin, is safe, provides a lower cost option, and turns out products without residual solvent.
Trimming - Bucking a Trend?
What type of trimming makes the most sense for your production? And, will automated equipment make the process more efficient? Our process engineers guide clients through the decision-making at this stage as well. While dry trim allows more control over drying time, wet trimming is simply easier. The plant is more likely to stay intact during wet trimming due to the stickiness of the flower, and provides an aesthetically pleasing product.
Using either method, a bucking machine may provide a logistical solution by removing flowers and leaves from the stalks of harvested plants for further processing, but there are outcomes to consider. Bucking has the potential to damage quality dry flower, so hand trimming is likely to produce the highest quality product. Buckers play well if your crop is intended for live resin, as it benefits from mechanical treatment and speeds up harvest time.
With over 100 years providing best-in-class architecture and engineering services, Epstein is a leading design and construction firm in the cannabis industry, providing clients a hands-on approach to strategic planning, programming, architecture, engineering and construction services for retail dispensaries, as well as cultivation, processing and manufacturing facilities across the United States. Since 2020, Epstein has designed over 20 dispensaries and produced over 1 million square feet in cultivation facility design and construction for our cannabis clients.