The Equipment and the Processes: Hydrocarbon vs Ethanol Extraction

Depending on the end products desired to be produced, the equipment, solvent and processes utilized vary substantially. Hydrocarbon (Butane, Propane and Pentane) solvent extraction is best for certain products and ethanol solvent extraction for others.

For Example:

Shatter, butter, live resin, sauce, THC-a crystalline and THC HTFSE (high terpene full spectrum extract) are not able to be produced utilizing ethanol as a solvent.

Other products, including but not limited to THC distillate, full spectrum CBD (THC free) CBD isolate, CBD distillate, and CBD full spectrum extract (low THC), are readily produced with ethanol, albeit utilizing different processes than hydrocarbon.

See the chart below for a comprehensive breakdown of products versus processes in cannabis and hemp extraction (definitions for products and processes on side bars and below).


  • Crude: A low quality primary solvent extract to be refined to make distillate.
  • Shatter: A cannabis extract with a hardened and glass like consistency.
  • Butter: A cannabis extract with a cake batter type consistency containing a moderate amount of terpenes

Products (Cont’d)

  • Live Resin: A cannabis or hemp extract made with fresh frozen material generally in a butter like consistency containing a high amount of terpenes.
  • Sauce: an extract that contains a mixture of THC-a isolate/crystals mixed with isolated terpenes.
  • HTFSE (High Terpene Full Spectrum Extract): An extract containing the highest possible amount of original terpenes normally in a syrup like consistency which may also contain naturally occurring THC-a crystallization forms.

There are many are reasons to utilize either hydrocarbon or ethanol for your solvent based extraction.

The Precision® X10 MSE (Multi Solvent Extractor) provides the best of both worlds by extracting with hydrocarbon AND ethanol based solvents. Because it is ASME certified, the X10 provides the additional benefit of allowing for the use of pressures (up to 200 PSI) for the production of superior full spectrum cannabinoid and terpene removal. See PACEE below.

The Precision® X10 MSE

  • Compatible for use with Butane, Propane, Pentane, and Ethanol
  • Ethanol Specifications:
    • Non-Volatile, EPR reviewed, Closed Loop, Type 6 process for licensed operations (when used with ethanol)
    • Pressurized Aqueous Cold Ethanol Extraction (PACEE) for superior full spectrum cannabinoid and terpene removal
    • 30L of ethanol used per run
    • 15L/h recovery rate with 50L UL listed rotovap
    • 2.25H processing time per run (single batch with full recovery)
    • 3H processing time (triple batch with full recovery)
    • Rated for low temp conditions (-40C or below recommended)
    • 8-15lbs per batch capacity (see yield matrix)
    • Certified for Class 1 Division 2 when ran with ethanol
    • 95%+ cannabinoid and terpene removal
    • N2 pressurized saturation compatible up to 200PSI for excellent solubility (ASME certified vessels)
    • Up to 3 runs per solvent batch
    • Full spectrum yields great for high CBD hemp products

See the X10 MSE product page for hydrocarbon and full specifications.

The Processes Defined:

  • Primary Extraction: The process of removing the desirable plant components (cannabinoids, terpenes) via an organic solvent.
  • Degumming: a process that removes phospholipids from a primary extract using a catalyst such as citric acid.
  • Centrifugal Terpene Removal: The process of separating terpenes from a primary extract using a centrifuge device.
  • Winterization: The process of removing plant lipids from a primary hydrocarbon extract via a secondary solvent, freezing, and filtration.
  • Absorbent/Decolonization/Carbon Scrubbing: The process of removing the dark color and undesirable components of a primary extract via various filtration media.
  • Dewax: The process of reducing and removing plant lipids via a low temperature single solvent isolation and filtration.
  • Vacuum Purge: The process of removing residual sovents via a low pressure low heat oven cycling.
  • Decarboxylation: The process of removing the carbolic acid group from primary cannabinoids via heat.
  • Desolventization: The process of removing solvent from solute of a extract.
  • Multi-Plate Chromatography: The separation of a cannabinoid mixture by passing it in solution or suspension or as a vapor (as in gas chromatography) through a medium in which the components move at different rates.
  • Co-Solvent Separation: The process of isolating one or more cannabinoids via matching various solvents to cannabinoid polarity.
  • Co-solvent Crystallization: The process of isolating cannabinoids via crystallization by matching various solvents to cannabinoid polarity.

Now there is a solution for extraction operators who wish to utilize both hydrocarbon and ethanol. At Precision® our product development team is constantly improving and innovating according to industry demands. We are pleased to announce the all new X10 MSE (multi-solvent extractor), our newest iteration of the extraordinary versatile X10 platform, which is equipped for both ethanol and hydrocarbon based solvents.

Contact us to learn more.

Products (Cont’d)

  • THC Distillate: A distilled and isolated form of cannabinoids created via fractional distillation.
  • Full Spectrum CBD (THC Free): A CBD primary extract containing a full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes of which the THC level is undetectable.
  • CBD Isolate (THC Free): The molecular  isolate form of CBD obtained via crystallization.
  • CBD Distillate (THC Free): A purified form of CBD obtained via fractional distillation having an oil like consistency.
  • Full Spectrum CBD (Low THC): A CBD primary extract containing a full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes of which the THC level has tested below .3%.
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