Choosing the Best Butane Extraction Equipment
If you’re reading this article we’re assuming there is a pretty good chance you are at the beginning phase of planning and starting your cannabis extraction business. First, congratulations and welcome!
Amongst the many to-dos on your list is choosing the best butane extraction equipment, if you’re going to use light hydrocarbon solvents to make your concentrates. There is much to consider beyond the choice of a primary butane extractor, because you’re building a system – not just a unit – in order to process your cannabis.
In this article, we will address each piece of equipment required to make the best butane extraction system for an entry-level processing facility. We will pay particular attention to the features of the primary butane extraction unit; however, we will also explain and give recommendations for all of the ancillary equipment – like pumps, vacuum ovens, chillers and heaters. This ancillary equipment will be required in order to make a broad range of popular concentrates. Lastly, we will discuss the C1D1 extraction room you will need in order to perform extraction, as well as some food for thought on post-sale training and support.
Table of Contents
- Primary Extraction
- Temperature Control Units
- Recovery Pumps
- Vacuum Pumps
- Vacuum Ovens
- C1D1 Extraction Rooms
There is some great entry-level butane extraction equipment on the market for cannabis extraction start-ups. It is possible to limit your initial investment in primary extraction but still process a large amount of biomass in an 8-hour shift.
We recommend looking for the following features when shopping butane primary extraction equipment.
Can Use Blended Solvents
By blended, we mean butane and propane. We know that typically the best results will be achieved by using a light hydrocarbon solvent blend for marijuana concentrates.
Quick Cycle Times
From start to finish, an entry-level extractor capable of 3-5 lbs of biomass per hour should provide around 30-45 minute cycle times. Cycle time is calculated as the total time from loading the material to pouring out the finished product. Extractors with larger capacities above 5 lbs per hour will inevitably have longer cycle times.
This would be how long it takes to recover the solvent in the final stage of the process. Recovery times can be improved with the use of a recovery pump or compressor – which we will discuss later in the article. 20-30 minutes would be a respectful length of time for solvent recovery. Again, longer times can be expected if you’re using a system with higher capacity rates above 5 lbs of biomass.
Everything on the primary butane extractor should have the ability to be temperature controlled. This allows you to create all of your sauces and live resin concentrate products. Having the ability to process at -60°C is going to allow you to create a larger range of finished goods at a much higher quality.
Removable Material Columns
Having extra, pre-loaded columns with fresh, or dried, cannabis allows you to hot-swap your material columns between runs and keeps production going. You don’t want to have to unload, clean and re-pack a column during your production shifts. Tip – buy enough columns for an entire shift and clean them during off-hours.
Inline Dewax Optional
Having the option to use, or bypass, an inline dewaxing column is very convenient. Some people choose to do an inline dewax when creating high-terpene extracts like live resin, shatter and sauces. Having a unit that gives you the option to bypass dewax is certainly a nice-to-have if you’re trying to decrease your cycle times.
All solvent vessels at a minimum should be jacketed for proper temperature control. This allows for precise control of your extraction process resulting in a higher quality extract.
Crude Oil Collection
You want to make sure you have the option of a pour spout and a removable collection bowl for the collection of your crude oil. You may want to use a certain collection technique depending on the type of concentrate you’re creating in order to limit agitation of the oil.
An expansion column allows you to re-collect any water in the system which will inevitably happen if you are running fresh (“wet”) biomass for live resin. You want to eliminate any residual water in your closed loop system. Not doing so could freeze up your lines or extract undesirables that are water soluble from the plant.
Your primary butane extractor will be subject to inspection and review by your local AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction). To ensure you have a trouble-free experience and protect the safety and health of your team, you should look for the following from your butane extraction manufacturer.
- ASME stamped vessels
- Engineer peer reviewed
- Pressure test report
- Build report
The compliances, rules and regulations are quickly evolving and can vary slightly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Make sure you are familiar with the terminology and application of these regulations in your specific area to avoid lost time and money.