A Guide to Extracting Terpene Oil


Precision Team


Max 3 minutes read

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    With cannabis rapidly growing in popularity as states continue to legalize its use for recreation, consumers are more knowledgeable in the different compounds the plant produces, like terpene oil and the beneficial effects of each one.

    Extracting these delicate terpenes from your crude oil requires a delicate process to avoid damaging the molecules that give them the qualities that cannabis consumers appreciate.

    About Terpene Oils

    Besides CBD and THC, terpene oils are another valuable component in cannabis, that until recently, hasn’t received as much attention. These aromatic compounds that plants produce naturally give each plant its unique scent and flavor and help them communicate with other living things. Plants rely on terpenes for signaling purposes, whether to ward off would-be predators or attract pollinators like bees and butterflies.

    There are over 100 different terpenes that create the distinct flavors found in cannabis varieties, including citrus, pine, and berry. These aromatic oils contribute flavors and aromas that cannabis connoisseurs enjoy, but their potential goes far beyond. Terpene oils provide increased relaxation, lower stress levels, promote clarity, and reduce chronic pain, among other therapeutic and medicinal uses.

    Terpene oils and cannabinoids combine to have a synergistic impact on the human body. The resulting “entourage effect” creates more overall benefits than just one compound can when used independently.

    Extracting terpenes can provide another revenue stream for a cannabis processing operation. So what does it take to extract terpene oils?

    Extracting Terpene Oils

    There is one major issue with safely separating terpenes from a crude oil extract. They are delicate and prone to degradation, so their molecular structure can be altered by heat before extraction even begins.

    Solvent-Based Terpene Extraction

    Terpenes are sensitive to heat and pressure, and either can ruin the oils’ aroma, flavors, or chemical structure. Their molecular structure is altered with even moderate heat or pressure stress. That’s why terpenes must be extracted gently at a very low temperature in a manner that will render the resulting product unadulterated.

    We recommend using a light hydrocarbon to extract oil with a high terpene profile, specifically butane or propane or a propane-dominant blend. Harvesting the plant when terpene content is at its peak and extracting it with light hydrocarbons results in a soupy mixture that can then be lightly heated to remove the solvent; the required temperature isn’t high enough to degrade the terpenes. A centrifuge can then remove the terpenes and separate them from the cannabinoids, resulting in a purified terpene compound.

    Why Extract Terpenes?

    A thorough understanding of terpene oils—what they are, what they do, and how to extract, isolate and refine them—is essential to a successful extraction business. And it’s even more important in the cannabis industry since most states don’t allow terpenes from other plants to be reconstituted into a cannabis-based product. Making terpene oil separation a part of your operation’s processes will contribute to your profitability.

    How Precision Can Help With Terpene Extraction

    We recommend light hydrocarbon solvents for primary extraction because it is the most effective way to extract terpenes from plant material. Hydrocarbon extraction is an FDA-approved method for extracting botanical oils. Our closed-loop, hydrocarbon extraction systems are certified safe and effective for the production of superior terpene oil concentrates.

    Wondering what hydrocarbon extractor is right for your operational goals? Talk to a Precision expert today! 

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