What is Cannabis Extraction Equipment?
Before investing in cannabis or hemp oil extraction equipment, make sure you know the answers to all of the critical questions. We’ve covered several of those questions here, from preparing a business plan and determining what type of equipment is available, to understanding your local regulations and working with a collaborative equipment supplier.
Before You Invest in Cannabis Extraction Equipment
Make sure you make solid purchase decisions based on market research into what cannabis or hemp products sell in today’s marketplace. Before making any purchases, you should already have your business plan fully developed and ready to show your partners or investors.
Your plan will help you make some critical business decisions and include research about:
- Market Opportunity: Research the market. Is there a gap that you can fill?
- Audience: Who will be consuming your product? Will it be for medicinal or recreational use? Or both? CBD- or THC-infused?
- Products: What type of product are you interested in selling? What’s currently selling well on the market? Is there a unique niche for your product?
- Extraction Method: The type of product you are going to sell will help determine what equipment and extraction method you should be investigating and investing in. Talk to the experts and let them help you make the right decision for your goals.
- Legalities and Regulations: Each state has its own set of laws and regulations for manufacturing cannabis products. Consult with an attorney who knows the laws in your region.
To determine the specific equipment you should purchase for your extraction operation, you’ll need to answer the questions above and understand how the common solvent and non-solvent extraction technology works.
Types of Cannabis Extraction Equipment
There are three types of cannabis extraction equipment to be considered. We cover the basics, Cannabis Extraction Equipment 101, below:
Ethanol Extraction Equipment
Ethanol provides a versatile extraction agent that can be used for a wide range of cannabis and hemp end products. When conducted properly, ethanol extraction doesn’t leave any residual solvent in the product and is considered clean. Ethanol extraction can produce several different cannabinoid derivatives, making it a stellar option for small-scale processors creating connoisseur products and for larger labs looking to isolate specific terpenes or cannabinoids like CBD and THC in larger quantities. As a bonus, ethanol is known as one of the safer methods for extracting cannabinoids.
An ethanol extraction process must be conducted in C1D2 conditions, so a build-out is somewhat straightforward and scalable. Ethanol is recoverable and reusable over multiple cycles, making the process cost-effective and easily scalable, with a solid ROI.
CO2 Extraction Equipment
CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) is another popular solvent that is used for cannabinoid and terpene extraction. CO2 extraction requires pressurized CO2 (used as a solvent) to pull the cannabinoids from cannabis and hemp. CO2 results in pure cannabinoid isolates and is considered very safe.
CO2 as a solvent isn’t volatile and leaves no trace residue, which is why it’s so commonly used in food processing and to produce essential oils. This is critical for THC and CBD medicinal products, which may be used by people with compromised immune systems.
CO2 is also an excellent option for extracting fragile plant terpenes for high-quality distillates that maintain the flavor profiles of the original plant. This can be important for vape products and other full-spectrum products that are popular with cannabis enthusiasts.
What type of CO2 extraction equipment should you invest in? That depends on the initial size of your operation, your budget, your available space, and the end products you’ll be creating. Fortunately, with CO2 processing, you can start with a smaller operation and scale as your sales grow.
Hydrocarbon Extraction Equipment
If the product you’ll be manufacturing is a cannabis connoisseur product like strain-specific live resins or shatter, hydrocarbon extraction is a stellar choice. The use of hydrocarbons (propane, butane, or hexene) helps maintain each strains’ authentic flavors, which are made up of a combination of cannabis flavonoids, terpenes, and cannabinoids. Today’s cannabis consumer is very interested in flavors and full-spectrum products, making hydrocarbon extraction increasingly popular.
Hydrocarbon extraction equipment is typically less expensive than CO2 and ethanol extraction equipment. This makes hydrocarbon extraction an ideal choice for startups and those looking to create small-batch derivatives. A skilled laboratory technician can attain up to a 90% concentration of cannabinoids with very high purity and adjust butane and propane to produce a range of specific salable products.
Both hydrocarbon and CO2 extraction use closed-loop extractors, so the system is completely sealed. The solvent is reclaimed and reused.
Solventless Extraction Equipment
Solventless extraction equipment mechanically separates the cannabinoid-rich trichomes from the plant biomass. This separation removes the trichomes from the cannabis plant biomass using water and/or ice and vigorous agitation. The trichomes are then filtered from the biomass and the water and used to create a high-quality hash product.
How to Choose an Equipment Type
If you’re a relative newcomer to the cannabis processing industry or even a seasoned cannabis business owner, making an extraction equipment selection doesn’t have to be complicated. The best piece of advice we can give is to make sure you get very clear on the type of product(s) you are going to make. The finished goods product you will be making will determine everything else from extraction type, to equipment type to even your lab specs.
There are risks associated with running a cannabis extraction lab, though ensuring your equipment is certified, and compliant can help mitigate those risks. Double-check that any equipment you’re considering meets industry standards and is certified by the appropriate governing bodies BEFORE you purchase it.
This list of extraction lab equipment certifications should include:
- C1D1 compliance, where applicable
- ASME certification
- ISO 9001:2015 for extraction equipment
- CE marked (or pending) for European Economic Area (EEA)
- UL listed components
- PSI (Pressure Safety Inspectors) certified in 50 states
- UL certified to ANSI/CAN/UL/ULC 1389
Facilities and Licensing
The facilities and licensing requirements for your extraction operation will depend on your local regulations, and the type of product(s) you are ultimately looking to create. When considering purchasing cannabis extraction equipment, your supplier should be fully aware of the required facilities and licensing for processing operations in your location specific to your finished product. A strong equipment partner will ensure that you have the information you need and collaborate with you to ensure building inspections and zoning approvals go smoothly.
When drawing up your cannabis extraction business plan, you’ll want to closely consider your business model, long-term objectives for growth and stability, and your vendor partners. Fortunately, now is a great time to enter the extraction market or expand an existing extraction business. The industry is experiencing exponential growth, and investors stand ready to work with bold entrepreneurs who have expansion plans and demonstrated profitability.
While traditional banking channels aren’t an option for cannabis businesses due to legalities at the federal level, many business owners are using alternative channels, including angel investors, Family Office funds, and other private investors.
Extraction Equipment Safety
How safe is cannabis extraction equipment? When proper safety measures are taken, cannabis extraction operations are very safe. However, the solvents that are used must be appropriately handled and stored. Your local regulators will be able to inform you of their limits on solvent storage. Following those regulations helps ensure your team’s safety and helps them achieve the product throughputs necessary for your operation’s profitability.
Extraction Lab Design and Compliance
Before getting into your lab design and compliance, ensure you know the type(s) of products you want to create, as that will drive the lab design and types of compliance regulations you’ll need to follow.
When you’re in the process of a design and build-out of a cannabis or hemp extraction laboratory, it pays to use the most experienced contractors with industry experience. Qualified contractors who have built labs can ensure your operation is equipped for critical aspects like:
- Efficient HVAC
- Electrical infrastructure that will support the operation and potential expansion
- Plumbing infrastructure
- C1D2/D1 compliance
Qualified contractors are an absolute necessity, and an investment in relationships with highly qualified vendors is worth both the cost and the effort.
C1D2/D1 compliance is one of the most critical aspects of a lab build. An experienced extraction equipment vendor will help ensure you follow all safety regulations and requirements, keeping your team safe and helping you avoid expensive rebuilds later.
We recommend you conduct detailed advance research into your locale’s regulations and restrictions as part of your early business planning. Knowing the requirements before purchasing any extraction equipment will save time, money, and, most importantly, legal issues. Keep in mind that laws and zoning regulations vary from county to county or even city by city. Making sure your operation is compliant can be the most critical and expensive step of the process beyond the initial equipment costs.
Many extraction equipment manufacturers won’t assist you with specifics related to regulations, zoning requirements, or the design and build of your processing operation. However, a few high-profile companies employ on-staff experts that can help operators navigate the process from start to finish.
Types of Extraction Labs
Extraction rooms come in many forms, including:
- Prefabricated units for indoor use
- Indoor and Outdoor modular pods
- A fully customized lab design, including all engineering, electrical, mechanical, and plumbing plans and drawings.
Now What? Summary and Next Steps
If you’re enthusiastic about investing in your own cannabis extraction operation, finding an extraction equipment supplier that can help you plan, design, build and get all safety and zoning approvals can be extremely helpful to the process. A few suggestions:
- Take your time to find the right collaborative partner. Don’t rush into a relationship without considering your options.
- Educate yourself. Do your research and talk to industry experts to ensure you have enough information to make a good vendor selection and great decisions all around.
- Look for end-to-end expertise and check references to ensure that your vendor partner has experience with planning an extraction operation similar in nature to what you are planning.
How Precision® Can Help
Precision Extraction has been a leading innovator and global supplier of extraction equipment and laboratories for ___ years. Our seasoned extraction technicians and laboratory designers have extensive experience with start-up operations and multi-state cannabis farming and processing organizations. We have the end-to-end expertise needed to answer all your questions and ensure that your next build is successful, safe, and efficient. Contact us today to talk with one of our extraction consultants and find out what type of cannabis extraction equipment you’ll need in order to achieve your business goals.