The cannabis concentrate market relies heavily on hydrocarbons— butane, hexane, and propane are some of the most popular. Although butane may have historically garnered the most attention through the production of butane honey oil (BHO), today, all of these petroleum products are widely used.
Here, we’ll look at propane for cannabis extraction. Propane, used on its own or in combination with butane, is helpful for cannabinoid and terpenoid preservation.
What is Propane Hash Oil?
The technical term for an extraction pulled with propane is propane hash oil (PHO). Because of propane’s natural chemical properties, such as lower boiling point, PHO naturally contains higher cannabinoid and terpene content than its BHO cousin. This means, when done correctly, most PHO concentrates have greater potency and more flavor.
PHO products come in a range of consistencies, although most extracts are of a budder-like consistency. Cannabis budder is a creamy and pliable concentrate.
10 Benefits of Propane for Cannabis Extraction
- It has an extremely low boiling point (43.6°F /-42°C), making it incredibly useful for preserving the most volatile cannabinoid and terpenes during solvent purging.
- It offers improved solvent recovery. With the right equipment, it’s possible to recover the majority of propane used during extraction at a much higher rate than other butane-powered systems.
- It requires less solvent and less time in a vacuum oven like Cascade’s CVO-5 Double Up Vacuum for purging, allowing for a faster turnaround.
- It doesn’t extract any chlorophyll, creating a lighter, cleaner product.
- The equipment is more economical. Compared with CO2 and ethanol production, the price point of propane extraction equipment is much more feasible for small to medium-sized facilities.
- It is safer to work with than non-hydrocarbon solvents. Safely working with propane requires equipment with a lower PSI rating (50 to 150 psi) than CO2 (500o psi) at room temperature.
- It is especially selective for terpenes. Propane extraction produces more flavorful and aromatic concentrations, like High Terpene Full Spectrum Extracts (HTFSE).
- It produces a lighter final product. Compared with butane, propane extracts are light yellow to golden in color.
- It has faster cycle times. Propane extractions enjoy a quicker and more efficient process.
- The final product tends to crystalize over time. It’s ideal for the production of sugar-waxes.
Vacuum Purging Propane Extraction
If you’re looking to produce the highest quality, purest PHO extracts, the vacuum purge is critical in the production process.
A vacuum oven evaporates residual hydrocarbons like propane from the final product. Vacuum purging creates a clean, flavorful, and aromatic product without harsh-tasting chemicals.
How does vacuum purging work? Whether you are working with a Cascades Benchtop CVO-2 Vacuum Oven, the CVO-5 Double Up Vacuum package, or a larger CVO-10 Vacuum Oven on Mobile Stand, vacuum purging works by carefully controlling temperature and vacuum intensity to liberate solvents, water, and other compounds from the targeted concentrate.
The vacuum purge is a slow and steady process because the goal is to evaporate, not boil, the contents. It often takes hours to complete, even for small batches. Compared with other hydrocarbons, propane purges much more efficiently and quickly.
Cascade’s Vacuum Oven Kit Can Help
To learn more about concentrates and extraction, contact Precision Extraction. We are an industry leader in professional-grade processing solutions.
Our Cascade CVO-5 vacuum oven is perfect for concentrate-making. The Cascade CVO-5 uses a distinct control logic that’s not found in most lab grade vacuum ovens.
The difference is that the temperature probe is inside the oven — this works to precisely control temperature while delivering best-in-class stability and uniformity, particularly in the low-temperature ranges. Learn more here.