There are many different types of extraction methods being used in the Cannabis industry today. Each method is used for a different reason including method of consumption, effectiveness, cost, convenience, etc. This website is dedicated to educating the consumer on what type of products they should purchase depending on their desires for consumption.
The 3 main categories that these methods fall in ranging from most effective to least effective are:
Complete Spectrum Extractions
Full Spectrum Extractions
Complete Spectrum Extractions
Complete Spectrum Extractions (CSE) are done with Ethanol. Ethanol is the type of alcohol that is found in the alcoholic beverages we consume. Eg: Everclear is 95% Ethanol. Most vodka is about 40% Ethanol. Wine is usually about 12% Ethanol. And, Beer is about 5% Ethanol. Although many DIYers use Everclear (made from GMO corn), Organic Ethanol can be purchased and used as well.
With any type of extraction, traces of the solvent will be present in the finished product as it is impossible to purge out 100% of any solvent used. This is why it is not recommended to use toxic compounds such as isopropyl alcohol, naphtha, etc.
Ethanol extractions are referred to CSE for many reasons. While Ethanol extractions are not the most user friendly for some uses, they are the most effective as the spectrum of the oil is not only Full, but it is Complete as well.
Ethanol extracts both polar and non-polar plant compounds. Ethanol also extract all the compounds at once without breaking up the bonds unlike methods that extract different compounds at different times before throwing them back together.
The Entourage Effect is the term coined for how the plant compounds synergize to make a powerful substance. As of recent, we have seen companies supplement in terpenes (what gives cannabis it's odor) to try and create more powerful products. This is often done with low grade products to make them appear much better than they actually are. Although having high amounts of terpenes in a cannabis concentrate is sought after, we have found no proof that adding these terpenes to concentrates adds to the effectiveness of the product. However, this method of production may add positively to the flavor and smell.
For Cannabis concentrates to be of Top Shelf CSE standards, the concentrate must start with good genetics. There is an old saying that goes “Trash in, trash out” when referring to making cannabis products.
Marijuana genetics are usually a pretty good grade to you as the plants have been bred for human consumption which includes high levels of terpenes, cannabinoids, etc. So, if you do an skillful ethanol extraction with genetics running over 15% cannabinoids and 1% terpenes you will make a Complete Spectrum concentrate. This is the “15-1 rule”.
With the emergence of the CBD industry, cannabis bred for fiber production is being consumed by humans for the first time in history. There is an old saying that goes, “The only thing that occurs from smoking hemp is that the consumer will get a nasty headache”. When traditional fiber hemp is created, the breeder tries to breed out the compounds that have beneficial health properties so that the strain will have more energy to focus on creating fiber. This type of hemp also usually contains high levels of phyto-toxins which can make the consumer feel ill. 95% of the 50 State Legal CBD on the market comes from these Traditional fiber hemp strains. However, it is also possible to breed hemp in the same manner as marijuana. In this case the CBD can be just as effective as CBD extracted from marijuana. If you are looking for a powerful CBD product then make sure that the labs of the flower being used for the extraction follows the 15-1 rule.
Now that we understand the 15-1 rule, lets get back to the extraction part.
We know that adding terpenes to products does not increase the Entourage Effect to any noticeable level. This is why it is incredibly important to use gentle extraction methods such as CSE when aiming to make a powerful concentrate. Extraction methods that (such as CO2) that rip the compounds off the plant material before throwing them back together is basically the same exact thing as supplementing terpenes and other plant compounds back into a product.
If you want a TRUE CSE product then follow the 15-1 rule and make sure that the concentrate is extracted using Organic Ethanol.
Full Spectrum Extractions
Full Spectrum Extractions (FSE) can be done created using many different methods including CO2, Butane, Propane, Distillation, etc. Labs of a FSE product will look just as good as a CSE labs so it is important to gather the method of extraction being used. Although FSE products won't be near as effective as CSE products, they will taste and smell just as good. Although Full Spectrum products aren't idea for oral consumption, vaping, etc, they are usually cleaned up well enough that they are the preferred product for dabbing as they are so pure.
If you are looking to dab (smoking cannabis concentrate by heating the concentrate on a hot surface) then Full Spectrum products are a great for that need.
Isolated Extractions (IE) are what they sound like. Pure THC is an IE. Pure CBD is an IE. Any pure compound extracted from cannabis is technically an IE.
Isolated Extraction products are the least sought after products on the market as pure cannabis compounds do not work well for most users. Pure THC will still definitely give the user psychoactive effects but the there will not be a proper balance. If you love feeling uncomfortable then you will love THC Isolate. And trust me, some people do love this feeling. Pure CBD on the other hand just doesn't have much effectiveness as CBD on its own has very little value.
Isolates are becoming popular for only one reason, they are easy to produce. An IE product will be of the same grade whether it is extracted from Top Shelf flower or a cannabis stalk that has been sitting in your shed for the last 3 years.
- Complete Spectrum Extraction (CSE) products are the most effective and should be used for all methods of consumption other than dabbing or smoking.
- Full Spectrum Extraction (FSE) products are not near as effective as CSE, but they are the best choice for dabbing and smoking.
- Isolated Extractions (IE) have very little value unless you get a kick out of being paranoid or want a CBD product that has very little effectiveness.