BHO extraction has rapidly become a cornerstone technique for extractors, drawing on butane's effectiveness in preserving the desirable compounds from cannabis plant material. However, the true magic unfolds when CRC technology enters the mix, offering a filter for undesired elements, enhancing the aesthetic appeal, and removing impurities that affect taste and smoothness.
What Is a Color Remediation Column (CRC)?
CRC broadly refers to both a specific component and a process in cannabis extraction. A CRC column or chamber is filled with various adsorbent materials. These materials are specially chosen for their ability to filter out unwanted compounds from the cannabis extract. The primary function of the CRC is to purify and refine the oil produced during the extraction process.
Typically made of stainless steel, the column is designed to withstand the pressures of BHO extraction and to facilitate the easy flow of extracts through the adsorbents. The core of CRC technology lies in adsorbent materials—including activated clays, silica gel, and other specialized filtration media—each selected for their specific impurity-adsorbing properties.
Benefits of Using CRC for BHO
The integration of CRC technology into BHO extraction has brought about significant advancements in the quality and purity of cannabis concentrates. Here, we delve into the key benefits that CRC offers, illustrating why it's become a game-changer in cannabis extraction.
Enhanced Purity and Quality
CRC effectively filters out impurities such as waxes, lipids, chlorophyll, and other substances that can negatively impact the concentrate's taste, color, and overall quality. By removing extraneous matter, CRC can concentrate the cannabinoids and terpenes more effectively, leading to a product with higher potency and richer in active compounds.
Improved Aesthetic Appeal
CRC is particularly known for its ability to enhance the visual appeal of concentrates. It removes darker pigments, resulting in a clearer, more aesthetically pleasing product that's often associated with higher quality. The process can also influence the texture of the concentrate, leading to a more consistent and desirable consistency, whether it be shatter, wax, or oil.
Flavor and Aroma Preservation
CRC, particularly when used inline, can preserve the delicate terpenes that contribute to the aroma and flavor profile of the cannabis concentrate. By filtering out impurities that can cause unpleasant flavors, CRC enhances the overall taste, ensuring a purer and more enjoyable experience for the user.
By maximizing the extraction and purification process, CRC ensures a more efficient use of cannabis plant material, which can be economically beneficial. High-quality, visually appealing concentrates can command higher prices in the market, making CRC a lucrative addition for extractors.
How Color Remediation in BHO Works
Understanding the science behind CRC technology is crucial for commercial extractors aiming to refine their BHO extraction process.
Fundamentals of Color Remediation
At the heart of CRC technology lies the principle of adsorption, which is different from absorption. Adsorption involves the adhesion of molecules (impurities) onto the surface of a solid or liquid (adsorbent media), as opposed to absorption where the molecules are assimilated into the volume of the material.
CRC uses various adsorbent materials, each with unique properties that determine their affinity for certain impurities in the cannabis extract. These materials can include activated clays, silica gel, alumina, and other specialized filtration media.
Chemistry of Impurity Removal
Different adsorbents are chosen based on their ability to target specific impurities such as chlorophyll, waxes, lipids, and other unwanted compounds that can affect the taste, smell, and appearance of the concentrate.
The effectiveness of CRC lies in the molecular interactions between the adsorbents and the impurities. These interactions can be based on factors like polarity, molecular size, and the specific chemical properties of the impurities.
Optimization of CRC Process
Commercial extractors can customize the combination and sequence of adsorbent layers in the CRC to suit the specific characteristics of the input material and the desired outcome of the concentrate.
Key process parameters like flow rate, temperature, and pressure within the CRC can significantly impact the efficiency of color remediation. Optimal settings for these parameters are determined by the specific characteristics of the extract and the adsorbents used.
Biomass Types in BHO Extraction
In BHO extraction, the type of biomass used significantly influences the extraction process and the quality of the final product. Here’s a look at common biomass types and considerations for each in the context of BHO extraction with CRC:
Fresh Frozen Material
- Characteristics: Fresh frozen biomass is cannabis material that is frozen immediately after harvesting. This method preserves a high level of terpenes and cannabinoids, maintaining the plant's original flavor and aroma profile.
- CRC Considerations: Fresh frozen material often requires a lighter touch in color remediation. Products like Media Bros’ CRX™ are ideal as they provide light filtration while preserving terpene profiles. This type of biomass is less likely to need aggressive remediation for impurities.
- Usage: Typically used for high-quality concentrates where flavor and aroma preservation are vital.
Dry Trim or Buds (Nug Run)
- Characteristics: Dry trim refers to the trimming of the dried cannabis plant, while nug run uses the buds. These materials can vary in quality and potency based on the drying and curing process.
- CRC Considerations: Depending on the quality and age, dry trim might require media capable of more intensive remediation. For older or lower-quality dry trim, products like CRY™ or CR41™ might be more suitable to remove additional impurities and enhance clarity.
- Usage: Commonly used in a wide range of concentrate productions, from commercial to artisanal.
- Characteristics: This includes material that has been stored for longer periods, often leading to oxidation and degradation in terpene profiles and an increase in unwanted compounds like chlorophyll.
- CRC Considerations: Older biomass typically requires stronger filtration to remove darker pigments and impurities. Media Bros’ CRY™, which offers more aggressive filtration, is well-suited for these scenarios.
- Usage: Used when the freshest material isn’t available or for cost-effective production.
- Characteristics: Biomass that has been exposed to environmental contaminants like smoke or mold, or has high levels of pesticides or heavy metals.
- CRC Considerations: Requires specialized media such as CR41™, which is formulated for light pesticide and heavy metal removal, and can handle more complex filtration needs.
- Usage: Often a necessity in areas affected by environmental contaminants or when using non-organic growing practices.
Step-by-Step Guide to BHO Extraction Using CRC
This guide will walk you through the BHO extraction process using CRC, ensuring a safe and efficient extraction leading to a high-quality product.
Preparing for Extraction
For commercial BHO extraction, the preparation of cannabis material is a key step. Typically, the process involves using either fresh frozen nugs or trim. Fresh frozen material, immediately frozen after harvest, is preferred for its ability to preserve terpenes, enhancing the flavor and aroma of the extract.
When using trim or nug run, the biomass is loaded directly into the extraction column. This approach facilitates an even distribution of material, which is crucial for uniform solvent contact and effective extraction.
Ensuring a safe extraction environment is also critical. The area must be well-ventilated and completely free of any potential ignition sources. This is crucial due to the highly flammable nature of butane.
BHO Extraction Process
Use a commercial-grade closed-loop extraction system. Load the cannabis into material columns, ensuring even packing for consistent extraction. Inject butane into the system using thermodynamics and/or nitrogen.
This step requires careful monitoring to maintain optimal pressure and temperature, essential in commercial operations for efficiency and safety. As the solvent passes through the cannabis material, it extracts cannabinoids and terpenes. The mixture then collects in a large-scale collection vessel where initial solvent evaporation occurs.
Integrating CRC Technology
The crude extract is then moved to the CRC setup. The extract passes through the CRC, where different adsorbent media are used to remove impurities. The refined extract is collected, now with improved purity and color.
In a commercial setting, CRCs are often larger and integrated into the extraction system, allowing for continuous processing. The scale of commercial operations requires precise calibration of the CRC for consistent product quality.
The concentrate is transferred to industrial vacuum ovens for purging any remaining solvent. Commercial operations require ovens capable of handling large volumes, with precise temperature and vacuum controls.
Conduct thorough testing of the concentrate for potency, purity, and residual solvents to ensure product consistency and compliance with safety standards.
Final Product Preparation
Allow the purified extract to cool and solidify in a controlled environment.
Package the final product in compliance with regulatory standards, ensuring it’s appropriately labeled and stored in a manner that preserves its quality.
Once the BHO extraction process, enhanced by CRC technology, is complete, the resulting raw extract undergoes various post-processing techniques. This stage is critical in refining the extract into a diverse array of end products, each with unique qualities desired in the market.
The initial quality of the extract, significantly improved by CRC, plays a vital role in determining the characteristics and overall quality of these final concentrates.
How CRC Improves Post-Processing
The use of CRC in BHO extraction results in a cleaner and more refined oil, which is an ideal starting point for post-processing. A purer initial extract means fewer impurities to remove and a better preservation of cannabinoids and terpenes.
The effectiveness of CRC in removing unwanted color and impurities influences the aesthetic and sensory qualities of the final products, such as color clarity and flavor profile.
Types of End Products and Techniques
- Shatter: Known for its glass-like clarity and brittle texture, shatter is produced through careful purging to remove solvents while preserving its translucent appearance.
- Wax and Budder: These softer, more malleable concentrates are created by agitating the extract during purging, introducing air that changes the texture.
- Crumble: A drier form of concentrate that's achieved by spreading thinly on parchment paper or silicone mats and purging at relatively lower temperatures for extended periods.
- Live Resin: Made using fresh frozen cannabis to preserve more terpenes, live resin is extracted at low temperatures and undergoes minimal post-processing to maintain its robust flavor and aroma.
- Distillate: Involves further refinement of the BHO extract, including distillation, to isolate specific cannabinoids like THC or CBD, resulting in a highly potent and pure product.
- HTE (High Terpene Extract): Begins with separating terpene-rich fractions during extraction, then combining them with high-cannabinoid parts of the extract. This process maintains a balance of flavor and potency.
- Isolates (THC/CBD): Produced through additional refinement steps such as winterization, decarboxylation, and crystallization to isolate and purify THC or CBD into a nearly 100% pure form.
How Media Bros Can Help with BHO Color Remediation
Media Bros offers a suite of innovative filter media solutions designed to elevate the BHO extraction process for commercial extractors. Our products cater to the specific needs of BHO equipment, ensuring high-quality, consistent, and safe cannabis concentrates.
- CRX™: Ideal for fresh frozen material and high-quality biomass needing a light touch-up. This non-reactive media retains terpene and cannabinoid profiles with high flow and low-pressure drop, preventing clogging. Recommended usage is 150-250g per pound of biomass. Benefits include being pre-baked, mixed, ready out of the bag, safe to handle, and offering extremely reproducible results with minimal downtime and back-end cost savings.
- CRY™: A more aggressive variant of CRX™ with higher silica content, suitable for older biomass or materials requiring additional cleanup. It can be blended with CRX™ for customized remediation, maintaining terpene profiles. Suggested usage is 150-250g per pound of biomass. Benefits are similar to CRX™, providing a stronger polish with no pressure drops and cost-effectiveness.
- CR41™: Specialized for pre-distillation cleanup and light pesticide and heavy metal removal. Suggested for biomass tainted with smoke, mold, pesticides, and heavy metals, using 150-250g per pound of biomass. Benefits include minimal pressure drops, safety, and high-quality carbon.
- CRX™ Medium Flow: A finer grain version of CRX™ designed for systems operating at higher pressures. It prevents channeling at high psi and is recommended at 150-250g per pound of biomass. It may require baking for 2-4 hours at 200+°F. Benefits include maintaining high PSI, minimal pressure drops, and back-end cost savings.
- Activated Alumina: Ideal for removing saponins, improving clarity, and acting as a winterization filtration aid. Compatible with all Media Bros media products, it's effective in inline CRC and drying applications. No upper limit on usage, typically around 20-50g+ total in the filter stack. It's effective for fresh material and fresh frozen, aiding in moisture removal and winterization.
- G-CRAC™ and K-CRAC™: These activated carbons are excellent for purification, pesticide remediation, and color body cleanup, compatible with all processing solvents. Suggested for heavy removal of difficult environmental contaminants, with a minimum use of 3-5% m/m of estimated extract in solution. Benefits include being sifted and washed to prevent downstream contamination, pH-neutral double activation, high surface area, and high-quality carbon.
- CRY™ Medium Flow: Similar to CRY™ but tailored for higher-pressure systems. Recommended usage is 150-250g per pound of biomass, potentially requiring baking. It offers a stronger polish and is effective for crystal growth, ensuring consistent, reproducible results.
- B80: Effective for extracting cannabis oil, especially for bleaching and clarifying during extraction. Usage ranges between 5%-10% of the total estimated extract in solution. It offers excellent adsorption and filtration properties, prolonged filtration cycles, low-pressure build-up, and minimizes the increase in free fatty acids.
- Perform 5000 & 6000: Both are ideal for bulk oil filtration and removing hard-to-remove color bodies/chlorophyll as well as heavy metals. Usage is between 5%-10% of the total estimated extract in solution. Benefits include superior oil filtration, effective impurity removal, enhanced adsorption properties, efficient and cost-effective production, and easy integration into existing processes.
- PR-O & PR-W Coconut Activated Carbon: Efficient in overall remediation, especially for chlorophyll, pesticides, lipids, waxes, fats, and other contaminants. The minimum suggested use is 5-10% m/m of estimated extract in solution. Benefits include being made with organic coconut carbon, cost-efficient, cleaner, visually appealing, easy integration, and versatility for extraction.
- CRAC™: Specially formulated for ethanol cannabis extraction applications, this activated carbon provides high-performance selectivity and is effective in purifying and color remediation.
- Silica Gel 60A: Ideal for heavy color, pesticide, and heavy metals removal, working best as an aid/additive to the filter stack. It suits chromatography and compound separation, offering the strongest remediation. Used typically around 20-50g+ total in the filter stack. Benefits include low moisture content, extreme remediation, preserving cannabinoid profile, and ensuring consistent flow.
Maximizing Quality with CRC Technology
This guide serves as a comprehensive resource for cannabis extraction companies looking to leverage the power of CRC in BHO extraction. With the right application of this technology, the potential for producing high-quality cannabis concentrates is immense.
As the industry continues to progress, staying informed on such advancements will be key to success in the competitive world of cannabis extraction.