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What is Cannabis Oil Distillate and How is it Made?

Education Posted Jul 22 2019

Last year, the worldwide cannabis concentrate market raked in 3.73 billion USD and it's projected that by 2026, the same market will generate 13.78 billion USD. Although concentrates are relatively new to the cannabis industry, the benefits associated with these products and their high cannabinoid and terpene content keep attracting millions of interested consumers. One specific concentrate that's gaining popularity and usage is cannabis distillate. When this term is used, it refers to distilling cannabis to separate various molecules, cannabinoids and contaminants from each other. The process of making THC distillate and CBD distillate is certainly unique and so are the benefits linked to this concentrate and its accompanying terpenes.

Cannabis Distillates: What They Are and How to Make Distillate

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Cannabis distillates are concentrated extracts that are almost always close to 100 percent pure. Distillates often have an extremely high THC content, but some distillates are instead created with the intention of producing a high CBD content. Since cannabis distillates are concentrated, only a little bit needs to be consumed as compared to consuming raw cannabis flower. Fortunately, both medical and recreational cannabis users can experience nearly immediate effects after consuming distillates utilizing distillate dabs.

How are distillates created though and what processes are utilized to produce these concentrated products? To create cannabis distillates, different extraction processes can be used including "short path distillation" and "short path wiped film distillation".

Short Path Distillation Process:

Regarding the short path distillation process, users must operate a specialized set-up that allows them to properly distribute the extracted cannabis material. A heated flask facilitates the intake of cannabis extract material . As the extract material is fed through the flask, an increased amount of heat is applied. A vacuum is also used so it can help draw vapors up into what's called, "fractionating tubing".

From here, the extract material flows through the fractionating tubing, which is then directed to a condensing tube. If individuals want to improve their product's refinement, the extracted cannabis material can be run through the distillation process several times.

Short Path Wiped Film Process:

Another extraction method is the short path wiped film process, which focuses on the melting points of cannabinoids. So, what happens during this specific distillation process? First, users must utilize a compact, specialized system that consists of a feed vessel, which serves an important purpose. This feed vessel is meant to send the bulk of the extracted cannabis material through what's called a "heated evaporation vessel".

Within this evaporation vessel is a rotating wiper blade, which is used to evenly distribute the extract material onto the vessel's walls. Then, inside the center of the evaporation vessel is an internal condenser. This is the area in which different parts of the extract material are separated and concentrated.

The wiper system works to move the extract material through the heated vessel and it evaporates into the internal condenser, which is converted into a liquid. This specific liquid accumulates, is collected and is then deemed a distillate. To catch excess terpenes and other plant material, another evaporator is used to distribute these compounds into their own designated flasks. What's interesting about both of the short path distillation processes is that no solvents are required. These processes do their part to divide cannabis into high concentrations of CBD and THC in a solvent-free manner.

Solvent-free Cannabis Distillate--Benefits & Why Consumers Opt For These Concentrates

When you hear the term, "solvent-free", what do you think it means? In regards to the cannabis extraction process, a solvent is a liquid that's meant to separate THC or CBD from raw cannabis flower. Unfortunately, it's possible for residual solvents to remain in cannabis concentrates if they weren't properly flushed out. For example, if butane or propane were used as solvents during the cannabis extraction process, and if small quantities of them remain in the final product, it's possible for consumers to experience adverse effects that can ruin their overall experience.

Oppositely, a solvent-free cannabis concentrate contains zero leftover residual solvents. One main reason why these products are preferred is because consumers don't have to worry about accidentally ingesting harmful solvents that may make them feel bad or worse than how they initially felt. Overall, solvent-free concentrates including solvent-free distillates are a safer and healthier choice as compared to concentrates that were created by using butane or propane. As a result, solvent-free distillates are slowly becoming a top extract of choice.

To this day, numerous cannabis consumers are becoming more health conscious and mindful of the products they put in their bodies. This applies to cannabis concentrates like distillates and the ingredients used to make them. If you could choose between buying solvent-free cannabis distillate or cannabis distillate in which solvents were used, which one would you spend your money on?

Versatility of CBD and Pure THC Distillate Products:

Andres Rodriguez

Furthermore, distillates have become versatile products in the cannabis industry because nearly any cannabis strain can be used to produce a distillate. Also, numerous terpenes and flavonoids can be added into cannabis distillates towards the end of the extraction process. This gives consumers the ability to choose a concentrate like a pure THC distillate or distillate oil that'll suit their needs and wants.

Also, nowadays, it's common to think about how to make THC distillate at-home. Fortunately, there are several ways to do so, which makes distillates a versatile concentrate in the ever-changing cannabis industry. What's even more captivating about producing these products is that cultivators have the freedom to choose which cannabis strain and distillation process they wish to use.

Reintroducing Terpenes Into Cannabis Distillates--Artificial, Natural, & Whole Cannabis-Derived

Moreover, different terpenes found in plants like cannabis and hemp not only contain a variety of therapeutic and medicinal benefits but also different aromas and flavors. What's interesting about the cannabis distillation process is that it leaves behind THC or CBD and purifies the original terpenes out. In other words, during the distillation process, plant terpenes tend to boil off.

Oftentimes, after cannabis distillates are produced, cultivators incorporate natural, artificial, or whole cannabis-derived terpenes into their final products. However, what has grabbed people's attention in recent years is the type of terpenes added into distillates. To benefit consumers, whole cannabis-derived terpenes should be directly added into distillate products as opposed to adding artificial or other natural terpenes instead.

By now, various companies have figured out how to prevent losing beneficial terpenes during the extraction process. Whereas, others choose to rebuild their extracts by adding fresh terpenes later on. However, many companies rather study the original terpene content to be recreated down the road. Ultimately, though, the healthiest and most beneficial form of terpenes to add into cannabis distillates are whole plant-derived terpenes. The main intention of doing this is to produce well-rounded effects for consumers and to help improve the distillate's flavors and aromas.

As consumers, it's essential to understand how a concentrated cannabis product was created, what (if any) solvents were used, and the types of terpenes that were used or added into the product later on. We have a responsibility to protect our health and well-being, and that starts with education and awareness. The next time you buy concentrated cannabis products like distillate, consider inquiring about how it was made and the terpenes that were used.

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