The first documented use of hemp occurred in 8,000 BC and extraction techniques have been used for centuries to create perfumes, dyes, and even decaffeinated coffee. But the marijuana industry’s adoption of extraction technology is barely a decade old!
Forward-thinking growers started out using rudimentary techniques to extract the active compounds from marijuana plants. In the most basic extraction process, plant material is placed in a column, then a proprietary blend of hydrocarbons (Butane and Propane) are passed over the matter. These hydrocarbons bond to components of the plants and extract cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
Extractions were immediately popular in the market because of their purity, consistency, and shelf life. Extraction technology and machinery advanced quickly. Many producers started with a griddle and a Pyrex dish; today legitimate, licensed businesses use lab-grade vacuum ovens and state-of-the-art equipment designed specifically for marijuana extraction. There’s a steep learning curve when it comes to the closed-loop machines and it takes years of experience to run a full batch perfectly.
Top-end extract companies take a scientific approach to testing and development. Many new winterization techniques are currently being developed in the post-process to create incredibly pure distillates. It will be fascinating to see how this young industry evolves over the next decade.