The advantage of using ethanol is that you’ll increase your product’s potency by extracting most of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and alkaloids in a high percentage. Moreover, you’ll also effectively sieve out impurities such as chlorophyll, fats, waxes, and lipids.
But how do you use alcohol for the winterization process? Below you’ll find out all you need to know about that technique. Then, read on to learn more.
What is Ethanol?
Most people refer to ethanol as alcohol, ethyl alcohol, or grain alcohol. The solvent is a clear liquid mostly used in recreational drinks such as whiskey, vodka, or wine.
Companies manufacture ethanol by fermenting barley, wheat, or corn using yeast cells. Other processors use the ethylene hydration technique to extract their ethyl alcohol.
People use alcohol to manufacture various products such as baked goods, CBD/THC extraction, or pharmaceutical drugs. That utility is feasible because of the fluid’s ability to dissolve in water and other organic molecules.
How is Ethanol Used in the Botanical Oil Industry?
Botanical oil industries use ethanol to make botanical concentrates, such as Full Extract Plant Oil (FECO) or supplement tinctures.
That efficacy is possible because ethanol is safe for human consumption. Moreover, the solvent is economical for botanical oil companies because it’s easy to separate and recycle as ethanol evaporates fast.
You can process tonnes of botanical oils using high-volume ethanol extraction equipment per day. And apart from increased production to meet the demand, you also get to save power usage by extracting a lot of botanical oil in a short time.
Why is Ethanol Important in the Botanical Oil Industry?
Plants contains cannabinoids (THC/CBD), terpenes, chlorophyll, and fats. Failing to remove the fats lowers the percentage of cannabinoids in the end product through dilution.
That neglect also leads to an unattractive product, hence affecting your sales. Moreover, users also risk burning away their distillate in vape cartridges as the fats are highly flammable.
Good marketing is not the only important factor needed to thrive as a botanical oil business. Why? Because a poor product might sell, but you’ll disappoint the customers.
And your company risks incurring losses over the long haul because no customer will want to purchase an inferior quality, murky, cloudy product again. Therefore, invest in winterization to ensure you have an edge in the industry, and you’re guaranteed to win.
What is the Winterization Process?
Winterization increases the purity, value, and shelf life of botanical oil extract. That process, also called dewaxing, removes unwanted products such as lipids, fats, and waxes present in the botanical oil crude extract.
You need high-proof alcohol, within the 190-200 proof range (95-100% alcohol concentration), botanical oil raw material, filter papers, a vacuum, freezer, and a heating furnace. A high alcohol percentage is essential because it will help you produce a high-quality extract.
Ensure the alcohol is within the 30-60 °C temperature range. Then mix ethanol and the botanical extract in the ratio of 10ml:1g. Next, mix up the blend using a lab spatula or a magnetic heater with a stir bar to suspend the extract in the ethanol.
Performing that step increases the solubility of the waxes, fats, and lipids in the botanical extract. When you cool the mixture, the fats solidify and precipitate easier.
This second step aims to increase the solubility of the fats in your botanical extract. Therefore, put your step 1 mixture in a freezer for about 24 hours for the waxes to solidify and precipitate.
The third step involves vacuum filtration, using a vacuum pump, Buchner funnel, and filter paper. One advantage of using that filtration method is that the vacuum has a large surface area, thus increasing the amount of fat you sieve out from your mixture.
Note that you’ll have to adjust the funnel and filter paper’s temperature to be as cold as the mixture so that you don’t increase the solubility of the fats again. Also, use high micron and small micron filters so that you can enhance effectiveness in filtering out both large and small fat particles.
Pour cold ethanol on the sieving apparatus to prewet the filter paper once everything is set up. Then apply a vacuum and pour out the solution on the gauze paper. Repeat the process with a new filter paper when the one you’re using clogs up with a layer of fats.
The filtration process produces a golden translucent oil and greasy brownish butter on the filter papers. Now on this last step, you’ll separate the ethanol from the oil by boiling the golden oil on a hotplate.
Boil the solution until it acquires a thicker viscosity. Ethanol boils at 78.5°C in atmospheric pressure and 12.8°C in a -28.5 Hg oven. And after the alcohol evaporates, now you have a purer high-quality product called Full Extract Botanical Oil (FECO).
How is Botanical Extract Used?
Patients with chronic inflammation and pain, such as multiple sclerosis, can benefit from FECO because the extract is highly potent. That therapeutic effect is possible through the entourage effect provided by the highly concentrated cannabinoids and terpenes. Other people also use the FECO to make tinctures, edibles, capsules, and topicals.
Ethanol is highly flammable as a solvent or vapor. Therefore, you should winterize in a well-ventilated area and away from open flames.
Ethanol is a clear, volatile solvent safe for human consumption. Botanical oil industries use the solvent in the winterization process to extract botanical oil. They then increase their product’s quality, value, and potency through that technique, leading to increased sales and customer satisfaction.
Winterization involves mixing the botanical oil raw material with warm ethanol and then stirring to increase the solubility of the fats. After that, you then freeze the mixture for the impurities to precipitate and then use a filter paper and vacuum to remove the fats.
Lastly, you heat the oil and ethanol mixture to evaporate the alcohol and get pure botanical oil.