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Using Propane and Butane for THC Extraction and the Extraction of Other Cannabis Compounds

by Byrne Anderson
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Extraction techniques are used for separating cannabis components and remove from the plant matrix. These techniques are often meant to isolate specific desirable compounds. For instance, propane and butane for THC extraction is a technique to isolate tetrahydrocannabinol, the cannabinoid in cannabis that has psychoactive effects. It is responsible for the high feeling that reactional marijuana users are looking for.

Differences Between Butane and Propane

Butane is an alkane natural gas found in n-butane or isobutane. N-butane is a highly refined and flammable hydrocarbon used in torches, stoves, and cigarette lighters.  Meanwhile, propane is a non-toxic solvent used in the spices, fragrances, flavors industries. The growing natural gas market causes an increase in propane supply in the country. Propane is a polar compound while butane is non-polar.

Using Butane or Propane Cannabis Compounds

Using butane as the extraction solvent leads to the creation of butane hash oil. This can be done by placing cannabis and liquid butane in a pressurized and heated system. The butane solvent is removed by using evaporation under a vacuum, which converts the butane from liquid to a vapor. This type of extract is called shatter, a clear material that often includes THC, CBD, and terpenes. Shatter is a hard version of butane hash oil and can be made by keeping terpene content low. Butane extraction is a famous method for extract producers and enthusiasts for many years. This has to do with the low equipment and running costs involved.

As butane has a 30.2 F boiling point, it can be recondensed without using extreme temperatures. Thus, it is ideal for passive recovery. It produces a more stable extract because it leaves behind polar terpenes.

Propane Extraction

This is basically the same as butane extraction, except in terms of pressure. Propane has a boiling point of -43.6F, which means it creates much higher pressure. But with this pressure, passive recovery is only possible with the use of dry ice or liquified gasses. As propane is a polar compound, it can more efficiently extract a lot of aromatic terpenes than butane.

Benefits of Butane and Propane Extraction?

Usually, hydrocarbon extraction is used in large-scale production. Huge amounts of material can be extracted at once and because of the low boiling points of these solvents, they can be quickly distilled from the extract and without high temperatures, the product can degrade. Both butane and propane are used for full cannabis extracts and post-processing can produce different consistencies. That is why many extract producers prefer this method.

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