Smoking cannabis fresh from the field is the fastest and easiest way to intake cannabinoids. But not everyone who uses cannabis is open to smoking it. Smoking has its own problems, so some users prefer to vape or use things like tinctures, oils, and edibles. The thing about these other products is that the cannabinoids they contain can be highly concentrated.
Creating highly concentrated formulas is rooted in the extraction and distillation processes. Cannabis processors extract cannabinoid and terpenes before distilling them. They are left with individual cannabis compounds that can be mixed and matched in any way the processor sees fit.
If you are familiar with CBD distillates, you know the potential that extraction and distillation have to offer. Extraction gets to the desired cannabinoids while distillation is the process that actually leads too highly concentrated formulas. Without distillation, concentrates would not be possible.
An Old Process
Distillation is neither new nor limited to the cannabis industry. It is actually a very old process that has been used for thousands of years to separate the constituents of any number of liquids. Those alcoholic beverages known as spirits are all created through distillation. You can also buy distilled water, a kind of water that has been purified through distillation.
The process of distillation works on the principle of different substances having different boiling points. Some substances boil at lower temperature than others. Regardless, a substance is transformed from a liquid into a gas when it reaches its boiling point. That is why boiling water turns into steam.
According to CedarStoneIndustry, a Houston company that designs and builds hemp and marijuana extraction equipment, there are a variety of ways to distill. Here are the most common:
- Simple Distillation – With simple distillation, a liquid is heated to whatever temperature is necessary to evaporate the desired components. The resulting vapor is condensed to turn it back into a liquid.
- Steam Distillation – This process is similar to simple distillation except that steam is injected into the distillation environment. Some cannabis processors rely on steam distillation to separate cannabinoids from plant material.
- Fractional Distillation – Without getting too technical, fractional distillation relies on primary and secondary distillation to separate components with similar boiling points.
For the purposes of producing highly concentrated cannabis products, distillation is key to separating desired cannabinoids so that they are not combined with unwanted cannabinoids and terpenes. The simplest way to think of it is to imagine deconstructing a cake so that you are left with its raw ingredients.
Mix and Match Ingredients
Deconstructing a cake mix would leave you with flour, sugar, baking powder, and so forth. If you wanted to, you could get rid of everything but the flour. Do that with multiple cake mixes and you are left with a lot more flour than you started with. This is exactly what happens when cannabis processors produce highly concentrated formulas. They separate out the targeted cannabinoids and combine them to increase concentrations.
A good example is a typical CBD distillate. About 80% of its total volume consists of CBD. The remaining 20% is made up of smaller amounts of other cannabinoids along with ancillary ingredients and a suspension that holds everything together. The CBD in that distillate may have come from multiple batches of cannabis biomass.
Distillation is really what separates raw biomass from cannabis vapes, gummies, etc. Processors go to great lengths to perfect the distillation process in order to achieve the desired results. Those who do it best are more than capable of producing all sorts of specialized products with unique properties.