Advances in extraction technology and the growth of concentrates

Due to the rapid growth of legalization, the cannabis industry today bears little resemblance to the industry of five years ago. As the cannabis sector gains mainstream recognition, it closely resembles more "traditional" industries. In turn, the way we consume cannabis has changed dramatically under this novel legal framework.

A simple visit to a cannabis dispensary will quickly reveal how much the industry has changed in the past few years.

There is perhaps no other vertical in the modern cannabis dynamic that has made the same strides as cannabis extracts. It is precisely the growth of the concentrates category that has spawned many branded products and defined the legal market.

To give you a clear picture of how advances in extraction technology have spurred the growth of the concentrates category, we've put together this brief exploration.

Standards and Technology
Extraction Equipment Prior to legalization, the production of cannabis extracts was done in a clandestine and often dangerous manner. With regard to BHO (butane hash oil) in particular, home laboratories have long been notorious fire hazards. What's more, with a complete lack of regulation, black market extracts are notorious for containing harmful impurities.

In the few short years since cannabis was legalized in Nevada, Washington and other states, extract producers have adopted standards and techniques from more specialized fields. By borrowing from the food and pharmaceutical industries, concentrates companies have reached a level of excellence that was unimaginable a decade ago.

Good manufacturing practices
One of the essential elements of the vertical development of extracts is the adoption of good manufacturing practices. According to the World Health Organization website, "Good manufacturing practices (GMP) are part of quality assurance, which ensures that products are consistently produced and controlled to meet quality standards appropriate for their intended use."

When cannabis for adult use was legalized in markets like Colorado, cannabis companies were able to come out of the shadows and discuss GMPs with legitimate businesses, and in doing so, they implemented professional controls for the production of extracts in accordance with the "quality standards" of state regulatory agencies.

Supercritical CO2 Extraction
As cannabis businesses adopted GMPs from other industries, extract producers embraced more advanced technologies. Among them, supercritical CO2 is pushing cannabis concentrates vertically into the future.

IVXX Processing According to equipment manufacturer Apeks Supercritical, "CO2 is considered a safer extraction method because the solvent does not evaporate. The extract is purer because no traces of solvent are left behind. It is also versatile and helps protect sensitive terpenoids by allowing cold separation." By deriving the method from food production, supercritical equipment manufacturers offer cannabis companies a viable option for commercial production of extracts.

Supercritical CO2 Extraction Machine, Supercritical technology offers a clean, efficient method for producing cannabis extracts and helps drive the vertical development of concentrates. That said, supercritical CO2 equipment is highly complex and expensive. Producers can expect to pay more than $100,000 for commercial supercritical CO2 extraction equipment.

Product Description
Just as standards and technology have evolved in the cannabis extract vertical, we are seeing rapid product maturation. Notably, the legal environment has allowed manufacturers to exchange ideas and approaches for the first time. In turn, this dialogue has facilitated the development of new products, such as isolates and live resins.

As the name implies, isolates are concentrates made from a single, pure cannabinoid. In today's market, CBD isolates are becoming increasingly popular because people can consume pure CBD without ingesting other cannabinoids or plant material, including the legal 0.3% THC found in cannabis.

Isolates are made by further purifying cannabis extracts in a process of purification, filtration and crystallization. Like other concentrates, isolates are used as the basis for many cannabis products, such as chewing gum.

There is also a growing interest in CBG isolate, another orally available non-psychoactive cannabinoid.

Live Resins
The cannabis concentrate live resin has taken the industry by storm in the past few years. Live resin is a form of extract that was originally derived from freshly harvested and frozen cannabis plants. The main selling point behind this extract is that the fresh flowers produce a more vibrant aroma and flavor than dried cannabis. Interestingly, this pungent flavor is associated with the preservation of the terpenes in the live resin.
Just a few of the dozens of different product types currently on the market.
To create live resin, producers "flash freeze" fresh cannabis plants immediately after harvest and then use hydrocarbon solvents to extract valuable cannabinoids and terpenes from the fresh frozen plant material. The valuable cannabinoids and terpenes are then extracted from the fresh frozen plant material using a hydrocarbon solvent. The entire process is performed at extremely low temperatures to ensure that the valuable volatile terpenes are not degraded by heat.

In lieu of these complicated steps to preserve flowers and extracts, live resins are constantly gaining popularity. That is, because vaping with live resin is the best way to taste fresh cannabis terpenes in the most authentic way possible.

It's amazing how much cannabis extracts have evolved and progressed with legalization. With such amazing advances in standards, technology and products, the concentrate category has exploded on the dispensary scene. In today's market, flower has been largely sidelined in favor of concentrate based products such as chewing gum. These products now adorn the pharmacy shelves, beautifully packaged and filled with purity and testing specifications.

An often overlooked fact is that purity standards for legal extracts make reliable cannabis brands possible in the first place. You can't develop a cannabis brand without a consistent product that customers can rely on; all things considered, it's safe to say that advances in extraction have stimulated not only the concentrates category, but the industry as a whole as we know it today.

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