In the past, extracting oil and pollen from plants and seeds was commonly done with dangerous solvents and alcohols that posed a range of health risks for humans. Today, however, extracting and making concentrations is a simple and safe process, which is good since their rise in popularity seems unstoppable.
A Little History on Extraction
Humans have been extracting pollen and resin from plants for thousands of years across the world. Concentrates dating back to 10,000 BCE have been found in China. Solvents weren’t the only popular means of extracting either, another common older method included beating plants against a surface – usually a screen – to knock off and collect the pollen. As you can tell this isn’t the most effective method but it led to more appropriate and effective non-solvent extraction methods such as dry sift and water extraction.
Stop Wasting Money
Wait, don’t throw away those trimmings just yet! The fantastic part about extracting is you can use all your trimmings that you removed from your flowers during harvest. This means all growers can benefit from purchasing extraction equipment by reducing their waste and maximizing the value of their harvest and yields.
There are two ways you can extract oils and pollen from plants: non-solvent and solvent. You’re probably more familiar with concentrations and extracts that were produced by solvents or liquid-liquid extraction. Perfume is a classic example.
Solvent extraction doesn’t mean the extract is necessarily unsafe. There are safe solvents like butane that can be used for extraction. While butane has no lethal dose, the residue must be removed (evaporated) which is the part that becomes dangerous and has caused house fires.
Non-solvent vs. Solvent
Non-solvent extraction is considered a much safer alternative to solvent methods both for your health and the health of your house when you don’t blow up your kitchen.
Non-solvent extractions can be done in a lot of clever and unique ways, and it’s a great place for gardeners to get their hands sticky. The method of non-solvent extraction will determine the consistency and quality of the extract as well.
Rosin – Through a combination of pressure and heat, resinous sap called “rosin” is extracted from plant material. At its simplest, a rosin extraction can be done by placing plant material in between parchment paper and pressing it with a hair straightener. This is not recommended because temperature fluctuations can degrade the plant and there is a lack of pressure to extract notable amounts of “rosin”.
Dry Sift – This is the process of separating pollen from plant material by using fine mesh/screens and rubbing the dried plant material over them breaking off the crystals which fall through. Dry sift will give you a powdery extract that can be further processed. Dry Sift extract alone is consider the poorest quality extract.
Ice Water – This is the process of washing plant material in extremely cold water which separates the pollen. You’re left with a similar extract as you would see with dry sifting, but the extract is more refined and has a high oil content resulting in a higher grade of concentrate.
Dry Ice / CO2– This is similar to the methods above and will leave your with a powdery collection of resin similar to dry sift. Technically, CO2 extraction should be considered a solvent method. It’s mistaking not considered a solvent because CO2 has a high vapor pressure and leaves no residue as it quickly disappears.
For dry ice, water and dry sift extraction, It’s recommended that you freeze the plant material first as the resin glands are released faster and with less effort. Last, for all the extraction methods you will run your plant material through multiple cycles (2-3 times) to ensure you collected all usable product.
The one thing all these methods all have in common is they use a micron screen or bag, which allows the resin glands to pass through the material leaving the rest of the plant behind. The smaller the micron number the tinier the holes in the material are, and for the most part will give you a higher-quality extract.
Larger micron sizes will produce higher yields but the extract will be less concentrated and is consider poorer quality since it leaves more room for other particles to flitter through.
Different methods will require different microns screens for extraction. It’s common to use multiple sizes throughout the extraction process. As well you will never use a screen/bag that goes higher than 220 microns.
So How Would You Like To Extract?
What good is it to tell you about all these cool ways you can make extracts then just leave you hanging? At Hydrobuilder, we offer you a wide selection of equipment for the four main non-solvent methods: rosin, dry ice/CO2, dry sift, and ice water.
As well, if you find yourself really loving rosin or dry sift extraction then check out our combo packages that combine the two. Super high-quality rosin can be extracted from dry sift, and using the two together is the preferred choice by many for easy homemade concentrates.
Last, you won’t need any special outlet to run our extraction machines. Simply plug them into a standard house plug.
Rosin Presses – These presses are becoming incredibly popular and are considered to be the latest and greatest in extraction technology. The plant material is pressed between two heated steel plates and rosin excretes out. Both high temperature (180°F to 330°F) and intense pressure play an equal role in both quantity and quality of the rosin and act as a catch-22. More pressure and higher temperature will produce more rosin, but this also degrades the quality of the rosin if you use too much pressure and heat.
This is why a rosin press that controls these factors for you is heavily desired and why we offer the options of manual, hydraulic, and pneumatic presses.
To use simply turn on your press, set your temperature and any other factors that your unit may come with, then place your plant material into a micron bag which will be placed in between parchment paper. Last, you simply place the parchment paper into your press and let it work its magic.
Recommended micron bags: 115 and 90 microns.
Dry Sift Tumblers – Our dry sift tumblers will do all the work for you, gently tumbling the dry trim and flowers around collecting all the separated resin glands. Tumblers do a much better job than us at perfectly balancing the extraction process of agitating and breaking off resin glands without degrading the rest of the plant material.
To use you simply place your plant material into the cylinder-shaped drum which will then fit right into your tumbler machine, close your lid, turn it on, and run it for around 20 minutes.
Recommended micron screen: 150 and 125 microns.
Ice Water Extractions: Bag or Machine – Ice water extraction produces a more concentrated and desirable oily extract compared to dry sift and dry ice. This leads many choosing it as their preferred method. As well, washing machines gently swirl the plant material around offering a more gentle approach over tumbling machines.
At Hydrobuilder we offer you two options for extracting with ice water: manually mixing with a bag/bucket or using a washing machine as mentioned above.
To use the bucket/bag method, you will layer multiple micron bags on top of each other starting with the smallest number first. After stacking, you will fill the bucket with ice, cold water, and your plant material. Next, you gently stir with a spoon or an electric mixer. After thoroughly mixing, let your stew sit for 10 minutes for proper extraction then strain, stir, and repeat. All bags under 220 microns will have usable product in them, and like always, it’s advised to wash your plant material 2-3 times.
Washing machines are fantastic because they do the mixing for you. Simply fill them with water, ice, and the 220 micron bag which will have your plant material sealed in it. Set it for 15 minutes and walk away. The washing machine will have a hose on the side to release the water mixture. It’s popular just to drain it into a water extraction bag/bucket with layered micron bags like above.
We offer machine and bag sizes from 1 gallon, which are great for small growers, all the way to to 32 gallon bags suitable for larger operations.
Dry Ice Extractions – Dry ice extraction is a great place for beginners because shaker kits are incredibly affordable and a safe way to extract a lot of usable resin glands that would have been thrown out as trimmings.
To use you simply fill the bucket with the plant material and dry ice – you will want gloves when handling the dry ice. Next, you simply place a micron bag that zips around the bucket, flip it over and shake over a wide and flat surface to collect the resin.
Recommended micron screen: 150 and 125 microns.