The Process of How To Extract Terpenes

Posted on February 10, 2021 by Paige Pesko

11 Comments

When it comes to CBD products, manufacturers tend to emphasize cannabinoid content. From these compounds come most of CBD’s potential benefits. However, when it comes to a product’s flavor and aroma, terpenes are king. But as with all parts of the extraction, the process of how to extract terpenes requires care and precision.

What Are Terpenes?

Terpenes are compounds that are abundant in nature, especially in aromatic plants such as flowers or coniferous trees. Of the thousands of terpenes in the natural world, over a hundred of them exist in hemp and related plants. Simply put, they are what give a plant its scent and flavor. In hemp, they also offer numerous health or mood benefits, such as reducing inflammation and calming or energizing users.

Some common terpenes associated with these types of products include:

  • Myrcene
  • Limonene
  • Pinene
  • Caryophyllene
  • Linalool
  • Terpinolene

Terpene Extraction and Its Challenges

Although terpenes are a large part of the experience of using CBD products, they have historically proven a challenge in the extraction process. That’s because terpenes degrade when exposed to heat, as they are during the decarboxylation part of the extraction process. Traditionally, people have accomplished terpene extraction through steam distillation. However, the high temperatures needed to achieve this can sometimes alter the plant and its terpenes.

Ethanol Solutions

During ethanol extraction, ethanol is cooled to -22 degrees to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. This helps avoid the terpene degradation that comes with steam distillation. Some people are hesitant to rely on colder temperatures for the terpene extraction process because it does not dissolve the other plant matter such as waxes, fat, and chlorophyll. However, most hemp oil processing equipment comes with several filtration devices, such as a filtration skid and falling film evaporator. These effectively remove the plant mass and the ethanol, leaving you with pure CBD oil with select terpenes.

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