Why Ethanol Is the Best Solvent for Extraction
Posted on July 29, 2020 by Paige Pesko
The demand for hemp-based products is on the rise, and with it, the need to explore effective techniques for producing and processing them. Every aspect of production requires precision and efficiency, but none more so than the all-important process of extracting cannabinoids from the plant matrix. Here, we will explain why ethanol is the best solvent for extraction.
Ethanol is considered one of the safer extraction methods for hemp-based products. Although ethanol is flammable, it is not nearly as flammable as butane or propane, which are often used to light fires. Ethanol is also classified by the Food and Drug Administration as being a low risk for acute toxicity in pharmaceutical manufacturing processes, unlike propane. And ethanol, unlike propane and butane, doesn’t leave behind toxic substances.
Other solvent methods are also cited for being safer than butane and propane, though, such as CO2, which has been gaining popularity. However, the issue with CO2 extraction and similar options is the complexity. This method requires CO2 to be put under high heat and pressure until it reaches what is called a “supercritical” state where the solvent is both liquid and gas at the same time. Ethanol extraction, on the other hand, can occur at high, low, or even room temperatures, allowing for more flexibility when it comes to extraction.
Another point in which ethanol outclasses CO2 is cost. Equipment for performing CO2 extractions is far more expensive than ethanol extraction systems. In fact, ethanol is considered one of the more low-cost methods of extraction, even when compared to butane and propane. CO2 also typically can work only on smaller batches, whereas ethanol can be utilized for smaller or larger batches, making it more adaptable to different operations.
When it comes to solvents one can use for extraction, there are plenty of options, each with their own benefits, but when it comes to safety, simplicity, and cost-effectiveness without losing out on efficiency, we believe that ethanol is the best solvent for extraction.