We get to rub elbows with a lot of professional extraction artists and they give us some great trade secrets. Below are a few of our favorites. Do you have a tip you’d like to share? Let us know. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Manhandling Your Muffin
While a monumental muffin is a fun way to start the purge of your botanical extract, it serves no practical purpose. In fact, it’s counterproductive. If you’re running multiple shelves, there isn’t a lot of spare room and you want to keep slabs from lower shelves from hitting the bottom of upper shelves. If you’re pushing the limits of each shelf, you also run the risk of running off the sides.
Even if you have enough room for a big muffin, you end up with multiple layers of dried extract falling on top of each other when the muffin collapses, which makes further purging less efficient.
While it might seem like the best way to keep that muffin manageable would be to close your vacuum port as your muffin grows until things begin to settle, doing that also stalls the purge. A much better way do the same thing is to keep the vacuum port open while also opening the vent valve slightly. This will accomplish the same thing while continuing to allow your slab to release solvent. Just be sure to close the inlet valve when you’re done, to avoid exhausting the pump. This is NOT, however, a technique that should be used with oil pumps (which you shouldn’t be using anyway, for this application). It is also not a technique that can be used on ovens that don’t completely separate the input and output plumbing (most imports on the market combine input and exhaust internally).
If you’re loading up all your shelves, a good way to keep material from running over is to place your material on a silicon baking mat instead of parchment paper at the beginning of the purge. Put chopsticks or bamboo stakes under all four edges, which turns your mat into a shallow dish. This can also be done using an aluminum cookie sheet covered with a pan liner (parchment on one side and foil on the other). This is a good way to give your slab a little thickness as well, if that’s what you prefer. Or you can create a parchment paper tray with side walls.
Maintaining Steady Temperature
Maintaining temperature and avoiding overrun is one of the best ways to get consistent results and top-quality extracts. Making wax when you meant to make shatter is the mark of an amateur (or someone who owns a cheap oven with a mediocre temperature controller and no internal temperature probe).
Of course, poor operator technique can even push a Cascade Botanical oven beyond desired temperature ranges. One key to maintaining a consistent temperature is to keep your oven closed and under vacuum as much as possible. Every time you release vacuum and open the door, the temperature of your product is likely to change (depending on the temperature of the air or gas that is allowed back in to the oven to release the vacuum).
If you adjust your temperature mid-run, make sure your new temperature has been reached before releasing vacuum and opening the door. And if you’re flipping several slabs at once, don’t leave the door hanging open.
By following these simple procedures, chances are your oven will be dead-on throughout your whole purge, and you’ll get the results you want.