[toggle_content title=”What is the difference between shatter, budder and wax?”]
Shatter, budder and wax are different variations of what is commonly referred to as BHO (butane hash oil or butane honey oil). The only real difference between all of these extracts is in appearance and texture. Shatter has a glass-like consistency and can be snapped or “shattered” when handled. It is normally translucent and the color can range from bright yellow to deep amber depending on when the cannabis was harvested and/or whether or not it was allowed to oxidize. Budder/wax refers to extracts with a creamy, buttery, crystalline, consistency. They are normally opaque.
[toggle_content title=”How do I make shatter?”]
Shatter (also known as BHO, butane honey oil or just oil) is made by separating the resins found in marijuana from the plant material. This done primarily by dissolving the resins using a light hydrocarbon solvent such as butane, propane or hexane’s a solvent. Shatter can also be made with alcohol or CO2 extracts, but this is not commonly done.
Since many of these solvents are highly flammable, making shatter without the proper equipment and training can be extremely dangerous and is absolutely not recommended. Making it properly requires the use of a closed-loop extraction system, a vacuum oven and a pump designed to handle solvents.
[toggle_content title=”What are the best practices for vacuum purging solvents from cannabis extracts?”]
The goal when using a vacuum oven to purge solvents from cannabis extracts is to remove all the solvents while retaining as much of everything else as possible. The best way to do this is by using only as much heat as necessary to get the extract to “melt” and release the trapped solvent. Normally this happens between 85 and 105 degrees F. Temperature depends on the viscosity of the extract, which can vary based on the extraction process used, thickness of the slab, etc. After the initial purge, flip slabs every few hours until solvents are gone (12-24 hours or more).
[toggle_content title=”How do I know when a vacuum purge is done?”]
The only way to positively determine when all the solvents are gone with your particular process is by testing. When evaluating your process, take samples every few hours. Start at 8 hours and stop at 36. It’s likely that you will be solvent free between the 24 hour sample and the 36 hours if not sooner (if not, keep going until you get a solvent-free result). If it takes more than 36 hours, consider higher temperatures, thinner slabs or more flips. Repeat over a few different runs and you’ll get a very good understanding of what is required for your process.
[toggle_content title=”Will I lose terpenes during vacuum purging?”]
Absolutely. And the longer you purge and the higher the temperatures, the more you will lose. However, as long as you keep the temperatures below 110 F and purge only as long as needed to get rid of the solvent, the amount of terpenes you lose will be negligible. Moreover, if you use the proper trap, you can reclaim the terpenes you do lose.
[toggle_content title=”What other tools and equipment will I need to set up a BHO extraction system?”]
The key components to a BHO extraction system are a closed loop extraction system (CLS), a vacuum purge oven and a pump designed to handle solvents. Depending on the CLS you may need solvent tanks, a chiller (or dry ice or liquid CO2), water heaters and a variety of other equipment.
Keep in mind that some states/municipalities will have very specific additional requirements. Things like explosion-proof rooms, special ventilation systems, licenses, etc. are often required.
[toggle_content title=”Why do some vacuum ovens cost $1,500 and some cost $15,000? What is the difference?”]
Cascade vacuum ovens are the gold standard in research labs, the aerospace industry, medical device manufacturing, the pharmaceutical industry and electronics processing, because they’re precision-engineered pieces of lab equipment. They deliver stable, uniform temperature with precise control and little to no overshoot. They also stand up to the rigors of daily use.
If you’re looking for a professional tool to deliver consistent, professional results, look no further. There are cheaper alternatives, but none that come close to delivering the same performance and quality construction. Like many tools, you get what you pay for. And when you consider the value of the product you’re making, buying the right tool for the job is a wise and relatively modest investment.
[toggle_content title=”I see some vacuum ovens with wire racks or stone shelves. Why do Cascade ovens have solid aluminum shelves?”]
Wire racks work well in a convection oven where warm air is moving around the chamber, warming things. In a vacuum oven there is no air, so heat is not transferred by convection. Cascade uses solid shelves to more efficiently transfer heat from the oven walls to your product. This reduces hot spots and creates more even, stable heating.
Stone shelving is good at retaining heat and is a good upgrade for poorly built ovens that tend to provide uneven temperatures.
Cascade uses aluminum instead of stainless steel because aluminum is a much more efficient conductor of heat. Based on our temperature control system, it’s the perfect material for the job.
[toggle_content title=”Why don’t Cascade ovens have heated shelves?”]
We don’t have heated shelves in our TVO-2B and TVO-5B ovens because we don’t need them. Between our advanced controller technology, our in-oven temperature probe and having the right number of heating elements throughout the oven, we can maintain stable temperatures throughout without heated shelves.
[toggle_content title=”How can I tell how hot my product is when it is in the vacuum oven?”]
You can really only tell with a thermocouple or wireless heat probe that is touching the product. The controller is reading the temperature of the control probe in the oven, not your product. The temperature probe in Cascade ovens directly contacts the shelves, which directly contacts your product, so it’s pretty close (but still not exact).
Some vacuum ovens have the control probe buried inside the wall somewhere. This is far away from your product. This means there can be a DRAMATIC difference between the temperature reading on the controller and the temperature of your product. That difference can have a significant impact on your end product. Professional equipment = professional results.
[toggle_content title=”Can I use an IR gun to measure the temperature of my product?”]
No. Using an IR sensor on a closed oven (through the glass) isn’t possible. You might think you’re measuring your product, but you’re really just measuring the temperature of the glass. Nor can you get an accurate reading by opening the door. If you need to release vacuum to open the door (which is done by adding outside air or gasses) you will have changed the temperature of your oven and product.
[toggle_content title=”I found a great deal on an HVAC vacuum pump. Can I use it with a Cascade oven?”]
Yes, but don’t. HVAC pumps may seem like a bargain but they’re certainly no value. These pumps are oil-sealed, dual-stage rotary-vane pumps, which are very common in industry but are a terrible choice for solvent extraction or consumable manufacturing.
Everything that is coming out of the vacuum oven goes through the oil that is lubricating the pump. In the solvent extraction application, this means solvent will be constantly breaking down the oil. These pumps are a disposable commodity in the business. Oil from the pump can back-stream up the lines to the oven. These hydrocarbons can settle on your product, causing contamination. These pumps emit an oil mist that will exhaust into your working environment and deposit on your other equipment and surfaces. When you consider the value of the product you’re making, the cost difference between the wrong pump and the right pump is negligible, but critical.
[toggle_content title=”What kind of pump do you recommend?”]
Cascade Botanical recommends oil-free, chemical-duty membrane or scroll pumps for solvent extraction. These pumps are made to chug through solvents and contain no oil that could contaminate the process or environment. A list of recommended pumps for this application can be found on our Vacuum Pumps page.
[toggle_content title=”Is a bigger vacuum pump better?”]
Bigger isn’t always better. Too much vacuum (pressure that is too low) can off-gas molecules you want to keep in your product. The size of the pump is secondary to the type of pump. We recommend a chemical-duty pump that is not negatively affected by exposure to solvents. A list of recommended pumps for this application can be found here.
[toggle_content title=”What size vacuum oven do I need?”]
It really depends on the quality of the material being processed. For example, when running a 1-lb tube packed perfectly with top-shelf material, expect a return of 20%-25%, which equates to about 90 – 110 grams of oil. If you’re running garbage trim or you’ve got fan leaves and stems mixed in, you’ll be lucky if you get a 10% yield from a pound of material (hint: life is to short to run crappy material filled with stems and fan leaves).
Every TVO-2B shelf will hold up to 155 grams (or more) provided your oil spread out evenly. A TVO-2B comes with 3 shelves, but you can run up to six 2” shelves (or more if you want to use 1” shelves).
The TVO-5B shelf holds 250 – 300 grams or more. It also comes with 3 shelves, but it can easily run 6.
To figure out what size oven you need, just calculate how much material you plan to produce per day and take it from there. If you’re running a big production facility it’s also good to have several smaller ovens going rather than one big one. Redundancy is the key to zero down time. When you have one oven and one pump and you need to do the routine maintenance on the equipment, your line is down. When you have two ovens with two pumps, you can stagger the maintenance without taking your whole operation offline.
[toggle_content title=”How long should I purge?”]
The best way to find out if you’ve purged enough is to get your extract tested for residual solvents. Based on our customers’ results and our own residual gas analyzer testing, we’ve found that somewhere between 8 and 12 hours is more than enough. Some people believe it is necessary to purge for several days at extremely low temperatures, which is fine (so long as you are able to get the solvents out). However, we believe the best way to go from the perspectives of safety, quality and business is to get rid of the solvents as quickly as possible and be done with it.
[toggle_content title=”Is it beneficial to break vacuum when purging?”]
In some applications yes, in cannabis purge, no.
[toggle_content title=”Will breaking vacuum cut down my purge times?”]
Generally not. When you close the vacuum valve to break vacuum, you are just trapping the off gassed hydrocarbons inside the oven, molecules bouncing around with no where to go, but to possibly settle back down on your slab. The goal is to remove the hydrocarbons as quickly and effectively as possible. Breaking vacuum interrupts that process. When you crack the vent valve and leave it open, you are making the vacuum pump work harder. We call this “pumping on ambient”. Makes the pump unhappy. The pump now has to work harder to remove the outgassing solvents.
[toggle_content title=”Do you offer classes or consulting on extraction?”]
No, but we can put you in touch with people who do. If you’re looking to do a large commercial operation and are wondering what equipment you need, by all means give us a call: 503-847-9047.
[toggle_content title=”Do I need a vacuum oven for CO2 extraction?”]
Yes. With CO2, residual moisture in your dry plant material becomes “bound water” in your extract. This results in highly undesirable crackling and popping at vaporization temperature, as the water violently boils off. This water should be purged from your extract. A vacuum oven allows you to do that quickly and without elevated temperatures. This helps avoid oxidation, which darkens the color of your extract, and (in the case of botanical extraction) decarboxylation, which destabilizes consistency.
You will also find that, much like the varying profiles of extractions done at different temperature and pressure, two samples of the same extract exposed to markedly different vacuum and temperature conditions will show markedly different characteristics in terms of color, consistency, etc. This is the art of extract “polishing.”
Thanks to our friends at Eden Labs.
[toggle_content title=”How do I learn to make extracts?”]
After you learn about your local laws and whether or not you can legally make extracts, seek out training from a professional. If you buy a closed-loop extractor, the manufacturer or seller should be able to give you a lot of great information. Or find a consultant. For more information, visit our Education page.
[toggle_content title=”How hot should I run my oven for making botanical extracts?”]
It depends on how much material you’re running, the consistency of what you’re running, and what type of extract you’re trying to produce. For shatter, it’s best to start somewhere between 85 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit. For wax, ideal temperatures range from 120 to 140.