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Whether it be ethanol extraction, carbon dioxide extraction, or some other method, Analytical Cannabis has the ultimate guide to machines and equipment for cannabis extraction. Green Mill’s SFE Pro is the perfect machine for extracting oil from hemp using supercritical carbon dioxide. Here is a brief guide on some key considerations when strategizing your hemp/CBD operation. Visit Green Mill Supercritical

A Guide to Cannabis Extraction Equipment and Machines

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Before any CBD oil, THC tincture, weed butter or cannabis concentrate can be bought, first, it must be extracted. This is the job of cannabis extraction equipment, the machines that remove the coveted cannabis compounds from the plant’s matrix (a process explored in more detail here).

And just like any other piece of kit, an inevitable question arises when considering extraction machines: which one’s the best value for money?

Some are industrial, some are the size of a kettle. Some use CO2 as a solvent, others utilize alcohol. All have their pros and cons which can be listed in a nice, handy guide to cannabis extraction equipment and machines. A guide just like this.

The top 12 cannabis extraction machines:

CO2 Cannabis Extraction

CO2 might not be the cheapest solvent going, but its benefits can be worth the price tag. Inside these machines, high heat and pressures turn the gas supercritical, enabling it to extract higher yields than many other solvent methods.


Automation at all stages has already improved the extraction process, especially with regard to repeatability and accuracy. Soma Labs Scientific focuses on developing automated extraction systems specifically for the cannabis industry. Its BOSS CO2 Extraction System incorporates automated controls that eliminate the use of manual valves and has been designed to make load and unload times as short as possible to increase production capacity. The company claims that by streamlining the process its setup can process 20 pounds of cannabis material in 4 hours and run continuously without supervision, enabling a total of 6 runs per day.

The BOSS CO 2 extraction system. Image credit: Soma Labs Scientific.

The price: approximately $250,000

Pros Cons
Small footprint Not suitable for small-scale production
Relatively low energy costs Relatively expensive
Automated batch loading CO2 must be stored carefully
Easy to use for this kind of system Operates at high pressures
Does not require harmful solvents Relatively complex

In all extraction methods, throughput will always be a key element for improvement. For example, the SFT-SP1100, a supercritical CO2 extraction system from Supercritical Fluid Technologies, is able to perform both at subcritical (for terpenes) and supercritical levels (for cannabinoids) with simple setting adjustments. Flexibility and scalability in throughput are always desirable attributes, particularly in the fast-paced cannabis industry where companies grow fast and requirements can change overnight.

The SFT-SP1100 Supercritical CO 2 Extraction Unit. Image credit: Supercritical Fluid Technologies.

The price: $490,500

Pros Cons
Small footprint Not suitable for large scale production
Extractions up to 10,000 psi No automated loading between runs
Scalable capacity CO2 must be stored carefully
Add-ons available to enhance functionality Operates at high pressures
Does not require harmful solvents Relatively complex

The Hi-Flo™ High Performance Series from Eden Labs is known for its processing powers, and one of the latest in the series, the Hi-Flo FX2, is no exception. Capable of processing as much as 107lbs of biomass a day, the extractor offers up to 5,000 psi and a rapid change-over for maximum extraction times.

The Hi-Flo FX 2 . Image credit: Eden Labs LLC.

The price: $175,000

Pros Cons
Closed-loop design with up to 95% CO2 recapture rate Requires a well-ventilated, tightly controlled lab environment
Extractions up to 5,000 psi Not suitable for small scale operators
Easy step-by-step protocol for upkeep Relatively expensive
No internal moving parts so fewer points of failure Requires scientific expertise to optimize
Energy efficient Lower capacity than some competitors

The most industrial extraction products deserve intimidating names, and the Force is certainly no exception. Able to process a colossal 200 pounds of dried botanical material every day, the system from Prospiant (formally Apeks Supercritical) is optimized to tackle the biggest workloads in the industry. This one’s for the pros.

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The Force . Image credit: Apeks Supercritical.

The price: start at $473,800

Pros Cons
Can perform supercritical and subcritical extractions Hefty price tag
Equipped with CO2 storage tank Not suitable for small operations
Fully automated Extensive scientific expertise required to run and optimize system
Works for large scale operations High energy consumption

Compared to the industrial behemoths, OCO Labs’ SuperC extractor looks like a toy. But don’t be fooled by its size; for the right buyer, this little extractor has is it all-in-one. Capable of processing 1oz at 4500 psi by itself, the SuperC’s capabilities can also be expanded with purchased additions such as OCO Labs’ rack specs.

The SuperC. Image credit: OCO Labs.

The price: $4000


Alcohol Cannabis Extraction

Like CO2, alcohol is one of the most commonly used solvents for cannabis extraction. Cheap to source, the ethanol soaks up the prized compounds, which can then be separated via evaporation. But this cheap solution doesn’t come without its challenges. Ethanol is highly flammable, and any temperature change can drastically alter the final product. Luckily, these machines come with instruction manuals.

A leading company in the supply of extraction machines, Precision Extraction Solutions offers several solutions for ethanol extractors. One of these is the C-40 Centrifugal Extractor, an all-in-one kit for those looking to produce cannabis extracts at a mid scale volume under low to room temperatures.

The C-40 Centrifugal Extractor. Image credit: Precision Extraction Solutions.

The price: $449,470

Pros
Cons
98%+ removal of cannabinoids Not suitable for small operations
97%+ removal of solvent Certain safety risks (ethanol is flammable)
Up to around 40 lb per cycle Winterization steps will be required post-extraction to create the final product
Designed to be used by a single operator Requires some assembling
Relatively lower costs of extraction at room or below room temperatures

With an average run time of around 10 to 20 minutes, the CUP-30 is one of the faster pieces of ethanol extraction equipment on the market. Produced by Prospiant (formally Delta Separations), the machine is the larger of the two CUP series, being able to process 25-30 pounds of cannabis material per batch.

The CUP-30. Image credit: Delta Separations .

The price: $133,900

Pros Cons
Up to 98% extraction of cannabinoids Too limited for mid-scale or large operations
Up to 97% recovery of solvent from spent biomass Winterization steps will be required post-extraction to create the final product
Quick run time Certain safety risks (ethanol is flammable)
Can be operated by a single person

The extractor for the on-the-go cannabis connoisseur, the Source Turbo can be operated remotely via a mobile app. No day is too jam-packed for this extract. As an extra feature, the Turbo also comes equipped with altitude-specific tuning, so it can operate at its best performance whether up in the mountains or down on the beach.

The Source Turbo. Image credit: Extract Craft.

The price: $599

Pros Cons
Suitable for home-use Very low production capacity
Easy to use Alcohol extracts can require extensive clean up
Does not require harmful solvents Not suitable for commercial extraction

Butane Cannabis Extraction

Butane, or propane in some instances, can be seen as similar solvents to CO2 in many ways. The butane is pressurized and heated, which transforms it from liquid to a vapor, making it easier to remove. This process creates a shatter, a clear material of THC, CBD and other cannabis compounds like terpenes. Although effective, the process can be undesirable for medicinal products, due to the risk of contamination.

Throughput and scalability have been the focus of manufacturers of hydrocarbon solvent-based extraction equipment too. Precision Extraction Solutions, for example, continuously update their flagship PX40 Extraction System. Run using either butane, propane or isobutane, this system can process up to 36lbs in one go, and up to 250lbs per 8-hour run.

The X40 MSE Extraction System. Image credit: Precision Extraction Solutions.

The price: starts at $189,000

Pros
Cons
Comes with vacuum jacketing Uses hydrocarbon solvents which must be removed
Compatible with propane and butane gas Hydrocarbon solvents must be handled with care
High capacity Not suitable for small-scale production
High throughput Relatively complex
97% cannabinoid and terpene removal
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The Io extractor from Luna Technologies processes both butane and propane, though at slightly different rates. When using propane, the fully automated extractor can process 37lbs of cannabis material per hour. If using butane, it can process slightly less at 27lbs per hour. a fully automated system capable of extracting 18lbs of plant material per hour.

The Io extractor. Image credit: Luna Technologies.

The price: approximately $225,000

Pros Cons
Computer controls can help refine extraction
recipes for maximum yield and efficiency
Mid-level processing capacity (37lbs)
Automation-ready The dangers associated with butane
Simple to use Butane must be removed post-processing

And here it is, what might be the cheapest butane extractor on the market: Ablaze’s Mini Closed Loop Extractor. With a 45g capacity and a 100psi limit, this processing product might only be capable of the most humdrum extractions, but for those interested in a saving, this is one of the best deals out there.

ABLAZE Mini Closed Loop Extractor. Image credit: Ablaze.

The price: $550

Pros Cons
Low price point Not as simple as at-home alcohol extractors
Suitable for home-use Very low production capacity
Easy to use Vacuum pump and recovery tank also required

Ice Water Extraction

More back-to-basics than other extraction methods, ice water extraction isn’t a step too far from giving the cannabis plant a cold bath. Because THC is denser than water, the compound can separate from the leaf material when washed. After this, the cannabinoid-rich water only needs to be filtered through a series of micron bags before it’s ready to be used.

Working to create a safe and easy method for cannabis extraction, collaborators at Mountain High Suckers and Eberbach have developed a commercial platform that enables ice-water extraction, which eliminates any concern of residual chemicals in extracts. Plus, putting cannabis material in ice water and then filtering it is an extremely safe process. Currently available on their website, the Model E5703 can process over 1lb of plant material per hour and has been designed to comply with existing FDA standards. They are yet to release detailed information on the results of their experimentation, but the technique holds promise for small scale extraction and could potentially be scaled up to process more material.

The Eberbach Model E5703. Image credit: Eberbach.

The price: approximately $13,500

Pros
Cons
Does not require harmful solvents Methodology still in development
Very easy to use Scalability unknown
No dangerous chemicals or equipment required No public data available to prove efficacy
Cheap to run Ice water extraction is non-specific
Suitable for small scale operations Water-based extraction can be slow

Cannabis extraction equipment

As this industry grows, so will the equipment options for extraction. These advances will probably go across the kinds of extraction processes, and the connection between extraction and analytical testing could also see improvement. Even with the best equipment, though, only skilled operators can produce the intended results. So, training operators as needed should always be performed in any company to guarantee results.

Supercritical CO₂ Extractions for Hemp & CBD

Green Mill’s SFE Pro is the perfect machine for extracting oil from hemp using supercritical carbon dioxide. It is affordable enough and small enough to fit into a small extraction lab and powerful enough for a large one. Our system’s unique advances are discussed here.

And with our new Real-Time Winterization™ technology, your lab can completely eliminate the use of ethanol, and may not need expensive and time-consuming post-processing buildout or equipment, massively lowering CapEx and OpEx burdens.

But before you decide on an extraction machine you need to have things in order regarding your larger goals with the lab. Aside from whether you will grow your own hemp or buy it from a third-party grower, there are other key questions to ask when starting a new hemp/CBD operation:

What product do I want to make and what customers do I want to serve?

How much capital do I have available to build out my initial space and develop my product(s)?

What are the laws and market conditions in the state where I will operate?

How do I intend to scale the business?

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What product do I want to make and what customers do I want to serve?

If you thought “CBD” was the product, think again. It’s merely the compound you’re targeting as the active ingredient in the final product you or your customer will sell. We have clients who’ve installed an SFE Pro in a souped-up shipping container to process third-party firms’ biomass, and others with large labs and multiple retail dispensaries where they sell their own product that they extract themselves. Here are just some of the products you could make in your extraction lab with the oil that comes out of the SFE Pro:

Crude oil (straight from the machine with no refinement)

Crystals or Sheets

Be sure to thoroughly research them all.

You can then choose to either develop products under your own brand to sell retail, or you can sell the CBD in bulk to other companies who would use it to develop their products. These products could take the form of:

Creams and gels

Food and beverages

The other consideration is who is your customer? CBD is commonly used in general “wellness” products, but it is also used to treat very serious illnesses. A health enthusiast who wants to supplement for energy or quality of sleep or mood optimization is one type of customer, but a parent looking for something to help their child suffering from epilepsy is completely different.

How much capital do I have available to build out my initial space and develop my product(s)?

All of the things above will determine what kind of investment is required to get your facility up and running. Be warned: this is expensive. A complete extraction lab can easily require more than $300k to set up. That’s not including a grow facility such as a hemp greenhouse or farm.

Get your plan in place, find the financing, and then contact us. We can help you with a lot of the business details, but you have to have the basics on paper to get the full benefit of our expertise.

What are the laws and market conditions in the state where I will operate?

While the 2018 Farm Bill technically legalizes hemp in all 50 states, there is still a lot of ambiguity around how the law will be implemented and individual states are going to have different legalization landscapes. For example, in Idaho, hemp is illegal and they are still arresting people for transporting it even when it conforms to the Farm Bill’s requirements. And then there’s federal USDA regulations, which have not yet been written.

For some states the Farm Bill is the first type of cannabis legalization they’ve experienced, and for others there is either an existing medical or recreational market already in place. Be sure to assess the risks and rewards of both.

Try to determine how crowded the space is for the type of business you want to start. This factor can work against you or for you. A more crowded space means more competition but also more established rules around how to operate.

How do I intend to scale the business?

Cannabis is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world today, forecast to expand at a rate of 25-35% per year. There’s a lot of upside — if you can keep up. Like few in history, any new cannabis business has to be ready to grow from day one. You want to get in quickly but smartly. If super-fast growth is not something you’re interested in then you’d better make up for it in efficiency so you can keep your prices competitive as more players enter the market. Because they will enter.

One final thought

There is an infinite number of ways to approach your business. Creativity will be rewarded in this industry more than any that have come before because the rules are not set. We’re here to help you craft your own vision for a hemp business that is right for you. Reach out if you have any questions whatsoever. We love to talk extractions with anyone!

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