Winterization Of CBD Oil


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One of the main steps in extracting cannabis from biomass is winterization. Learn why the winterization step is so important to a high-quality product.  Winterization is necessary to create a higher purity of cannabinoids. Removing lipids results in a higher quality product. One of the most critical steps in terms of making a clean cannabis product is CBD winterization. If you’ve ever wondered what that means, click to learn more!

What is the Winterization Process in Cannabis Extraction?

When attempting to extract cannabis and hemp from biomass , one of the main steps in completing this process would be winterization.

The plants normally contain various compounds such as plant waxes, lipids, and chlorophyll, which all must be removed prior to distillation. Without them being removed, producers risk their cannabis products lacking in purity, and ultimately the quality of their cannabis products.

An example of this would be if the compounds were present inside a vape cartridge. With compounds such as lipids and waxes being present, the cartridges would cause the distillation to burn, ultimately making inhaling the product tougher on the throat, and souring the experience for the consumer.

That’s why the winterization step is so important to a high-quality product.

Download our TAWS Winterization Brochure!

What is winterization?

When talking about winterization, think about attempting to remove the fats from a roast that you decided to put inside the refrigerator after cooking. You will notice after leaving it inside the fridge overnight that the fats have surfaced to the top, ultimately coagulating and being removed from the rest of the roast.

The result of this came from the colder temperatures impacting the roast, which is similar to the winterization process when performing cannabis extraction. Winterization removes the compounds mentioned previously from the crude oil before the distillation process by using a plethora of steps to ensure the purity of the THC/CBD oil.

How to perform winterization

The first step to successfully performing the winterization of cannabis extraction would be to maintain sub-zero temperatures. In order to remove the compounds that are negatively impacting the quality of the purity of the cannabis, you should aim for temperatures around -40C.

If your sub-zero temperatures range closer to a value around -20C, you may be looking at not being able to perform winterization efficiently, given that the temperature would more often than not be too high.

There are various options when attempting to winterize cannabis for extraction, such as chillers, walk-in freezers, or even surrounding the product with dry ice. After maintaining it for 24 hours and having the compounds coagulate to the top, this can lead us to our next step, which is filtering.

This is normally assisted by a vacuum to pull out any of the coagulated substances within the oil as a result of the sub-zero temperatures being used earlier. If these temperatures are not maintained throughout the entirety of the 24 hours, then it would cause the winterization process to not be completely as efficient as it could be, since the fats and lipids of the plant would not separate as a result.

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What is the distillation process?

Distillation is also a critical step with regard to winterization, since it contributes towards separating molecules from the cannabis extract and also removes the ones that are unwanted. As a result of this, you will notice that the oil has a slightly higher level of purity, and as a result, would become more potent as well as an overall product.

This process can be performed repeatedly until the plant matter, residuals, and chlorophyll are all gone and can no longer impact the quality of the product anymore. Many systems are in place for this process to occur, and most of them are very highly-technological for functioning.

Distillation is normally performed by processing manufacturers attempting to mass produce CBD or THC oil for cannabis extraction.

What about dewaxing?

Similar to winterization, dewaxing involves fewer steps and is linked more closely towards the extraction process. The main difference is that the steps for dewaxing normally occur inside a closed system that consists of multiple columns.

Just like with winterization, you want to make sure the extract is within the climate of below -20C, so the desired cannabinoids are not lost. Once the unwanted lipids and chlorophyll have been removed, then they can be filtered out. Finally, you can boil the final product to remove the solvent being used to complete the process.

Want to learn more about the winterization process in cannabis extraction?

Winterization is a process that noticeably enhances the satisfaction of the consumption of cannabis products by increasing the purity of the extraction oil. Done through very few steps, the process is quick and convenient and requires minimal labour in order to get the best out of your use of cannabis.

Materials to be used such as solvents or freezers are also readily available for consumers at numerous locations for purchase and are also affordable. If you find yourself interested in improving the potency of your cannabis oil, this process would be the most efficient to participate in.

To discover more about the various ways to perform winterization, view our winterization equipment and find out how you can optimize your experience handling cannabis – or contact us today . The Maratek team of extraction specialists would be pleased to help.

Why is the Winterization Process Important in Cannabis Oil Extraction?

The winterization process, in simple terms, is the removal of fats, lipids and other unwanted materials from crude oil extract. Winterization is necessary to create a higher purity of cannabinoids. Lipids dilute the cannabinoid fraction, therefore removing them results in a higher quality product.

The transparency of the product is also affected by lipids in distillate. When lipids are not removed, the distillate will not be transparent – this is a sign of a lower-quality and lower-valued product.

Another adverse effect that lipids have in distillate is the way that they burn on coils in vape pens. Lipids will make the vape pen taste burnt which is unsatisfactory to the consumer. Winterization is a key process that differentiates a product from being either low quality or high quality. That directly affects the value of the product that you are creating.

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What is the winterization process?

During winterization, a non-polar oil extract is dissolved into ethanol or other polar solvent. The solution is placed in sub-zero temperatures (usually in the range of -20 to -80 degrees Celsius). When using ethanol, the ratio of ethanol to extract is often 10mL ethanol to 1g of oil. However this ratio often ranges between 5ml to 1g and 20ml to 1g.

During this process in the sub-zero temperatures, the lipids float to the top of the solution because of their lower solubility. The ideal time to leave the solution in cold temperatures is at least 24 hours.

There are multiple filters that the solution can go through such as paper filters and metal micro-filters. The lipids are filtered out of the solution through the filtration process and what is left is a high-purity distillate.

Why is winterization important in the cannabis and hemp oil extraction process?

To truly compete in the cannabis and hemp oil industry, winterization is a vital process. As mentioned previously, a winterized solution has more value than a solution that is not winterized.

Not only is value a factor, but customer satisfaction also plays a big role in this process. When an extract has fat and lipids left in it, it burns, vapes and tastes bad. Consumers will not buy this low-quality product again.

The saying “look good, feel good” does not only apply to people, it also applies to distillate. Everyone likes a shiny new product, not a cloudy and murky one. This is especially true for distillate consumers as transparency is an easy indicator of the level of purity in an extract. To ensure that a product can compete in the cannabis industry, winterization must be included in the extraction process.

Want to learn more about the winterization process and how Maratek can help automate and perfect the process with our expertly engineered Turnkey Automatic Winterization System (TAWS)? Contact us today. We would love to answer any questions that you may have.

What is CBD winterization?

There are many steps to processing hemp into a consumer-level product. One of the most critical, in terms of making a clean product, is winterization. No, this isn’t what your dad does to the lawnmower every fall. Winterization is a process that removes undesirable elements extracted from hemp, for example, fats, waxes, and lipids leaving behind clean, consumable CBD oil. Without CBD winterization, these unwanted materials would cause the final product to be cloudy, darker, and have an unpleasant taste.

What steps come before the winterization of oil?

The winterization process starts with raw extract straight from our CO2 machine (see photo below). This CBD crude oil contains all the essential parts of the hemp plant except for the actual plant material itself. CBD, minor cannabinoids, terpenes, fats, waxes, and lipids are all part of this viscous liquid. Crude oil extracted from a CO2 machine will have an attractive, light color to it, especially compared to alcohol extracted oil, which will have a dark, sludge-like appearance.

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What is CBD Winterization?

The CBD crude oil is combined with 200 proof alcohol and stirred vigorously until completely mixed. The alcohol is used to thin the crude oil out, as the desirable parts of crude will go into solution with the alcohol while the undesirable parts will coagulate and freeze allowing them to be filtered out. The mixture is then placed in a deep freezer at below-zero temperatures. Once it has time to freeze it looks cloudy and is ready for filtration. The next step is to place the mixture in vessels that use paper filters to remove the frozen fats, waxes and lipids. The actual CBD oil remains with the alcohol solution and passes through the filter while the frozen undesirable parts are caught by it. The photo below shows what a filter will look like after the solution passes through it. When properly winterized, the filters will catch all of the frozen plant waxes from the oil, leaving them sitting on top. Once the pass is complete, the filters and waxes are discarded. The clean oil flows through the filter into a collection vessel where it is refrozen for more passes. We winterize multiple times just to make sure that our oil is 100 percent clean!

So wait, even though the winterized oil is CO2 extracted, it will still contain alcohol?

Nope! The alcohol is just used to thin the CBD oil in order to properly filter it. Once it’s been filtered and the undesirable elements have been removed, it’s time to remove the alcohol. This is done with a piece of equipment called a rotary evaporator (rotovap). This is CEO Craig Henderson, who started refining hemp from the garage of his home, using a rotovap in the early days of Extract Labs. This bad boy is an efficient way to quickly distill the alcohol out of the solution. The bulb spins in a hot water bath while the system is under vacuum, allowing the alcohol to evaporate out while leaving the winterized oil spinning in the bulb. The alcohol vapors then travel up to the chiller coils where they condense into a liquid and drip down for collection. The alcohol is then recycled into our process. Once the rotovap is done with a work order, the spinning bulb will contain only clean winterized CBD oil. The winterized CBD is then ready to move on to the next phase of the process. From here, the winterized oil will be formulated into tinctures or it will move to our distillation department for further refinement.

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