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Extrakt Lab | Now that I have Extracts, what are my Options to Refine the Extracts?
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Now that I have Extracts, what are my Options to Refine the Extracts?

dewaxing winterization

Now that I have Extracts, what are my Options to Refine the Extracts?

The market fundamentals for this industry are spectacular.  Federal regulation has set up state by state markets which have spurned many thousands of small business owners to capitalize on a local market without any major competitive threat from a national player.   Many  business professionals look at the market fundamentals and then try to determine their point of entry. They typically visualize the final products and then work back through the process that is needed to get to that end vision.    Some information is needed to take advantage of this market including:

  • What products can I make from the oil that comes out of the extractor?
  • Where will I get my raw materials?
  • Who will buy them from me?

In this post, we will focus on the first question.  Many people who want to get in the business of extractions often wonder what happens after the oil comes out of the extractor. Further, some wonder why any further refinement is needed at all.  In the following gives a summary overview of the various options available for refining extracts.

Refinement options:

1.  Produce isolate using chromatography by separating actives into fractions at the 200-400kg/month level. We sell this equipment.
2.  Produce distillate using a distillation apparatus (wiped film or other efficient molecular distillation method) for removal of matrix and color at the cost of actives loss.  Distillation is not typically used for separating actives into isolate.
3.  Produce decolored oils using sorbents such as carbonX to remove a tremendous amount of matrix and color at the cost of low to medium actives loss.
Selectivity of sorbents really depends on the solvent.  In ethanol, you can expect that C18 will remove hydrophobic large plant waxes and polyols; alumina (n/a,b) is a lewis acid and sucks up lewis bases.   Silica basically is covered with silanols that depending on the pH can be protonated.  You need to consider strongly the preconditioning of all these sorbents.
4. Do nothing and sell the crude oil.
5.  Lastly, winterization in context is the process of precipitating waxes from ethanolic solutions.  Typically the concentration of actives is upgraded and there is some loss of actives that are caught in the precipitated waxes.  Waxes are approximately 10-15% w/w and do vary with strain. Typically, a DrainDroyd is used to dewax.