Extracted Series: Exploring Solventless Extraction, Products, and Pro Tips
In this post:
- What are solvent-less cannabis concentrates?
- Is solvent-less the best extraction method?
- What's the process for producing solvent-less extracts like rosin?
- How are rosin and hash different?
- What makes a live resin product "live"?
- Can you compare rosin products to solvent-based resin products?
- What are the most popular solvent-less products today?
Today's cannabis consumers are more health-conscious and discerning than ever. They’re seeking clean, flavorful, potent products with fewer chemical agents. And brands are listening.
Craft laboratories are creating solvent-less concentrates by hand, with all-natural ingredients and mouthwatering profiles. Fueled partly by these innovations, the concentrate market is the fastest-growing cannabis segment today.
But how exactly do brands produce solvent-less concentrates, how do they compare to solvent-based BHO products, and what are the top-growing trends today?
To find out, we turned to Marcus Moates, Vice President of Extraction at Cookies and owner of Nature's Lab Extractions. Moates’ lab produces solventless and BHO formulas, like live rosin, live resin sauce, and sift rosin.
What are Solvent-Less Cannabis Concentrates?
Solvent-less concentrates are highly potent cannabis products made by refining cannabis flower with water and ice and without harsh chemicals. Concentrates are typically sticky, buttery, or waxy in texture and retain most of the plant’s natural terpene and cannabinoid profile.
Is Solvent-Less the Best Extraction Method for Cannabis Concentrates? Better Than Butane Hash Oil (BHO)?
Solvent-less extraction produces a different profile than solvent-based extraction. I don't think one is better or worse. But it's easier to compromise on the quality with BHO extraction methods, thanks to techniques like color remediation.
Color remediation creates a polished finished product that looks like a live resin product regardless of the starting material's lack of quality. So, the concentrate’s color will look aesthetically pleasing.
Additionally, the product may smell and taste excellent, thanks to the manufacturer adding non-cannabis terpenes back post-production. But it’s all a façade.
Reputable brands do not use color remediation techniques to mask product quality. Instead, they source clean starting material.
For example, at Nature Lab Extractions, we determine which plant material makes the cut through experimenting with several trial runs. Responsible sourcing is the key to not cutting corners in my book.
What's the Process for Producing Solvent-Less Extracts Like Rosin?
Most live rosin is processed in a cold environment. Everyone has slightly different approaches, but keep our room at 40 degrees, which isn't easy in areas with high humidity, like Florida.
First, we wash the plant material in ice-cold water, which allows us to separate the heads off the plant. Then we drain the water and filter it through sieve bags to collect all those beautiful heads. Many companies use machines to do this, but they're no match for someone doing it by hand.
From there, we take the material to a freeze dryer. After we freeze-dry it, we start micro-planing and sifting. Then we take it to the rosin press. At that point, all it needs is heat and pressure before it's ready for testing.
What's the Difference Between Rosin and Hash?
"Hash" is a general umbrella term for solvent-based and solvent-less cannabis concentrations. People say “concentrates” more than “hash” now, but the words are synonymous. Think of hash (or concentrates) as the crude oil you can process into a more filtered rosin solution.
Solvent-Less Hash Concentrates Include:
- Live rosin (including rosin fresh press, badder, and jam)
- Live rosin vapes (made from jam)
- 6 Star Melt
- Solvent-less THCa
- Sift Rosin
- Sift Rosin Pens
Solvent-Based (BHO) Hashes Products Include:
- Live Resin
People often confuse rosin and resin because they sound similar and have similar properties. But the extraction processes are very different. Resin products are extracted with solvents like butane hash oil (BHO) and other hydrocarbons. Rosin products come from solventless methods using non-chemical agents like water, pressure, and minimal heat.
What Makes a Live Resin Product "Live"?
"Live" refers to a rosin or resin product and comes from freshly frozen plant material. To make fresh-frozen plant material, we immediately cut the plant down and throw it in the freezer instead of hanging it dry.
Skipping the drying process is a way to help preserve the terpene content and overall cannabinoid profile. So, we freeze the plant for 24-48 hours, and it's ready to go.
Can You Compare Rosin Products to Solvent-Based Resin Products?
There’s a lack of contaminants passing through the filtration screens with solvent-less extraction, which improves the overall flavor profile. Visually, you tend to see wetter products with solvent-less methods. The terpene profile is also more present since you're not overbaking it. Typically, if the hash is hard or dry, it's usually the heat's fault. And we're trying to avoid that with the rosin.
That said, most people can’t distinguish between solvent and solvent-less products at a glance. Both are amber in color, come in various textures, and are incredibly potent.
The differences become more apparent at a connoisseur level. It shows in the final product that someone's doing this by hand with love.
What are the Most Popular Solvent-Less Products Today?
Hash Holes and rosin pens are both in demand in all state markets. Hash Holes are prerolls with a rosin "snake" in the center of the flower. I believe both items are popular for their convenience–they don't require a torch and dab rig like most other concentrates.
What is the typical shelf life of solvent-less products? How should people store them for the longest-lasting results?
Typical shelf life depends directly on how you store the products. All solvent-less products must be frozen to preserve their shelf life. Retailers should store solventless products in a freezer too. So, if you visit a store to purchase a solvent-less concentrate, and they don’t hand you a cold jar, you should not accept it.
When We Test Rosin Products at ACS, They’re Typically More Potent in CBDa and THCa Than CBD and THC. Why is That?
Solvent-less products are not the same as more common cannabis isolates. Unlike isolates, rosin products don’t get heated to the point of decarboxylation during post-processing. As a result, rosin cannabinoids retain their original molecular structure.
Most hash smokers prefer to see THCa present vs. THC because that means the product contains the full spectrum of original plant compounds. In addition, most people prefer to experience the entourage effect of a high-end concentrate, like live rosin or live resin BHO.
Do You Focus on Solvent-Less Products at Cookies?
We believe that more people are starting to appreciate solvent-less products in some of these newer states. So we're ensuring we stay ahead of that curve by maintaining a cleaner extract.
Can You Tell Us About Some Exciting Things Coming Out of Cookies?
We're scaling up at Cookies Florida. We're trying to roll out 20 stores throughout the state in the next couple of years. We'll also be launching Sift Rosin Pens, Rosin, Live Rosin Pens, Live Rosin, and other products like jars of badder, sauce, and jam. So we're going to have plenty of rosin and other solvent-less concentrates.
Solvent-Less Extraction Methods - The Bottom Line
Solvent-less extraction methods hold the potential to create hand-made products ideal for discerning cannabis connoisseurs. Their reputation for higher-quality products is well-deserved, and we can't wait to see what exciting new products Nature’s Labs and Cookies will launch next.
For more insights from industry leaders and other cannabis professionals, check out our extracted series on the ACS blog.