Cannabis extracts are currently the fastest-growing part of the marketplace, and extracts and extract-infused products are expected to ultimately be 90% of all marijuana sales. Extraction concentrates the cannabinoids out of the plant material with a solvent. Small companies getting on board with these trends may find themselves overwhelmed at the options and drawbacks of extraction.
One big thing to consider is how to best optimize an extraction setup for production or increase production capacity. Many companies focus on cash flow and earnings, but capacity is often seen as a more important value in terms of business potential. There are many factors that come into play, including pre-processing, equipment choices, utilization of the correct method, and automation.
Extract From the Best Product
Choosing the best material is an important first step. Terpenes are the naturally-occurring hydrocarbons that give the plant its unique aroma and flavor. The best variety of terpenes will be derived by using the entire plant excluding the low-cannabinoid parts. Preserving the original essence of the plant will produce optimal extracts. Avoid material that has been stored as this will start the process with degraded material with reduced terpenes.
Use the Best Equipment
If you haven’t started your extraction business yet, creating a business plan will help you to avoid production jams down the road. Choosing the best extraction apparatus for your desired outcome is an important first step. Each one requires some sort of human labor, and some require more experience and training than others. Equipment costs also vary depending on production capability.
If you are up and running and looking to maximize your output, analyzing your current system to identify the bottlenecks where parts of your system are idle at times will show you where to invest in upgrades and new technologies. For example, it is important to size your solvent recovery units to match your filtering production rates. Having a system that is out of balance with regards to production times will leave expensive equipment unused while waiting for another piece to finish.
Utilize the Best Method
There are a number of choices when it comes to extracting the active cannabis ingredients, including CO2, butane, ethanol, and hand-presses. Each one comes with its own requirements, production considerations, and safety concerns. No one method is best across the board, as different methods create different outcomes. You must start with your desired final product and choose the right method to get you there. Truly understanding the gas being used for extraction is imperative to safely extract the optimum product.
Once the considerations for equipment choices and final product have been made, keeping the product consistent is a key factor for the longevity of an extraction company. You must be able to produce the same quality and percentages consistently in order to build trust with your customers. Utilizing automation as part of the extraction process also allows your labor hours to be spent in pre- or post-processing. Equipment that can be fully or semi-automated will add to your overall production capacity, balance time and money investment, and keep the final product consistent from batch to batch.
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