If you’re familiar with cannabis concentrates, you may have heard of solventless extracts. Most concentrates on the market today are made with the solvent: butane. Extract artists do their best to ensure no butane is left in the end product but more amateur extractors have trace amounts of unpurged butane left behind. Butane is considered one of the more harmful volatile substances to inhale. As a result, extractors of cannabis oils are attempting to get their product without the use of any potentially harmful solvents. Solventless extracts are relatively new but they’re rapidly growing in popularity and there are now several options.
Dangers of Butane
Butane is used to concentrate and extract as much THC as possible from the cannabis plant. BHO is becoming more and popular and even preferred by some consumers of marijuana. The butane is the more dangerous component involved in BHO. Most of the danger when it comes to BHO is in the extraction process because a flammable gas is involved. There have been incidents in the past where homes burst into flames from amateurs attempting to make butane hash oil.
One analysis found that butane extracts have on two to five percent of residual butane content. The problem with this is that inhaling butane may be harmful to one’s health. However, it’s worth noting that butane is used in many things we buy such as hairspray, cooking spray, e-cigarettes and more.
Fortunately, Dr. Melamede looked through the National Library of Medicine database and found that “there isn’t any evidence that inhaling residual hydrocarbons like butane are dangerous – at least in small amounts.”
De Melamede added that “it’s an irritant, but that’s about it.”
So yes, butane alone in large quantities might be dangerous. However, the small traces of butane left in BHO should not be enough to cause any major consequences.
If you’d like to guarantee that there are NO traces of butane left in your hash oils then your best bet is in solventless extracts.
What are Solventless Extracts?
One way to make extracts without the introduction of any chemical solvents is the rosin technique. The Rosin technique has been rapidly increasing in popularity because it enables just about anybody with a hair straightener and some weed to obtain cannabis extracts.
The rosin technique is quite simple. You’ll just need to apply some heat and pressure to cannabis nugs and their sweet THC concentrated juices will begin oozing out. People at home use their hair straighteners at low temperatures under 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Put a nug in between some parchment paper or medical grade silicone and then place it between the plates of a hair straightener. Press down as hard as you possibly can for 10-30 seconds and you should hear some sizzling. Experiment until you find what gives you the best yield/product. Lower temperatures result in lighter colored more flavorful extracts but less yields.
Another technique to extract without solvents is called “Water Hash.” This is done by putting cannabis nugs or trim into a bag and placing it in ice water. The microscopic trichomes on the cannabis will become brittle and fall to the bottom of the bag. The bags are special bags called Bubble Bags or one of their competitors. The bag has a stainless steel screen at the bottom that will prohibit most plant matter from falling through. What’s left is a crumbly pressed kief that is often labelled “full melt” at dispensaries. It’s a favorite among cannabis concentrate connoisseurs.
It’s still left to the individual to decide whether solventless extracts are worth the extra money. BHO is usually priced cheaper but some concentrate users prefer a purer extraction method.