The Ultimate Botanical Extraction Equipment Bible

Start designing your extraction facility here, with all the equipment you’ll need to create botanical concentrates.

Botanical extraction equipment uses chemical solvents such as CO2, ethanol, butane, and propane to extract the active compounds found in raw plant material. The resulting concentrated extract is used in a number of products across many industries, including medicinal, pharmaceutical, and recreational.

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Botanicals have grown more and more popular over the years, but consumers are especially enthusiastic about extracts—a lab-processed, highly potent form of concentrated botanicals that’s available in a wide range of medicinal and recreational products. 

The botanical industry as a whole has taken note of what their consumers want, and a lot of value is being funneled into the extraction business. As much as it pays to learn the science behind extraction, it may be even more important for extraction technicians and extraction facility managers to understand what gear they need to develop truly exceptional batches of botanical concentrate.

In this article, we’ll cover gear that’s crucial for all botanical solvent-based extraction techniques, including ethanol extraction, CO2 extraction, hydrocarbon extraction, as well as solventless extraction equipment. We’ll also take a look at extraction safety equipment and more.

Considerations for Choosing Extraction Equipment

First, you’ll need to decide which extraction method is right for your facility and your business goals. As mentioned above, there are a few to choose from. For example, there’s closed-loop hydrocarbon extraction, a method that utilizes an extractor vessel that’s completely closed to the outside atmosphere. It involves a hydrocarbon solvent such as carbon dioxide (CO2), butane, or propane, and these solvents are volatile. For that reason, a reliable, fail-safe cylinder is essential to any closed-loop extraction machine. 

If you’re using a solvent-based extraction method, this is the vital equipment you’ll need to get the job done right and get your product to market in a timely fashion. 

Stainless Steel Extraction Tanks

The botanical extraction industry is a relatively new sector. And as with any industry fresh to the marketplace, it has had to retrofit existing technologies to fit a specific need. This is especially true when it comes to heavy-duty equipment such as hydrocarbon tanks.

Highpoint by Worthington Enterprises shifts the paradigm, manufacturing the first purpose-built hydrocarbon tanks meant exclusively for use in botanical extraction facilities. The company, which has been in business since 1955, fabricates industry-best stainless steel cylinders for premium internal cleanliness. These stainless steel units are resistant to oxidation and feature high-quality welding to reinforce cleanliness. They are also surprisingly mobile. 

When performing closed loop hydrocarbon extraction, Highpoint’s stainless steel cylinders are literally the only option you should consider. 

Hydrocarbon Extraction Units

One of the most important features of any extraction unit that utilizes butane is scalability. Extraction technicians and extraction facility managers require butane units that can adjust based on the changing needs of the extraction team. 

Precision Extraction Solutions makes scalability and throughput the focus of their hydrocarbon solvent-based extraction equipment, which is why we recommend their flagship unit, the PX40 Extraction System. Able to extract using butane, propane, or isobutane, this extraction unit is capable of processing up to 36 pounds in one run and up to 250 pounds per 8-hour run. These stats make the PX40 ideal for mid- or enterprise-level commercial production and craft extraction applications.

Then there’s the IO Extractor from Luna Technologies, which processes both butane and propane, though at slightly different rates. The fully automated extractor can process 27 pounds of plant material per hour using butane. When using propane, the processing rate increases to an impressive 37 pounds of plant material per hour. 

The smallest butane extractor we’d recommend is Ablaze’s Mini Closed Loop Extractor. Small batches and cost savings are the top selling points here, with the unit featuring a 45g capacity and a 100psi limit. 

Temperature Control Units

Encompassing chillers and heaters, temperature control units (TCU) maintain consistent vessel wall and extraction chamber temperatures. Keeping the temperature in check helps manage the quality and characteristics of the final botanical extraction product.  

  • Chillers: Used to keep the solvent at an ultra-low temperature before the primary extraction, chillers are crucial to the extraction process. There are currently two main chiller units that are built specifically for extraction: the Huber CC-902 and the Julabo FP89-HL. Both refrigeration bath circulators offer much of the same functionality.
  • Heaters: Butane extraction systems require heat for the collection vessel to function properly. Heaters allow technicians to perform solvent recovery, which is essential for the extraction. The temperature necessary for this to happen ranges from 90 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, with Huber and Julabo offering industry-best solutions: Huber CC-308B and Julabo SL-12

Recovery Pumps

A butane extraction system requires accessories in order to run at peak efficiency. One of these accessories is a recovery pump, which accelerates solvent recovery rates and enables an active closed loop extraction system. Active extraction systems are much faster and guard against the loss of a higher percentage of solvent. 

Here, we recommend a Haskel EXT420 recovery pump, which can be used to expedite the gas reclamation and recovery process on units that are not equipped with a gas reclamation device.

Vacuum Pumps

The result of the extraction process is a golden concentrate that’s thick and reminiscent of sap. This Butane Honey Oil (BHO) is rich in cannabinoids and terpenes; however, it must be vacuum purged to remove excess solvents until you’re left with a clean, flavorful product that’s ready for market. This is where a vacuum pump comes into play during extraction.

Vacuum pumps remove the residual butane from the BHO, ensuring a safe product for both medicinal and recreational consumers. For this important task, we recommend the CRVpro8 Vacuum Pump, complete with gas ballast, forced oil lubrication, anti-suckback mechanism, and thermal overload protection.

Vacuum Ovens

Completing the purge of solvents from your extract is a vacuum oven, named as such because these units heat products in a vacuum-sealed chamber. This chamber reduces pressure and the boiling point of most substances, allowing for the evaporation of unwanted materials from the samples without burning the product. 

In the extraction industry, vacuum ovens are used during the extraction process of BHOs. The solvent is cleanly evaporated in the chamber. At the end of the heating, extraction techs are left with a purified oil extract that’s clean and safe from any fire hazards. For this task, we recommend vacuum ovens from Cascade TEK.

How To Prepare for Federal Legalization

As the country moves closer to federal legalization, it’s crucial for companies in this sector to lay the groundwork and pursue initiatives to capture a share of the market within the industry. You don’t want to be unprepared when federal legalization is unleashed and the market truly explodes.

Luckily, there is precedent for companies spearheading expansion efforts before emerging markets open. Entrepreneurs within the botanical extraction industry can look to these other sectors for examples of how to prepare for a potential windfall of new business opportunities. 

Scaling a small business effectively and efficiently requires a smart approach. It should include input from various parts of the company, such as:

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Legal
  • Technology
  • Organizational

Each arm of your company plays a role in preparing for federal legalization. In the next section, we’ll examine seven specific areas you can strengthen before the botanical extraction market expands into new territories.

Solvent-Based Extraction Safety Equipment

As we’ve stated throughout this blog, the chemicals used in extraction and most other solvent extraction processes are volatile and potentially dangerous when not handled properly. For this reason, botanical extraction must take place in a C1D1 (Class 1 Division 1) compliant environment. The safeguards inherent in C1D1 extraction booths are necessary to prevent fires, explosions, damage to products, and injuries to humans. 

C1D1 extraction room equipment includes:

  • Emergency lighting
  • Cameras for remote monitoring
  • LED and dimmable lights
  • Hood lights
  • Ventilation fans
  • Outlets and switches
  • Exit signs

The quickest—and safest—way to get all of the C1D1 features you need in your facility is a prefab C1D1 extraction room, also known as an extraction booth. These units can be built and installed in one day and should be compliant with local codes and regulation. When shopping around for an extraction booth, be sure to select one that’s large enough to offer the flexibility you need to install larger equipment and additional systems as your operation grows. And if you are still building out your facility, an outdoor extraction booth is a choice option. 

One of the top C1D1 extraction booths comes from Precision Extraction. These units include purge systems, exhaust systems, a gas detection kit, and a bevy of other features that make the unit compliant with most regulations, including OSHA Safety and Health Standards.

Solventless Extraction Equipment

For some consumers—and extraction technicians—the use of chemical solvents is a nonstarter. This aversion is often due to the inherent risk of dabbling in hazardous materials, along with the fear that the final extraction product will contain a harmful amount of residual solvents. 

Though the equipment used in solvent-based extraction is specifically designed to eliminate residual solvents, there is an option for those who’d rather not deal with chemical solvents and for those whose business resides in states that have restrictions against solvent extractions. Solventless extraction is just that, a method that doesn’t use any solvents for botanical extraction. 

The most common forms of solventless extraction rely on heat, water, gravity, and pressure to manufacture botanical concentrates. To get started with solventless extractions, you’ll need the following equipment:

  • Rosin press
  • Hand washing system
  • Trichome separator
  • Freeze dryer

No matter what extraction method you decide to use and what type of lab you decide to build, it’s absolutely imperative that you invest in reliable extraction equipment. Taking shortcuts with equipment can lead to unexpected maintenance expenses and subpar extract. Remember all of the costs associated with your decisions and install the right equipment to keep your facility running smoothly toward a profit.

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