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Types of cannabis extractions and their processing

Enter the world of cannabis extractions: the different cannabis extracts

Although the consumption of the whole flower is the most traditional way to enjoy the effect of marijuana and CBD cannabis and, even today, the preferred way for most users, in recent years there has been a boom in everything surrounding cannabis extractions.

There are more and more cannabis users, recreational or medicinal, who opt for the consumption of cannabis extracts directly, making their own home extractions, due to the purity and potency of these preparations. Discover the rich world of extracts!

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What are cannabis extractions and what are they for?

Basically, cannabis extractions are processes of transformation of the plant that are carried out for the purpose of concentrate the cannabinoids in cannabis (as well as other interesting compounds such as terpenes) and discard most or all of the plant matter, which is almost innocuous and does not produce any effect when consumed (like fiber). Or, put another way, they are a method of extracting the cannabinoids and avoiding everything, or almost everything else.

Types of cannabis extractions

Basically, we can find 2 general types of cannabis extractions: mechanical and solvent extractions, depending on whether components are used to dissolve the cannabinoids or only physical processes.

In both types there are simple techniques to perform at home or complex processes, which achieve more controlled and accurate results, but, at the same time, are more dangerous or require products and knowledge that not everyone has.

Cannabis strain for marijuana extractions or CBD flowers

Before proceeding with the extractions, we must take into account the cannabinoid profile of our flowers. If we want to make an aromatic extraction that contains mainly CBD or cannabidiol we will have to start from CBD buds or flowers with predominance of CBD and without THC. Others will prefer a marijuana extract with a higher THC content.

Even beyond the cannabinoid content in THC and CBD, we can find a world of aromas and effects of cannabis derived from the terpenes, such as terpenes .

Navigating the world of cannabis strains to find the one that most satisfies us can be an adventure full of sensory experiences, which are often very subjective. Here we have the first step for any good home extraction of marijuana: choose a good raw material.

There are several types of cannabis extractions, each of which offers multiple benefits to the user depending on the desired effect and the method used. Most extracts can be produced at home, although you will need to have the right equipment and learn the correct technique to obtain a quality product.

Therefore, understanding the different extraction processes is key to maximizing the enjoyment of cannabis-based products. Below, we review some of the most popular cannabis extraction techniques :

Mechanical cannabis extractions

Mechanical cannabis extractions are the most typical and have been used for a lifetime. It is in this type that we find traditional marijuana extracts, such as the popular hashish . We will synthesize them from less to more complex, starting with dry extractions:


Charas is the oldest form of cannabis extraction. It has been used for centuries in India and Nepal, and there are villages in the valleys, such as Malana, famous for the traditional production of charas.

Making charas at home is a very painstaking and time-consuming process. The extraction method consists of rubbing the freshly harvested buds with the palms of the hands. In this way, the trichomes are glued to the palms of the hands. trichomes filled with resin, which has a high concentration of cannabinoids.

Subsequently, the accumulated resin is manipulated to mold it and make hashish. It is said to take about seven to eight hours to produce about 8 grams of charas of the highest quality. Charas usually has a rounded shape, like compacted pellets.

cannabis charas extract

Hashish with sieve

Sieve hashish is another very traditional, one could say mythical, type of dry marijuana extraction used in Morocco, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The result is also colloquially called “apaleado”, because the technique consists of hitting the marijuana with a stick on a sieve, so that the resin falls, filtered, under the sieve. The smaller the mesh size, the less plant matter will fall and the purer the resulting extract will be. After sieving, the sieve itself must be removed and all the resin collected to obtain a good handful of kief.

At the end, a yellow to green powder is obtained, with an abundance of trichomes and a rather fragile texture, more or less compacted. Also called dry hash, kifi, kif, skuff, dry sift or kief.

cannabis hashish extract sieve
Sifted hashish

The quality of this type of hashish can be checked by bringing a flame close to it: if it bubbles when approaching the heat, it is usually indicative of a high content of resin, cannabinoids and terpenes. On the other hand, the lack of bubbles shows the presence of contaminants such as dust or plant debris. It is important to remember that none of the contaminants boil under flame, making this combustion test a more effective tool for hashish evaluation.

This hash is very typical to form hash plates .

Dry apparatus for home cannabis extractions

From there, there are several tools or machines that we can use to perform this type of extractions in a homemade way and much faster than the traditional ways. From containers for sieving marijuana at home, with a mesh at one end, to shake out the plant matter inside, to the Pollinator (from the mythical Mila Jansen) or other brands of resin extractorsThe new marijuana growers have a drum with a motor, which will facilitate the task and will save us the spectacle of manually “beating” the marijuana in the dining room of our house to make homemade hashish.


Rosin is a method of extracting marijuana with pressure and heat, popularized a few years ago. It consists of pressing and heating the marijuana flowers, causing them to release the resin. It is made with specially manufactured pressing machines that use a lot of pressure and controlled temperature, and the result is a sublime product. You can read on some sites that you can make rosin in a homemade way with a hair iron and baking paper, although the result will be, predictably, quite mediocre and we do not recommend it.

cannabis rosin extract

Extraction with ice: Ice-O-lator, Fresh Frozen or Water Hash.

Finally, in terms of mechanical marijuana extraction techniques, we find ice extractions such as Ice-O-lator, Fresh Frozen or Water Hash. The process is similar to dry extraction, stirring the material, but using ice and water to freeze without drying the plant, and different meshes, with various micron sizes, to filter impurities. It is normal to do it with ready-made washing machines purchased in Grow Shops, but you could also try to do it at home.

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For home cold extraction, you need a bucket of ice. To get the most out of Ice-O-Lator extractions, it is essential to have a special Ice-O-Lator kit sold at Grow Shops, which includes screens of different sizes. Start by filling a bucket to 2/3 of its total capacity. Add ice, and introduce the buds inside the nets into the cold water. The low temperature will help the trichomes to detach more easily from the plant. Then stir the material in the bucket for 20-25 minutes. Once this is done, gently remove the bag and gradually remove excess water. You can use a mesh to place the product for dehydration and subsequent molding.

cannabis ice or lator extract

Cannabis extractions with solvents

Solvent extractions of cannabis are processes that involve the use of some substance that acts as a solvent for cannabinoids, usually gas or alcohol. The technique consists of dissolving the trichomes, the glands where the cannabinoids are concentrated, in the solvent liquid, then filtering the mixture and purging in an oven or vacuum pump to release as much of the solvent traces as possible in the extract. If any trace of the gas in the extraction is completely removed, it is considered to be solvent-free. As with the mechanical methods, we review them from less to more complex:

Homemade cannabis tinctures

Homemade cannabis tinctures are one of the most popular types of extractions among medical cannabis users. It consists of extracting the trichomes from the flowers using a solvent such as alcohol (ethyl or isopropylene). The method is simple, since we only have to submerge the decarboxylated CBD or marijuana flowers (having previously ground them with a grinder and heated in the oven at 120ºC for 30-40 minutes) in a flask with high-proof alcohol for a few weeks, shaking them during the process. It is then filtered.

Homemade cannabis oils

In homemade cannabis oils we find another very popular way to obtain marijuana oil at home. Compared to the previous extraction method, it has the advantage that it is easy to prepare and does not contain alcohol. Here, instead of alcohol, we will use an edible oil to macerate the buds. We can use virgin olive oil, due to its good temperature stability.

To make it correctly, we must first decarboxylate the marijuana or cannabis CBD buds to activate the cannabinoids (grind with a grinder and heat in a 120ºC oven for 30-40 minutes). The buds are then placed in a glass jar and filled with olive oil, which is heated to 90-100ºC for about two hours (bain-marie). It is then left to stand for several days in total darkness.

Cannabis BHO extractions

The extraction of cannabis BHO or hash oil is done with butane gas (hence the name “Butane Hash Oil”). BHO can be made using a variety of techniques, from more or less simple tubes and mechanisms to complex machinery, and depending on the variety used, the technique and the texture. As always, in the Grow Shops you will find special machinery for BHO extractions. There are many types of BHO: Shatter (crystalline and brittle texture), Sugar, Crumble, Wax, Cookies, Amber Glass, Moonrock or Budder.

Budder - Cannabis BHO Extract
Cannabis Budder – BHO Extract

The result is a translucent amber concentrate, the color of which depends mainly on the dried or fresh plant material used during processing. In some cases, it can be difficult to obtain BHO concentrates due to the resin content of the flowers: some will never give a consistency as solid as shatter, while other varieties can produce a solid crystalline extract more easily. For each type of BHO extraction, understanding the unique properties of each plant being processed helps ensure the best results.

BHO is a dangerous method to make at home, as butane is highly flammable and explosive, but the process itself is not complicated. First, the CBD or marijuana flowers are placed in an airtight container and, under pressure, butane is injected, which will drag the trichomes in the form of oil, which will filter and fall under the tube. Then, we will have to purge and eliminate the solvent with an oven. In addition to butane, the same type of extractions can be performed using other less harmful gases, such as ethanol and propane.

Supercritical CO2 extraction

Finally, we find this method, undoubtedly the most recommendable, due to the quality of the resulting extraction, its safety and the zero toxic footprint it leaves. Extraction with super critical CO2 is ideal for obtaining a full spectrum CBD full-spectrum CBD extract because it does not contain any toxic components, unlike previous solvent methods.

What does it consist of? Basically, in supercritical CO2 extraction, CO2 is cooled until it reaches this supercritical state: from gas, it would go to liquid, then to solid (dry ice) and then to supercritical. CO2 behaves like a gas and a liquid at the same time, and is a solvent with many advantages: it is completely natural (sustainable and non-toxic), it is non-flammable and has perfect properties for extraction, such as its high diffusivity.

Obviously, this is a complex method that requires specialized equipment and expertise. It cannot be made at home, but you can buy it in CBD stores like Cannactiva. If successful, supercritical CO2 extraction is the star method for working with cannabis extractions, especially if they are for cosmetic purposes.

Advantages and disadvantages of cannabis extracts

The main and enormous advantage of homemade cannabis extractions is that with them we can select ourselves the variety of cannabis we want to use and concentrate the elements we want from the plant, in order to elaborate our own potent preparations, either for medicinal or recreational purposes.

Thus, we can decide what type of flowers we use and how we consume them, according to the effect we are looking for (although, to select and separate or isolate a particular type of cannabinoid, we will have to resort to complex techniques, which exceed the content of this article).

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Cannabis extractions are more potent than the flowers of the plant because they are of higher purity.

The main disadvantage that we can find in home extractions will depend on the process used, since with some techniques we run the risk of degrading the result, and with others toxic solvents are used and, if traces of them are left in the final product, they can be dangerous for consumption.

In this sense, depending on the purpose, resorting to commercial preparations, elaborated in laboratories with specialized equipment that allows controlling each part of the extraction process and the quality of the final product, is an advantage. This is the case of quality CBD oil that we offer you in Cannactiva. However, those seeking the aroma of THC marijuana extracts will have no choice but to do it at home.

Another disadvantage, this one more subjective, is that some purists may consider that by performing cannabis extractions we are not taking advantage of all the properties of the plant. What is clear is that, for controlled and industrial use, cannabis extracts are a great advantage, as they are easy to standardize and make it possible to guarantee optimal composition and traceability of the products.

Other marijuana extraction methods

These are the best known techniques, but we can also resort to methods such as Live Resin, molecular separation, ultrasonic extraction or chromatography, if we intend to separate cannabinoids.

We hope you found this post interesting and that you have discovered the universe behind the whole world of cannabis extractions.

Cannactiva CBD products are intended for external use.

Information on Home Cannabis Extractions (FAQ)

What are cannabis extractions?

Cannabis extraction is the process of transforming marijuana or cannabis to concentrate the plant’s cannabinoids, leaving a minimum of plant matter, which is usually discarded. In this way, you get to enjoy the full potency of cannabis.

What types of cannabis extractions are there?

There are two types of cannabis extractions: mechanical and physical, based on solvents. The difference is whether only physical processes are used to extract the cannabinoids, or whether substances are used to dilute and isolate them. Both types of extractions can be performed at home, although they carry greater risks or require products and knowledge that are not available to everyone.

En Cannactiva queremos cambiar la perspectiva sobre el cannabis. Te traemos lo mejor de la planta a través de nuestros productos y de los posts que puedes leer en nuestro [...]

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