Butane stands apart from other popular extraction solvents such as carbon dioxide (CO2) and ethanol in its efficacy at separating cannabis and hemp's full chemical profile of therapeutic cannabinoids and terpenes.
The extracts and concentrates industry is constantly evolving and developing new processes and products to satisfy every type of cannabis and hemp consumer. Along with it, new terminology has emerged to capture the differences in the various complex extraction processes. Terms such as CBD isolate, broad spectrum, and full spectrum have all made their way into the vernacular of the extraction industry, and are often times used incorrectly or interchangeably.
Cannabis extracts and concentrates have long been made with solvent-based and solventless methods. Various solvents including butane, carbon dioxide (CO2), and ethyl alcohol can be used to remove the therapeutic cannabinoids from the raw plant matter. One of the most popular and efficient solvents used is butane, because it extracts the full spectrum of terpenes and cannabinoids from the plant, producing high-potency and quality concentrates.
Fire codes are enforced to maintain facilities in a fire-safe manner and protect extractors. Marijuana extraction facilities, in particular, use flammable solvents and other hazardous materials during extraction processes that require stringent regulations.
The fire marshal can visit an extraction facility at any time, so it is vital to stay on top of the fire code requirements to pass inspection. Any fire inspector's goal is to reduce the risk to life and property. Extractors can use this handy checklist to help them prepare and pass their inspection.
Extraction facilities use various methods, each with unique processes and building requirements. An extraction facility must meet applicable building code guidelines, equipment requirements, and safety regulations in order to gain approval to operate. Denial of an application for an extraction facility can typically be appealed through a hearing within a certain period of time.
While certainly not exhaustive, here are some general guidelines that can be applied to most jurisdictions. Following these guidelines will not ensure regulatory compliance but are a good starting point for obtaining approval.
Fire safety professionals developed new building and life safety codes to keep up with the ever-changing cannabis industry. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) added Chapter 38, "Marijuana Growing, Processing, or Extraction Facilities," to the 2018 Edition of NFPA 1 Fire Code to address common marijuana production hazards.
Cannabis concentrates range in texture, potency, and quality, but each provides a concentrated form of medicinal and therapeutic compounds found in the cannabis plant. While many cannabis consumers only focus on a couple of cannabinoids (THC and CBD), the truth is that cannabinoid isolates pale in comparison to an extract that also contains terpenes and flavonoids. Aromatic terpene and flavonoid compounds contribute to more than just a strain’s smell. They interact with cannabinoids to amplify or mitigate certain effects.
Cannabis legalization is slowly taking over the country, which is great news for medical cannabis patients looking for access to cannabis’ therapeutic compounds. As states continue to fight against cannabis prohibition, more rigorous scientific research will uncover the mechanisms of action of every chemical compound found in the medicinal plant.
The world of cannabis oil extraction is riddled with bad or outdated information. Most of the negative press BHO extraction receives actually serves the agendas of competing groups rather than as viable health or safety warnings. The CO2 industry's path to popularity, in particular, was paved by sensationalized stories of home explosions from open loop butane extraction, and misinformed claims of impurities in the end product.