What Are Common Cannabis Extraction Methods?

The Clear Concentrates Distillate Dripping

Excellent cannabis concentrates and extracts are comparable to fine wines or exquisite cheeses, each with differing textures, consistencies, and potencies. Cannabis extracts are the concentrated treasure trove of cannabinoids or terpenes made possible by unique extraction methods.

Each cannabis extraction method has its benefits and goals, and in the legal market the resulting products must meet rigorous standards for safety before they hit a dispensary shelf. We’ve already outlined how a cannabis plant becomes The Clear THC distillate. Now let’s dive further into some common cannabis extraction methods including ones that are used by The Clear.

CO2 Extraction

Supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction is a common cannabis extraction method that separates desired plant compounds like cannabinoids from the rest of the plant using CO2.


Carbon dioxide gas is pressurized in metal tanks until it becomes supercritical, meaning that it is simultaneously a liquid and a gas. The super critical CO2 is then passed through cannabis buds. The CO2 is then purged from the terpenes and oil extracted from the cannabis plant, resulting in a CO2 extract.

CO2 extraction is considered environmentally friendly because it can be recycled again for the extraction process. Because CO2 is not able to be a liquid at atmospheric pressure, it is also not possible for CO2 to linger in the oil after the extraction has been completed. It requires precise equipment and is a great method for cannabis oils like distillate and wax.

Hydrocarbon Extraction

Hydrocarbon extraction is a popular and effective extraction method that usually uses the solvents butane or propane to isolate plant compounds. Butane and propane are light hydrocarbons made from organic material and are also used as solvents in the food processing industry.

Butane is usually the solvent of choice, creating extracted products commonly referred to as Butane Hash Oil (BHO) but some cannabis extractors use a mix of butane and propane to preserve more of the cannabis plant’s terpenes.

Hydrocarbon live resin is scooped out of the jar with a spoon.

Both hydrocarbons have a low boiling point that allows the solvent to be purged while still being able to produce a full-spectrum extract with most of the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes intact.

Butane or propane is passed through the cannabis buds to collect cannabinoids and terpenes. It is then heated up at precise temperatures to evaporate off the solvent leaving behind the extract.

This is a common cannabis extraction method that is efficient, produces a high yield, and is common for cannabis concentrates such as live resin products like ENDO, shatter and crumble.

Ethanol Extraction

Ethanol is a food-grade solvent and is commonly used in cannabis extraction. It is grain alcohol created by fermenting plant sugars from grains like corn and is commonly used for a variety of purposes (including recreational consumption!).

Cannabis ethanol extraction involves soaking raw plant material at room temperature or chilled ethanol to pull trichomes into the solvent. The liquid is filtered, and the ethanol is removed using evaporation techniques to concentrate the extracted oil.

CBD oil sitting on top of a woven basket.

The benefits of ethanol extraction include lower costs for a safer and higher rate of production, as well as a generally low risk of toxicity, which ensures the safety. It is also good for the extraction of hemp biomass at high volumes and is used often for cannabis tinctures.

Heat and Pressure Extraction

Instead of using a solvent, cannabis extractors can use heat and pressure to extract sticky resin, full of trichomes, from cannabis plant material. Using custom equipment, the process includes breaking the plant’s cells to release the plant’s oils resulting in a dark, sticky, and potent cannabis oil called rosin.

Rosin press material on paper.

Rosin pressing is relatively simple to do, extremely safe, and versatile as producers can alter the heat and pressure for their desired results.

Bottom Line

It’s good to know that the quality of a cannabis extract depends on the starting material and processes used. The Clear uses the highest quality cannabis plants to start with and we use a variety of extraction methods to ensure the highest yields and quality.

Plus, we don’t stop at extraction like other cannabis concentrate brands. We use proprietary equipment to distill our extracts to make sure it is the cleanest and purest on the market. Our quality control process then ensures that you are getting top-grade distillate and live resins that are clean, consistent, and safe. This means we make sure there are never any cutting agents, fillers or Vitamin E acetate.

Find The Clear products here. If you are a purchasing manager for a dispensary interested in carrying The Clear, contact us here. Are you a dispensary owner or larger-scale operator looking to bring The Clear to your state? Contact us here.

WARNING: Overconsumption of Marijuana Concentrate may lead to Psychotic symptoms and/or Psychotic disorder, Mental Health Symptoms/Problems, Cannabis Hyperemesis (CHS), and Cannabis use disorder/dependence, including physical and psychological dependence.