The growth of the cannabis industry has resulted in the development of new and improved ways to make cannabis products available. One of those products is cannabis extracts. Cannabis extracts have grown rapidly amongst cannabis users over the past couple of years. Unlike cannabis trims and buds, cannabis extracts are known to be more potent and purer than other cannabis forms. They contain cannabinoids in pure form, devoid of plant matter.
Different methods have been used for cannabis extraction over the years with some having more advantages than others. Experts are always on the lookout for better, more efficient extraction techniques, the efficiency of the extraction method is very critical to the quality of the final product.
What is ice water extraction?
Ice water extraction is a special method of cannabis extraction that is known for producing pure and potent results. In comparison with other methods of extraction such as carbon dioxide extraction and butane extraction, it has less chance of contamination. Ice water extraction involves the removal of trichomes from cannabis buds and leaves using ice-cold water. It is important to not confuse trichomes with terpenes which are phytochemical molecules present in the matrix of the cannabis plant. This extraction of trichomes from the buds gives rise to a beautiful and unique extract that is satisfactory to users.
Ice water extraction requires freezing the plant matter before the extraction process itself. The goal of freezing the plant is to stop the plant matter from drying out which can lead to contamination of the extraction process. This is why the process produces pure results because care is taken to avoid contamination of the result. The frozen cannabis plant is then taken through the extraction process where the separation of the needed and unwanted materials takes place.
The frozen cannabis plant matter is agitated with cold water in a suitable container. This agitation helps to promote the separation of the trichomes from the plant matter. This method is better compared to other methods because it has a lesser chance of contamination from chemical residues or containers used in the extraction process.
How does ice water extraction occur?
As simple as the ice extraction process is, there is a very understandable scientific explanation behind it. Understanding this theory requires knowledge of the basics of cannabis plants and the extraction process. Trichomes are a special part of the cannabis plant which carry a huge concentration of cannabinoids like THC and CBD. These cannabinoids are the target of the extraction process which is why the goal of extraction is to separate the trichomes from the plant matter. Trichomes are the sticky and sparkly bits that are on cannabis buds when they are seen up close.
The basis for this extraction process, therefore, lies in the fact that trichomes are denser than water. This helps in making the separation possible because upon agitation, the trichomes sink. If trichomes were less dense than water, they will float which will defeat the goal of the separation process. When done right and done gently, the trichomes separate and sink leaving the cannabinoids which are the end product in the available extract.
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Ice water is used instead of hot water for extraction due to some of the complications that hot water brings to the integrity of the plant matter. Hot water can lead to the activation of cannabinoids through heat which defeats the purpose of the extraction. Usage of hot water for the extraction can also lead to the dissolution of cannabinoids which is also counterproductive. Cannabis plant matter like most plants will steep in hot water to give tea leaves which will lead to the extraction of more components than required. This is why ice water and not hot water are used for this extraction process.
Benefits of ice water extraction
The major advantage of the ice water extraction process is that it offers products of high purity and quality. This purity is further confirmed by the fact that the needed materials for the extraction are just water and weed only. Extraction of the products is done without the introduction of equipment and materials that might aid contamination of the products. Other methods of extraction such as butane extraction which gives butane hash oil produce less pure products.
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Extraction using ice water is easy, simple, and can be done comfortably at home. The needed materials are the plant matter for extraction, ice water, and preferred container for extraction. This can easily be a bubble bag that is commonly used and has given rise to the name bubble hash. Using a bubble bag for extraction, the integrity of the extraction process is assured, and the plant matter. It is important to not use an old container to shake the weed and ice water is a pure product is to be expected. Likewise, it is important that proper knowledge of the extraction process is available before embarking on the extraction process
Precautions during extraction
The success of the ice water extraction process depends on the extraction process. It is important to put proper precautions in place to ensure that the product derived is of the required quality. The first precaution to take note of is to ensure that the plant matter is frozen before the extraction process. If the plant matter is not frozen, it has a likelihood of drying out which will result in contamination of the product. Freezing the plant matter is to ensure that it doesn’t break or fracture resulting in plant particles being extracted with the separated trichomes.
It is also important to do the agitation carefully to avoid breaking the plant matter during agitation. Another important precaution worthy of note is to ensure that the bag used for extraction is not squeezed during removal. The bag and plant matter should be carefully removed and dried naturally to ensure the product is as pure as possible.
This article originally appeared on Cannabis.net and has been reposted with permission.