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Cannabis Extraction Equipment 101 Guide

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Dr. George Stantchev
Dr. George Stantchev

PHD, MBA, MSEE, Entrepreneur and CEO of most innovative extraction technology company


What is cannabis extraction equipment?

Before you invest in any cannabis or hemp oil extraction equipment, make absolutely sure you know the answers to all the important questions. Here we have gathered everything from creating a business plan for your company to deciding what type of equipment is available to your local regulations. We’ve addressed the most important of these questions, from understanding the extraction equipment to the actual working with potential cooperating equipment suppliers.

Before Investing in Cannabis Extraction Equipment

Make sure you make the right purchasing decisions about the cannabis or hemp products on the market today based on market research. Planning and researching helps you to make some important business decisions and it should includes investigating the following:

 -Market Opportunity: Research the whole market. Are there gaps that can be filled?

 -Target audience: Who actually will consume your product? Is it  for medical or recreational use? or both? Infused with CBD or THC?

 -Products: What type of cannabis product do you want to sell? What is doing well in  the market today? Does your product have its own niche?

 -Extraction Method: The actual type of product you sell will help you to actually decide which equipment and extraction method to research and to invest in. You can talk to an expert who can help you make the right decisions toward your goals.

– Laws and Regulations: Each state has its own  laws and regulations governing the manufacture of cannabis products. Please consult a lawyer familiar with  the laws in your area.

Determining the specific equipment to purchase for an extraction operation requires answering the questions above and understanding how  common solvent and non-solvent extraction techniques work.

Types of cannabis extraction equipment

There are several different types of cannabis extraction devices to be considered. We will cover the basics of cannabis Extraction devices below:

1. Equipment for Ethanol extraction

etoh extraction system that pure5 company sellsEthanol provides a really versatile extract and that can be used for a variety of cannabis and hemp end products. When it is properly performed, ethanol extraction leaves almost no residual solvent in the product and is considered clean. Ethanol extraction can produce several different cannabinoid derivatives, making it excellent for small processors producing discerning products and large laboratories trying to isolate large quantities of specific terpenes and cannabinoids such as CBD and THC. As a bonus incentive, ethanol is known to be one of the safer methods out there for extracting cannabinoids.

Ethanol extraction is a process used in refined liquor distillation. To do this, soak raw cannabis in ethanol to draw out the components, then remove the cannabis. Ethanol extraction process requires recovery of the alcohol component from the extracted material. The setup of the cannabis ETOH extracting equipment is fairly straightforward and scalable, as the ethanol extraction process and must be performed under C1D2 conditions. Ethanol can be recovered and reused for multiple cycles, making the process somewhat cost-effective, easily scalable, and with a solid ROI. One downside of Ethanol extraction is that some traces of the alcohol solvent are left in the final product and the final CBD oil is not 100% pure. Also ethanol can be reused so many times, usually no more than 10 and then disposed of. 

2. Equipment for CO2 extraction

 CO2 (carbon dioxide) is another common solvent  used for extraction of cannabinoids and terpenes. CO2 extraction requires pressurized CO2 (used as a solvent) to draw cannabinoids out of cannabis and hemp. CO2 produces pure cannabinoid isolates and is considered very safe.

CO2 as a solvent  is widely used in food processing and  essential oil production because it is non-volatile and leaves little traces. This is very important for THC and CBD medicines that can be used by people with compromised immune systems.

CO2 is also a great option for extracting fragile plant terpenes for a high quality distillate that retains the flavor profile of the original plant. This is important for vape products and other full-spectrum products that are popular with cannabis enthusiasts.

What kind of CO2 extractor should someone invest in? It depends on the initial size of your operation, your budget, the space available, and the final product you want to create. Luckily, a small operation allows someone to start CO2 processing and scale up as sales grow. One of the main disadvantages of CO2 extraction is the high cost of the equipment because the process is complicated and needs expensive machinery and proper know-how for the workers and the slow process does not give you great yields.

 3. Equipment for Hydrocarbon extraction

r131a extracted terpene cbd oilsIf you need to create cannabis grade-specific live resins the hydrocarbon extraction is an excellent option for you. The use of hydrocarbons (propane, butane, or hexane) helps preserve the authentic flavor of each strain, which is a combination of cannabis flavonoids, terpenes, and cannabinoids. There is so much interest in the product that hydrocarbon extraction is becoming more popular.

Hydrocarbon extractors are generally cheaper than CO2 and ethanol extractors. This makes hydrocarbon extraction a good choice for start-ups and companies looking to produce derivatives in small batches. A skilled lab technician can achieve cannabinoid concentrations of up to 70-80% at very high purities and can tailor butane and propane to create a variety of specific marketable products.

The disadvantage of hydrocarbon extraction is the cost of installing the equipment required to perform hydrocarbon extraction in C1D1 rooms. The equipment required  is also not cheap, and  the amount of hydrocarbons allowed on-site at one time is regulated, making it difficult (legally) to scale up production. The labor involved is at high cost due the extremely high flammability of the process that always leaves residues altering the taste of the extract.

Both hydrocarbon and CO2 extraction must use closed loop extraction systems, so the system is completely sealed. The solvent is recovered and reused.

4. Solventless extraction equipment

 Solvent-free extraction equipment mechanically separates cannabinoid-rich trichomes from plant biomass. This separation uses water and/or ice and vigorous agitation to remove trichomes from the cannabis plant biomass. The trichomes are then filtered from the biomass and water and used to create a high quality hash product. 

The negatives are the low yields and high labor intensive process. Also depends on your starting material post processing is required to remove waxes using solvent which defeats the purpose of the solventless process.

5. R134A aerosol extraction

a simple r134a cannabis extraction system for cbd oilsA better option that does not require exposing the solvent to extreme conditions to extract is R134A aerosol solvent extraction. This method ensures that the final solvent contains all cannabinoid terpenes. R134A offers the production of complete live resin and full spectrum extracts with all of its medicinal benefits at the lowest cost available on the market. The system and operation cost of R134A extraction is way lower than CO2, Ethanol, hydrocarbon or solventless extractions. Extraction with R134a is done only at room temperature and airless environment allowing natural closed-loop systems to effortlessly separate natural oils from raw cannabis products without oxydation and aftertaste.

What is the process in details:

First the tetrafluoroethane (R134a) aerosol gas is slightly pressurized and after passing through the plant is collected in a separate separation tank, leaving only full-spectrum cannabis oil. This way of extracting is safe and non-toxic to human health, this isolation method has been approved by the FDA and the European Union and has been certified as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe). The R134a aerosol process is definitely superior to CO2, ethanol or any of the above extraction types, safer and cheaper.

R134a extraction is fully patented and owned by PURE5™ extraction. If you want to use only the safest and cheapest  extraction method, choose PURE5™ R134a aerosol equipment. Here you can learn more about the PURE5™ oil manufacturing process.

How to choose a model

R134a vs CO2 extraction oils comparisonWhether you are a relative newbie to the cannabis processing industry or an experienced cannabis business owner, choosing extraction equipment doesn’t have to be complicated.The best advice we can give you is It is important to clarify the type of product to be produced. The finished product you create determines everything else, from the type of extraction to the type of equipment to your lab specifications.


There are always risks in operating a cannabis extraction lab. Although you can mitigate those risks by ensuring your equipment is certified and compliant. Before purchasing, ensure that the equipment you are considering meets industry standards and is certified by the relevant governing bodies.

 This list of extraction laboratory equipment certifications must include:

  • C1D1 compliance if applicable
  • An ASME certification
  • ISO 9001:2015 for extraction systems
  • Actual CE marked for the European Economic Area (EEA)
  • Current UL Listed Component
  • Valid PSI certification in the USA or the country you reside in
  • UL recognized by ANSI/CAN/UL/ULC

Facilities and Licenses

a cannabis extraction unit in the pure5's labFacilities and permit requirements for  extraction operations will vary depending on local regulations and the type of final product you wish to produce. If you are considering purchasing some cannabis extraction equipment, your supplier should have a thorough understanding of the facilities and licenses required for processing operations on site specific to your final product. A strong equipment partner ensures you have the information you need and works with you to ensure your building inspections and building permits go smoothly.

Cost perspectives

When creating your unique cannabis extraction business plan, you should carefully consider your business model, long-term growth, the actual stability goals, and supplier partners. Fortunately, now is the time to enter the extract market or grow your existing extracting business. The industry is experiencing exponential growth and investors want to partner with bold entrepreneurs who have plans for expansion and are with proven profitability.

Due to USA federal law, traditional bank channels are not an option for cannabis companies in the United States, but many business owners use alternative channels such as angel investors, family office funds, and other private investors. PURE5TM also finances every equipment sold in the US and EU. 

Extraction system safety

How safe are cannabis extractors? Cannabis extraction operations are very safe if proper security measures are in place. However, the solvents used must be handled and stored properly. Your local regulatory agency can notify you of solvent storage limits. Complying with these regulations will help you achieve the product throughput you need to keep your team safe and your operations profitable. The one extraction system that needs the least amount of permits, limits or regulations is the R134a extraction produced by PURE5TM. This is making it the most desirable option for startups and new small to mid-sized cannabis businesses.

Extraction lab design and compliance

Before diving into lab design and compliance, you should understand the type of plant product you plan to create. This is because it influences the lab design and the actual types of compliance regulations that must be followed.

If you are designing and building a cannabis or hemp extraction lab, it is a good idea to hire the most skilled contractor with experience in the industry. The quality contractor will make sure that your facility and equipment is set up for all the different aspects of the extracting operation like efficient HVAC, working electrical infrastructure supporting operations and scalability, sanitary infrastructure, and is it C1D2/D1 compliant.

Qualified contractors are a must, and investing in relationships with highly qualified vendors is well worth both the cost and effort.

a beautiful terpene from r131a extractorC1D2/D1 compliance is one of the most important aspects of laboratory setup. An experienced extraction equipment supplier will ensure compliance with all safety regulations and requirements, helping to keep your team safe and avoid costly rebuilds in the future. As part of your initial business planning, we recommend that you do a thorough preliminary research of your location’s regulations and restrictions. Understanding your requirements before purchasing such a device can save you time, money and most importantly legal issues. Remember that laws and zoning codes vary a lot from county to county and even city to city. Ensuring operations are compliant can be the most critical and definitely costly step in the process, aside from initial equipment costs.

 Many extraction equipment manufacturers will not assist with regulatory details, zoning requirements, or process plant design and layout. However, some prominent companies employ  experts to help operators navigate the process from start to finish. Talk to an expert here that can help you with that.

Types of extraction laboratories

 Extraction chambers come in a variety of formats, including:

  • Prefabricated indoor unit
  • Outdoor and indoor modular pods
  • Completely custom lab design including all engineering, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing plans and drafts.

 Summary and next steps

If you’re excited about investing in your own cannabis extraction operation, finding an extraction equipment supplier who can help you plan, design, build, and obtain all safety and zoning permits can be a huge help in the process. Some suggestions:

  • Take your time to find a suitable cooperation partner. Don’t rush into a relationship without considering your options.
  • Do some research to educate yourself and talk to industry experts to get enough information to make the right vendor selection and overall decision.
  • Seek extensive expertise and review references to ensure that the vendor you chose has experience in planning and extraction operations similar to yours.

How PURE5™ Can Help?

a logo of the pure5 company with some cbd terpene pouring at the backgroundExtraction company PURE5™ has been a leading innovator and global supplier of CBD and THC extraction equipment for many years. Our experienced extraction technicians have extensive know-how working with start-ups and multi-state cannabis growing and processing organizations. We can answer all your questions and have the end-to-end expertise you need to make sure your next build is successful, secure, efficient and at the lowest cost. 

Speak with one of our extraction consultants to find out what kind of cannabis extraction equipment you need to reach your business goals.

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