How to Extract More Value From Your Trim Without Losing Trichomes
There is a wealth of trichomes waiting for you in your trim bin. The problem is getting them out.
How do you separate the good stuff from all that low-grade material? How can you invest the minimum amount of time and get the maximum results from your efforts?
With the right equipment, you can improve the quality of your trim and transform it into high-dollar products like rosin, distillate, or kief. Adding these products to your offerings not only increases your revenue — it expands your presence in the market, too.
To get the biggest revenue boost, it’s important to establish a trim-collection workflow that's not a headache, and to find the right production methods to preserve those trichomes. This article reviews the latest techniques and equipment for good trichome collection using several methods so you can up your trim game.
Better Trim Starts at the Trimmer
Whether you’re dry trimming or wet trimming, the mechanical trimmer you use makes a big difference. Your machine will either gather the trim with minimal trichome damage, or, if it’s poorly designed, batter your trim into lawn clippings.
When choosing a trimmer, it’s critical to avoid trimmers designed to pass the trim through a vacuum fan. Trimmers with pass-through impellers beat the trim like a blender, causing trichomes to rupture. Ruptured trichomes lose potency because when a trichome head breaks, the cannabinoids and terpenes evaporate very quickly.
What’s more, an impeller fan increases the amount of trichome dust on the internal surfaces of the trimmer and its ductwork. This is a cleanability issue for both dry trimmers and wet trimmers, and a cause of lost revenue. The most valuable part of your trim — the trichomes — become unusable waste. But there’s a solution: cyclone vacuum systems.
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What are Cyclone Trim Collectors?
A trimmer with a cyclone collection system still uses a vacuum to collect the trim but it doesn’t pass the material through the fan. It creates a low-pressure cyclone system that drops the trim into a collection vessel.
Recently, many trimmer manufacturers have introduced add-on cyclone systems to their existing trimmers. The material doesn’t pass through the fan — that's a big improvement. But the add-on systems take up floor space and increase the overall price of the processing system.
Additionally, most add-on systems require ducting which is difficult to clean and won't meet food-grade standards. The trim accumulates in the ducts, leading to trim loss and batch-to-batch contamination.
You’ll see these add-on cyclone collectors available for most throughput-style wet trimmers and wet/dry trimmers, but not dry batch trimmers. Dry trichomes are more delicate than wet trichomes, so vacuum-processing dry material can be challenging if the equipment isn’t designed to accommodate both trimming methods with vacuum adjustability.
Without the ability to vary the suction, excessive vacuum force can pull additional dry trichomes from both the trim and flower resulting in potency losses.
Introducing an Integrated Trim Collector
Earlier this year, the equipment manufacturer Triminator introduced the Triminator Hybrid trimmer. The food-grade machine trims wet, dry, and semi-dry material. Moreover, the Hybrid integrates a cyclone system directly into the trimmer to save floor space and features an adjustable vacuum which can be tailored to any style of trimming.
The machine’s Trim Direct system eliminates the ductwork common with add-on cyclone systems. That’s because the trim drops into the cyclone below the cutting cylinder. The system cuts down on the usual cleaning tasks associated with external ductwork, and preserves trichomes; because there’s less material handling within the ducts, there’s less trichome loss.
Other Trim Processing Factors
Another source of trichome loss is improper drying. As a cultivator, you already know the importance of good drying practices but, for the sake of quality, it pays to double check what you’ve got going on in the drying room.
Just like flowers, sugar leaves will lose potency when the room is too hot or too dry. The moisture in the plants evaporates too quickly and so do the cannabinoids and terpenes.
Trim is very vulnerable to terpene loss in the drying process because of its high surface area. Unlike flower, your trim has been finely chopped, exposing more of the trichomes to heat and dryness. So, while the value of trim is less than that of flower, it’s a bit more delicate when it comes to drying.
For best results when drying any type of cannabis biomass, make sure you maintain good air circulation and the following conditions: 45-55% relative humidity at 65-75℉.
How to Make Trim Collection Easy
Processing trim is a messy, labor-intensive job — as is cannabis processing in general. You’ll invest a lot into labor, so it pays to take the long view when designing your processing plan.
Select a machine with a high throughput speed, but know that your new trimmer may come with some hidden hindrances. With many trimmers, you’ll spend as much time cleaning the machine as running it.
That’s right — for every hour you run your trimmer, you could spend up to an hour cleaning it! This goes doubly for the trim collection ductwork: more surface area means more scrubbing.
Make sure to ask your manufacturer about the cleaning interval of the machine you’re considering. Some machines are designed for easy disassembly and quick cleaning, while others are a constant maintenance project. Ask for customer reviews.
Prepare for the Future
Every investment you make should pay returns. Whether it’s a trimmer or a lighting system, your business assets need to work for you well into the future.
When buying processing equipment, make sure it’s ready for every conceivable regulatory inspection. If your equipment is food grade — that is, if it has stainless steel surfaces and uses food-safe lubricants — you know that it meets next-level standards.
Soon, cannabis will be federally legal, and when it is, expect the Food and Drug Administration to apply the same rules to our industry that it applies everywhere. Standard food handling laws will apply (e.g., sanitation, testing, cross-contamination).
Prepare now, and select a trimmer that gives you the high-quality results of tomorrow, today: better trim quality, better flower quality, easy cleanability, and high throughput speed.
Everything they do at Triminator starts with the cannabis farmer. Their story began in Northern California when a few grower friends asked them to create a machine that could trim their premium flower at a commercial scale. From their humble start, they worked tirelessly to engineer equipment to help fulfill the increasing needs of the grower, expanding their product line to encompass the entire process from the field to the final dried product. To learn more, visit thetriminator.com or contact [email protected] .
Written by Jack Bohannan | Denver-based freelance writer specializing in technical cannabis subjects
Jack Bohannan is a Denver-based freelance writer specializing in technical cannabis subjects ranging from cultivation to extraction. He brings a research-first orientation to content creation with special emphasis on clear communication.