Turn Trimming Byproduct into Cash with Solventless Extraction
What do you do with your trim? If you’re not performing some sort of post-processing, like dry sift extraction, you might be throwing money away.
Before we talk extraction, we’ve got to spend a minute talking about trichomes.
Trichomes are tiny, mushroom-shaped outgrowths or appendages that cover the surface of female cannabis plants during their blooming stage — they can also be found on other plant species throughout nature.
Trichomes are primarily responsible for the smell, flavor, and effects that differentiate strains in terms of type and quality. These hair-like glandular trichomes contain more than 400 chemical compounds that give the cannabis plant its psychoactive and therapeutic properties.
The best growers are obsessed with trichome development. Many go so far as to inspect their plants with a microscope. As the female cannabis plant matures, its trichomes change color from relatively clear to milky amber or, in some cases, hazy purple.
There are three types of glandular trichomes: bulbous, capitate sessile, and capitate-stalked. They differ in size, which is important to know for processing into dry-sift hash.
- Bulbous trichomes are 10-15 micrometers in width and can be found on the entire surface of the cannabis plant.
- The slightly larger and more dense capitate sessile trichomes feature both a head and a stalk and are usually around 25 micrometers in width.
- At 50-100 micrometers wide, capitate-stalked trichomes are significantly larger than other trichomes and can be seen with the human eye. Capitate-stalked trichomes feature a stalk, basal cell, and a large gland head where cannabinoid and terpene synthesis occur. The capitate-stalked trichomes have the highest concentration of resin and are therefore the most desirable for extraction.
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What is Solventless Extraction?
Solventless extraction is the natural, mechanical process of separating the trichomes from the plant material. For centuries, humans across the world have been making hash with solventless extraction methods such as dry sifting marijuana through fine screens. Cannabis flowers are rubbed against the fine mesh or sieve, breaking off the cannabinoid-rich trichomes which are collected below as kief. Then, through the application of heat and pressure, the powdery kief becomes a recognizable mass of hash — a solventless concentrate.
Modern solventless extraction machines create many cannabis concentrates from flower or trim, including kief, live rosin, wax, shatter, bubble hash, edibles, and more. Today’s commercial trichome extractors mimic the dry-sift process with gentle agitation and a series of 180-micron screens to shear the resin-rich trichome heads from leftover plant material. The resulting kief is then ready to be packaged for retail or processed into various cannabis products. Some manufacturers add ice water or dry ice into the extraction process to freeze the trichomes so they can be broken off and separated from the rest of the plant material with their flavor better preserved. While it can be more challenging to produce in mass quantities than solvent extraction, the waste is minimal, and the final product contains fewer impurities.
Turn Byproducts into Profits
Trichomes are easily damaged through the improper application of solvents, heat, light, air, and physical agitation. The great care and expense that goes into cultivating high-quality cannabis with trichomes must be observed throughout the entire production process to ensure no significant loss of valuable chemical compounds during the final stages of processing.
Whether your final product is dry-sift hash, kief, infused joints, cannabutter, edibles, e-liquids, or rosin, any effort to mitigate damage during the production process dramatically increases yields and profits at the same time. This is where precise machines and carefully executed automation play a significant role in helping manufacturers capture as much value as possible from a high-quality harvest.
Limiting the potentially damaging contact through a solventless automation process is one of the easiest, most fool-proof ways to preserve these delicate and desirable compounds once they’ve left the farm. Manufacturers interested in turning their trichomes into valuable end products and bi-products should look to purpose-built industrial trichome extractors or kief makers to help ensure they’re keeping as much of their trichome harvest as possible.
A quality dry-sift extractor can yield 15-25 percent by weight of your trim’s weight into dry-sift hash. They work as stand-alone units or with the optional addition of pulverized dry ice, sifting through 180-micron screens with other size available options to maximize the yield and produce the highest quality products possible — turning trim into gold, as the saying goes.
What to look for in a good dry-sift extractor:
- Simple Operation: minimal training to reduce the chance of human error damaging anything throughout the process.
- Quality Construction: made with food-grade stainless steel to greatly reduce the chance of introducing microbial growth into your final product.
- Multiple Screen Options.
- Easy to Clean: machines built with cleanability in mind lower your downtime and reduces the chance of microbial growth.
Before your next takedown, consider picking up a tabletop extractor for your grow. The GreenBroz 215 Alchemist is stacked with features that make it easy for you to turn your trim into gold.
GreenBroz, Inc. is committed to providing innovative industry-born harvesting systems to the legal cannabis and hemp industries. Through a commitment to detail, hard work, outstanding customer service, and fine American craftsmanship, GreenBroz is proudly helping cultivators of all shapes and sizes realize their own version of the American Dream. To learn more about the 215 Alchemist or other GreenBroz machines, visit greenbroz.com or contact [email protected].