As frequently happens the properties of the raw matter define the quality of the end product and the success of the process to reach it. Also regarding the extraction of cannabis the choice of plant material, from which to produce them, is crucial.
A good quality raw material has to be a healthy product.
The raw material has to be free of contamination such as moulds, pesticides or chemical substances. Besides these basics, the choice has to follow two very important primary factors according to the type of product we want to obtain and the method of extraction in use.
Extraction with active priciples in purity
In this case the final product is an oily liquid in which the isolated active principle has been added in a few concentrates. One example is the CBD extractions. The best choice of raw material for extraction is based on the highest content of active principles, therefore the higher the value of the molecule that we want to extract, the more the material is evaluated positively.
“Full-spectrum” extracts contain the entire variety, or nearly, of the bioactive molecules present in the plant from which we gain the plant material of the extraction.
In these products we can find at different levels of concentration, besides the cannabinoids like CBD and THC (the presence of THC above 0,5% only in the countries where the law allows it), also other interesting molecules like terpenes, terpenoids, anthocyanins and flavonoids.
The raw material usually used for their production is freshly preserved at low temperatures.
The necessity to keep the material intact, from the moment of harvest till later on, comes from the fact that a lot of the biomolecules are easily lost or degraded in the phase of desiccation.
As for example the terpenes’, cannabis’ aromatic molecules, volatility diminishes in concentrations during this process.
Methods of extraction
Starting from a material of high quality that respects all the aspects listed above and keeping in mind the final product that we want, we have to use a quite sophisticated process of extraction to extract with precision, and in a clean way without degrading the important biomolecules present in the plant. A lot of the processes used up till now to gain cannabis’ extracts were based on the use of toxic solvents as hydrocarbons that leave traces in the final product. Also high temperatures were used to keep away the solvents, but these would ruin the delicate biomolecules present, like terpenes. Big developments have been made thanks to the use of supercritical CO2 as solvent. This sophisticated process, which is based on this neutral gas, is able to extract the whole range of molecules present in the plant with really high precision. The non-toxicity of CO2 makes it a safe solvent for the production of goods for the food industry.