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The Benefits of Hydrocarbon Extraction

Hydrocarbon extraction is a commonly used method for extracting THC, CBD, and terpenes from cannabis plants. Its low cost combined with its efficiency and quality of the extracted cannabinoids has resulted in hydrocarbon extraction becoming extremely popular. It's a very simple process, using hydrocarbons, such as propane or butane, that act as solvents and strip the compounds away from the plant material. When those compounds are extracted, they are concentrated to create cannabis oils, glass, hash, wax, live resin, diamonds, and shatter, as well as a wide range of alternative products. Our hydrocarbon extraction equipment is meticulously crafted to accommodate n-Butane, Propane, and Butane/Propane blends.

What is Hydrocarbon?

Hydrocarbon is an organic chemical compound that is only composed of carbon and hydrogen. You’ll most commonly see hydrocarbons in natural gas and petroleum, but they are also used for fuel, lubricants, or as raw materials in the production of rubbers, fibers, plastics, and even explosives or industrial chemicals. Many hydrocarbons exist naturally in the world in fossil fuels, trees, and plants.

What is Hydrocarbon Extraction?

Often, hydrocarbon extraction is used to develop flavorings and food colorings. More recently, hydrocarbons - propane, butane, or a blend of both gasses - have been used to create targeted cannabis extracts that have exceptional purity and potency. 


Butane is the most common hydrocarbon extraction material, although there are other options. For hydrocarbon extraction, butane is combined with the cannabis plant material, which dissolves the desired compounds. Butane’s low boiling point allows extraction of those targeted compounds and is quick, low cost, and easy. Propane has an even lower boiling point, and it’s common to find both propane and butane combined for a more effective and efficient extraction process, resulting in a high grade product.

How does Hydrocarbon Extraction Work? 

The hydrocarbon extraction process has five steps, which results in a higher-quality product that can be used in a variety of ways.


1. Evaluation of plant material quality: Higher-quality, denser plant material will result in more potent yields.

2. Primary extraction: Cold liquid butane/propane is flushed through the material column holding the plant            matter. Cannabinoids and terpenes will be captured in collection vessels through this process, and the solvent will be heated up and turned back into a gas and re-used for future extraction processing.  This recycling of solvent with very little loss is called a closed loop system.

3. Refinement: In cases where a higher-quality end product is desired, further refinement is possible using methods like de-waxing or winterization.


4. Final purge: By this stage, you’ll have a concentrated product, but there will be solvents remaining that will need to be removed in different ways depending on your end product goals.  It is common to purge the concentrate of butane/propane gas by removing it in a vacuum oven.

hydrocarbon Closed loop extractor with vaporsmartz recovery pump

What makes hydrocarbon extraction different?

Hydrocarbon extraction is so popular because it is very effective. Hydrocarbons are considered non-polar, which means they are excellent for separating terpenes. Hydrocarbons makes the extraction process more effective than other extraction methods, plus the result is a much more potent product.

Is hydrocarbon extraction safe?

Yes, hydrocarbon extraction is safe. When performed by trained professionals in a safe environment, hydrocarbon extraction is very safe, although there are risks due to pressures involved; however, pressures are much lower with butane or propane extraction than other methods, such as CO2. Hydrocarbon solvents are very safe to use, especially when used correctly and have been recognized by the FDA as safe compounds for food and / or drug production processes.  Generally, an issue arises only when people performing cannabis hydrocarbon extraction are less skilled and are carrying out the task in homemade setups in garages and homes.

Benefits of hydrocarbon extraction

There are several advantages and benefits to hydrocarbon extraction, which include:


  • Efficiency: The cycle time for hydrocarbons is just 60 minutes, and they can operate at incredibly low temperatures. The result is higher-quality cannabis materials, both in potency and original plan flavor.

  • Versatility: Using either propane or butane is one option, but many people are using combinations that result in unique extraction results.

  • The Yield: Hydrocarbon extraction means less waste of cannabis product.

  • Preservation: With the unwanted compounds removed and the desired cannabinoids extracted, hydrocarbons take what's needed without damaging the aroma or flavor.

  • Safety: The low pressures involved with hydrocarbon extraction results in one of the safest extraction methods around. 

Hydrocarbon extraction products

Due to the high extraction levels and the potency and quality of the result, a wider range of cannabis products can be made when using hydrocarbon extraction. These include pure forms of cannabis, such as:


●  Oil

●  Glass

●  Budder

●  Shatter

●  Wax

●  Hash

  • Live Resin

  • Diamonds


Additionally, other products can be made from those pure extracts, including edibles, capsules, vape cartridges, and patches.


Low cost, highly effective and efficient, and all while resulting in some of the most concentrated, purest, high-strength cannabis products, hydrocarbon extraction is more popular than ever. If you have any questions about the process, please contact PDXGold today at (503) 783-6550 or email our team at

Cannabis shatter
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