BHO Extraction: The Basics of How to Make Shatter

What is BHO?

Butane hash oil (BHO), also known as wax, shatter, honeycomb, honey oil, is an extract, or a type of cannabis concentrate that is produced using solvents. It is cannabis that involves the inhalation of highly concentrated tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive chemical in cannabis. 

 

The goal of this article is to provide you with instructions on how to make shatter with a high performance production rated closed system.

First, there is a lot of information on BHO extraction, and hopefully our article will help provide some information on the basics, because there is so much that can go wrong when you make BHO.   Extraction techs like to call themselves “artisans” because of the hand-crafted nature of BHO extracts that originates from extracting in your garage when times prohibited.

Obviously there are many ways to extract BHO, with modern equipment improvements, from the size of your closed loop steel to the speed of your recovery pump. It can take a lot of money and time to perfect shatter on a consistent basis.  However, by following these instructions, you should be able to make excellent products in your first few attempts. Hopefully this helps all the newbies out there.

Here is a list of things to consider before you begin making your own shatter with
a closed loop system.

1. Equipment, know your end goal and never skimp on safety  

You can spend hundreds of dollars or hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment.  It all depends on your end goal.  Are you extracting for yourself or for the masses?  Safety should always be at the forefront of your process.  Don’t skimp on protective gear, hydrocarbon sensors, and C1D1 electrical connections. One spark could end you….literally.  In today’s world, finding affordable certified closed loop steel is easy and is a must-have.  The day and age of piecing together parts is gone and simply isn’t worth it.  Finding a trusted supplier can save you time and money.  

People don’t think about the importance of reliable hydrocarbon vapor recovery pumps, such as ones from PDX.Gold.  Cheap pumps can, and will, contaminate your product with seals that aren’t designed for this industry or mechanical oil that isn’t food grade rated.  Those cheap pumps will cost you a tremendous amount of wasted time on rebuilds, downtime, and frustration. Pair your pump with a chained and regularly maintained molecular sieve, and your pump should be maintenance free for thousands of hours.  Sieves will also allow you to reuse your solvent by keeping it clean and keep your shatters free from water and contaminants.  Additionally, you need a good vacuum oven for your post processing. This will purge any residual hydrocarbon that may be trapped in the BHO or shatter. And of course, you need Butane, Propane, or a blend of the two.

2. Yield, expect around 10% but that can change depending on the quality of your bud

Typical yield can be expected to be around 10% of the starting material’s original mass.  This will change with higher grade bud or flash frozen material for live resin.  You can expect less output from trim, about 3%, and from premium material as high as 20%.  But let's not get ahead of ourselves. 
 

3. Material, what you put in is what you get out  

Let's be clear - garbage in, garbage out.  Don’t expect to turn water into wine.  If you have some low grade material it will produce, but it most likely won’t be great or even good; though it may be a good way to start out if you haven’t extracted before.  Nevertheless, you will get a great shatter from high grade material, when properly dried.  3% to 6% moisture is what you are looking for.  You can extract with higher moisture content but it adds processing concerns and may affect yield.

BHO burger-outdoor grown-OG kush

A beautiful BHO burger made from outdoor grown, OG Kush

4. Safety, stay away from open blasting and protect your human capital

BHO has a bad rap simply because there are too many individuals open blasting next to their furnace and blowing their shit up.  We can’t recommend open blasting.  The industry has moved on to safer means of BHO extraction.   Understanding the basics is simple.  Hydrocarbons go boom when there is an ignition source.  Most common sources are electrical sparks or flames.  Proper ventilation and hydrocarbon sensors are a must-have and easy to find.  C1D1 connections for electrical in your extraction room are critical and also a must-have.  Contact your local electrician for proper installation. Additionally, we believe proper flame protective jumpsuits and face coverings are critical.  Many don’t see the need, but spend some time with someone that has their ears melted off and you will feel differently about putting on that protective gear every day.  The industry has improved its safety, but taking the extra step to protect your human capital is a wise investment.

What equipment will you need for a closed loop steel system for hydrocarbon extraction?

Most closed loop steel from a reputable reseller comes in a kit, and should include, at the minimum, a material tube and collection pot/reactor.  You can do it with even less equipment, but this equipment is becoming so affordable, there isn’t much reason to take equipment shortcuts anymore.  There should be some pressure rated hoses and valves to make the closed loop connection and, of course, you need your hydrocarbon tanks.  You can extract passively by controlling your temps on the reactor with a heat source, and chill with dry ice, and NO vapor recovery pump.

If you are looking longer term, investing in the listed equipment types is the best way to get a consistent quality product.

  • heater

  • chiller

  • recovery pump

  • molecular sieve

CycloneDry-Family-filter-drier-molecular-sieve

Based on our  clients’ feedback  and our experience in the marketplace, we believe the PDX.Gold’s CycloneDry is the gold standard in the industry with their unique and novel design for protecting the recovery pump from water, oil, and organic material and keeping your closed loop system properly and efficiently working.  We cannot stress enough how important it is to protect your recovery pump, as well as cleaning your solvent for reuse.  Reuse of your solvent is a major benefit in the BHO extraction process.  The recovery pump is like your heart; pumping vapor solvent through your system.  If you let your pump collect water, oil, or material, it will stop working and your closed loop system will not work properly.  Keep your heart clean and it should keep pumping and pumping.  Additionally, if you get material or water in your pump, you most likely will do the same with your solvent tanks. 

All bad.  Enough said.

Get a Vacuum Oven for Post Processing

Shatter in the collection pot is not ready for consumption.  Using a vacuum oven to purge residual hydrocarbon from your shatter is an important step to produce a quality product.  Just like the title says, it is an oven with a built-in vacuum. There are lots of brands of ovens to choose from, Best Value Vac to Cascade Botanicals, in all different prices and sizes.

Temperature control is the primary function of the oven.

Too hot can burn your shatter and too cold can take you too long to purge. The vac part is to remove the hydrocarbon.  General guidelines:  You can do a full vacuum purge under -29.5" Hg vacuum at 115F in about 30-45 minutes, for shatter, and as long as it takes to turn shatter to wax.  It will typically take 8 to 24 hours inside the vacuum oven to completely de-gas the wax.

Advantages of using PTFE

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) reduces friction, this means that moving parts that are coated in PTFE will slide with ease, causing less heat, less wear and tear, and reduce the risk of fire. Plus, no scraping, no loss of yield by using PTFE.  Pour your material from the collection chamber onto the PTFE sheets and take that into the vacuum oven.  Material will come off nice and clean.

Butane/Propane/ and Blends

If you plan on doing this long term, find a local dealer.  Having a stable steady supply of hydrocarbon is important.  The last thing you want is to get everything ready and realize you are out of Butane.  Even in a closed loop BHO system, you can expect to lose some butane and will need to regularly fill your tanks.  Depending on your area, this may be easy or difficult to find from a local source.

Closed Loop BHO Connections

As a beginner, you should follow these 8 steps if you want success in extracting quality BHO shatters.  Here are the basics in connecting your Closed loop system:

  1. Hydrocarbon solvent tank to material column

  2. Material column to jacket reactor (AKA collection pot)

  3. Jacket reactor/collection pot is connected to a heater or heat source

  4. Jacket reactor/collection pot to filter dryer (AKA molecular sieve)

  5. Filter dryer/molecular sieve to vapor recovery pump

  6. Vapor recovery pump to chiller coil or shell and tube condenser

  7. Chiller is connected to the coil or shell and tube condenser

  8. Chiller coil/shell and tube condenser back to solvent tank (solvent ends up here)

Additionally, there may be shut off valves and hoses that give you the ability to isolate certain parts of your system as the oil and vapor are making their way through the closed loop system.  Rinse and repeat.

These connections essentially allow you to move your liquid solvent through the material column as it saturates and extracts oils from the starting material.  The oil rich solvent then flows to the reactor/solvent tank, where it is heated.  The heat vaporizes the hydrocarbon, and this hydrocarbon is then captured for re-use in your closed loop system.  Oil is captured in the collection pot for post processing in the vac oven, and final product.

 

Look for more details on processing to come! 
 

In the meantime, if you are interested in getting a hydrocarbon extractor or other equipment, don’t hesitate to call us at

503-783-6550 and one of our engineers would be more than happy to talk to you.