top of page

Methods of Cannabis Extraction + The Role of Hydrocarbon Extraction

The extraction of specific compounds from cannabis plants, including THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, and terpenes, has gained popularity due to the potential for a safer, stronger, and more versatile range of products. When unwanted plant matter and chemicals are removed, the end result is a higher-quality product. The objective of the extraction process is to concentrate the desired compound, whether it be THC or CBD, for the creation of various cannabis products.

What is cannabis extraction?

Cannabis extraction is a process in which specific compounds in the raw cannabis material are targeted and separated into a usable form. This includes the separation of oils found in the trichomes of the plant, which contain the medicinal components of THC, CBD, and terpenes. By removing the oils through extraction, a more concentrated and purified form of the plant's medicinal properties is achieved. This process allows for the creation of a wider range of cannabis products with a higher potency and improved quality.


What products are made from cannabis extract?

  • Topicals: creams, salves, and lotions for localized application

  • Capsules: for ingestion

  • Concentrates: for use in vaporizers and dab rigs (dabbing)

  • Oils: for use in vaporizers, edibles, and tinctures

  • Isolates: pure, single compound extracts of THC or CBD

Each of these products are made using different methods of extraction and result in varying levels of potency and flavor.


The choice of extraction method and end-product will depend on the desired outcome, whether it be a high-potency concentrate, a flavorful tincture, or a discreet and convenient capsule.


The versatility of cannabis extraction has led to a wide range of products catering to the diverse needs and preferences of cannabis consumers.

How to Extract CBD

These are the most commonly used methods for extracting CBD and THC from the cannabis plant. It's important to note that each method has its own unique benefits and limitations, and the choice of method will depend on the desired end-product, budget, and equipment availability. Additionally, it is crucial to follow proper safety and regulatory protocols when conducting cannabis extraction, especially when using flammable solvents like butane or propane. It is recommended to consult with experts and adhere to industry standards to ensure the highest quality extraction and end-product.


Hydrocarbon extraction is an increasingly popular technique for extracting cannabinoids from cannabis. This process relies on introducing the plant matter to a combination of butane and/or propane, allowing for the evaporation of these chemicals to leave a more concentrated version of the original cannabinoids. This approach is favored due to its desirable results of producing higher concentrations of THC and CBD, while still leaving the original flavors of the plant intact. If you’re looking for intensity, potency and purity in your cannabis product, hydrocarbon extraction is the way to go.


CO₂ oil extraction is a popular and environmentally-friendly process that is widely used in the food and beverage industries. When heated to a supercritical temperature, CO₂ is passed through cannabis raw material, creating oils and waxes with much less risk than more hazardous hydrocarbon-based extraction methods. This process does require sophisticated equipment, but the benefits of a safer, more economical approach are clear.


Ethanol extraction is a popular method for extracting large amounts of THC and/or CBD from cannabis plants. Ethanol is used to soak the plant, extracting the THC and producing a crude oil. Once refined, this process results in a purer extracted product that is ideal for producing edibles. As a safe and effective extraction method, ethanol extraction is a great choice for anyone looking to produce large amounts of THC or CBD.


Ice Water Extraction is a solvent-free method for obtaining cannabis extracts. It uses freezing water to separate the trichomes from the plant, before filtering the mixture to produce the final product. This is a relatively quick and straightforward method, however, it does not yield as high potency extracts as other methods, and its processing efficiency is lower.

What is Hydrocarbon Extraction?

Hydrocarbon extraction uses these volatile solvents to dissolve and extract the oils and compounds found in the cannabis plant, including THC, CBD, and terpenes. The solvent is then evaporated, leaving behind a more concentrated form of the plant's cannabinoids. This method is known for producing high-quality, potent extracts with a rich flavor profile, making it a popular choice for creating high-strength THC and CBD products like shatter, wax, and dabs.

However, hydrocarbon extraction also has some drawbacks, including potential safety risks due to the flammable nature of the solvents used, as well as regulatory and legal challenges. Proper equipment and expertise are also necessary to conduct this method of extraction effectively and safely.

BHO Extracted Wax
High Potent Shatter Created Through BHO Extraction

Propane vs. Butane Extraction

In addition, the choice between butane or propane may also depend on the desired outcome of the extraction. Butane is known for producing a cleaner and purer extract, while propane is believed to result in a more flavorful extract that preserves terpene profiles. However, it is important to note that regardless of which solvent is used, proper handling and purging techniques are essential for ensuring a safe and high-quality final product.

The Hydrocarbon Extraction Process

The hydrocarbon extraction process involves assessing the quality of plant matter, conducting primary extraction, refining the extracted compound, concentrating the solution, and purging the concentration to ensure final purity. This methodical approach is used to create high-quality molecules to be used in a variety of applications. Each step is completed with care and precision to maximize the efficacy of the extraction process.

Benefits of Hydrocarbon Extraction

Hydrocarbon extraction or butane hash oil (BHO) ranks among the most popular methods of extracting cannabis compounds due to its low cost and efficiency. Potency and flavor preservation are the primary benefits of this extraction process. As the process is extremely safe, cannabis connoisseurs tend to prefer the BHO extraction method to any alternative. The end-product often contains more cannabinoids and terpenes than other extraction methods, making it a top choice for those seeking increased potency and flavor profiles.

Hydrocarbon Based Cannabis Extraction Equipment

A hydrocarbon closed-loop cannabis extraction setup will generally need the following

of cannabis extraction equipment:


Vapor Recovery System:

Vapor recovery systems, engineered to precise safety and performance specifications, provide high-quality results. Designed to accommodate n-Butane and Butane/Propane blends, these systems are ergonomic, durable, and easy to maintain. Our mission is to provide customers with the best experience and results – with the assurance of safety in mind.


Filter Dryer:

If you're performing CBD extraction with a hydrocarbon closed-loop system, a filter dryer is a MUST for ensuring a successful process. Filter dryers will prevent water from transferring from the plant material to the solvent and ruining the recovery pump. Investing in a filter dryer will make sure your extraction procedure is free of costly mishaps.



Post-Processing Equipment:

Rotary evaporators are an essential piece of equipment for the successful extraction of compounds, providing enhanced extraction efficacy and product integrity. Evaporation performed by a rotary evaporator is a gentle process ideal for removing volatile solvents such as ethanol from the extracted product. This is an invaluable step in post-extraction refinement or recovery and helps produce purified, high-quality results.



At PDX.Gold we understand the importance of getting the most from your cannabis plants. That’s why we offer high-quality, cost-effective hydrocarbon extraction equipment that can help you get the most out of your harvest.  Our experienced team is available to answer any and all questions about the process and the best extraction methods to meet your needs.


Call us at (503) 783-6550 or drop us an email at to speak directly with an expert who can guide you through the hydrocarbon extraction process to ensure you aren't getting the run around or buying an expensive piece of equipment that you don't need. We are here to listen, and to help you build your business to its fullest potential - your success is our success. 

bottom of page