This is how a chemist makes live resin, attending to every detail. Sometimes the additional work is well worth the reward. Every person running an extractor is a scientist in one way or another. Over time, you test things, figure out what works, and you have the best possible product. If you are looking to maximize the quality of your extracts, consider these points.
Inert conditions are important for humidity control.
The amount of humidity in the air is dependent on where you live – Denver is generally dry, whereas Seattle is generally humid. If you’re in Seattle or any other humidity prone area, inert conditions are important to factor into making a high quality product. That starts with running a dehumidifier at full blast in the room that you’re preparing your fresh plant materials in.
Drying your inert gas.
Argon is the ultimate and preferred inert gas. Alternatively, everyone has access to CO2, and drying off CO2 is an easy process with anhydrous calcium chloride. Pack a small column with filters at either end and pass your CO2 gas through the column. This can be used directly in-line from your CO2 cylinder into your extractor as well as to purge the bags you’re freezing your plant material in.
Inert conditions in an extractor.
One of the first steps of performing a closed loop extraction is to vacuum out the extractor. There are a few reasons to do this. One reason is to remove as much air as possible in order to prevent a potential explosion from oxygen mixing with butane. The second reason is to create a vacuum in the closed loop system that will pull liquid butane into the extractor from the recovery tank. While pulling a vacuum on an extractor removes most of the air, water can still be left behind in a very thin layer – i.e. a monolayer.
Purging your extractor with inert gas or dried CO2 helps remove the water monolayer of condensation.
The purpose of purging your extractor is the same as the purging your bag filled with fresh plant material (see below) – you’re removing the ambient humidity that would otherwise condense on the walls of your extractor and contaminate your extract. Dried CO2 gas can be run through the extractor to help eliminate water.
Vacuum out your entire extraction system. Once vacuumed, fill the extractor with dried CO2 from an inlet port. Allow the extractor to completely fill up with the CO2. Allow a portion of the CO2 to escape the extractor, releasing more ambient humidity, then vacuum the extractor back down to it’s maximum vacuum. There are several ways to go about this process, and it really depends on the design of your extractor.
You can repeat this process, but in reality the first CO2 purge followed by pulling a vacuum on the extractor will take care of the remaining water that was in the atmosphere of the extractor.
Minimum standards for inert conditions and removing the water monolayer of condensation from your extractor.
I get it – purging with CO2 sounds like it adds a lot of work. The minimum standard to achieve inert conditions is quite simple: heat and dry off the interior of your extractor with a hot air gun (aka blow dryer). This dries off the monolayer of water that will have condensed onto the interior surface of the extractor. Once you’ve dried off all interior surfaces of the extractor, seal off the extractor, and purge to full vacuum. Close off all open ports to the extractor and allow it to cool down. Connect your column and begin your normal extraction procedure.
If you’re going the extra mile, complete the minimum standards described above, then fill the extractor with CO2, and pull another vacuum.
Purging live plant materials with dried CO2 prevents water condensation during freezing.
Purging live plant materials prior to freezing is mentioned in the temperature post here on Hemp Hacker, but it’s also touched on here. The reason for purging your fresh plant materials before freezing is that there is humidity in the air/atmosphere. That atmospheric humidity has a tendency to condense on the buds as they are freezing. Purging your freezer bags prior to freezing reduces this tendency.
Dried CO2 gas is ideal to purge with because it displaces the ambient air/humidity from the bag that’s used to freeze the plant materials. The trick is to make sure all humidity is out of the bag – about 3X the bag volume is a good amount, and you can be relatively sure that all the ambient humidity is purged out. Once purged, the bag can be vacuum sealed and frozen in a freezer, or even better and faster by submerging the bag in a dry ice/ethanol bath.
If you’re in to making the highest quality products, purge both your plant materials and your extractor with dried CO2 gas. These two steps reduce the amount of water in your starting materials and will reduce the tendency of auto buttering extract. In addition, it will improve the stability of your extract.
As always, if you have any questions please post them in the comments section. Your questions and time are valuable and we will make every attempt to help you through your process.