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Home > Article > Extraction & Processing

A Guide to Cannabis Extraction Equipment and Machines

by Mike May

Published: Mar 21, 2019    Last Updated: Nov 30, 2021

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A Guide to Cannabis Extraction Equipment and Machines

Mike May
Freelance writer and editor

Before any CBD oil, THC tincture, weed butter or cannabis concentrate can be bought, first, it must be extracted. This is the job of cannabis extraction equipment, the machines that remove the coveted cannabis compounds from the plant’s matrix (a process explored in more detail here). 

And just like any other piece of kit, an inevitable question arises when considering extraction machines: which one’s the best value for money?

Some are industrial, some are the size of a kettle. Some use CO2 as a solvent, others utilize alcohol.  All have their pros and cons which can be listed in a nice, handy guide to cannabis extraction equipment and machines. A guide just like this.

The top 12 cannabis extraction machines:

  1. The Boss CO2 extraction system 
  2. Supercritical Fluid Technologies' SFT-SP1100
  3. Eden Labs' Hi-Flo FX2
  4. Prospiant's the Force CO2 System 
  5. Super C Extractor 
  6. Precision Extraction Solutions' C-40 Centrifuge
  7. Delta Separations' CUP-30
  8. The Source Turbo
  9. The X40 MSE from Precision Extraction 
  10. The Io extractor
  11. Ablaze Mini Closed Loop Extractor
  12. Eberbach Model E5703


CO2 Cannabis Extraction

CO2 might not be the cheapest solvent going, but its benefits can be worth the price tag. Inside these machines, high heat and pressures turn the gas supercritical, enabling it to extract higher yields than many other solvent methods.


1. The BOSS CO2 Extraction System

Automation at all stages has already improved the extraction process, especially with regard to repeatability and accuracy. Soma Labs Scientific focuses on developing automated extraction systems specifically for the cannabis industry. Its BOSS CO2 Extraction System incorporates automated controls that eliminate the use of manual valves and has been designed to make load and unload times as short as possible to increase production capacity. The company claims that by streamlining the process its setup can process 20 pounds of cannabis material in 4 hours and run continuously without supervision, enabling a total of 6 runs per day. 


The BOSS CO2 extraction system. Image credit: Soma Labs Scientific.


The price: approximately $250,000

Pros
Cons
Small footprint
Not suitable for small-scale production 
Relatively low energy costs
Relatively expensive 
Automated batch loading 
CO2 must be stored carefully 
Easy to use for this kind of system
Operates at high pressures 
Does not require harmful solvents
Relatively complex 


2. Supercritical Fluid Technologies' SFT-SP1100

In all extraction methods, throughput will always be a key element for improvement. For example, the SFT-SP1100, a supercritical CO2 extraction system from Supercritical Fluid Technologies, is able to perform both at subcritical (for terpenes) and supercritical levels (for cannabinoids) with simple setting adjustments. Flexibility and scalability in throughput are always desirable attributes, particularly in the fast-paced cannabis industry where companies grow fast and requirements can change overnight. 

The SFT-SP1100 Supercritical CO2 Extraction Unit. Image credit: Supercritical Fluid Technologies. 


The price: $490,500 

Pros
Cons
Small footprintNot suitable for large scale production 
Extractions up to 10,000 psi
No automated loading between runs 
Scalable capacity
CO2 must be stored carefully 
Add-ons available to enhance functionality 
Operates at high pressures 
Does not require harmful solvents
Relatively complex 


3. Eden Labs' Hi-Flo FX2

The Hi-Flo™ High Performance Series from Eden Labs is known for its processing powers, and one of the latest in the series, the Hi-Flo FX2, is no exception. Capable of processing as much as 107lbs of biomass a day, the extractor offers up to 5,000 psi and a rapid change-over for maximum extraction times.


The Hi-Flo FX2. Image credit: Eden Labs LLC.  


The price: $175,000

Pros
Cons
Closed-loop design with up to 95% CO2 recapture rate
Requires a well-ventilated, tightly controlled lab environment
Extractions up to 5,000 psi
Not suitable for small scale operators 
Easy step-by-step protocol for upkeep
Relatively expensive 
No internal moving parts so fewer points of failure
Requires scientific expertise to optimize
Energy efficient 
Lower capacity than some competitors 


4. Prospiant's the Force CO2 System
 

The most industrial extraction products deserve intimidating names, and the Force is certainly no exception. Able to process a colossal 200 pounds of dried botanical material every day, the system from Prospiant (formally Apeks Supercritical) is optimized to tackle the biggest workloads in the industry. This one’s for the pros.  

 

The Force. Image credit: Apeks Supercritical.


The price: start at $473,800

Pros
Cons
Can perform supercritical and subcritical extractions
Hefty price tag
Equipped with CO2 storage tank
Not suitable for small operations 
Fully automated
Extensive scientific expertise required to run and optimize system
Works for large scale operations
High energy consumption 


5. Super C Extractor 

Compared to the industrial behemoths, OCO Labs’ SuperC extractor looks like a toy. But don’t be fooled by its size; for the right buyer, this little extractor has is it all-in-one. Capable of processing 1oz at 4500 psi by itself, the SuperC’s capabilities can also be expanded with purchased additions such as OCO Labs’ rack specs. 

The SuperC. Image credit: OCO Labs.

The price: $4000

Pros
Cons
One of the cheapest extractors on the market
Very low capacity 
Ideal for small, irregular use
Incapable of mass production  

Affordable 

Practically necessitates expansion packs


Alcohol Cannabis Extraction

Like CO2, alcohol is one of the most commonly used solvents for cannabis extraction. Cheap to source, the ethanol soaks up the prized compounds, which can then be separated via evaporation. But this cheap solution doesn’t come without its challenges. Ethanol is highly flammable, and any temperature change can drastically alter the final product. Luckily, these machines come with instruction manuals.


6. Precision Extraction Solutions' C-40 Centrifuge

A leading company in the supply of extraction machines, Precision Extraction Solutions offers several solutions for ethanol extractors. One of these is the C-40 Centrifugal Extractor, an all-in-one kit for those looking to produce cannabis extracts at a mid scale volume under low to room temperatures.

The C-40 Centrifugal Extractor. Image credit: Precision Extraction Solutions.


The price: $449,470

Pros
Cons
98%+ removal of cannabinoids
Not suitable for small operations 
97%+ removal of solvent
Certain safety risks (ethanol is flammable)
Up to around 40 lb per cycle
Winterization steps will be required post-extraction to create the final product
Designed to be used by a single operator
Requires some assembling
Relatively lower costs of extraction at room or below room temperatures


7. Delta Separations' CUP-30

With an average run time of around 10 to 20 minutes, the CUP-30 is one of the faster pieces of ethanol extraction equipment on the market. Produced by Prospiant (formally Delta Separations), the machine is the larger of the two CUP series, being able to process 25-30 pounds of cannabis material per batch.


The CUP-30. Image credit: Delta Separations


The price: $133,900

Pros
Cons
Up to 98% extraction of cannabinoids
Too limited for mid-scale or large operations
Up to 97% recovery of solvent from spent biomass 
Winterization steps will be required post-extraction to create the final product
Quick run time
Certain safety risks (ethanol is flammable)
Can be operated by a single person


8. Source Turbo

The extractor for the on-the-go cannabis connoisseur, the Source Turbo can be operated remotely via a mobile app. No day is too jam-packed for this extract. As an extra feature, the Turbo also comes equipped with altitude-specific tuning, so it can operate at its best performance whether up in the mountains or down on the beach.


The Source Turbo. Image credit: Extract Craft.

The price: $599 

Pros
Cons
Suitable for home-use 
Very low production capacity
Easy to use
Alcohol extracts can require extensive clean up
Does not require harmful solvents
Not suitable for commercial extraction 


Butane Cannabis Extraction

Butane, or propane in some instances, can be seen as similar solvents to CO2 in many ways. The butane is pressurized and heated, which transforms it from liquid to a vapor, making it easier to remove. This process creates a shatter, a clear material of THC, CBD and other cannabis compounds like terpenes. Although effective, the process can be undesirable for medicinal products, due to the risk of contamination. 


9. The X40 MSE from Precision Extraction
  

Throughput and scalability have been the focus of manufacturers of hydrocarbon solvent-based extraction equipment too. Precision Extraction Solutions, for example, continuously update their flagship PX40 Extraction System. Run using either butane, propane or isobutane, this system can process up to 36lbs in one go, and up to 250lbs per 8-hour run. 


The X40 MSE Extraction System. Image credit: Precision Extraction Solutions.


The price: starts at $189,000 

Pros
Cons
Comes with vacuum jacketing 
Uses hydrocarbon solvents which must be removed 
Compatible with propane and butane gas
Hydrocarbon solvents must be handled with care
High capacity 
Not suitable for small-scale production
High throughput
Relatively complex
97% cannabinoid and terpene removal


10. The Io extractor  

The Io extractor from Luna Technologies processes both butane and propane, though at slightly different rates. When using propane, the fully automated extractor can process 37lbs of cannabis material per hour. If using butane, it can process slightly less at 27lbs per hour. a fully automated system capable of extracting 18lbs of plant material per hour.



The Io extractor. Image credit: Luna Technologies.


The price: approximately $225,000

Pros
Cons
Computer controls can help refine extraction
recipes for maximum yield and efficiency
Mid-level processing capacity (37lbs)
Automation-ready
The dangers associated with butane
Simple to use 
Butane must be removed post-processing 


11. Ablaze Mini Closed Loop Extractor 

And here it is, what might be the cheapest butane extractor on the market: Ablaze’s Mini Closed Loop Extractor. With a 45g capacity and a 100psi limit, this processing product might only be capable of the most humdrum extractions, but for those interested in a saving, this is one of the best deals out there. 


ABLAZE Mini Closed Loop Extractor. Image credit: Ablaze.

The price: $550

Pros
Cons
Low price point
Not as simple as at-home alcohol extractors 
Suitable for home-use
Very low production capacity
Easy to use
Vacuum pump and recovery tank also required


Ice Water Extraction

More back-to-basics than other extraction methods, ice water extraction isn’t a step too far from giving the cannabis plant a cold bath. Because THC is denser than water, the compound can separate from the leaf material when washed. After this, the cannabinoid-rich water only needs to be filtered through a series of micron bags before it’s ready to be used. 


12. Eberbach Model E5703 

Working to create a safe and easy method for cannabis extraction, collaborators at Mountain High Suckers and Eberbach have developed a commercial platform that enables ice-water extraction, which eliminates any concern of residual chemicals in extracts. Plus, putting cannabis material in ice water and then filtering it is an extremely safe process. Currently available on their website, the Model E5703 can process over 1lb of plant material per hour and has been designed to comply with existing FDA standards. They are yet to release detailed information on the results of their experimentation, but the technique holds promise for small scale extraction and could potentially be scaled up to process more material. 


The Eberbach Model E5703. Image credit: Eberbach.


The price: approximately $13,500

Pros
Cons
Does not require harmful solvents
Methodology still in development 
Very easy to use 
Scalability unknown 
No dangerous chemicals or equipment required 
No public data available to prove efficacy
Cheap to run 
Ice water extraction is non-specific 
Suitable for small scale operations
Water-based extraction can be slow 

Cannabis extraction equipment 

As this industry grows, so will the equipment options for extraction. These advances will probably go across the kinds of extraction processes, and the connection between extraction and analytical testing could also see improvement. Even with the best equipment, though, only skilled operators can produce the intended results. So, training operators as needed should always be performed in any company to guarantee results.

 

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