I was recently taking a look at the packaging of my Item 9 Labs vape cartridge and noticed that the labeling said the product was "100% Solvent Free" which from my understanding, or old understanding now, meant that the concentrates was processed without any hydrocarbons. Or essentially only heat, ice, water, and pressure. But when analyzing the ingredients on the packaging I noticed an array of items that I understood as solvents.
Which then prompted me to do a Google search for "Solvent-Less vs Solvent-Free" because clearly the difference was not clear at all for me. And I believe if i'm confused and I work in this industry everyday then the general public that is new to cannabis products will most likely be a little misled as well. So check out this great article I found below that explains the differences in very easy understandable way without digging too deep into the actual chemistry differences of the two processes.
SOLVENT-FREE AND SOLVENT-LESS MARIJUANA CONCENTRATES
Lightshade carries many different types of marijuana concentrates, and two customer favorites include solvent-free and solvent-less options. Who better to explain these options than our inventory and control manager, Brianne?! Read on to learn more about the unique features and processes of solvent-free and solvent-less marijuana concentrates!
SOLVENT-FREE MARIJUANA CONCENTRATES
The solvent-free concentrate is referred to as a “distillate.” Other companies have patented this process with the name “The Clear.” Both of these terms are synonymous, and refer to the process of refining and distilling the cannabis product to separate the molecules and contaminants. The end goal is to extract cannabinoids, such as THC molecules, CBD and terpenes, to re-infuse into the concentrates and cartridges to yield a pure and potent product. The process first includes extracting the plant material with a hydrocarbon, such as CO2 or butane. Next, the product is heated up and vaporized. Lastly, the vapor consolidates through a cooling system and separates into beakers. This process is repeated multiple times to ensure pure cannabinoids are refined and distilled.
Lightshade offers distillates in 500mg cartridges and 1-gram concentrates for dabbing. The consistency of the products is quite viscous and increases in viscosity with increased heat. Both of these products have a “raw” option, where cannabis terpenes are re-introduced into the distillate. The raw option gives the taste of pure activated THC, while other added flavors—such as Lemon Haze, OG Kush and Granddaddy Purps—give the taste of these strains to the distillate.
SOLVENT-LESS MARIJUANA CONCENTRATES
Solvent-less concentrates are made without any hydrocarbons. These products include fullmelt, fullmelt rosin and flower rosin. Fullmelt is extracted through ice and water. At harvest, the full plant is chopped down and immediately frozen. Next, the product is “washed” either in a washing machine made for hash or hand stirred; this process is done to extract all of the trichomes from the plant. The hash is then dried by hand through micro-planning or with a freeze dryer.
Fullmelt can be packaged and sold in multiple different ways. The most common way is by micron, which is when the product is separated by bubble bags and sold by the size of the trichome head; it’s essentially a filtering system by size. Lightshade sells fullmelt by the star system, which allows the customer to know how much the concentrate will melt while dabbing, which helps educate our customers. We specifically only carry 5* and 6* fullmelt concentrate products. The 5* solvent-less fullmelt products will melt 90%, while 6* products will melt 95%. With ice water fullmelt extraction, there will always be plant matter left on the nail (the leftover 5% to 10% of the hash), and we highly recommend not dabbing on a red-hot nail due to taste. The leftover plant matter can give an unpleasant taste if it is not dabbed at the right temperature. When extracting with hydrocarbons, the solvent will destroy the cell wall to extract only the essential oils. This is why customers do not have this problem with butane, propane or CO2 extraction with shatter and wax. Anything that is a 4* melt or lower will be pressed into fullmelt rosin, meaning the melt is below 85% with 15% of plant matter left over.
The texture of ice water fullmelt is a white powdery consistency when refrigerated, but once it is put in a warmer place, the hash literally melts and turns into a gooey form. The product can be dabbed in either form, but personally I like to have mine melt. I feel this enhances the terpene profile and gives the customer a much better taste and experience. Fullmelt and both rosins are temperature sensitive due to the extraction process and terpene enhancement.
Rosin is made through heat and pressure; no solvent is used of any kind, and it is often referred as SHO (solvent-less hash oil). Fullmelt rosin is first extracted through ice and water, then any of the “no melt” hash is pressed into rosin by heat and pressure. By doing this, the essential oils are pushed through the trichome head cell walls into an oil, a shatter or a sap-like consistency, depending on temperature. The difference between rosin and shatter also has to do with temperature. The product has to be refrigerated to ensure no auto-buddering occurs, and again extracted with no hydrocarbons, unlike shatter or wax. Flower rosin is made with only heat and pressure—usually with a large T-Shirt press or rosin press. This solvent-less marijuana concentrate extraction process does not require any type of solvent extraction, unlike the fullmelt rosin, which uses water.
For more information or to try one of Lightshade’s solvent-free or solvent-less marijuana concentrates, visit one of our five marijuana dispensaries in Denver!