A Guide to Cannabis Extraction Equipment and Machines
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:
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.
The BOSS CO 2 extraction system. Image credit: Soma Labs Scientific.
The price: approximately $250,000
|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|
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 CO 2 Extraction Unit. Image credit: Supercritical Fluid Technologies.
The price: $490,500
|Small footprint||Not 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|
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 FX 2 . Image credit: Eden Labs LLC.
The price: $175,000
|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|
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
|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|
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
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.
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
|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|
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
|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|
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
|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.
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
|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|
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
|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|
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
|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.
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
|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.
Industrial Hemp Extraction Equipment: Comparison (Pros & Cons)
CO2 hemp extraction , alcohol hemp extraction , butane/propane hemp extraction , and ice water extraction are the four main processes for cannabis extraction in the hemp industry. Each extraction process uses different types of machines and equipment, which we discuss in the following sections.
CO2 Hemp Extraction Method
• Under the CO2 hemp extraction method, there are five equipment types used, which include the BOSS CO2 Extraction System , CannabisSFE , the Hi-Flo FX2 , Apeks Supercritical CO2 System , and the Super C Extractor . Equipment prices across those five vary, and the cost of some machines is even dependant on size.
The Hi-Flo FX2
• The Hi-Flo FX2 is on the higher end in terms of price and costs about $175,000 . Besides its higher cost, the largest model of this extractor also occupies a lot of space . Most important, though, it uses CO2 to deliver quick, efficient, and toxin-free (cannabidiol) CBD oil.
• Some advantages of the Hi-Flo™ High-Performance Series include non-stop reliability due to its high-quality material and engineering design, simple operations following a centralized control center, and low maintenance costs due to CO2 recapturing and the absence of internal moving parts.
• Disadvantages of the Hi-Flo™ High Performance Series include the need for a highly ventilated and controlled environment , unsuitable for small scale operators, high purchasing costs , and lower capacity when compared to other competitor products.
The Boss CO2 Extraction System
• The BOSS CO2 Extraction System is a highly automated material processing unit that costs approximately $250,000 .
• Advantages of the system include its relatively small footprint, modest energy costs, automated material loading and effectiveness without the use of “ harmful solvents .”
• Disadvantages: not appropriate for small-scale processing, the need to store CO2 carefully and the fact that it operates at high pressures.
The Cannabis SFE
• The Cannabis SFE is a flexible and capable material processing system that costs approximately $49,500 .
• Pros of the system include its smaller footprint, scalable capacity for small and average-size production and effectiveness without the use of “ harmful solvents .”
• Cons: not appropriate for large scale production, lack of automation for loading between runs, and like the Boss, the need to store CO2 carefully and the fact that it operates at high pressures.
Apeks Supercritical CO2 System
• The Apeks Supercritical CO2 System is an industrial-grade processing unit, with a price point that starts at $445,000 .
• Benefits : it is fully automated, its effectiveness for large scale processing jobs and its integrated CO2 storage tank.
• Drawbacks of the equipment include its high energy consumption, the need for “ extensive scientific expertise ” to operate the system and its less than ideal scale for smaller operations.
Super C Extractor
• The Super C Extractor is an “ all-in-one ” piece of processing equipment that can be easily expanded and costs approximately $4,000 .
• Advantages of the system include its ability to effectively process small batches of material as well as the fact that the unit is one of the least expensive of its kind.
• Disadvantages of the equipment include its inability to process large volumes of material as well as the likelihood that an operator will need to purchase additional expansion packs to achieve their goals.
Alcohol Hemp Extraction — Genius ASAHI Rotary Evaporator
• The Genius ASAHI Rotary Evaporator is ideal for commercial use . It uses solvent alcohol to extract cannabinoids and terpenes at low temperatures. It is available in the following sizes: 10 liters, 20 liters, 30 liters, 50 liters, 100 liters, and a whopping 200 liters.
• The machine is not entirely on the expensive side; however, the prices vary depending on size . Moreover, the company selling this equipment requires customers to fill out a form before they reveal the price.
• Advantages of the rotary evaporator include the ability to extract CBD at low temperatures versus competitor equipment; it is relatively affordable , it is available in many sizes , and is easy to clean and maintain .
• On the flip side, the Genius ASAHI Rotary Evaporator requires users to purchase items like chillers and pumps separately , has limited capacity in smaller models, the extraction process is manual , and the machine does not offer much flexibility compared to other models.
Butane/Propane Extractors — The PX40 Extraction System
• The PX40, or “ The Executioner ,” is the world’s largest CBD extraction machine , which can process 90 pounds of raw Hemp material per run.
• The price for the PX40 or “ The Executioner ” starts at about $189,000 .
• The primary advantages of this machine include its ease of use , it requires nominal space to work , it is compatible with hydrocarbons such as propane and butane , high output volume , and is ideal for terpene extraction .
• The disadvantages of the PX40 include the use of hydrocarbon solvents that must be removed later in processing hemp, it is complex and very expensive , not ideal for small scale use , and the hydrocarbons require careful handling .
Ice Water Extraction — The Eberbach Model E5703
• The machine costs approximately $15,000 and is ideal for small scale extraction .
• Some advantages of the Eberbach Model E5703 include simple operation, cheap to run and maintain , does not use harmful chemicals , and is suitable for small scale use versus commercial production.
• On the other hand, the machine has its fair share of cons, which include slow extraction due to the use of ice water, it is still in development , lacks add-ons to scale up production, and there is no data available in public to show its efficiency.