Cannabis is big business. More and more states are passing medical use laws and the recreation-al cannabis market is just not far behind. Medical use is principally centered on cannabidiol (CBD) extracts while extracts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) have led the recreational market’s development of everything from oils for vaping to edible candy.
The key to all products, nonetheless, is the extraction stage. Use of advanced chemical techniques and high-tech industrial machinery has allowed cannabis producers to experiment with new approaches. These state-of-the-art strategies have led to new forms of cannabis extracts resembling vape oils, oral tinctures, crumbles, and wax concentrates.
The three most used extraction strategies by the cannabis industry are alcohol extraction, hydrocarbon extraction, and supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction. As with most things in life, there are pros and cons for each of those methods.
Alcohol extraction makes use of ethanol and can be performed cold, sizzling, or at room temperature. It stays one of the efficient extraction methods. Nonetheless, the hot ethanol usually extracts unwanted chlorophyll and plant waxes and requires clarification or correction steps. The cold process reduces these contaminants on the price of longer extraction times. Room temperature ethanol extraction splits these differences.
Hydrocarbon extraction uses butane or propane, solvents with a lot lower boiling factors than ethanol. These solvents extract more of the plant terpenes, which provide more taste and aroma and are therefore better for vape oils or oral tinctures. Nevertheless, like the alcohol method, scaling up to massive batches is tough and presents significant safety hazards.
CO2 extraction necessitates costly, high tech specialised pressure and temperature management equipment to handle turning gaseous CO2 right into a supercritical fluid or cryogen. The liquid CO2, with careful management, simply extracts oils and waxes and in some makes use of requires little to no publish-processing. The CO2 extraction process is highly tunable, permitting different pressures and temperatures to extract distinctive botanical compounds.
Following the discussion above, it is apparent that of the three main extraction strategies involve use of extraordinarily flammable solvents. The third involves using a cryogen with its own specific safety concerns. Therefore, cannabis extraction, particularly at production scale, entails some significant safety issues.
First, establish all hazards. This begins by building a chemical inventory or list of chemical substances with related essential information corresponding to material owner, date acquired, amount on hand, storage location, and accompanying safety data sheet (SDS).
SDSs are the second critical element and comprise sixteen particular sections detailing information on the chemical’s constituents, physical properties, health hazards, first aid measures, personal protective equipment, and special handling and disposal requirements.2 The SDS accommodates all of the information needed to develop your HCP and is critical if an publicity or incident occurs. Ensure access to the SDS is available within a couple of minutes always (e.g. 24/7).
After identifying hazards and building stock of hazardous chemicals, conduct the communication part of the program. This means getting the critical information to employees (e.g. training our workers on the hazards of every chemical).
In addition to the hazards, workers should receive training on the potential publicity routes, signs, and symptoms of exposure and chemical warning properties (or lack thereof). Training should also include any personal protective equipment mandatory for utilizing the chemical as well as incident response, mitigation steps, and first aid measures.
Preventive and proactive health and safety is essential—this means the timing of training matters. All workers should obtain training previous to starting any work with hazardous chemicals. Annual refresher training is highly recommended. Conduct a thorough evaluation and re-training after any shut-call or incident.
Industrial hygienists are trained to anticipate, acknowledge, evaluate, and control all potential health and safety hazards within the workplace. Knowing that many chemical solvents pose significant risk for exposure and health penalties, we must admit that publicity assessments are necessary.
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