From Plant to Product: Cannabis Extraction Methods

When developing every product in the Stratos line we start from the ground up (literally, it starts with the plant!) and work hard to retain as many of the beneficial plant properties as possible. While many extractions focus on trim, the components of the plant surrounding flower, we focus on using flower to capture whole plant potential. We also incorporate a significant amount of the actual flower into the extracts used in our line. The flower is where the resin is produced and the resin houses the cannabinoids. This results in higher concentrations of key compounds. 

In short, our goal is to create infused products that are as true to the plant as they can be.

If you’re enjoying a CBD/cannabis-infused product in any form — be it salve, tablet, tincture or edible — there is a crucial step that cannabis flower must go through before ending up in your hands as a cannabis product: extraction into a cannabis oil.

Let it be known – not all extraction methods are created equal. If you’re worried about what you might be ingesting, look no further. We will be giving you a quick rundown of two of the most common industry methods – hydrocarbon (butane, propane) and CO2.

Butane, propane, and CO2 all have different solubility, meaning that some dissolve different compounds than others in the extraction process. Solubility impacts which compounds an extraction method can pull from cannabis flower, including unwanted compounds, like pesticides. Cannabis contains over 500 distinct compounds, which include cannabinoids, terpenoids, flavonoids, and omega fatty acids. The most well-known compounds are the infamous THC and CBD cannabinoids.

Hydrocarbon Extraction:

Hydrocarbon extraction methods such as butane and propane were once considered the industry “go to” but have since fallen out of favor among some. While this is a cheaper method that can extract more quickly, harsher solvents are introduced, eroding the plant’s natural qualities and valuable properties. 

During a hydrocarbon extraction, the plant is ‘washed’ with solvent, then that solvent must be removed from the final product. Unfortunately, removal never reaches 100%, guaranteeing traces of hydrocarbons in the final product. 

If ingesting traces of solvent, butane, or propane sounds gross to you, we wholeheartedly agree. We think that propane should be left to stoves and cars, and butane should stick with cigarette lighters and aerosol cans. And while we need some of these products in our day-to-day lives, we can all agree this isn’t the most environmentally-friendly option either.

CO2 Extraction:

CO2 extraction is a time-intensive process that deliberately pulls the full spectrum of plant compounds and allows for more control as to what ends up in the finished oil. Through CO2, minor cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids are preserved, offering a rich CBD oil product packed with whole plant makeup.

Moreover, CO2 is not toxic. The final extracted product is significantly cleaner and you don’t have to worry about consuming harsh solvents. It also offers an additional level of safety to you, the customer. Since CO2 occurs naturally in the human body, the compounds extracted via CO2 extraction are more readily available for absorption. Like dissolves like! Like attracts like!

CO2 can be recycled as well, making this an environmentally-friendly method. 

For these reasons, all Stratos products are created using a CO2 extraction. Our formulation team is ex-pharma — they left the pharmaceutical industry to develop a more natural approach to medications that were having questionable results — and their goal is to create high-quality products to improve the wellness of customers, so CO2 extraction was the obvious choice. 

With so many cannabis products available today, it’s more important than ever to know about the production process to harness the full benefits of the plant and avoid ingesting any potentially harmful additives. So while CO2 extraction is a greater investment and time intensive, we wouldn’t do it any other way.