Episode 8

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Published on:

9th Feb 2021

S1 E08 - Devolatilization & Cannabinoid Distillation

Look no further for DISTILLATION SOPs!

Jay Horton joins us to discuss getting maximum throughput and high quality distillates out of you wiped film distillation unit. We cover specific SOPs for terpenoid removal (terp strip) and cannabinoid distillation for both THC and CBD. We discuss getting maximum throughput on a single stage machine, as well as various ways to configure your multi stage distillation unit to maximize your results. Jay's 'split the stream' technique will get you the highest quality and largest quantity yields out of your multi-stage wiper.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:

Jason Showard - 00:00:11 

Hello and welcome to Episode eight of The Modern Extractor. This podcast focuses on the processes, equipment and science found in a cannabis extraction laboratory. I'm your host Jason Showard, and I work professionally in the cannabis extraction field. Here in season one, we're focusing on ethanol extraction and post processing. With each episode digging deep into a particular stage in that process. The shows are released in an order that follows the workflow through lab, as material makes its way from Cultivar to concentrate. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:00:37 

Last week we had John Hart, founder and CEO of Chemtech Services, on the show to talk about wiped film and rolled film distillation. He broke down what's going on inside of a wiped film distillation unit and helped make some sense of it. He hit us with a ton of distillation knowledge gained through his years of experience building high tech equipment for the chemical industry. Moving on to this week's show, let's catch back up with our work in progress. So far, we've performed a cold ethanol extraction in the centrifuge. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:01:03 

We've cold filtered the resulting miscella through a lenticular filter. We ran the filtered miscella through a falling film evaporator to separate the oil and the ethanol. And we decarboxylated the crude oil, converting the THC A or CBD A into THC or CBD. This week we're going to get into specific SOPs for removal of the terpenoids, also known as terp stripping, followed by distillation of THC and CBD. It's a big day today guys. We're finally going to make some sellable product. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:01:30 

Joining me on the show today is the man that got me started distilling cannabinoids. He's usually flying around the world installing and training on Chemtech's distillation equipment, or doing some type of cannabis lab consulting. He's the founder of Genovations and quite a veteran in the cannabis lab space. Jay Horton, welcome to The Modern Extractor. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:01:47 

Hello, Jason. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:01:48 

Where are you calling in from today? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:01:49 

I'm currently in Los Angeles. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:01:51 

All right. Yeah, I'm also here in Los Angeles, still hunkering down. So I met you years ago when you installed the first wiped film unit I ever worked with, at the company I was working for. It was a Chemtech Mini 5. By the time we were done, strapping upgrades to it, it was almost KD6. Since then, you started your own company, Genovations. Tell us a little bit about how you got into the field and what the path was like to starting your own business. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:02:20 

OK, so in around 2006, I moved to Oregon and got into the medical program and I was doing cultivation. In around 2013, I started working with the company that was looking into CO2 extraction very early on. We went up to Washington to visit Fritz and checked out his systems, and it was some of the first ones he was making. And we did our research on waters as well, and we decided on getting a water system. So that's kind of where I transitioned from, cultivation into extraction. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:02:58 

From there, I moved to the Bay Area and started working with the company in Oakland doing CO2 extraction again, but on a different system. And that was my introduction to wiped film distillation as well. I started running a Chemtech that I had specked out after I did a bunch of research on different wiped film manufacturers. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:03:20 

So at what point did you decide, "Hey, I need a wiped film distillation unit?" 

 

Jay Horton - 00:03:26 

Well, I had done the research and at the time I had actually just using glass from Amazon, already distilled oil on a tabletop scale. And I didn't do much of that before I decided to start doing research to figure out how to not do much more of that. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:03:47 

Yeah, I feel you there. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:03:49 

Nothing against tabletops. And my setup was really crude because it was Amazon glass, and really tiny tubing and everything. There's cool stuff you can do on those tabletops in terms of isomerization and things. But nonetheless, I didn't want to do that because we were kind of more of a scale focused operation. So wiped film naturally was the route. I went up to Washington again to research equipment at Helderpad, I saw a demo and I told the company I was working for that was a system they should buy. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:04:22 

So I ran a Chemtech for a number of years. I was real hands on. Did all my own maintenance. And at one point Chemtech called me and they asked me if I could help a client who is nearby in the Bay Area. And so I went down there and I helped them out. They'd been working on days trying to figure out this problem. And I went down there and figured it out very quickly. And so then I called Chemtech and I asked them, "Hey, would you guys need any help in the field?" 

 

00:04:52  

And they said, "Sure, fly out here." So I flew out there. I got factory authorized and certified to work on their equipment. And so they contract me for their installs and the clients then end up contracting me for preventative maintenance and additional training and things of that sort. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:05:12 

All right. Right on. When was it that you decided, you know, hey, I want to get out of the lab and I want to start a business around doing this side of the world, doing installs and teaching people? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:05:25 

Yeah, it all started with that call from Chemtech when they asked me to go check out this client. And at that moment, I had the idea that maybe I could make a career out of just going from place to place, helping people with their systems. At that time, I didn't even think installs would be a thing. And I was really scared at the moment to leave my regular job and branch out, start traveling around. And I did that. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:05:52 

I took the leap of faith. And I'm really glad I did because I discovered that I like to teach people, and I really enjoy working with all the different people that I do all the time. It's kind of like the icing on the cake. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:06:07 

So if that's how it all began and got you started, what are you doing these days? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:06:13 

So I'm still doing installs for people. Still doing preventative maintenance for people. I'm doing training for people. I'm keeping busy moving used systems around because there's a lot of activity in that sector of the market right now, you know, used systems being sold. And I'm getting contracted to either do the disassembly or the reassembly or both. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:06:35 

OK, what companies do you currently work for? For your installation work? So primarily, Chemtech uses me as an independent contractor to do their installs. Then from there, the clients typically contract me themselves to do training or preventative maintenance programs with them. I've also helped Interchim with installations of their chromatography columns. Occasionally Interchim will contract us because of our experience with cannabinoids. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:07:06 

OK, well, you've been on the front lines of the whole cannabis reform thing for a while now. In your travels, you've seen first-hand how things have changed. What are some of the biggest differences that you see in these days compared to the early days? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:07:22 

I would say better practices in general compared to the early days, part of that's due to regulations, and part of it's also just because people are getting real investment now. So people are building GMP facilities and things of that nature, getting food certifications. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:07:40 

And people are getting organic certifications from third parties, not, unfortunately, FDA, but other ones or USDA, I should say. So that's, I'd say, the primary difference that I see. You know, back in the day when I first started doing the installs, I would install these systems in some places that just weren't really what you think of when you think of, like processing facility for medicine or food grade products. You know? 

 

Jason Showard - 00:08:14 

Certainly I've seen a few of them. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:08:17 

I'm sure you have. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:08:20 

So last week we talked to John Hart from Chemtech and we learned about how their rolled film distillation systems work. But this week I'd like to get a little more specific about the SOPs for cannabinoid distillation. Considering you're the person that started me down this path, I figure there's nobody better to talk to you than you about it. So let's get into how to turn the decarbed crude that we have so far in our process, into the distillate that we're looking for. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:08:50 

Right now, let's start with THC. And for the sake of simplicity, let's just say that we've got a one stage machine in front of us. One stage Chemtech rolled film machine. What are your go to SOPs when you walk up to a new batch of starting material? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:09:05 

OK, so typically in a perfect world, that batch is also going to come with a COA. And that COA is going to tell you what your terpene content is and what your cannabinoid content is. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:09:19 

If you don't have a COA, you're kind of flying blind. In general, I'd say a lot of ethanol extract has around 10% terpenes left in it after solvent recovery. It's kind of an average number. But, you know, butane or CO2 could have more. But we're talking about ethanol extract today and on average, that's 10%. But ideally, you actually have a COA to tell you exactly what percentage of terpenes by volume are left in your extract. So you actually know what to look for, and your ratio once you start distilling. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:09:52 

So that said, for a terpene strip. I typically will have my feed tank around 100 Celsius, my residue temperature around 130C. My evap temperature around 170C. My condenser around 35C. And the reason why I say around is because especially if you don't have a COA, and you're just flying blind based on consistency in your facility, then you will be relying a little bit on intuition and visual cues. Right. So you might bump up the evap a little bit. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:10:31 

Or if this material's residue wants to freeze, you might bump up your residues section. Vacuum wise, I'd like to stay in between about 500 to 1,500 micron. I'll go higher, I'll go up to 5,000 if I put some material in there. And it's just really volatile because there's a ton of terps left in it and I don't feel like running slow. Then I'll just bump up my evap and I'll push that upper limit. But usually I'm terp tripping 500 to 1,500 micron. And wiper speed, 400. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:11:07 

All right. Now when you say you're running fast, what kind of, what do you mean by fast? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:11:15 

So essentially what I do is, I have these vacuum ranges I like to stay within. And if I start feeding material and my vapor pressure hasn't bumped me up to my upper limit, then I'll continue to increase my feed and my evap so I could run faster. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:11:32 

Gotcha, gotcha. All right, your SOPs for 170 there are fairly on the, I'd say on the high range for most of the people that I talk to about terp strip. If you're going to go an evap temp of 170, at some point, you've got to be feeding pretty fast into that in order to not overdo it, right? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:11:59 

You're absolutely correct. It's all relative, it's about residence time. The faster that you can feed material through the call and the faster it pushes other oil through, so the less residence time it has on the heated surface. So although you may have a bath that tells you 170, that might not necessarily be the temperature that the oil gets to, depending on its residence time. Now, that said, the reason why I like to run hotter than most people will on a terpene strip is because from my observations. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:12:31 

Over the years, I've noticed that if you do an aggressive terpene strip, you can remove majority of terpenes and you might get a tiny bit of canna. This allows you to go into your cannabinoid pass and get 90% cannabinoids in a single pass.  

 

Jay Horton - 00:12:51 

Whereas people who don't go aggressive enough with their terp strip, typically have to do two cannabinoid passes in order to get the potency that the market kind of calls for now. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:13:03 

Yeah, absolutely. That's one of the things that when we were first getting started, you told me basically reach in there until you're pulling just a little bit of distillate over. And that way you're guaranteed that you've got the majority, or that you've got all of your terpenes out. Because you're already reaching in to that cannabinoid fraction. And then in addition to getting higher purity, your vacuum levels are so much better on your next pass when you're going through your distillate run. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:13:34 

Absolutely. And not only that, what a lot of people don't realize is that even in a short path distillation system, even on an aggressive terpene strip up to the point that you've pulled a little bit of cannabinoids, you probably still haven't removed, I can actually say almost guaranteed you haven't removed a 100% of the terpenes. Because then when you go to do your canna cut, and you have a hot condenser, which we'll get into later, any terpenes that are left in there will show up in your cold trap. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:14:02 

And on average I see 1% on the canna cut show up in the cold trap. So that just goes to show you that there's heavy terpenes in there that to reflux even in a short path. Which is one reason, side note, I prefer to terp strip on a short path with a lower vapor port specifically, and not on like a rolled film with an external condenser upper vapor port. Because those terpenes are that much more difficult to remove in a single pass. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:14:32 

And then you're putting more terpenes into your first canna cut, which should be your only canna cut ideally. And you're making it more difficult to achieve a potency on your first canna cut. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:14:44 

OK, let's talk a little bit about one of the things that people bring up to me when I start talking about reaching into that canna cut, just a little bit on your terp strip, is they don't want the loss. Now I came up with a little bit of a way to get that back. I'm curious to hear what yours is. What do you do when you've got some distillate in your terpene fraction that you have separated out? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:15:12 

OK, I'm really glad you asked that, because usually when I talk about an aggressive terp strip, people talk about that loss. Well, essentially, let's say that you do an aggressive terp strip to the point that you send those terpenes off for analysis. It comes back 20% canna in there, which is kind of high for an aggressive terp strip. That's still only 2% of the entire volume. And I'm not saying that you want to ignore 2% because you still don't lose it. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:15:40 

You simply shelf it, put it into living inventory. You can let time do the work for you if you want, or you could put it in a centrifuge to speed things up. And essentially the oil will drop out to the bottom. You could literally decant the terps just by simply pouring them off the top. You'll scoop out what's left in there, which is usually kind of sludgy because it's a combo of the canna with some of the heaviest terps. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:16:04 

And you could re-terp strip that and re-distil that. Now, at a rate like we discussed, let's just say high end, 20%. It's going to take a lot of those jars of terpene before you even have one jar of canna. And here's another very valid point. And you've talked about this before in the sense of biomass, where you kind of have to think about your efficiency. Right. In terms of grinding, in terms of everything. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:16:34 

Some people may be more efficient if they're able to do a single terp strip and a single canna pass and ignore that 2% until a rainy day. Then they can pull it back out and they can squeeze it for whatever they are, whatever they need to get out of it. Whatever they can get out of it. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:16:53 

Yeah, what I ended up doing was, I when we first talked about getting aggressive with the terp strip, I think I took that a little bit farther than you had intended for me to take that after you left that day. And we were cutting, I don't know, maybe 5%. Like there was a significant loss. So then from that point, decanting and waiting, we didn't have a centrifuge to use for it. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:17:22 

So I came up with a little process where we would take it and run it back through the wiper again. But I would change my temperatures. I was at 155 back then. I'd since started stripping at 165. I was expecting to be actually higher than you today. And you said 170, I was are surprised. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:17:47 

I've only gotten more aggressive. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:17:50 

So what I would end up doing is I would then take my temperatures and take my evaporator body back down to 150, 149-150, and then run that material, the terpene fraction, back through. Essentially ripping all the terpenes off of that and re-condensing them. And then the residue side on that was my majority distillate with a little bit of a terpene fraction in there. And collect that on the side, and then run that at the end, the tail end of my cannabinoid run. After, on the next pass when I was distilling distillate. Because there's still going to be more terpenes in there than there are in the rest of your terp strip crude. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:18:36 

But it actually worked out really well. It would just be like the last jar, so had slightly more terpenes in it. I'd have to run it just a little bit differently on that distillate run.  

 

Jay Horton - 00:18:45 

Yeah, that's great. I think that's a perfect solution for it. So while we're talking about terp stripping, people might say, "Well, how do I know if I'm going too aggressive?" Well, if you're running a system with discharge pumps, then you can real time just put a glove on, walk up to the stream, put a little bit on your fingers and do what I call the sticky test and see how sticky it is or isn't. If it's really sticky, then it's obvious you're pulling a lot of canna. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:19:15 

If it feels really thin and oily, then it's obvious there's very little or no canna in there and it's mostly terpenes. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:19:21 

Yeah, it makes sense. Easiest way to figure it out. And if you run in a glass system, you could also, you could tell. I mean, if you're looking at those collection vessels or the flasks rather, you can definitely tell. You'll see the distillate kind of dripping down the side slowly and the terpenes just basically running over it to make its way to the bottom of the flask. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:19:45 

Exactly. It's pretty obvious, even as a visual marker. The field test is a little more obvious to your novice. But anybody who's distilled for a little while can definitely look at that stream and tell. Because think about it, 35 degrees Celsius condenser temperature. If it was a lot of canna, it would be coming out really slow and goopy. Because 35 is not that hot to keep distillate running, pure distillate running thin. Right. So there's another visual marker for you just based on our condenser temperature. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:20:21 

Right on. Well let's take it over to the one that everybody's been waiting for. The distillate run. What do you change your temperatures to there? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:20:34 

OK, so this typically surprises people, but I'll keep all of my temperatures the same, even evap. I'll just change my condenser temperature. The thing that's mostly different is my vacuum. My vacuum now has dropped in order of magnitude, at minimum. Preferably you have liquid nitrogen trap on your system and you can achieve much deeper vacs. You'll drop multiple orders of magnitude. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:21:02 

Now, when you say have a liquid nitrogen trap on your system in order to give you a better vacuum, that's because of what you're distilling when you're actually running the machine? Or that's because you're able to run the terp strip harder and remove the majority of the terpenes? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:21:20 

That's a good question. So the liquid nitrogen trap, it's so much colder that it has so much more condensing power. That any vapor pressure that's created in the system, when it hits that cold trap, it just hits a wall of ice. That liquid nitrogen cold trap is like hitting a wall of ice. And you'll be able to maintain a much deeper vacuum overall. With a much deeper vacuum, you'll be able to lower your evaporator temperature. So just for all of our listeners out there. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:21:53 

This 170, is based on your cold trap holding, maybe negative 45. If you're much colder than that, then you're going to be dropping your evap temperature substantially. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:22:03 

OK. Now, is there something to be said there where you leave your evap temperature up and then just run harder, run faster? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:22:12 

Yes. So essentially, yeah, I'm really glad you asked that. That's kind of my motto. And I've been kind of trained that way by the market. Everybody wants throughput. They want more out of the systems. So my whole thing is, let's say that you got down to .2 micron. I would probably still say, all right, let's keep bumping up the feed and bumping up the evap until we push right up on that 20 micron level. And that's how people end up getting a KD6 up to like two and a half or three liters an hour of distillate output. You know, is by essentially just pushing the limit on that evap and that feed rate. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:22:53 

Yeah, definitely. I know that we pushed a lot of the limits when we were first getting started. And just basically, I mean, with every system all the way, even before the wiped film, we just pushed everything harder. A lot of the information that was out there when I was first getting started was very, you know, science lab approach to things of how to get the purest products, how to get the best product. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:23:20 

And if you can sacrifice, you know, a few percentage points of purity or a little bit of color to get more product, that was just what the market was calling for. So we had to take a lot of the stuff that, you know, there was anything published about, throw that out the window and just start playing with stuff and see how far we could push it. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:23:39 

Yeah, absolutely. The market has crazy demand and that is felt in the equipment field as well. And anybody has any questions about this system or that system? It's always the first question is, "What's the throughput?" And there are some people who are, you know, getting more out of these machines than others because they've become literally obsessed with finding out how to push that limit. You know? And that's why I can't talk good enough about having that liquid nitrogen cold trap. And it makes a huge difference. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:24:16 

And if you don't want to use liquid nitrogen in it, you can use dry ice and isopropyl alcohol. And that's a lot easier to handle. You don't have to have an autofill system. Because if you don't have an autofill system with the liquid nitrogen, then you've got to constantly check it. Which isn't a big deal until you end up on a long phone call with the boss or something and you come back, and your cold traps dry and your vacuum is gone and your reaction is pretty much stopped. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:24:40 

Yes. And it's no good for your vacuum system, that's for sure. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:24:43 

Definitely not good for the vacuum system. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:24:46 

Yeah, it was interesting for myself, I had to break a lot of those habits where, what I want to do is make the best quality product I can make. Just because that's the best way to do it. And it was just a constant battle all the time with like me and my one counterpart that was throughput, throughput, throughput. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:25:02 

And, you know, eventually, you know, he was right. That was what the market called for. But I couldn't help it. So it was an interesting progression to start doing it the best way, and then learn how to do it the best way for the market. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:25:17 

Yeah, I agree with that. I agree with that. Start with the science first and then from there, you make it work for your business. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:25:26 

Yep. Exactly, and these machines, they're certainly not cheap, so, you know, not everybody has the machine that will do the throughput that they're looking for. A lot of people are buying the smaller machine and trying to get as much out of it as they can. So when we're coming out of the distillate run, you've got residue on one side and your distillate on the other. With the SOPs that we've talked about so far, you should be able to take your distillate and bottle it up and call it a day, which is definitely the way I like to run. When people start talking about second passes, what second pass means to me is running that residue again. What's your take on rerunning the residue? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:26:03 

I think rerunning the residue is a very common practice. A lot of people who are really efficient and they don't have bottlenecks with biomass, meaning fresh input material for the system, they'll let as high as 5% be left in the residue and they'll throw it into living inventory. And for them, they'll rerun residue on a rainy day when there's nothing around. And they just want to keep guys working and the lights on, so to speak, you know. Because if you had a 100 liters of 5% cannabinoid content residue, depending on what system you have, that could be working for an entire day to get a couple of jars. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:26:45 

So it's kind of one of those rainy day things. Whereas some people on that second pass, in order to maintain the color they want, they leave a little more in the residue. Maybe 20% or so. And those people typically prioritize the residues as a second pass immediately after, so they can squeeze it down to that sub 5% level. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:27:05 

Yeah, and it also really depends on what your business model is. If you're making, if it's your product that you're running, that's one thing. And it's fine to leave a little bit more behind. If you're doing some toll work, you're really going to have to squeeze that to make your customers happy. So it really depends there what your business model is, I think. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:27:23 

Absolutely. That's 100% correct. Anybody who's tolling, they're going to need to perform the best they can in terms of yield for their clients. So they're going to be squeezing the residue as hard as possible. And a lot of cases tolling people, they're squeezing the residue to its limit, as well as trying their best to get really good color. And me and you both know that if any one batch of cannabinoids has been through a lot of abuse, a lot of time, a lot of mis-storage, the degradation process has increased and it's going to be a lot harder to get a great color with a single terp strip and a single canna pass, and get your residues completely squeezed. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:28:02 

So if you're dealing with poor quality material, then you can probably expect to do three passes no matter which way you cut it. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:28:10 

Yeah, I would agree with that. I'm a fan of actually leaving a little bit more in that residue, so I'll run probably faster than I would if I was trying to get as much out on the first pass. And just run a little bit faster so that I know that there's more left behind on that residue. And residue run was just what happened at the tail end of my distillate run for a long time. And still is. I'll re-run it again. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:28:39 

The ratio you're getting there is probably 25-30% of the total volume of your crude you're running. So, you know, doing that little second pass on the residue isn't so bad. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:28:50 

So I'm actually really glad that you talked about this, because on a three stage system, my favorite thing to do is what I call split the stream. Stage one, you terp strip. Stage two, you do a canna pass, but you're running so much material through that the residue on stage two has enough canna in it to so-call feed the third stage. And then stage three, you're also getting an equal distillate stream as you are in stage two. Not only does this allow you to get double the throughput out of a three stage system, than you would doing a terp strip, deep cut, polish pass. But I also believe the color is comparable. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:29:33 

All right, moving on from there. Let's talk about CBD a little bit. Let's say we're going to run the same scenario as before, but now you've got CBD distillate, or CBD crude, rather. What's your go-to if you don't have your COA in front of you? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:29:49 

OK, so my go-to, I'm still really used to seeing around 10% terpenes by volume in ethanol extracted hemp crude. So I'll typically keep those settings exactly the same as I would for THC. The big difference for me with THC and CBD, when distilling is the condenser temperature. For THC, I'll run a 100 Celsius. For CBD, I'll run 90 Celsius. The reason why I run 90 Celsius is because once I bumped CBD over into the cold trap, when my condenser temperature, this was on a really big unit, it was using a Mokon circulator. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:30:30 

And this Mokon circulator was older and had some issues. So it had a little bit of drift with its temperature. And drifted up to a 105C and suddenly my CBD stream just stopped. And it was all bumping over to the cold traps. So in that moment I learned that based on CBD's partial pressure curve, you can bump it with too hot of a condenser. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:30:55 

Have you ever gotten so hot on your condenser that you kicked THC past? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:31:00 

I have not bumped THC over with having a condenser too hot. My good buddy Derek from Helderpad in Washington. He's done that before experimentally with the system where he had wanted to just get everything done in a single pass, and with an external condenser followed by a liquid nitrogen cold trap, and running that external condenser warm. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:31:26 

And then running that internal condenser in the short path, really hot, he was bumping THC over. And kind of like doing a fractional distillation thing in a short path. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:31:37 

You started your cold traps into plates? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:31:39 

Yeah, kind of like that, you know. So, yeah, that was interesting. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:31:45 

All right. So everything the same more or less on the CBD run except for a 90 degree condenser. Any other differences for you? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:31:54 

Not for me. How about for you? 

 

Jason Showard - 00:31:57 

You know, for the most part, I run more or less the same. Sometimes I'll lower my evaporator body. But to be honest, I found some SOPs that worked for me and I really didn't push them too hard. And we're pretty much on the same line there. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:32:14 

I'll run 165 on the on the evaporator body. But yeah, other than that, I have not run into the bumping of the CBD over to the cold trap. And I run a 100, but I can see you're really pushing the line there. So I can definitely see it happening if you do drift a little. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:32:36 

Yeah. And like I say again, I do run hotter than most people, but it's just because the industry made me do it. They're always making me get more out of these machines and there's no way to do it by bumping up the evap and the feed rate. So long as you stay below that sweet spot on the vacuum. You get a great separation. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:32:56 

Hey, what matters is what comes out the other end. And if you could do it faster, you win. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:33:01 

Absolutely. And everybody that I know that has like in-house extraction with, you know, a good source of biomass that's consistent. They're really successful with the aggressive terp strip and then single canna pass and getting their residue to the point that it's OK to sit in living inventory, getting the color that they want and getting that potency that they need. But if, like we talked about earlier, if you have older biomass, it's been through a lot, then you can expect to do three passes for sure. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:33:33 

All right. And then just to clarify, your terp strip and distillate run is the same between THC and CBD, other than that condenser temp, correct? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:33:44 

Yes. I will make a note that my observations have been there's typically the profile, the terpene profile of hemp seems to have a lot more heavy's. I don't know if that's just because of scale that it's grown at, and the lights are just getting beat up by the storage and harvest process. But there typically seem to be a lot of light, I mean a lot of heavy terpenes in hemp extract. And when I'm doing those terp strips, the stream will look really thick, like it's got a lot of canna in it. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:34:14 

And you go and you feel it and it feels very slick and oily. And that tells me without even getting a COA, that it's filled with more heavy's than it is lights. Because the lights feel very thin to the touch, more like an alcohol. Whereas a heavy terpenes feel more like a food oil. 

 

00:34:30  

OK. Yeah, I'd agree with that. What I've heard from a lot of people that are also running CBD, I haven't run into this, but it seems to be a pretty standard thought process that you have to run that polish pass on your CBD. I was always confused by that thinking that I was just getting great biomass. But I think it has a lot to do with this aggressive terp strip, that really makes it so that you don't necessarily always have to run that polish pass on your CBD. Would you say that you have experienced the same thing? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:35:05 

I'm glad you're talking about this. A big part of avoiding a polish pass isn't just a good biomass and a good extraction where you don't over extract, but also the decarb process. And I know your last episode was about decarb. I really loved it. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:35:22 

Thanks. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:35:22 

Essentially, decarb is everything when it comes to maintaining your distillate color. People who are decarbing for long periods of time under atmosphere, they're degrading their material. And they're going to have a really hard time getting the color that they want, whereas people decarbing under vacuum with agitation, and getting it in and out of the heat as quickly as possible. So in some cases, for the huge hemp guys, it means having minimum decarb batches. That's how you're going to get the color you want every single time. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:35:57 

Case in point example. I had a client who was decarbing, you know, like a 180 kilos at a time inside of a barrel with a barrel heater. So it has uneven heating and hot spots. And not only would it take 12-24 hours just to get the thing melted, but then another 12 hours just to decarb it. And they didn't have agitation. They were constantly struggling with color. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:36:25 

Obviously. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:36:26 

You got to put this under vacuum, and you've got to, you have to agitate it. And you should probably keep your lot size below 50. And they said, "Jay, we got to decarb like a thousand liters a day. There's no way that we're going to do that." And I said, "OK, suit yourself. But you know what to do now." Well, they pull a bunch of reactors out. They start started decarbing under vac with agitation. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:36:51 

They started with 50 kilo lots. The color instantly improved. It was like night and day. Completely solved the color issue for them, despite the fact that they're just room temp extracting. Because at the scale they're on, chilling would be too much. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:37:06 

So there is the proof in the pudding right there. I ended up talking to these guys a couple of months down the line and I asked them how big their minimum decarb batch was, and he said "No bigger than 35." 

 

Jason Showard - 00:37:19 

There you go. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:37:20 

There you go. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:37:22 

I'd like to move on a little bit now to the idea of multi-stage machines. We've been primarily talking about a single stage machine. You brought up the multi-stage a few times, and it sounds like you've tried to kind of really go through them and figure out how to put them to work the best. A lot of people are running the distillate side of your second stage into your third stage, in order to get that polished pass. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:37:45 

We just cleared up how to try to avoid that. And then you could potentially run your residue side over there for another distillation past there. So let's talk about multi-stage machines in general. Why would you go with a two stage or three stage or four stage or, talk to me about all that? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:38:04 

OK, so if you have a single stage system, you are terp stripping as well as cannabinoid distilling on the same system. And if you're doing small lot sizes, you'd probably want to clean in between those two passes. Now, if you have a system with discharge pumps and you're doing huge batches, and there's a little bit of terpenes left on your condenser coil, it's probably not going to affect anything too much in terms of potency or having a smell to it, if you're going to distill a hundred kilos that day. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:38:39 

But if you're doing a small batch like stripping three kilos and then distilling the residue from that, for the cannabinoids, you might want to clean in between. So not only does it hold you back on throughput, but there's also the fact you're terp stripping and distilling on the same stage. Ideally, if you're terp stripping and distilling on the same stage, you also have a turbo bypass manifold or oil diffusion pump bypass manifold. Which would allow you to isolate the turbo pump or the diffusion pump from the vapor path, and only use your main vacuum for terp stripping. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:39:17 

Then essentially by closing one valve, opening another valve, allow the vapor path to pass through the turbo or the diffusion for when you're doing your cannabinoid cut. Right? Well, if you have a two stage system, essentially the first stage is set up with no turbo, no diffusion pump. And it does your terp strip. You have a residue pump, and a distillate pump. The distillate pump is constantly emptying the terpenes out. The residue pump pumps your terp stripped crude, as you call it, into stage two for its cannabinoid pass. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:39:50 

Then on stage two, you have to discharge pumps, one for residue, one for distillate. And you could just continuously run that way without ever having to break vacuum in between batches. You're also keeping those volatile, nasty terpenes out of your stage two, with your ultra deep vacuum and your turbo pump or your diffusion pump oil. And so it's a much more efficient system to have, because you can avoid having to run the same material through the same system, as well as the problems associated with getting terpenes in your turbo. Or getting terpenes in your diffusion pump. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:40:28 

Yeah, I spent years disassembling well, a year disassembling the machine and reassembling it based on taking off the turbo, putting on the turbo and running on a very small machine. And the cleaning process in between is just no fun. I mean, it's one thing you've got to be happy that you've got a rolled film distillation unit no matter what size it is, because the alternative to that was like a tabletop short path. So, you know, we'd be happy with what you got. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:40:54 

But then when you move on to the larger machines where you don't have to deal with that, it's just, it's a game changer. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:41:01 

It's a huge game changer. And yeah, I remember at the time you guys didn't have the bypass manifold kit, which would allow you to avoid disassembling anything and moving the adapter around. You guys were early. You had the mini system, but you had it basically upgraded to be a KD6 with 10 liter bell jars. So it was a nice little workhorse. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:41:22 

Yeah, that thing put in some work. It definitely, it bought us the next stuff. So yeah, it did its job. And it was a hell of a machine to learn on just because, I mean I'm so happy with the engineering work and the quality of Chemtech's stuff that it was just, we bought a race car out of the gate. It was a really great machine to learn. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:41:47 

Absolutely. Yeah. I love their engineering and I love that, most importantly, the fact that they're constantly open to suggestions and innovation, and they listen to their clients, and they're field technicians and they're constantly trying to make improvements. That's honestly my favorite thing, because that's hard to find with any engineer. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:42:08 

Yeah, I don't see you sticking around and being there if you saw things that were definitely, definitely should be fixed for our industry, and nobody was listening to you. But it seems like they do a pretty good job of keeping their ear to the ground about what the folks that are actually using the machines out there want. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:42:28 

Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, to kind of bounce back to the multi-stage systems, that's another thing that they offer, is they're able to make custom systems to your build, to your spec, however many stages you need. Like, for example, one client had a three stage system where they would terp strip and then split the stream between two and three. But their stage one was actually a short path that had two external condensers on it for terp stripping. Essentially, so they could run it so quickly and so hot, but still maintain vacuum. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:43:04 

The reason why they had to run it so quickly and so hot because they were terp stripping to feed two other stages. Right. So at that point, they're running a really hot evap and they were creating a lot of vapor pressure, and essentially with an internal coil and two external coils, they were really able to maintain the vacuum that they needed. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:43:23 

Now, with those larger systems from Chemtech, if you go and you buy something like that, you only have the one external condenser, and you decide, oh, I'm going to run like this, I want to stick it another condenser on here. How easy is it and how modular is it once you've got your framed unit already there to add bits and pieces like that? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:43:42 

It's really easy. It's very user friendly and user serviceable. That's the idea behind them, because for years they've sold systems to the petrochemical industry. Where they don't typically hear from those clients a lot in terms of those clients needing help. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:44:00 

So they kind of have always ran on a model, we want our systems to be user serviceable, user friendly. So if you're familiar with KF and ISO fittings, you can do whatever you want to a Chemtech. And I actually see a lot of people do cool like vacuum upgrades and things like that. Like one client on his KD10, he's got an Edwards 35, with the little Edwards roots blower on top of it, and then an Edwards turbo. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:44:31 

It's like the equivalent of the i390 by Leybold. And it's a really robust, beefy vacuum system for a KD10. But these guys run really fast and low evap temps and bottom out the vacuum sensor. So, yeah, if you're savvy with KF fittings and ISO fittings, then the possibilities are unlimited. Chemtech is also currently working on making things more modular in terms of if you bought a single stage system and wanted to upgrade it later to a two stage, they're working on that as well. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:45:09 

OK, great. Well, I'm a big, big fan of the gear and you certainly know how to use it. To wrap things up a little bit here, what are you most excited about in regard to the future of the extraction and distillation field? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:45:23 

I'm really excited for the states that we still have to look forward to, and I'm really excited to federal legalization to see what that brings. I know there's some guys who are a little bit worried about that because they're worried that that would be the point Budweiser and Philip Morris really come in to crush us all. But nonetheless, you know, embrace change, and the future can be scary and bright at the same time. And I'm looking forward to it for that reason. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:45:54 

I want to see where it all goes once it really gets to a massive scale. I mean, I feel like one day people are going to be running KD75 for THC to feed the world. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:46:09 

There you go. Yeah, I'm grateful that it's come online a State at a time and given me personally, the time to kind of grow into it. I know if it went federally legal right away, it would have pushed a lot of the folks that are really great contributors to the industry, out immediately. But the slow ramp up towards federal legalization really kind of gives all of us a little bit of a breathing room to get there. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:46:39 

I agree, 1000%. I think the thing I'm looking forward to the most is each state coming on one by one, slowly but surely, at a pace that we can all mature into the industry in the way that we have been for the last few years. And ultimately, we know that that will lead to federal legalization, which at that point continues to open up the world even more so than it already has been. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:47:07 

And then it also gives the little guys a little bit more of a fighting chance when the big behemoths come online and come in. Because we've all had had our opportunity to learn and grow. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:47:19 

Yeah, absolutely. Well, especially for your average technician or operator, those guys right now are getting educations that are going to put them at the top of their field. And you also have the guys who are successful right now who are managing to create a profitable business with good books. And those guys have the future or have the opportunity to look at a big exit, you know. So I think that there's definitely hope for the mom and pop businesses to benefit well from the changes that are coming. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:47:52 

I agree with you, sir. If people want to get a hold of you, what's the best way to reach out? 

 

Jay Horton - 00:47:57 

They can reach out to me on my Instagram @JayInYourCity

 

Jason Showard - 00:48:07 

All right, Jay in your city. I like it. Well, thank you for coming on the show, man. It was a pleasure to talk to you. And it was really fun to kind of circle back and pick apart distillation. We certainly haven't talked about this, this in depth since the first days when you were giving me some temperatures and some basic SOPs. So it was great to circle back for this episode of the podcast. And nobody I'd rather have on. So thanks for coming on the show man. 

 

Jay Horton - 00:48:35 

Absolutely. I appreciate the opportunity, Jason. I'm really glad that you thought of me when you thought of distillation. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:48:42 

All right, thanks again to Jay Horton for joining us on the show today. Those SOPs are gold. If you want to get a hold of Jay, hit him up on Instagram @JayInYourCity. That's at @JayInYourCity. He's a great guy to work with and he can almost assuredly help you improve your processes. If you want to hear something specific on the show, let me know. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:49:00 

Email me, jason@modernextractor.com. Make sure to follow the show on Instagram @the_modern_extractor. If you guys like the show, please subscribe and give us a rating. The more subscribers and better ratings we get, the better guests I can look for you here in the future. So this was the end of the line for THC. But stay tuned for next week. When we tackle the science behind CBD crystallization. We'll talk about how the CBD distillate we created today is further purified into CBD isolate and discuss the different techniques for crashing out those crystals. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:49:32 

In other news, as I'm sure you've noticed, we've made it almost all the way through an ethanol extraction lab and we're getting pretty close to the end of season one. The show's gotten some good traction and we're getting great guests. So I've decided to keep it rolling for another season. After I take a short break, in season two, we're coming back to tackle hydrocarbon extraction. I'm really excited for it. And I've already been talking with some amazing guests about joining us in season two. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:49:55 

As I begin to flesh out the next season, I'd love your input. I want to know what you, the listeners want to know about. The floor is yours. Email me or drop me a line on Instagram to tell me what and who you want to hear. As usual, a big thanks to Yzaura Vanegas for handling business on the show's social media. Thanks again to everybody for tuning in to The Modern Extractor. We're up to 20 countries that you guys are tuning in from now. 

 

Jason Showard - 00:50:16 

New episodes are out every Tuesday. I'm Jason Showard, let's talk soon. 

 

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About the Podcast

The Modern Extractor
Professional extractors talk extraction!
The Modern Extractor is a podcast about the processes, equipment, and science found inside a cannabis extraction laboratory. Season one focuses on the process of ethanol extraction and post processing into either distillate or isolate. Season two focuses on hydrocarbon extraction and the craft concentrates that it can produce. Each episode digs deep into a particular stage in the extraction and finishing processes, and we discuss the various approaches with industry expert guests. Episodes are released in an order which follows the work flow through a lab, following material closely through the process from cultivar to concentrate.