3 Questions Every Processor Should Ask Before Pursuing Solventless Extraction

Solventless extraction is capturing the attention of many cannabis processors who are looking to produce premium concentrates, but Ben Britton, co-founder  and CEO of solventless extraction technology manufacturer PurePressure, advises clients to consider several factors to maximize profitability and success. 

1. How much space do you need?

Solventless extraction often involves fresh frozen material that needs to be stored and handled properly throughout the extraction process. This means processors need to think about where to put this raw material, and Britton says he often sees clients with too much or too little square footage to address this concern.

“Sometimes, people will get gung-ho and they’ll sign on to a facility contract, and then they’ll contact us and realize they don’t need 10,000 square feet—they might only need 1,500,” he says. “Or vice versa, they’re renting a closet-sized space and have 250 square feet, and [they] want to put out tens of thousands of grams a year, but their product output expectations are ambitious. So, it’s just really finding a balance for space and coming up with a true business plan.”

Processors should consider what kind of products they want to produce before leasing or building out a facility, Britton says. “Let’s talk about what you want to make, and then we can figure out how to get you there.”

2. Which products are popular in your market?

It should be no surprise to cannabis business operators that they should evaluate the market before establishing a business plan, and the same is true when it comes to products—extractors should know which SKUs are popular and use that information to drive decisions about which products to produce.

Photo courtesy of PurePressure

Solventless edibles, vape cartridges and dabbing products are generally popular across all cannabis markets, Britton says, with edibles being one of the most profitable products to produce.

“Edibles are … very simple, require very minimal equipment, and you can do it at scale,” he says. “We’ve got a number of customers who are highly successful with that business model and that’s all they do.”

Full-melt hash is another profitable product, Britton adds, as long as high-quality material is available.

“Assuming you have quality material, this is something that, once you’re done making your ice water hash, you have a sellable product,” he says. “There is no further processing. … If it’s achievable, it tends to be a profitable product."

Another popular SKU in many markets is pre-rolls with hash or rosin inside, Britton says, and these products often sell for a premium.

“They’re hard to keep in stock, at least in Colorado,” he says. “A lot of markets really like that, and it’s a great way to merge concentrates with flower into a single product."

3. Do you have access to the right material?

With solventless extraction, processors should evaluate the quality of their raw material to determine the right approach for that material, Britton says. In this way, a processor’s access to material largely dictates his or her processes and business model.

“Knowing what your material is, listening to that material and finding the right extraction process for it I would say is an important piece to success,” he says.

For example, fresh frozen material is ideal for solventless extraction, he adds, as it prevents degradation of the material and the loss of terpenes.

“We go from the grow straight into a bag, frozen,” Britton says. “We go from the frozen bag into a bath of ice water. From the bath of ice water, we filter that particulate out and go into a freeze dryer. We pull the moisture out, and then we go directly back into a freezer for storage until we either sell the product or further process it with a rosin press. So, we’ve gotten all the way through our extraction process without any exposure to temperature, and that allows us to retain the highest-quality resin glands possible.” 

Britton encourages those looking to launch their solventless extraction journey to contact PurePressure for more information.

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