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Amaro help! Switching from 120 proof to 200 proof


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Hi friends,

 

I have an amaro recipe that calls for 1.75 liters of 120 proof clear spirit for initial extraction phase of the herbal solids, which I dilute to about 25%. I've used it for a while, and I know what its yield and flavor intensity profile is like.

However, I want to switch to 200 proof for some additional benefits, including what I believe will be shorter extraction times, higher yields, and the like. What I'm struggling with, though, is:

  1. Is there a conversion / calculator that will tell me what volume of 200 proof I should use as the starting point vs. the original 1.75 liters of 120 proof? I presume 200 will require less than the 120 proof, as dilution will have to be higher to get to the same 25% abv. Problem is I don't know how to make this calculation to arrive at a similar flavor profile and intensity
  2. How much better (and/or faster) is an extraction from 200 proof over 120? Is this a worthwhile switch?

Any thoughts welcome... but knowing that conversion would be tremendous!

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  • damntall changed the title to Amaro help! Switching from 120 proof to 200 proof

The highest proof Neutral you are most likely to find is 192 proof. 

Since your botanical bill is set at 120 I would try increasing the botanical amounts by 192/120 which equals 1.6x the original amount.

In terms of extraction times, you might want to try a couple smaller batches to see what amount of time works best for you to achieve your flavor goals.

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3 hours ago, Kindred Spirits said:

The highest proof Neutral you are most likely to find is 192 proof. 

Since your botanical bill is set at 120 I would try increasing the botanical amounts by 192/120 which equals 1.6x the original amount.

In terms of extraction times, you might want to try a couple smaller batches to see what amount of time works best for you to achieve your flavor goals.

This is awesome. The proof calculation is very helpful... THANK YOU! I have procured a source for 200 proof neutral spirit, and have 5 gallons of it on hand at the moment, so I will experiment and see what happens. I really appreciate it! Thank you!

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I am not quite sure what you are asking. Is it 25 proof or 25% abv?

I think this might be what you are after.

Start with 1.75 litres of 120 proof and dilute to 25%abv and you end up with 4.2 litres. To dilute 200 proof to 4.2 litres you start with 1 litre of 200 proof and make up to 4.2 with water and it will be at 25%abv.

(Or are you diluting to 25 proof, in that case you will end up with close to 8.4 litres. To dilute 200 proof to 8.4 litres you again start with 1 litre of 200 proof and make up to 8.4 litres and it will be at 25 proof.)

I think you are also asking if you use higher proof for your extraction liquid will it be quicker and more efficient??

In my experience the final flavour will be quite different. The alcohol is extracting some flavour compounds from your herbs, and the water is extracting different different compounds. By changing the alcohol % you will very likely end up with a different flavour profile.

(200 proof is not very common, occasionally found in laboratories. As long as your alcohol is over 190 proof the above calculations are near enough for your needs)

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6 hours ago, Kindred Spirits said:

The highest proof Neutral you are most likely to find is 192 proof. 

Since your botanical bill is set at 120 I would try increasing the botanical amounts by 192/120 which equals 1.6x the original amount.

In terms of extraction times, you might want to try a couple smaller batches to see what amount of time works best for you to achieve your flavor goals.

With all due respect I am not sure I follow this logic and it is not where I would start. Given this particular application, increasing the concentration of the solvent doesn't equate to an increased ability to hold more solute in suspension. Increasing the amount of the solvent would increase the amount it can suspend depending on its chemical composition, changing it's polarity would change the type of compounds it would (and wouldn't) extract. As well, the compounds extracted will not be in the same solubility ratios that OP is expecting, so won't have same flavor results. I do agree that OP should start with many small batches and move from there, but increasing concentration of the solvent is probably not the golden answer if they want to replicate the same results as 120. Although there are some compounds that would definitely extract better at higher proofs. Realistically without knowing what compounds OP is trying to extract no one can provide sound advice to them other than do a lot of small tests. Which is for sure sound advice. 

 

OP You will not have the same flavor and texture results if you change the polarity of your solvent. As well, you cannot expect that your 200 proof will have the same congener density as what you were using before. A lot of GNS sold for vodka and gin production has different congener levels than truly neutral grain, most of "us" (sorry to sound like a punk ass bitch here but that "us" is actually a non-pejorative "y'all") probably don't realize that. Azeotrope and anhydrous are not equal when it comes to flavor. Starch sources will all have different flavors, even in neutral spirit.

R and D

Research and Development 

The people who are successful in this industry have thoroughly researched opportunities to develop. Dive in head first. You're off to a great start!

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15 hours ago, SlickFloss said:

With all due respect I am not sure I follow this logic and it is not where I would start. Given this particular application, increasing the concentration of the solvent doesn't equate to an increased ability to hold more solute in suspension. Increasing the amount of the solvent would increase the amount it can suspend depending on its chemical composition, changing it's polarity would change the type of compounds it would (and wouldn't) extract. As well, the compounds extracted will not be in the same solubility ratios that OP is expecting, so won't have same flavor results. I do agree that OP should start with many small batches and move from there, but increasing concentration of the solvent is probably not the golden answer if they want to replicate the same results as 120. Although there are some compounds that would definitely extract better at higher proofs. Realistically without knowing what compounds OP is trying to extract no one can provide sound advice to them other than do a lot of small tests. Which is for sure sound advice. 

 

OP You will not have the same flavor and texture results if you change the polarity of your solvent. As well, you cannot expect that your 200 proof will have the same congener density as what you were using before. A lot of GNS sold for vodka and gin production has different congener levels than truly neutral grain, most of "us" (sorry to sound like a punk ass bitch here but that "us" is actually a non-pejorative "y'all") probably don't realize that. Azeotrope and anhydrous are not equal when it comes to flavor. Starch sources will all have different flavors, even in neutral spirit.

R and D

Research and Development 

The people who are successful in this industry have thoroughly researched opportunities to develop. Dive in head first. You're off to a great start!

No offense taken.  You are 100% right about the difference between the Azeotrope and Anhydrous alcohol solutions being different in their ability in what they extract.

I definitely was not saying that the results would be the same flavor profile at a lower proofing, but giving him an idea of a place to start his small batches.

Since he was looking to "increase his yields" yet not increase the overall amount produced, which I will admit did not make too much sense to me, I just figured he was looking for a base point from which to start.

The 1.6x would put him at the same amount of botanicals for a higher proof run which would yield 60% more finished product per 1.75L batch, but this once again was just an idea for a base point. 

The best recommendation for what I would do, would be to do a series of small scale trials in which the individual botanical amounts are varied from the original amount for 120 proof in 10% increments up to the 60% mark and possibly even down to 20% per botanical to see how each one extracts at the higher proof.

Depending on the recipe this could be a lot of work, but as Sickfloss mentioned this business requires "Thorough Research"

 

 

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18 minutes ago, Kindred Spirits said:

 

No offense taken.  You are 100% right about the difference between the Azeotrope and Anhydrous alcohol solutions being different in their ability in what they extract.

I definitely was not saying that the results would be the same flavor profile at a lower proofing, but giving him an idea of a place to start his small batches.

Since he was looking to "increase his yields" yet not increase the overall amount produced, which I will admit did not make too much sense to me, I just figured he was looking for a base point from which to start.

The 1.6x would put him at the same amount of botanicals for a higher proof run which would yield 60% more finished product per 1.75L batch, but this once again was just an idea for a base point. 

The best recommendation for what I would do, would be to do a series of small scale trials in which the individual botanical amounts are varied from the original amount for 120 proof in 10% increments up to the 60% mark and possibly even down to 20% per botanical to see how each one extracts at the higher proof.

Depending on the recipe this could be a lot of work, but as Sickfloss mentioned this business requires "Thorough Research"

 

 

And now I see we agree! Very sound advice!

OP an option which may be helpful for you would be to do a large step down infusion. Start with your botanicals that extract well at a high proof, soak them in the total amount of solvent from a PG perspective (not from a wg perspective) for the entire batch. Extract per flavor quality timelines, remove solutes, proof down to next highest proof range for next solute, extract, move on, extract move on, extract move on. Remember your "primer" so to speak will be different with the anhydrous so what you think you're looking for you may not find. 

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You guys are amazing. I'm learning so much. THANK YOU. 

One other dumb newbie question... when working with the 200 proof ethanol I have here, obviously flammability safety precautions are required. But I was also curious to know whether I should be wearing some sort of mask / filter to protect my lungs from inhalation of the fumes of such a high proof product. My reading says that the toxicity of 200 proof (or similar) fumes can be pretty bad for human lungs and nervous systems, but having never worked with it before, I've not had any direct experience yet. 

I'd appreciate any safety recommendations for fumes, fire, or any other issues you know of while handling this stuff during production... 120 proof never worried me much as my batches have been only up to 15 gallons so far, but 200 proof ethanol is quite a serious substance. All thoughts are welcome.

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3 minutes ago, damntall said:

You guys are amazing. I'm learning so much. THANK YOU. 

One other dumb newbie question... when working with the 200 proof ethanol I have here, obviously flammability safety precautions are required. But I was also curious to know whether I should be wearing some sort of mask / filter to protect my lungs from inhalation of the fumes of such a high proof product. My reading says that the toxicity of 200 proof (or similar) fumes can be pretty bad for human lungs and nervous systems, but having never worked with it before, I've not had any direct experience yet. 

I'd appreciate any safety recommendations for fumes, fire, or any other issues you know of while handling this stuff during production... 120 proof never worried me much as my batches have been only up to 15 gallons so far, but 200 proof ethanol is quite a serious substance. All thoughts are welcome.

Once you cross the 40% ABV threshold your potential for fire goes way up. 200 proof ethanol has in incredibly low flash point and burns nearly invisibly so I am always extra cautious when dealing with any higher proof ethanol.

If possible make sure your containers are grounded to prevent any static electricity from sparking and ruining your day. I also as a precaution make sure to discharge on a piece of metal at least 5 feet away from the ethanol as an extra safety measure.

The saying goes "better safe than sorry" so if working with mixing the spirit at all when putting your botanicals in I would also wear a respirator and goggles.

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Unfortunately providing safety information to unknown peoples upon the internet etc is where I morally have to draw a line to protect my business legally. What I will say is it is as dangerous as handling azeotropic spirit, and you should absolutely be safe and follow best practices and protocols. There are a number of resources out there to train you or your employees that I think are fantastic. All of my employees are trained by a safety consulting company. We are all certified lift operators, confined space trained, chemical handling certified, etc.

 

You will be regulated different by where you are operating at. Some places will require full H3 compliancy for handling high polarity solvents. Some will make you use a fume hood and full ppe. Some states will let you do things like this with very few restrictions beyond dont let it go down the drain. We intentionally found a place like the latter, however still follow best practices in an intentionally over built facility.

 

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On 11/15/2021 at 10:40 AM, Kindred Spirits said:

The highest proof Neutral you are most likely to find is 192 proof. 

Since your botanical bill is set at 120 I would try increasing the botanical amounts by 192/120 which equals 1.6x the original amount.

In terms of extraction times, you might want to try a couple smaller batches to see what amount of time works best for you to achieve your flavor goals.

kindred spirits. It's no problem at all to find and purchase 200 proof.  In fact I can sell it to you by the tanker truck load, 270 gallon tote, 55 gallon barrel and 5 gallon bucket and it doesn't cost that much more than the 192.  It's used in cannabis and hemp extraction processes.  The 200 proof will pull more cannabinoids into itself during extraction than 192 proof.  I imagine it does a better job with botanicals as well, because it can be loaded heavier than 192. 

I also sell the 192 and denatured ethanol that is 95% ethanol and 5% heptane.  The denatured is really cheap because it's not taxed, so a lot of cannabis and hemp processors use it to save money.  The ethanol heptane mix is removed by rotary evaporator under vacuum down to safe levels and the products are tested to make sure of that, however some processers will not use it.  

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3 hours ago, Southernhighlander said:

kindred spirits. It's no problem at all to find and purchase 200 proof.  In fact I can sell it to you by the tanker truck load, 270 gallon tote, 55 gallon barrel and 5 gallon bucket and it doesn't cost that much more than the 192.  It's used in cannabis and hemp extraction processes.  The 200 proof will pull more cannabinoids into itself during extraction than 192 proof.  I imagine it does a better job with botanicals as well, because it can be loaded heavier than 192. 

I also sell the 192 and denatured ethanol that is 95% ethanol and 5% heptane.  The denatured is really cheap because it's not taxed, so a lot of cannabis and hemp processors use it to save money.  The ethanol heptane mix is removed by rotary evaporator under vacuum down to safe levels and the products are tested to make sure of that, however some processers will not use it.  

That's interesting to learn, most major providers I deal with as ethanol bulk suppliers stop at 192. I'm assuming the 200 is anhydrous? 

 

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kindred spirits, All 200 proof is anhydrous. Anhydrous simply means without water. 

200 proof is created from 192 proof using a molecular sieve.  We create molecular sieves for removing chlorophyll from cannabis oil but that process is a little different.  Anyway it's easy to find.  You can even get  200 proof certified organic.  We have it, MGP has it. Ultra Pure and many others.  You generally need to ask for it.  Here are the results from a google search as you can see 200 proof is offered by many different vendors, it's just not normally offered to distillers. https://www.google.com/search?q=200+proof+ethynol&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS912US912&oq=200+proof+ethynol&aqs=chrome..69i57.10223j0j15&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

 

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17 hours ago, Southernhighlander said:

kindred spirits, All 200 proof is anhydrous. Anhydrous simply means without water. 

200 proof is created from 192 proof using a molecular sieve.  We create molecular sieves for removing chlorophyll from cannabis oil but that process is a little different.  Anyway it's easy to find.  You can even get  200 proof certified organic.  We have it, MGP has it. Ultra Pure and many others.  You generally need to ask for it.  Here are the results from a google search as you can see 200 proof is offered by many different vendors, it's just not normally offered to distillers. https://www.google.com/search?q=200+proof+ethynol&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS912US912&oq=200+proof+ethynol&aqs=chrome..69i57.10223j0j15&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

 

Thanks for that information, I had typically come across 200proof as denatured. 

Molecular sieves are incredibly interesting as well.  

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4 hours ago, Kindred Spirits said:

Thanks for that information, I had typically come across 200proof as denatured. 

Molecular sieves are incredibly interesting as well.  

in chemistry anhydrous is a chemical form containing no water. Anhydrous ethanol is very rare (nonexistent?) in nature hence the use of the sieve to produce it for ethanol. 80% of the time in chemistry we are referencing crystalline solids when speaking about anhydrous chemicals. Anhydrous ethanol and many other anhydrous liquids are very difficult to keep stable, for instance in this case anhydrous ethanol can and will absorb and bond to water from the air to make it no longer anhydrous. This can even occur in it's own storage containers after opening it for initial use. The tendency for certain compounds to absorb ambient moisture is a property known as being "hygroscopic." Hydrates or compounds with woc in their structures have water bonded to their cations.

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3 hours ago, SlickFloss said:

in chemistry anhydrous is a chemical form containing no water. Anhydrous ethanol is very rare (nonexistent?) in nature hence the use of the sieve to produce it for ethanol. 80% of the time in chemistry we are referencing crystalline solids when speaking about anhydrous chemicals. Anhydrous ethanol and many other anhydrous liquids are very difficult to keep stable, for instance in this case anhydrous ethanol can and will absorb and bond to water from the air to make it no longer anhydrous. This can even occur in it's own storage containers after opening it for initial use. The tendency for certain compounds to absorb ambient moisture is a property known as being "hygroscopic." Hydrates or compounds with woc in their structures have water bonded to their cations.

This is true, 200 proof is basically 199.9# but for most of the world's applications, it's dry enough for us to say it's anhydrous.

As for it absorbing water from the air, I have run some basic proof tests and it's not nearly as fast as many people think it is, to the point where it's not even worth thinking about for anyone outside of a strict laboratory environment.

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Just a peanut gallery comment on this one.

The flavor profile of your extract may change depending on the ratio of water to ethanol of the solvent and of course your specific botanicals.

A year or so back we were working on a fun little project, a continuous vapor extraction gin still.  Essentially, we were vaporizing ethanol and water as direct injection into a reloadable botanical basket.  We used two pumps, one for neutral, one for RO water, so we could vary the vapor composition on demand.  The big difference between this approach and a batch still behind it, is constant vapor composition, as opposed to the ratio shifting from ethanol to water.

I certainly didn't expect as significant a difference in the flavor composition of the distillate (when proofed to bottle strength), it was pretty easy to vary the ethanol concentration on demand at any point in the basket extraction (start to finish).

We initially thought we would just inject ethanol, that was totally wrong, in fact, extraction could best be described as only being partial in this case, so there must have been some number of water soluble (or steam extractive) components that were critical.  It wasn't until we added water and could play with the ratios, that we were able to match the flavor profile of our batch extracted gin.  We realized this on a whim (accidentally even), I poured some RO into the ethanol tank at the tail end of the basket to purge the hoses/lines.  We were amazed at what we got, an incredibly milky/louched distillate (literally, it was like white paint).  When added to the distillate, it easily dissolved clear, and brought the flavor profile much closer.

Yeah, granted, this was vapor extraction and not maceration.  However, I've done plenty of azeotrope and lower proof maceration-based extracts with my rotovap, and there is a difference.

 

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I know there is some lit around this, but I haven't done any kind of thorough review.  But what's clear is, higher proof isn't always better.  It's different, could be better, or could be worse.  Just did some quick google-fu and found this one.  Clearly in this case, the optimal extraction is a mix of ethanol and water.  Using only pure ethanol yields a significant reduction in yield in comparison to water, or the 70%.

1173456640_ScreenShot2021-11-21at8_05_21AM.png.d83144582ab64cc20cc11f1a05e359a1.png

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Silk city wrote:

"I know there is some lit around this, but I haven't done any kind of thorough review.  But what's clear is, higher proof isn't always better.  It's different, could be better, or could be worse.  Just did some quick google-fu and found this one.  Clearly in this case, the optimal extraction is a mix of ethanol and water.  Using only pure ethanol yields a significant reduction in yield in comparison to water, or the 70%."

Silkcity,  I agree it depends on what you are extracting.  Ethanol pulls less terpenes from hops because terpenes are water insoluble.  Ethanol works best at extracting water soluble botanical compounds because ethanal is a polar solvent. 200 proof ethanol and 200 proof denatured alcohol (95% ethanol +5% heptane)  pulled 2% more CBD (same is true for THC) at a higher concentration then 192 proof, in my testing lab.   My customers are getting the same results.  200 proof is a stronger solvent and can be loaded heavier than 192 proof, which is why so many cannabis and hemp processors use it instead of 190.  The stronger the polar, solvent the more THC, CBD, CBN and CBG it pulls during the soak.   We soak for 30 minutes using agitation.  We use 1 gallon of ethanol per every 1 lb of ground up plant material, during the soak. 

 

When it comes to terpenes in MJ and in hops, water is a much better solvent. One reason for that is the fact that ethanol volatilizes terpenes causing them to change form.   I have built several stills that extract terpenes such as pinene from pine.  Those stills use water as the solvent and an oil water separator at the output.  Butane and propane are the best when it comes to extracting a full spectrum marijuana concentrate.  Unlike ethanol the majority of the terpenes are extracted along with CBD THC CBN and CBG and most importantly the terpenes are not volatilized.  A mix of 70% butane and 30% propane running green plant material gives you live resin.  Live Resin is considered to be one of the tastiest concentrates by connoisseurs and that is because of it's extremely high terpene level.  Butane will pull more intact terpenes from hops as well, but the process is expensive and dangerous and there is no reason to do it that way for spirits because even the heat and alcohol in the beer making process will cook off some terpenes or change their form.  The trepines that survive better in alcohol are what give the hoppy taste to beer.

Silk your chart is correct concerning hop oil and water extraction because terpenes are highly water insoluble. High proof ethanol works best in extracting water soluble compounds from botanicals because it is a polar solvent.  In that situation the higher the proof the better the extraction.   If a person is extracting flavors from botanicals they should research to see which solvent works best.

Hey everybody.  Make sure to enjoy drinking your solvent!!

 

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On 11/21/2021 at 6:56 AM, Silk City Distillers said:

Just a peanut gallery comment on this one.

The flavor profile of your extract may change depending on the ratio of water to ethanol of the solvent and of course your specific botanicals.

A year or so back we were working on a fun little project, a continuous vapor extraction gin still.  Essentially, we were vaporizing ethanol and water as direct injection into a reloadable botanical basket.  We used two pumps, one for neutral, one for RO water, so we could vary the vapor composition on demand.  The big difference between this approach and a batch still behind it, is constant vapor composition, as opposed to the ratio shifting from ethanol to water.

I certainly didn't expect as significant a difference in the flavor composition of the distillate (when proofed to bottle strength), it was pretty easy to vary the ethanol concentration on demand at any point in the basket extraction (start to finish).

We initially thought we would just inject ethanol, that was totally wrong, in fact, extraction could best be described as only being partial in this case, so there must have been some number of water soluble (or steam extractive) components that were critical.  It wasn't until we added water and could play with the ratios, that we were able to match the flavor profile of our batch extracted gin.  We realized this on a whim (accidentally even), I poured some RO into the ethanol tank at the tail end of the basket to purge the hoses/lines.  We were amazed at what we got, an incredibly milky/louched distillate (literally, it was like white paint).  When added to the distillate, it easily dissolved clear, and brought the flavor profile much closer.

Yeah, granted, this was vapor extraction and not maceration.  However, I've done plenty of azeotrope and lower proof maceration-based extracts with my rotovap, and there is a difference.

 

So what silk is saying is the POLARITY OF YOUR SOLVENT will impact the FLAVOR OF YOUR TARGET based off of desired compounds for extractions and their solvency in the given polarity of the solvent at any given time (which is what I said in my first post : ) )


As always thanks for the back up silk! I think what he's telling you OP is you need to EXPERIMENT yourself, because the results will not be as cut and dry as you being successful because you went up to 200 proof!

 

AH HAAAAA!!!!!!!

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On 11/16/2021 at 7:36 AM, PeteB said:

....................

I think you are also asking if you use higher proof for your extraction liquid will it be quicker and more efficient??

In my experience the final flavour will be quite different. The alcohol is extracting some flavour compounds from your herbs, and the water is extracting different different compounds. By changing the alcohol % you will very likely end up with a different flavour profile.

....................

 

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The best solvent is boiling (supercritical) carbon dioxide.

It does not oxidize terpenes and is non-flammable. Inert.

Yes, this requires special equipment that works under pressure. But this is not propane and butane, which can explode :)

For the extraction of oils from hemp and other plants, the best results are obtained precisely by the use of a solvent of carbon dioxide in a supercritical (boiling) state.

If you are interested, I can tell you more. The process is not as complicated as it seems.

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2 hours ago, Alex_Sor said:

The best solvent is boiling (supercritical) carbon dioxide.

It does not oxidize terpenes and is non-flammable. Inert.

Yes, this requires special equipment that works under pressure. But this is not propane and butane, which can explode :)

For the extraction of oils from hemp and other plants, the best results are obtained precisely by the use of a solvent of carbon dioxide in a supercritical (boiling) state.

If you are interested, I can tell you more. The process is not as complicated as it seems.

I fucking love this dude so much. Hope to meet you one day if you're every stateside visiting Paul!

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