Benefits of Ethanol Extraction System for Cannabis Oil

The uses of ethanol extraction systems are vast including distillation of spirits and extraction of CBD oil. You will also find ethanol in skincare products, hand sanitizers, and automotive gasoline. 

Likewise, it is relatively cheap and maybe the best option for companies looking for high yields. This versatility makes ethanol an effective organic solvent for use in the process. 

In addition, it is labeled safe to use in food products and you can scale it according to your business needs. In this article, we will discuss the advantages of choosing ethanol extraction system for extracting cannabis oil.

  • Ethanol is both polar and non-polar

Ethanol is a chemical name for alcohol with a chemical formula C2H6O. The oxygen atoms in it are more electronegative hence causing a slight negative charge. Ethane (C2H6) on the other hand, is a hydrocarbon molecule with 2 carbons and 6 hydrogens. 

This makes it both polar and non-polar. Likewise, these physical properties provide a soluble and fertile extraction setting which is good for the extraction of cannabinoids and essential oils. 

Polar means it has both positively and negatively charged ions while nonpolar means having zero charges or roughly no charge or is balanced. Typically, the water molecules in it are polar, the hydrocarbons are slightly positive and the oxygen atoms are slightly negative.

  • It is ideal for cannabis and hemp oil extraction

The systems attempt to extract cannabinoids and terpenes compounds present in the hemp and cannabis plant. The majority of these plant compounds are fat-soluble meaning ethanol will dissolve them well. 

However, because ethanol also picks up water-soluble compounds, it may draw out unnecessary compounds like chlorophyll in the process. Still, if your goal is to isolate the extract completely, you can modulate the polarity of ethanol by adjusting the temperature to achieve more exclusive end products.

Lowering the temperature of the solvent increases its affinity for fat-soluble compounds. Likewise, if the process is performed under high or room temperatures, the solvent picks up a wider spectrum of terpenes along with water-soluble compounds.

  • The process has a long history

Alcohol has been around for many years and has played several roles including botanical extraction of cooking oils and cosmetic products. Soaking plant tissues in ethanol facilitates cell wall disruption, tissue lysis, and deactivates DNases. 

As a result, the solvent can pull out soluble (dissolvable) components from the plant matter. Moreover, alcohol is one of the most ancient forms of recreational drugs used by humans. 

In fact, the first evidence of alcohol consumption dated back around 13000 years ago in a cave in modern-day Israel. Although primitive, ethanol as a solvent has developed several technological breakthroughs over the years more so in the cannabis and hemp derivation. Read more here 

  • Ethanol is safe and easy to use

Compared to hydrocarbon solvents like butane and propane, ethanol is generally safer and easier to use. It is also easier to manufacture. Most hydrocarbons are toxic and highly flammable which makes the alcohol extraction system safer to operate. 

When compared to CO2 extraction systems, ethanol equipment is much cheaper and easier to operate. Also, CO2 derivation works under high pressure creating another potential threat. 

Generally, every process has its pros and cons. Still, alcohol tops the list as one of the easiest forms of cannabis extractions available. Its simplicity makes it easier to learn and teach other operators as well. 

  • The solvent is highly soluble

As mentioned, this solvent will dissolve plant matter easily and fast. This is made possible by its unique physical properties. 

When we look at it from the molecular level, one end of the solvent’s molecule is positively and negatively charged and the other end has a molecule that is zero charged. Polar molecules attract other polar compounds while non-polar mix with other non-polar compounds. 

In short, likes dissolve likes. Fats and lipids are categorized as non-polar molecules and water is the most popular polar molecule. Hence this is what makes it highly soluble since it has both polar and non-polar molecules.

  • The versatility of the solvent

The flexibility of this solvent makes it ideal for the derivation process. The polar and non-polar molecules in the solvent attract cannabinoids like CBD and THC from cannabis or hemp extraction and other polar and nonpolar compounds. 

Likewise, it adjusts easily when subjected to temperature, therefore providing greater flexibility than other methods or systems. Click here to learn more.


For centuries, ethanol AKA alcohol has been used as the solvent of choice in various extractions. Not only is it versatile but also easy to use when compared to CO2 and hydrocarbon systems. Both large (those looking to isolate THC and CBD extract at scale) and small-scale processors (targeting full-spectrum cannabinoids and terpenes) can benefit from this solvent.

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