Why Hydrocarbons? Page

Hydrocarbons are the most commonly used extraction solvents – and they provide the best results. The Summit Extraction Systems use butane and propane hydrocarbons to transform botanical material into premium concentrates. In fact, hydrocarbon solvents have been safely used in the food-processing industry for more than 60 years.

The Summit T1 and T2 Extraction Systems use your choice of butane and/or propane hydrocarbons, which provide more benefits than any other extraction method. In botanical processing, hydrocarbons offer the greatest efficiency, throughput, yield, quality, and versatility.

The Advantages of Hydrocarbon Solvents

Efficiency & Throughput

Hydrocarbons have a cycle time of only 60 minutes, while supercritical CO₂ ranges from 6 to 10 hours. The Summit T1 Extraction System maintains low temperatures that can process up to 25 pounds of botanical material in a single 8-hour shift. With the T2 Expansion, you can process up to 90 pounds in an 8-hour shift.

Yield

Butane extraction can yield 14% to 30% yield by weight, depending on the quality of the raw material. Conversely, CO₂ yields only about 8%, and it produces more waste than hydrocarbons.

Quality

Unlike CO₂ and ethanol, hydrocarbons preserve the botanical’s original and medicinal characteristics, including flavor, aroma, terpenes, flavonoids and more. Plus, they remove unwanted elements, such as chlorophyll and lipids.

Versatility

While the most common application is a blend of 70% butane and 30% propane, our extraction systems can utilize any ratio of butane and/or propane. These solvents produce a greater variety of end products than other extraction method.

Hydrocarbons Results vs. CO2 and Ethanol Results

Using hydrocarbon solvents and low processing temperatures the Summit T1 and T2 preserve the botanical’s original integrity. In comparison, many supercritical CO₂ extraction systems separate the plant’s fractions, such as the terpenes and flavonoids. In this case, the oil is often altered by adding terpenes and elements from different plants. Not only does this create more labor and cost, it further damages the concentrate’s integrity and quality.

Ethanol extraction is a highly aggressive solvent that dissolves the plant’s undesirable elements, but it uses excessive heat that causes terpene loss. The result is often an end product with an unpleasant smell or taste that needs to be masked with strong flavors, scents or sugar.

End Products Made Possible with Hydrocarbons

Oil products extracted with butane and propane have won more High Times awards than products made with any other extraction method. Hydrocarbon solvents also produce the greatest variety of end products, including:

  • Shatter and premium concentrates (butane or propane extraction consistently produces the best shatter in terms of consistency and retention of plant aroma and flavor)
  • Essential oils
  • Infused edible products
  • Infused beverages
  • Capsules and pills
  • Topical and transdermal products

Hydrocarbon’s Superior Safety Standards

Butane and propane extraction equipment operates at relatively low pressures that do not exceed 300 pounds per square inch (PSI). Supercritical CO₂ equipment operates at significantly higher temperatures: 1,500 to 8,700 PSI. Therefore, the Summit T1 Extraction System does not encounter the over-pressurization failures of a CO₂ extraction system. Such extreme pressures are a safety hazard to the equipment and the operator.

Additionally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) generally recognizes butane and propane as a safe ingredient, assuming it doesn’t exceed certain limits. Any residual matter from the butane and propane in our system is certifiably safe for consumption. This is due to the fact the solvents are reclaimed and recycled at the end of the closed-loop extraction process. Thanks to its recycling functionality and ability to hold 80 pounds of butane, the Summit T1 Extraction System needs to be refilled only once a month when doing 5 to 7 runs a day.