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How To Get Started With Closed-Loop Extracting

Cannabis extracts are a booming side of the industry, and have been an active part of the culture as far back as records date. With modern technology, we’re able to control the process a lot more precisely and experiment with other methods.

Today we’re going to take an educational approach at everything that’s needed to getting a closed-loop extraction system up and running.

Getting Started With Closed-Loop Extracting

Before we dive into everything, let me give you a few warnings and a general overview of what you’re about to get yourself into with closed-loop extractions. First and foremost, the equipment is not cheap; a professional closed-loop extraction system can easily cost upwards of $5,000. Then you’ll need several expensive pumps and a commercial grade vacuum oven.

Once you have the financial aspect handled, there’s a steep learning curve in order to maintain quality product each and every time. After those first two speed bumps, you have to take into consideration the personal and legal risk factors of extracting where you’re located.

A closed-loop system essentially mimics the actions of an open-tube butane run, without exposing the products or solvent to the open air. This method allows extract artists to create a cleaner product for patients, in a much safer environment than “open-blasting”.

A List Of Equipment For Closed-Loop Extraction

As I mentioned earlier, the cost of getting started with closed loop extracting is going to be pricey (especially for larger scale systems). The system isn’t all you’re going to need – add in the ancillary parts to make everything flow properly and you’re looking at a hefty sum.

  • Closed-Loop Extractor

  • Recovery Tank

  • Recovery Pump

  • Refrigerant Pump

  • Refrigerant Scale

  • CFM Pump

  • Vacuum Oven

There are dozens of companies out there that offer professional equipment for those looking to take the easy road. A professional closed-loop system has been pressure tested before it even leaves the warehouse, to ensure there’s no dangerous leaks, or missing pieces.

Be skeptical of off-brand systems, and maintain quality control by doing your research. In hopes of saving you some time, I’ve put together a list of reputable companies that are trusted by the industry at-large:

Across International – Established in 2008, Across is rapidly building a reputation within the cannabis community for quality vacuum ovens. Their vacuum ovens allow for a cleaner extraction by maintaining the perfect temperatures and pressures needed to create your desired products.

closed loop

Sweet Leaf Extractor – An innovative design in the closed loop system that allows you to run the system passively without the need for a recovery pump. This easily makes Sweet Leaf one of the top systems in the game right now. Overall it’s a fast, powerful & efficient closed loop system.

Safety First: Closed Loop Safety Precautions

Safety should be the main concern for anyone working with a closed-loop system. I had a chance to catch up with Daniel de Sailles, founder of Top Shelf Extracts, and he offered a few safety tips for working with a closed loop system.

“You need to work in an outdoor environment, or a transcendent environment that mimics the outside environment.” – Daniel de Sailles

“The first thing that you have to realize is that you can’t manufacture on a large scale properly,” he explains. “If things go wrong, things will go wrong on a much larger scale. If something does go bad, things can go very very bad. You need to work in an outdoor environment, or a transcendent environment that mimics the outside environment.”

De Sailles goes on to explain that the most common weak points of closed-loop systems are worn gaskets & butane control/build-up. “You’ll need to keep extra gaskets in stock, as they’re known to wear out within a few weeks. Once they start wearing out you can have leaks, so it’s very important for you to switch these out on a regular basis. You’ll also want equipment to measure the butane in the air around us and inside our equipment to avoid build-up. It’s important to have simple tools like this to avoid lethal mistakes.”

With that being said, it’s vital that everyone operating a closed-loop system, or looking into the procedure, takes a high priority to personal safety. Accidents with this equipment can not only be expensive, but they can be lethal. We strongly recommend getting proper training in person; there are several consulting companies that provide professional training on all safety aspects and equipment technicalities.

Our next article in this series will take a detailed look at the differences between closed-loop extractions and “open-blasting”.

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