Cannabis Distillation – Why is my Δ9 THC potency low?

by Paul on January 8, 2019

Many people unfamiliar with the nuances of cannabis refinement often believe that a pass (or two) of crude extract through the proper cannabis distillation equipment is all that’s required to produce a high potency Δ9 THC distillate product.

While it may be possible to distill mystery cannabis crude extract into 95% THC with short path distillation, processors who desire consistent and repeatable distillate results, should consider each of the following.


Plant Material –

Even prior to extraction, the cannabis material itself can play a role in the end distillate potency results. Was the cannabis harvested early? Late? Different cannabinoids are produced at different points throughout a plants life cycle. Δ9 THC can only be separated during fractional distillation if it is present in the material to be extracted.


Extraction –

Processing parameters during an extraction have the capability to damage, or degrade, cannabinoids into other variants of themselves, or even completely different cannabinoids. Low temperature extractions will preserve cannabinoids for further processing.


Post-Extraction Processing –

Filtration is a common process utilized prior to vacuum distillation in order to remove compounds and contaminants that would be undesirable to enter distillation equipment. However, care must be taken as incorrect filtration medias may isomerize cannabinoids, including Δ9 THC.


Distillation Equipment –

High potency Δ9 THC distillate is best achieved through the use of equipment with high cannabinoid separation capability. Different types of distillation equipment offer varying levels of separating ability and it is important to consider purity goals before choosing a system. Additionally, features such as spinning band, automatic controls, and data logging should be considered when choosing cannabis distillation equipment.


Make high quality THC distillate

High potency Δ9 THC distillate


Consideration of all aspects of processing prior to, and through distillation will help to eliminate batches of unknown low potency. Consistently high potency distillate will keep both customers and manager happy!

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  • What do you mean by “isomerize cannabinoids”?
    I’m getting low thc levels back in my lab tests and high CBN levels. Which is fine but the boss wants THC. What can I do to ensure my levels remain optimal?

    • “In chemistry isomerization is the process by which one molecule is transformed into another molecule which has exactly the same atoms, but the atoms have a different arrangement”

      For example, the reaction of delta 9 THC turning into delta 8 THC is an isomerization. These molecules are connected the same, have the same weight, but differ by one single bond. Not all degredation is isomerization technically. CBN and some other degradation products are maybe not technically isomers of THC, they are similar enough that I called them that here.

      Heat and time seem to be the biggest factors in isomerization. Combining the two typically makes the degradation happen much quicker. For example 10 hrs on a short path around 220 C. There are other factors like oxygen and pH. Obviously you should minimize oxygen to minimize oxidation and pH should be close to neutral (pH = 7)

  • Hi,
    How to get a seed with low THC and high CBD ?
    I would like to cross regular or feminized seeds in order to obtain seeds high in CBD and low in THC, can you help me? Thank you

    • Hi,

      I am not familiar with growing at all.

      I think your best bet is just to purchase some from a reputable vendor. It all comes down to genetics. The high CBG strains are the same way. Clones might be an option too.


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