Refined cannabinoids such as THC or CBD are some of the most commonly sought after compounds when performing a vacuum distillation process on crude cannabis extract. However, non-degraded terpenes can also be collected from certain material using properly configured cannabis distillation equipment.
In order to successfully distill terpenes from cannabis crude extract, the following conditions must be met:
- Monoterpenes are available within the crude sample. It may sound obvious, but compounds that aren’t present can’t be collected. Given the volatility of terpenes, fresh material and proper cold extraction are critical to ensure that the desired compounds are present in the sample being distilled.
- The vacuum system, including cold traps, is working optimally. Separation and collection of low boiling point compounds relies on a masterful control both pressure and heating parameters. Application of the improper amount of either can cause poor results and a frustrated operator. Employ a stainless steel cold trap to ensure optimal thermal transfer between the condenser and cooling medium.
- Heat is the enemy of properly collected and preserved terpenes. Distillation systems lacking fine control of the evaporative heating parameters should not be used. Utilize distillation equipment with automatic distillation controls to ensure optimal results. Limit or utilize reduced pressure only to boil terpene compounds.
- High separation ability is key. If the distillation equipment isn’t properly configured to separate compounds with high volatilities, successful terpene collection won’t be possible. Equipment utilizing spinning band can assist in achieving high separation of volatile terpenes.