De-waxing refers to the process by which lipids and waxes are taken out of marijuana concentrate. This forms a cleaner and more purified product that some consumers prefer. These lipids and waxes are found in the cannabis plant naturally, in many different amounts from one cultivar to another.
They are said to affect the flavor of a certain concentration and how smooth it may be. De-waxing can affect the end product yield as opposed to winterization but is known to be the more chosen option for people, mainly because it requires a lot less effort. The solvent that is usually used for cleaning the concentrates in de-waxing is butane. In the extraction process that uses butane, the leftover oil is brought down to a temperature below zero so that the fats and lipids are separated out.
The lipids and waxes become insoluble in the butane solution and sometimes dry ice is used, but more often than not, it can be hard to control and predict which can sometimes affect THC content and cannabinoids in the end product. One can think of de-waxing as blasting the cannabis plant material with butane and having it collected in a column. After it is all collected, it switches to another column for the de-waxing process. In this column, the mixture is cooled to very low temperatures of below minus 20 Celcius.
Once it is cooled enough, the natural separation happens because it is unable to dissolve further and then sifted through micron screens that will filter out all of the waxes and lipids that are not necessary. The correct temperatures are one of the most important things in the de-waxing process because the separation between the fats and lipids won’t even happen if the temperature isn’t right.