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Waxes and Lipid Fats

Lipids and waxes are natural substances that are found in marijuana plants. During the production of concentrates, waxes and lipid fats are removed and this process is also commonly called de-waxing. Many people carry the assumption that concentrates that have the least amount of waxes and lipid fats are the highest quality product.

There has been debate surrounding this because lipids are known to increase the bioavailability of many recreational and medicinal compounds in cannabis. However, removing the waxes and lipids is also known to create a cleaner and more purified product that some consumers prefer.

Waxes and lipid fats are said to affect the flavor of a certain concentration and how smooth it may be. The solvent that is usually used for cleaning the concentrates 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, although generally it is challenging to control and predict which can sometimes affect THC content and cannabinoids in the end product.

One can think of the process 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.

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