Winterize is a term in the cannabis field that refers to the process of removing waxes, fats, and lipids from extracts. Winterizing a concentrate will enhance the flavor and quality of the finished product and result in a much more enjoyable experience for the user.
The winterization process is done by mixing a cannabis extract with ethanol and then freezing the solution. This will give the unwanted compounds the chance to solidify. After that, the solution is pressed through a filter, and this process will separate the lipids, wax, and fats from the oil. The last step is to purge the ethanol from the solution and then it is considered to be a winterized extract.
Winterization is also known as de-waxing. It is important to remove the waxes and lipids from an extract because a process known as auto-buddering can occur and change the chemical make-up of the concentrate. This can result in your shatter more resembling a wax or budder. Winterization is also useful in purging butane from hash oil. Butane extract needs to be mixed with ethanol and then the solution is frozen to force the undesirable substances to become suspended. Once they are suspended, they can be filtered out.
The steps can be repeated until the final solution results in a nice golden wash. The ethanol must then be also purged from the solution. Though both very similar, winterization is known to be a much easier process than de-waxing with a much lower risk of volatility. De-waxing typically will impact the final yield more than winterizing, but winterizing will have a greater impact on the flavor and terpenes.
Use of Term
I was able to winterize my butane hash oil and don’t think I will try it again. I’m pretty sure I nearly caused an explosion during the process and it is just too dangerous to do in my house.