Modified on: 30/03/2023
All too often, curiosity pushes the limits, helped by the ease of finding information
Now, you have to boot up your PC to access any information. But can you make good use of it? Recently, there has been a widespread practice of extracting questionable marijuana oil. However, according to a large segment of marijuana enthusiasts, obtaining a very pure oil through an extraction process using N-Butane gas is possible. In the numerous video tutorials available, however, the risks involved in carrying out this process are often not mentioned. Indeed, handling butane, being a highly flammable substance, a minor distraction can cost one’s life.
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In the best-case scenario, the burns caused by the explosion could render you unrecognisable or demolish the building where you were attempting to extract the marijuana oil, with consequences even for people unknowingly close to you. In this article, I explain what this is all about and what are the reasons why you should never, ever consider implementing do-it-yourself butane extraction.
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What does BHO stand for?
BHO is an acronym for Butane Hash Oil, a type of cannabis extract that is so concentrated that it can even contain over 80% THC. As a result, its use causes exaggerated effects even for experienced smokers. The origin of the name of this highly potent oil lies in the method used for its extraction, which makes use of N-Butane gas. The unique feature of this extraction technique is that it yields a golden end product of astonishing purity. But how is BHO extracted?
How does the Butane Hash Oil extraction process take place?
As mentioned above, pure marijuana oil (not CBD oil)is obtained through N-Butane gas, which acts as a solvent. However, unlike others, such as ethyl alcohol, this gas cannot extract water-soluble elements from the plant, first and foremost chlorophyll, which would make the oil dark green and somewhat bitter. This particular extraction process aims to separate the trichomes and resin – hence cannabinoids and terpenes – from the rest of the plant. All parts of the cannabis plant, including the waste, can be used for extraction, but those who want a high-quality end product prefer to use the inflorescences. There are two main techniques for oil extraction, and I will explain them below.
- Open circuit extraction. Through this method, it is possible to obtain an extract in a rather crude form. The extraction consists of using a tube usually made of metal or borosilicate and filling it with dehydrated and well-pressed plant material. At this point, N-Butane gas is poured in from one end and waited for it to flow out from the other.
- Closed-circuit extraction. This technique is much more elaborate than the first one, and the end product is much higher quality. To carry out this procedure, a specific instrument is needed, called a closed-circuit extractor, consisting of a tank with valves, which are used to regulate the escape of gas from the tank into a compartment containing the marijuana.
Extracting BHO is challenging, and the raw-material finished product ratio is not cheap. To remove a few grams of oil, it is necessary to use 10 times as much cannabis. Very few people devote themselves to this type of activity. But the reasons are not only these just described. The extraction process using N-butane gas is hazardous, and the consequences of even the slightest carelessness can be devastating.
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Do-it-yourself butane extraction and the danger of death are more frequent than you think
No, this is not scaremongering. The consequences of improper use of this gas are real and can result in death or, at best, serious injuries and severe burns. Even a single spark – did you know that a flick of the light switch can be enough? – is capable of triggering large explosions. It would not be the first time that a seemingly trivial carelessness has cost people dearly who, anxious to obtain BHO, have underestimated the safety rules that are indispensable when dealing with such substances. Because of the degree of danger involved in butane extraction, marijuana oil has often been discredited. However, the problem does not arise for professionals in the field, who, having the appropriate knowledge and equipment, do not risk their own and others’ safety. A further aspect of being considered, then, concerns the possible contamination of the marijuana oil due to contact with N-Butane gas. Given the young age of this practice, there are no scientific and, therefore reliable studies on the effects that BHO may cause in humans. Even if there are no fatal overdoses of marijuana, with its 80% THC, the chances of losing consciousness or feeling ill are considerable.
In conclusion, do-it-yourself butane extraction is certainly not a recommended practice
However, new fashions are often well-received by enthusiasts in the industry, and this was also the case this time. The curiosity aroused by this practice has led many – too many – people to attempt butane extraction to obtain the resulting pure marijuana oil. Unfortunately, however, this is very dangerous, and the risks increase regarding do-it-yourself methods and equipment.
Moreover, there is not enough research to guarantee the non-toxicity of the final product. Would you favour taking all these risks for a bit of a high, most probably too powerful to be enjoyable? All in all, it doesn’t seem worth it.
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