Apparatus and Procedure

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Those with lab apparatus can do the extraction and concentration in a standard refluxing setup (e.g., heating mantle for five liter flask with water cooled reflux head). The rest of us can manage with homemade devices such as those pictured. The water in the tub or bottom half of the double boiler heats up the solvent containing the marijuana. The warm solvent gradually extracts the cannabinoids, and some of it evaporates in the process. The solvent vapors condense on the ice-cooled lid and drop back down into the solvent containing the marijuana. This process of evaporating and recondensing solvent is called refluxing. Vapors do not escape into the air because of the seal formed by the plastic and rubber bands. If the ice melts (or in the one variety pictured, the cold water is not running fast enough), the pressure builds up and fumes escape around the edges of the plastic seal. The time of refluxing varies with the efficiency of the solvent. Chloroform or dichloromethane will probably not require more than ten minutes, while ethanol or isopropanol may need several hours for complete extraction. This may be tested roughly by removing, carefully drying, and smoking some of the grass. When extraction is complete, the device is cooled, the marijuana removed from the solvent and placed in the strainer, and the resealed apparatus again turned on. A few minutes of refluxing should suffice to wash most of the remaining cannabinoids from the marijuana. This second step will frequently be unnecessary since only a small amount of cannabinoids will be saved this way—though more will be saved if fresh solvent is used for this step.

After discarding the marijuana from the strainer or filtering it out of the solvent, the next step is to concentrate the solvent containing the cannabinoids. This is achieved by placing a pan or beaker above the strainer, resealing the apparatus and refluxing. The solvent now collects in the pan or beaker, resulting in the concentration of the cannabinoids in the inner pail or the top of the double boiler. When most of the solvent has collected in the pan or beaker, the apparatus can be cooled, opened and the pan or beaker removed, saving the essentially pure solvent for reuse. A portion of marijuana may be placed in the remain-

Fig. 15. Design for extraction and isomerization apparatus
Isomerizer Cannabis
Fig. 16. Design for extraction and isomerization apparatus

cold water ^

cold water ^

cooling coils cooling coils

Marijuana Apparatus

Fig. 17. Alternative designs for the top portion of Figures 15 and 16

Fig. 17. Alternative designs for the top portion of Figures 15 and 16

condensing chamber with vanes (radiator) and closeable drain

Fig. 18. Air-cooled automatic battery-operated extractor-isomerizer

ing solvent, mixed thoroughly, and evaporation of the small amount of remaining solvent completed (good ventilation). If you use an ounce of marijuana for this and you used a pound for the extraction, the ounce should wind up roughly 16 times stronger. If you wish to make hash oil instead, add a small amount of water to the remaining solvent and continue evaporation until all the water has disappeared, since all the remaining solvent will disappear first. This can also be done by placing the inner pail or top of the double boiler in a cooking oil or mineral oil bath and heating to about 230° F until all the water evaporates. Sometimes a gummy residue rather than an oil may be obtained. It should still be possible to obtain an oil by using the following purification methods. Apparatus for large scale extraction is described in Lloydia 33:453 (1970) and Cannabis Alchemy (Level Press, 1973).

if heating is gentle, and the surface area in contact with the vapors is large, neither ice nor running cold water will be necessary for condensation. The principle involved is the same as that of the air-cooled radiator in cars. Air cooling is more likely to succeed in a cool room, out of doors, or with a fan creating an air flow over the top of the apparatus. With air cooling, it is necessary to be extra careful that no vapors are escaping into the room.

The heating coil (hotplate) can be replaced by a lightbulb and the current regulated with a rheostat for a gentle, easily controlled heat source. An electrical timer would make the operation automatic and the whole device could be battery powered for use in areas without electricity or running water. Air cooling, lightbulb heating and a timer are employed in the isomerizer discussed in the next chapter.

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