Extraction Explained: Understanding Cannabis Derived Terpenes

Nick Tennant, Founder & CTO of Precision Extraction Solutions, discusses terpenes – the naturally occurring compound responsible for producing scents in plants. Check out the video below to learn more about what terpenes are, where they can be found, how they are beneficial and how Precision Extraction Solutions has developed a cutting edge process for isolating and extracting terpenes to be added to cannabis products.

What are terpenes? 00:12
Benefits of terpenes 01:43
Extraction and isolation of terpenes 02:36
Regulations of Terpene Additives 5:50

As more states make the push to legalize cannabis products, people across the country are becoming more and more familiar with the cannabinoids THC, and CBD – two natural compounds that are found in cannabis. While cannabinoids have dominated much of the conversation around cannabis products, there is another equally important compound that hasn’t received as much publicity – terpenes.

Terpenes are organic compounds that are produced naturally by plants and are responsible for the plant’s unique scent and flavor. Because of the potent scents that terpenes produce, plants rely on these compounds for signaling purposes, whether it’s to ward off would-be predators or attract potential pollinators.

Terpenes are found most commonly in plants like conifers, cannabis and citrus, however, they can also be found in different species of insects as well as in some mammals. In humans, terpenes are produced biosynthetically meaning that they form naturally within the body. These antimicrobial, antiviral terpenes can be critically important as they are capable of helping the body destroy bacteria, detoxify, relax and ultimately achieve homeostasis.

When terpenes are paired with the aforementioned cannabinoids THC and CBD, the trio produces what is known as an entourage effect. When these compounds come together, they can create beneficial effects that might not be achieved with just one cannabinoid. It is also important to note that minor cannabinoids like CBG and CBN play a huge role in this entourage effect as well.

Because of the beneficial entourage effect, many cannabis companies are interested in adding extracted terpenes to their CBD and THC products. While terpenes are found throughout nature – most commonly in conifers – many state laws restrict non-cannabis terpenes from being added to cannabis products. Unfortunately, because of how delicate these compounds are, the extraction of terpenes from a cannabis plant is not something just anyone can do. This is, of course, where Precision Extraction Solutions comes in.

The main issue with safely extracting terpenes stems from the fact that they are prone to degradation and their molecular structure is easily altered with heat. At the end of the process, extractors are left with a soupy mixture of terpenes and solvent. This is why Precision uses light hydrocarbons such as propane and butane to extract terpenes. Since propane and butane have such a low boiling point, very light heat can be used to remove the solvent without adversely affecting the terpene’s molecular structure.

Thanks to the extensive research we have done at Precision Extraction Solutions, these incredibly beneficial terpenes can be separated from the major cannabinoid constituents of a cannabis concentrate and added to a full suite of cannabis products, further increasing value propositions for cannabis businesses.

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