Are you looking to compete in the cannabis industry on a shoe string budget? The secret is, you don’t have to have expensive technology to produce premium cannabis products. Instead of following the latest trends, think outside the box and keep the money in your pocket. Running a successful cannabis business is about getting a return on investment, and the faster this happens the better. In this series we will look at several tips on how to compete successfully in cannabis with as little investment as possible

Tip #1 – How to winterize an ethanol extraction without an expensive chiller or cryogenic freezer

So you finally bought your ethanol extraction system but it didn’t come with all the components to get that ultra low temp required for winterization. Or maybe you bought something mounted in a freezer that takes over night to chill with only enough capacity for one run. What a waste. No worries though, you can do it WITHOUT a chiller or cryogenic freezer for under $2,000!

First off, why would you want to?

Cannabis winterization equipment can be one of the most expensive parts of any cannabis extraction system. Your not only dealing with the equipment itself but also the significant amount of power consumption it can take. So if the initial investment doesn’t kill you the electrical bill might. Oh yea, and consuming all your buildings power on a chiller so there is nothing left to run the lights isn’t good either.

So what do you do? You use liquid nitrogen. Here is what you will need.

  1. A standard -10F chest freezer. If you can’t find a used one on Craigslist for a few hundred dollars a new one may set you back a thousand, but still pocket change compared to the alternative.
  2. 10 liter Dewars for storing liquid nitrogen. You can typically find these on, Alibaba .com and Amazon for a few hundred dollars. You don’t need a fancy one since you will be storing it all in the chest freezer.
  3. Liquid nitrogen. Liquid nitrogen is readily available at local gas suppliers like Praxair and Airgas

The cannabis winterization process

  1. Start by storing all your solvent and material in the chest freezer. This will save on the nitrogen. Buy only enough liquid nitrogen to last a couple days so it doesn’t evaporate. Storing in the freezer will help. When your ready to run, pour the total amount of solvent you plan to use in an adequate container and add the liquid nitrogen until it hits the desired temperature. Typically -40F is as cold as you need. Anything below -60F is just being wasteful. 0.5 liter per gallon when the starting temp is -10 will typically do the job.
  2. Chill the material. Since you won’t be able to pump the liquid nitrogen you will need to chill your material before loading into your machine. With you material in an adequate container, pour the liquid nitrogen directly into the material little by little and stir until desired temperature is reached.

If your looking for an option to load your material first, CRCfilters EP-05 ethanol extraction and purification system utilizes a vacuum pump that can pull the liquid nitrogen directly into a loaded column. Their system is affordable, easy to use and comes with operating procedures for production of high quality products.

So what if you need to winterize previously extracted CO2 oil? The concept is the same but since you have already extracted the unwanted fats and waxes along with your oil you will need a filtration system. You could use the CRCfilters EP-05 or find an adequate system with an explosion proof pump.

  1. Dilute your oil in ethanol. Somewhere around 5 gallons per pound of oil should be good. Make sure the oil is fully dissolved. To ensure dissolving, it is beneficial to do this step at room temperature.
  2. Chill the solution. You can place your solution in your -10 chest freezer overnight to pre-chill or if your in a hurry, go directly with the liquid nitrogen. Be aware that chilling 5 gallons of solution from room temp all the way to -40F may take closer to 4 liters per gallon.
  3. Filter out the coagulated fats and waxes

The cost and benefit

Typically running liquid nitrogen for an ethanol extraction will cost somewhere around .15 to .20 cents per gram of product produced depending on yeild. The average processor could run nearly two years before equaling the cost of the equipment required to take its place. Even if your ultimate goal is to have a chiller or chryo freezer, this process will allow you to begin seeing profits without the initial burden and stress of an upfront investment. Make money before you spend it!


Stay tuned for more money saving tips for beginners and start-ups

Written by Arthur Paul – 3/2021