On 4/6 I had the pleasure of speaking at Women Grow Philly at Benjamin’s Desk in Center City.  What a great space! It was certainly one of the more vibrant places I’ve spoken!

With a group of about 50 people, I discussed a topic that I’ve spoken about before, but with a different perspective. When speaking about plant production, usually I’m giving a well rounded, 360 view of the process from building set up to harvest. This time, since PA is really focusing on extraction,  I geared 80% of the presentation on the processing that takes place after harvest.

There is a lot of interest surrounding the specifics of the extraction process and the methods that processors have to choose between, like CO2 vs hydrocarbon, so we talked about a few of the pros and cons that could make one better than the other for your specific operation.  I always reiterate that it’s not realistic to give a blanket response about one being better than the other, and the decision of which method of employ will depend on a few things. Here are the top 3:

  1. What products are you planning to produce for sale? Hydrocarbon is better for waxes and shatters whereas CO2 is better for vape cartridges (just to scratch the surface).
  2. What are your production demands? The amount of material you intend to process and the set up of your production line will steer you one way or the other.
  3. What does your P&L need to say? Capital investment and production capacity can vary wildly depending on your setup, so the company’s vision, mission, and operation must all align. 

An Apeks Supercritical CO2 Extractor

A Precision PX1 Closed-Loop Hydrocarbon Extractor


A few more takeaways:

  • Both CO2 and Hydrocarbon (BHO) extraction can be safely done with the right equipment and the right professionals.
  • CO2 is perceived as safer than hydrocarbon since CO2 doesn’t explode, though asphyxiation becomes a risk at high levels.
  • Closed-loop hydrocarbon extractors like the PX1 by Precision (pictured) are the gold standard in the industry which prevent any solvent or hydrocarbon from being released into the room or atmosphere.
  • Regulations are quickly evolving to force all extraction to be done within a Class 1 Division 1 room – a special classification as defined by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Publication 70, National Electric Code® (NEC) in Articles 500 to 506 and subsequently adopted by OSHA. These rooms are explosion-proof and become wind tunnels at the flip of the switch or activation of a sensor to evacuate anything potentially hazardous.

If you’d like to get a visual of the concept of airflow evacuation of a class 1 division 1 room, you can view the demo below. It demonstrates a contaminant being released in the air (think butane) and then instantly being evacuated by the system within the room.

Thank you again to Women Grow and Stephanie Thomas – I look forward to the next time!

-Brian Staffa