Ethanol CBD Extraction Equipment Compared (Pros & Cons)

Ethanol extraction is the most efficient CBD oil extraction process in the industry. Its popularity and preference stems from its ability to create large quantities of high-quality CBD at a lower production cost. The process is also safer than other methods since it creates zero vapor pressure, and is less flammable than hydrocarbon extraction.

Process Overview

• Ethanol is one of the best solvents to extract CBD oil on a massive scale. Ideally, this method is used on an industrial scale when producing ten thousand plus pounds a day.

• To extract CBD from the hemp plant, this process starts by soaking the raw plant in ethanol to pull the trichomes, or small hairs and outgrowths located in the exterior of the plant, into the solvent. Industrial hemp is left to soak in alcohol or ethanol until it extracts the all cannabinoids.

• The next step is to remove the hemp plant pieces, filter the liquid, and purge the alcohol from the extracted product using evaporation.

• This process requires more work than others to identify the proper filtration and refinement methods.

• The post-process procedures are winterization and decarboxylation. Winterization is the removal of terpenoids, fatty acids, chlorophyll, plant materials, and unwanted cannabinoids from the CBD extract, while decarboxylation is the process that activates CBD components.


• Ethanol extraction requires proper equipment, proper mass balance, and proper post-process procedures. Post -process procedures include verifying the process did not extract the desired cannabinoids and ensuring the purity of the CBD oil.

• This process needs high-proof ethanol to minimize potential damage to the cannabinoids, and a suspension liquid to prevent oxidation and other damages.

• There are different CBD extraction machines options available when using the ethanol extraction method. These include the turnkey extraction systems, centrifuge extractors, molecular distillation systems, crystallization reactors, and chromatography equipment.

Popular Machines

• KPD Series Vulcan by Precision Extraction: Vulcan was designed for industrial hemp or cannabis processing. It allows the re-proofing of the product, retaining the solvent, and yielding maximization of the product through ethanol extraction. The machine is also easily scalable.

• Cannabis Oil Centrifuge Extractor by Cedarstone: This machine was designed to extract cannabinoids with low-temperature ethanol. The machine can be configured based on production requirements, operates at high-speeds, is easy to maintain and operate, and has excellent safety features.

◦ The SpinMatic150 and the SpinMatic250 produce between 600 and 1,000 pounds per day and use between 35 and 70 gallons of ethanol per batch. Each batch has an average running time of 15-30 minutes.


• Ethanol is fantastic for scaled extraction, because it creates zero vapor pressure, meaning the team working on the process is not operating under pressure of leaks or explosion.

• It is less flammabe than hydrocarbon extraction and, for its zero vapor pressure, it is safer than CO2, and in general, a safe solvent recognized by the FDA, so it’s less likely to cause explosions or hurt the employees by suffocation.

• Cost for an ethanol CBD extraction machine runs in the middle range between CO2 extraction being the most expensive and the cheapest being hydrocarbon extraction. However, after the initial purchase investment, the cost of production is cheaper than the other two methods mentioned.

• Ethanol extraction is the best method to produce high-potency cannabinoid products that are 99% pure, and simple CBD or CBD oil. Hydrocarbon extraction is better if the result requires terpenes and CBD more similar to the one found in the original plant.

• Ethanol extraction is the most efficient industrially, as it allows for extracting thousands of pounds of pure cannabinoid per day, with a focus on extracting high-quality CBD, requires minimum interventions to check on the conditions, and a single machine.

• It is the easiest extraction process for those starting in the CBD industry, as it allows obtaining more product on a small scale, and it is easily scalable.


• Ethanol is an extremely polar solvent, and as such, if it is not measured correctly and left too long, it may dissolve other valuable and beneficial compounds from the plant, and not only the ones desired.

• Ethanol extraction equipment is more expensive than hydrocarbon extraction equipment.

• Ethanol extraction might dissolve desired terpenes and deliver a purer product, losing the essence of the plant.

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