Cannabis Oil Products – A Time Line

How are THC/CBD products such as vape cartridges, dabs and edibles created?


cannabis distillation time line

              Grow It

growing cannabisIt all starts with “the grow”.  Most cannabis grows are done in a controlled room. Light, water, temperature and other environmental factors are carefully regulated to maximize cannabinoid production. Cannabis plant genetics are also selected to produce the desired cannabinoid profile and concentration. Harvesting is timed with the peak cannabinoid production. The primary product is the “bud” or flower which contains the most cannabinoids and terpenes. Leaves are trimmed from the bud. These trimmings contain less cannabinoids than the bud. After harvest and trimming, the bud and trim are allowed to dry.



              Extract It

cannabis oil extractionThe next step is to extract the cannabinoids.  The three main types of extraction are hydrocarbon, ethanol, and CO2. The extraction process produces crude extract containing terpenes, cannabinoids, and fats/waxes. If the solvent was a hydrocarbon, the crude extract normally needs to be purged to remove the residual solvent. If the solvent was ethanol, it is convenient to immediately move into the winterization step.


          Winterize It

winterize and filter cannabis extractWinterization is the cold filtering of crude extract to remove the fats and waxes.  Fats and waxes cause “off” flavors and add viscosity.  Typically a product will be dissolved in ethanol and then winterized several times, each time using a progressively smaller pore size filter.  Filtering also removes residual plant material from the extraction step.



             Distill It

cannabis oil distillationThe winterized oil is then distilled to remove terpenes, volatiles, and residual oils.  The three main types of distillation are spinning band distillation, short path and wiped film.  Spinning band is a fractional distillation capable of producing high purity THC/CBD distillate in a single pass.  Short path is an “introductory” methods that can make acceptable distillate but requires at least 2 passes.  Wiped film can also make acceptable distillate in 2 to 3 passes.


            Package It

package for dabs or vapeFor edibles, the distillate must be free of terpenes.  Nobody wants their THC brownie to smell or taste like weed!

If the distillate is transparent and light in color, it is a good candidate for vape cartridges or dabbing.  Add a few percent of high quality terpenes back into the oil and fill your cartridges.



  1. Hi, I need to know about viscosity of cannabis oil for edible product. please let me know if you have any information about that. I can find specific viscosity for the other oil at room temperature but not specific for cannabis.



    1. I am sorry, I do not know of anywhere to obtain that information. The viscosity changes greatly based on concentration and composition. High purity (~90% cannabinoids) are typically completely solid at room temperature. Around 80% purity, the oils can be poured without heating, but are still thicker than honey or syrup.


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