Cannabis Oil Distillation FAQ




1. About B/R

B/R Instrument started in 1966 making spinning band distillation systems under a DuPont patent.  B/R stands for the initials of the founders Mr. Brown and Mr. Roark –B/R.  B/R’s / customer to distill cannabis oil was Mississippi State in 1998.  They were the / licensed lab in the USA.

Our factory is located in Easton Maryland USA on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.


THC distillate

2. What purity of THC distillate can we expect from a spinning band?

Spinning band distillation routinely creates high potency THC distillate in the 95+% total cannabinoid range – in a single pass.  Advanced operators can reach even higher potencies of 98% to 99% total cannabinoid content.

3. How long does THC Distillation take?

The smaller spinning band systems (1-5 liters) can distill in the 200- 500 ml/hour range.  The larger spinning band systems(12-50 liters) can distill crude cannabis extract in the 0.7 to 1.5 liters per hour.

4. How many passes are needed with spinning band?

Spinning band routinely makes high potency distillate in a single pass.  Wiped film and short path need 2 and probably 3 passes to make THC distillate.  The potency will be lower and cleaning will be needed between each pass.  Spinning band is much faster than wiped film or short path distillation.


NRTL listing

5. Does Spinning Band have a safety listing?

Yes, the complete spinning band distillation system has received an approved listing from a Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory.    Not only are all the components of this distillation systems approved, the system as a whole is approved. NRTL approved equipment makes investors, fire marshals, insurers and employees happy.


6. Does quality of the crude extract make a difference?

Oh and how.  If the crude extract has low potency then the THC distillate potency will be lower than normal.

Distillation can refine oil but it can’t fully compensate for:

  • poor growing/harvesting technique (low cannabinoid trim/stem)
  • bad extraction
  • insufficient winterization
  • post extraction treatment mistakes


7. What is winterization? Do I need to winterize?

Winterization is the cold filtering of crude cannabis extract to remove fats and waxes.

Extraction Method Is winterization required? Comments
Butane Yes  
CO2 Hell yes. CO2 may bring over up to 15% fats and waxes.
Ethanol -60 °C and above Yes  
Ethanol below -60 °C Minimal winterization is needed. Most fats and waxes aren’t soluble in ethanol at these temperatures.

Fats and waxes reduce potency and gives vape cartridges and dabs an off taste.  The THC distillate can look “streaky” and less transparent.


8. Do I need to decarb? 

Decarbing is the transformation of THCA (not psychoactive) to THC (psychoactive) during heating of crude extract. The loss of the acid group gives off CO2 gas.

Distillation Type Decarb Before Distillation? Comments
Wiped Film Absolutely yes Failure to decarb before distillation will lead to spattering and low potency distillate.
Short Path Yes Failure to decarb before distillation will result in “muffining” which will permanently halt the distillation.
Spinning Band No need to Decarbing is done automatically  during the distillation.  No need to perform a separate decarb step. No spattering or muffining to worry about!


distillation system for cannabis oil

9. Is spinning band automatically controlled?


Spinning band distillation is controlled automatically by a PC.  Functions such as vacuum, condenser temperature, sample heating, automatic shut down and more are controlled.  Automation greatly reduces operator interaction (less manpower) and reduces the chance for costly mistakes caused by lack of attention.

Additionally, the distillation process is fully logged and graphed.  Feedback from logs helps improve future distillations.


10. Automatic distillation is out of my price range.  What about less expensive options?


B/R also makes a manually operated spinning band system for making THC distillate. The manually operated systems require more operator attention than the automatic system, but produces the same high purity THC in a single pass. Manual systems can be easily upgraded later.


11. Is the spinning band a turnkey distillation system?

Yes. Your spinning band distillation system will come with everything needed to distill cannabis extracts and produce high potency THC distillate. Expert trainers will come to your facility and have you up and running the / day.


12. Will there be any thermal degradation of the cannabinoids?

It’s a myth that fractional distillation will degrade cannabinoids. Spinning band customers compare before and after analyses of their oils and don’t see thermal degradation products.


13. Does B/R make its own glassware?

The glassware for B/R distillation systems is made in-house by our glassblowing team led by a master glassblower.  In-house glassblowing lets us react quickly to spare part requests and allows us to keep tight control over quality.


14. Are terpenes collected with spinning band distillation?

Yes. Terpenes are collected in both the fraction collector and the stainless steel cold trap. Terpenes are volatile compounds that distill in the early stages of the distillation. The B/R 9200 is capable of producing high quality terpenes that can be used for a variety of products.

The quality of the terpenes is influenced by the time between harvesting and extracting, the type/conditions of extraction and if the sample is decarbed before distillation in the presence of oxygen and heat.