While the cannabinoids found in cannabis may be the stars of the show, terpenes are no doubt a close second. These compounds are what give something like Lemon Haze its telltale citrus aroma and Wedding Cake its sweet finish, but terpenes are found throughout the plant world. Beyond noteworthy aromatics and flavor, terpenes have all-out ignited the botanical world due to therapeutic potential.
As therapeutic and popular as terpenes may be, these compounds are relatively delicate—the wrong moves during extraction can destroy both quality and therapeutic potential. While researchers have found a few ways to extract terpenes from plant matter, including cannabis, one specific method is proving to be quite popular: steam distillation.
Why Terpene Extraction Is Valuable
Extracting terpenes from any kind of plant isolates the valuable compounds, so they can be consumed on their own or used in product formulations. Unlike cannabinoids, terpenes don’t necessarily get you high, which means a lot of people seek isolated terpenes purely for their therapeutic potential. Some of the terpenes that have been examined most extensively for therapeutic properties include:
Each of these terpenes has been found to have desirable qualities. For example, pinene may offer protection for the gastrointestinal system and help with anxiety. Linalool, likewise, may help with anxiety, and myrcene may help with certain types of pain.
How to Extract Terpenes Through Steam Distillation
As noted, terpenes can be extracted in a few ways, but the compounds are not as structurally sound as cannabinoids, so they break down easily. While cannabinoids can be extracted in a number of ways, including through heat and with the use of a range of solvents, terpenes require gentler handling. Steam distillation, which can also be referred to as vacuum steam distillation, makes that gentle handling possible. If you have ever wondered how to extract terpenes from fruit, steam distillation is one plausible way to do just that.
Steam distillation uses a combination of gentle pressure and steam to extract terpenes without breaking down their structures. Essentially, the process involves using vapor pressure to pull out the terpenes and separate them from other components in the plant. The terpenes are then captured and collected for further processing. Steam distillation is not just used with cannabis; the process is common with other plants as well. For example, steam-distilled terpenes are commonly used for aromatherapy products. The processing is also commonly used to capture refined terpenes for use in food-grade products.
What’s CO2 terpenes extraction and how does it differ from distillation?
CO2 extraction involves using supercritical CO2 solvents to extract terpenes. CO2 extraction is a bit more high-tech, but can also be used to extract terpenes because the process can be tuned to prevent damage to the terpenes. Unlike steam distillation, CO2 extraction is commonly used to pull out various plant components because multiple facets of the process are adjustable to affect different constituents.
Find High-Quality Terpenes and Terpene-Rich Cannabis Products
Whether you are ready to try solely terpenes or a terpene-rich cannabis product, be sure to check out our menu at In Good Health. We offer a diverse collection of products at our dispensaries, including steam-distilled terpenes for therapeutic use.