Extraction Yield Considerations

5 Critical Extraction Yield Considerations

If you’re maintaining and planning the operations of an extraction facility, it’s important to be able to efficiently and quickly calculate potential yields that your lab may produce from specific lots of biomass. In fact, it’s one of the most important pieces of data to enable a successful operation.

In the sections below you will learn all about the variables that play a role in accurately calculating your crude and distillate yields. 

1. Biomass Potency

Biomass potency varies widely across different farms and cultivars. Given this fact, and that this piece of information will determine your overall yields more than any other factor – potency is by far the most important piece to consider. 

When purchasing biomass, assessing the biomass on a dollar / mg or gram of cannabinoid basis is perhaps the most accurate form of assessing the cost of your inputs.

A final consideration that is often overlooked, is that 1-2% of the cannabinoids will always remain in the biomass after extraction, with the exception of perhaps powder milled material – which our next point will cover while this fine of a mill is not recommend.

This means than generally if one batch of biomass has a potency of 10%, you can easily get 80-90% yields (% of cannabinoids extracted compared to total cannabinoids in biomass)However, if another batch of biomass has a potency of only 4%, you will probably never attain yields higher than 75%.

2. Milling Your Biomass

How finely you mill your biomass is going to play a large role in how quickly extraction can occur. In other words, the finer you mill your biomass, the more surface area is available. The more surface area available, the quicker the ethanol will dissolve the cannabinoids.

However, an important consideration is that there are also compounds within the biomass that we do not want to extract if we can help it. A lot of these compounds are found within the cells of the plants, and it would cause a lot of unnecessary refining to obtain cannabinoids if we were to mill the biomass so fine (powder milled for example) that we break the cell wall and subject our solvent to these undesirables as well.  

This is primarily why there is an optimal window for mill size, and we recommend somewhere approximately around 1/4” particle sizes.

One other very important factor the mill of your biomass is going to directly affect is the amount of biomass you can fit in each CUP bag, which determines how many lbs. / extractions you can process overall. 

3. Total Extraction Time

The time in which it takes you to perform an entire extraction cycle is going to directly determine how many extractions you can perform in any given work shift. However, you may make the mistake of calculating your throughput like this:  

  1. Each CUP-30 system extraction cycle is 20 minutes in total, 
  2. And each CUP-30 bag will hold 30 lbs of biomass. 
  3. So, 60 minutes / 20 minutes = 3x extractions 
  4. Lab run time: 8 hours a day; 8 x 3 = 24 extraction per day 24 x 30  
  5. = 720 lbs extracted every 8 hours and every day  

Firstly, this calculation, while a good estimate if normalized / adjusted, does not consider many other important factors 

One of which we already mentionedhow fine you mill your biomass, is going to directly affect how many pounds per CUP-30 bag you can fit. And thereforehow many pounds of biomass you can extract per cycle.  

The bag can hold up to 30 pounds but depending on your milling process etc., you may have bags that range from 20-30 pounds and this will greatly affect your overall calculations. 

Secondly, this calculation did not consider any downtime, and this can come in many forms in a properly run lab: 

  • Maintenance  
  • General Cleaning  
  • Chilling solvent in batches 
  • Pre-freezing biomass  
  • Re-chilling solvent if necessary  

All of which should be considered and understood if youre attempting to calculate over all yields and throughputs precisely.  

4. Solvent Temperature

The mill size of your biomass as discussed above, along with your solvents temperature, are the two most important factors that are going to determine the amount of time required for an efficient extraction to take place. 

The colder your solvent, the slower it will be at dissolving your target cannabinoids. But cold extraction also comes with its upsides as well. Using cold ethanol, in contrast to room temp or warm ethanol, will allow you to selectively pick up your fat-soluble desirable compounds before it grabs the less desirable water-soluble compounds.

5. Ethanol Loss Per Extraction

For each ethanol extraction you perform it is inevitable that you will lose some ethanol and therefore a bit of cannabinoid lost in the solution.

The centrifugal capabilities of the CUP system allow you to ensure that youre getting the maximum amount of ethanol removed from your biomass (98%+ of the ethanol present). This ensures that youre consistently capturing the maximum amount of cannabinoids per extraction and optimizing your labs yield.