Oil extraction: Cannolator

The Cannolator Extractor is a slightly ‘weird science’ looking thing, but it’s a relatively quick and effective way to make smaller amounts of cannabis oil. The Cannolator kit costs roughly $100/€100/£90. You will almost certainly have to order it from Holland, I haven’t seen it elsewhere. Try Dutch Head Shop or Health Treatments or search online.

You’ll need the following things in addition to your cannabis…

  1. A Cannolator Extractor kit, as shown above
  2. A pint or so of high-proof (95-98%, 190+ proof) ethyl alcohol. (Remember, NOT denatured ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol!)
  3. A ‘carrier oil’ such as good olive oil or ‘MCT’ oil, which is coconut oil treated to stay liquid and be extra healthy. (Please steer clear of MCT oil that includes palm oil, for the good of the planet.)
  4. A dropper bottle, 1/3 oz or 10ml size (should be included in the Cannolator kit)

Pack up to about 2/3 of an ounce (20 grammes) of chopped plant material into a tall test tube and place that in the Cannolator stand. Put the glass beaker from the Cannolator kit underneath the test tube and pour enough of your ethyl alcohol to completely cover the shredded cannabis. For the full recommended 2/3 oz/20g quantity this means roughly half a cup or 120ml of alcohol.

The small hole in the bottom of the test tube lets the alcohol – now bright green from the plant oils – pour out in a thin stream into your beaker. When it’s done I then put a finger over the hole, pour the beaker’s contents back into the test tube, replace the beaker and let it pour through once more. This helps maximize the extraction.

This has a Dutch language sound track, but don’t worry, it is fully described step by step in English text in the video.

Next, put some water into the baby bottle warmer that came as part of the Cannolator (I said it was a bit weird science!), pop the beaker in the top, and set it to full heat. There’s a small air pump included in the kit; put the end of the pump’s rubber hose just in the beaker’s opening to help with evaporation. Alcohol and especially alcohol vapor is highly flammable, so do this somewhere well ventilated and away from any naked flames!

After a few minutes the alcohol will start to evaporate. It may take an hour or so to fully evaporate this. What you’ll be left with is a small amount of very sticky, tarry gunge at the bottom of the beaker. When the tiny bubbles change to slightly larger ones the alcohol will be fully evaporated and your oil is extracted. (You don’t need to worry about evaporating every molecule of alcohol out of this, so don’t worry if you’re not sure.)

At this point you could use a small needleless syringe to suck up the oil and squirt out doses on demand – BUT I find dosing neat oil accurately to be hugely difficult. The difference between one or two ‘rice grain’ amounts can be significant – as in feeling very relaxed vs feeling utterly bombed! That’s why I mix it with a carrier oil. Another good reason to use a carrier oil is that it is increasingly reckoned to help the bioavailability of the cannabinoids – in other words by ingesting it mixed in a carrier oil your body is able to make more effective use of the amount you take.

Eyeball the amount of oil in your beaker (it’ll probably be about 2 milliliters or less – metric is easier at these sizes!) and add about five times this amount of your carrier oil. Keep warming it in the bottle warmer and stir to mix the small amount of ‘tar’ with the carrier oil. You can add a small (1/4 teaspoon) bit of sunflower lechithin to help it blend, but that’s not critical if you heat and stir enough. When it’s done, pour the blended mixture into your dropper bottle. That’s it, you’re done! Remember to clean up your kit.

You’ll probably have a bit of sticky neat cannabis oil ‘tar’ on whatever you were using to stir things around. Feel free to consume it, but be careful: an amount the size of a match head could leave you locked to your couch for the rest of the day.

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