Oil extraction: Green Oil Machine

The Green Oil Machine, known by its users as the GOM, is more efficient and handles larger quantities than the Cannolator. To my mind the GOM is the best bit of kit for this job this side of a fully equipped commercial lab – and it’s easy. You can get one from the Green Oil Machine site for $229.

To extract oil with the GOM you’ll need the following things in addition to your cannabis…

  1. A Green Oil Machine
  2. A couple of pints (or more, depending on how much cannabis you want to process) of high-proof (95-98%, 190+ proof) ethyl alcohol. (Remember, NOT denatured ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol – this is VERY important!)
  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. Optional: sunflower lecithin to help blending
  5. A sieve and some coffee filter or kitchen oil filter papers
  6. Half a dozen dropper bottles, 1/3 oz (10ml) or 2/3oz (20ml) size
  7. A silicone spatula

Chop up your cannabis. I use a food processor for this, but remember you’re not trying to ‘blend’ anything, just a light shred and chop to help the alcohol get to every part of the plant material. If you pulverize it you’ll have a tougher, longer, more boring job when it is time to filter the solids from the alcohol, and it won’t noticeably boost the amount of oil you extract.

Put the shredded cannabis into a large jar and add enough of your high-proof alcohol to fully cover everything plus two inches – be generous. You can do a ‘short soak’ of two or three minutes or a longer one of – well, as long as you like, really! Longer soaks will pull out more chlorophyl and plant waxes, so the result will need a bit more filtering and is likely to taste a bit more ‘plant-y,’ but this can be a good way to get more out of the stuff in a second soak. Yes, once you’ve soaked stuff once you can get a fair bit more out of it by doing a second whole soak process! Anyway, back to this one…

Pour it through a sieve or strainer to take out the plant material bulk, then pour the green alcohol through a coffee filter or kitchen oil filter a couple of times. This can take quite a while, and you’ll need to pour it through bit by bit. The first pass through the filter will leave a sludgy residue at the bottom, but the second pass should end up with almost nothing left behind. You could pass it through a filter a third time if you see residue left in the second one but I find that filter number two is generally clear.

How’s your patience holding up? It’s not required but if you have time and it’s nice and sunny you could put the green alcohol in a clear glass jar and leave it in direct sunlight for some hours. The UV in the sunlight helps to break down some of the chlorophyl in the liquid, turning the color a little more brown than its initial emerald green. This can help reduce the green taste a bit, but it does seem to need strong non-Winter sun.

Now that you’ve strained and filtered the alcohol, pour it into the GOM. Put the lid back on, connect the lid’s power cable to the socket in the side of the GOM’s body, then hook that up to power. Put the rubber outlet hose into a large bottle; the alcohol that boils off is cooled enough to return to liquid form, so you can actually reclaim some of what you use. In my experience this recaptures about 60-70%, which is great. (I’m going to try covering the bottle top with foil to ‘mostly-but-not-entirely’ close it off to help reduce evaporation of the warm alcohol as it trickles into the bottle. If you do this, don’t seal it entirely!)

Set the temperature to 100° celcius (That’s 212°f of course, but the GOM is marked in C. This is the highest it will go with the retaining screw in place, so that’s easy) and watch the temperature dial. It will settle lower than 100°C because the alcohol boils at a lower point than water. When almost all the alcohol has been evaporated the temperature will edge upwards. AS SOON as this happens turn off the power, or you’ll end up sorta-baking the oil to the stainless steel surface.

Lift the lid, starting at the far side so any hot vapor escapes away from you, then get a spatula and scoop up the thick oil that’s at the bottom. (I put it into the heatproof glass beaker that came with my Cannolator, but you can use anything that’s okay with heat.) To get the last of the oil out try adding a little bit of your carrier oil and scraping it about with your spatula until you can either scoop it up or pour it out.

The last step before adding a carrier oil is a final purge to ensure all the alcohol has been evaporated. This isn’t strictly necessary (you’re using non-poisonous ethyl alcohol, right?) but it’s a useful step all the same. One method is to put the grille that came with the GOM inside the device, add enough water to sit up around the base of your container, and set it running with the lid off. Make sure the container won’t fall over! Another method is to do the same thing with a saucepan on a stove, with something inside to keep your container from sitting directly on the saucepan’s base. The water in the saucepan (or GOM if you use that) should be high enough to properly reach the container but not enough to make it float (and risk toppling over).

Me? I use a baby bottle warmer and that glass beaker that came with the Cannolator that I bought some time before I got the GOM. I recommend this over the other methods as there’s zero chance of it falling over into the water and it is really quick and effective.

This is pictured on a stove but that’s irrelevant. The glass beaker sits in a small amount of water in the bottle warmer. That heats up, which heats the oil in the beaker and finishes boiling off any residual alcohol. This is the safest and easiest method I’ve found.

When the oil first heats up it will make bubbles as the residual alcohol is purged. When smaller bubbles start forming instead (and when the bubbles start building up) it’s just the oil left. Now is when you can add your carrier oil.

Eyeball the amount of oil in your beaker to check how much you made. It’s actually easiest to think in metric terms! You’re likely to get a bit over 1ml for every 10g of cannabis – perhaps up to 2ml for high-quality buds, closer to just 1ml if you’re using nothing but basic ‘trim.’ Whatever you think you have, use about five times that amount (5:1 ratio) of your carrier oil. Keep warming it and stir to mix the cannabis oil ‘tar’ with the carrier oil. You can add a small amount of sunflower lechithin (perhaps half a teaspoon per 1/2oz or 15ml of final blended oil?) to help it blend. I do this, but it’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.

Read the Dosing post to see how much you should think about taking.

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