BHO Extractions: What’s Up With Hydrocarbons

BHO extractions
Written by Cara Wietstock

Hydrocarbon extractions are nothing new to the world, but what do BHO extractions mean for cannabis?

Butane hash oil (BHO) has earned a bad reputation in cannabis culture that is so heavily focused on the cleanest solvents. But these same critics will burn a bowl of cannabis with a butane lighter without a thought. The idea that BHO extractions aren’t clean comes from ignorance. When properly made, butane hash oil can be the cleanest and most cost effective extraction method around.

BHO Extractions


A BHO Extraction is made with butane, propane, or a mix of both hydrocarbon solvents. In cannabis extracts, solvents are used to remove the essential oils from the plant. This includes terpenes, vitamins, antioxidants, and cannabinoids. BHO is the most efficient and cost effective mode of extraction.

On average, an extraction cycle with BHO lasts less than an hour. It takes about 8 – 10 hours to undergo a C02 supercritical extraction cycle. Also, a 5 lb. material professional BHO extraction costs around $35,000. A supercritical C02 extraction system costs more than $100,000. These differences in time and startup cost make BHO a better extraction for a new extract lab entering the space.

A professional closed loop BHO extraction system is also quite safe provided its in a controlled lab environment. The essential oils of cannabis can attach easily to hydrocarbon solvents. That’s why BHO extractions require very low pressures. Though butane and propane are both highly combustible, the BHO extraction is exceptionally safe. Essentially, if there’s no flame, there’s no risk of combustion.

BHO extractions


Certified closed loop BHO extraction systems are also consumer safe. All butane and propane solvents are completely reclaimed in the process. None of them are released into the atmosphere. Whatever isn’t removed will be cooked off in post processing.

Though it is newer to the decades-old traditions of cannabis, hydrocarbon extraction isn’t new to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Hexane solvent is used to extract tons of oils and flavor extracts that we use in our homes every day. There is no reason to fear butane and propane extractions.


About the author

Cara Wietstock

Cara began working in the retail cannabis industry of San Francisco, CA in 2011 and continued in that sector for years. In 2015 she dedicated herself to writing full-time. Her passion for the written word and deep respect for the healing properties of the plant have brought her to Terpenes and Testing magazine. She now helps keep us on the cutting edge of scientific cannabis discovery as the Editor-in-Chief of the print publication.

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