Hydrocarbon Extractions: What About Quick Wash Ethanol Extraction (QWET)?

hydrocarbon extractions
Written by Cara Wietstock

Just like every other extraction solvent, there are benefits and downsides to using ethanol to craft hydrocarbon extractions.

Butane is one of the most commonly used hydrocarbons in the cannabis extraction industry. This is probably because it allows the extractor to preserve the beloved terpene profile without bringing along undesirables like plant metabolites and chlorophyll. This is due to butane’s non-polarity. Many people prefer butane extractions to hydrocarbon extractions or supercritical extractions.

hydrocarbon extractions

The reason that ethanol isn’t one of the first methods used for hydrocarbon extractions. Ethanol is a polar solvent, so it tends to mix readily with water while also dissolving water soluble molecules. Given these variables, chlorophyll and other undesirable plant matter is dissolved into the extraction. This produces an end product that is darker in color than most patients prefer. It will also create an extraction that tastes like plant matter. Despite this hiccup, some extractors have been able to develop methods that extract the cannabinoids and terpenes with fewer lipids and chlorophyll. Many labs use Quick Wash Ethanol Extraction (QWET) to get the best results with this solvent.

One of the coolest things about using ethanol for hydrocarbon extractions is that the solvent purged from the extraction can be reused. This eliminates the production of chemical waste pouring from the extraction industry. Butane has also become much more expensive since the extraction industry blew up. Ethanol can be a more viable option for a startup extraction lab with a tighter budget.

Much like the growing industry, cannabis extraction connoisseurs and extraction artists all have their own preference for what type of wax is best. Although many agree that they prefer butane extractions or BHO, ethanol extracts may have a place in cannabis culture.


What is your favorite type of extraction? Do you prefer to dab certain extracts, vape others, etc? Tell us everything in the comments.

Cover from Skunk Farm Research LLC.

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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