3 Minute Quick Wash Isopropyl Alcohol Extraction (QWISO)
Isopropyl Alcohol is an excellent solvent for extracting cannabinoids. There are multiple methods of extraction using solvents, here we are going to focus solely on the “short soak” or “quick wash” method using 99.9% Isopropyl Alcohol.
In the traditional long soak process, alcohol (and water) stays in contact with the plant material for up to months at a time. As alcohol is a polar solvent, this technique also extracts water soluble materials like chlorophyll and various plant alkaloids and waxes into your final product.
Using a quick wash involving only brief contact with the solvent, cannabinoids can be separated from the plant material while leaving behind most of the water-soluble materials and keeping them out of your final product. The quick wash method will still extract some impurities, but they can be quickly and easily filtered off.
A quick note on Isopropyl Alcohol: The higher purity of alcohol that is used, the lower amount of water-soluble materials will be pulled into your product. 70% Isopropyl Alcohol, available at the grocery store, is 30% water so you will pull much more water solubles using this strength versus a 99.9% ISO. Also, properly cured and stored cannabis will have between 10-15% water content as well.
Using a low strength 70% ISO will absorb way more unwanted impurities, making your final product far “dirtier” because of the water solubles that were pulled into the mix. More water also means a longer evaporation process. For the absolute best results, spring for the 99.9% Isopropyl Alcohol – your final product will be night and day better.
Amazon sells 99.9% Isopropyl Alcohol for a reasonable price if you truly want the best extraction. In comparison to 100% ethanol, Isopropyl Alcohol is far less expensive but does have its drawbacks. You cannot use Isopropyl Alcohol to make a tincture that you will ingest, as Isopropyl Alcohol is poisonous if taken internally. QWISO extractions are for making concentrate only.
As with an ethanol extraction, you can recover the Isopropyl Alcohol that you would normally evaporate off using a recovery still or a product like the Source Turbo by ExtractCraft. This will save you money by allowing you to reuse the alcohol, especially if you do this often. If the Source is a bit out of your price range, you can also use a simple water distiller.
There are those who advocate processing these 2 washes separately to achieve products with 2 different effects. Feel free to explore this method if desired, but here we will be combining them into a single product.
*NOTE: The cannabis used in this process may still contain some cannabinoids after the 2 soaks. Save the leftovers, dry it out thoroughly to make certain all the ISO has evaporated off and use it to infuse some coconut oil for topical balms or salves or for cooking purposes. You can also grind the dried herb and put into gelatin capsules to ingest. Waste wan’t, want not!
To perform a QWISO extraction, start with fresh or dried cannabis buds or shake/trim. Freezing the cannabis overnight will help to help tie up the water content as ice crystals that can be filtered off later.
There is no need to grind your plant material, that will just make filtering 1000 times harder. Simply break up your buds a bit by hand. If using shake or trim, just use it as is. Place the broken up cannabis into a clean dry mason jar and put it into the freezer along with the bottle of alcohol you will be using until they both reach zero degrees (overnight will be sufficient).
Once the correct temperature has been achieved, working quickly pour alcohol into the jar of cannabis until covered by an inch or so. Screw on the lid and gently swirl for a few seconds. Place both back into the freezer immediately. For the next 3 minutes, gently swirl the jar of cannabis once a minute, keeping in the freezer until complete.
After 3 minutes, remove the lid and pour the cannabis / alcohol mixture through a quick draining stainless steel mesh strainer into another jar. Cover the cannabis with more alcohol and place everything back into the freezer. Repeat the previous 3-minute process, straining the alcohol into the same jar you used to collect the first wash and place that jar back into the freezer.
Loosely attach a coffee filter to top of a second jar with a rubber band so that it can sag in a bit. Remove the jar from the freezer and pour the contents into the jar with the filter. If the liquid has not been left out of the freezer for more than a few moments, any remaining water will be removed by the filter in the form of ice crystals.
You can further filter the alcohol at this time in order to remove any plant matter that made it through the coffee filter. Use a 20 micron syringe filter attached to a large 150ml syringe for this process. This will give you the cleanest possible extract.
Now you must evaporate off the Isopropyl Alcohol, leaving the cannabis oil behind. Pour the ISO mixture into a shallow glass dish, like a pie plate or baking dish. Place the dish preferably in a sunny spot and use a small fan to circulate air over the plate. You can also put the place on a nonflammable heat source at a very low temperature (<100 degrees) to speed up the process.
Isopropyl Alcohol is Extremely Flammable and heavier than air, so DO NOT evaporate this near any source of ignition. Never use a gas stove to heat your ISO. Vapors will settle into low lying areas and carry an explosion risk.
After evaporating off the alcohol you will have a very high-quality extract that can be smoked or dabbed. I suggest if you plan on doing this often or in large quantities, look into the available methods of alcohol recovery in order to keep your price down. Good luck and enjoy your homemade extracts!
Have you made QWISO extracts using this method? Let us know how it turned out in the comments below!