Cannabis Alchemy Extraction Method vs. Modern Etoh Extraction Methods

I recently read, and re-read, Cannabis Alchemy, by D. Gold, after coming across it in a reply by @SkyHighLer in this post:

I love the simplicity of the method in the book, and the potential for complete extraction, and have many times in the past considered something similar, but I consistently find information suggesting that several points in the method are flawed and have been improved upon in the last 30-40 years.

Gold advises, “reducing the material to the finest powder possible,”(pg 3) prior to extraction. The following step is to reflux a solution of your pulverized material and alcohol for, “three or four hours,”(pg 8) during which time the temperatures will be, “about 212°F, but not above.”(pg 7)

I actually like the concept because of the aforementioned extraction potential, but am concerned about the obvious increase in undesirables and difficulty in refining from pulverizing, refluxing, and soxhleting to a clarity and purification on par with distillate extracted using butane or co2.

I imagine at some point the difficulty, time, and cost associated with cleaning a product outweighs the benefit of a complete extraction. Which would explain why most information suggests using material that has been broken as little as possible in order to expose the trichomes is preferred over heavily ground material and why using super-cooled ethanol is preferred over hot ethanol.

Can anyone validate or invalidate with experience or verifiable data at which point the benefit of a complete extraction is outweighed by the expense of cleaning it in regards to each the use of pulverized material, the use of hot ethanol, individually, and how the two factors relate? Can a product extracted using the methods from the book even be converted into something of high quality using household methods or does the method have to be modified?

Along the same lines of thought is the Capna Labs method, but perhaps the modernized answer to my questions. As far as I can tell the Capna Labs method is a modified version of the Cannabis Alchemy method that uses super-cooled, recirculated ethanol, to achieve a similar affect to refluxing and soxhleting and employs the use of a rotovap for the removal of the solvent step since there is no heat anywhere else in the system. Would this super cooled method still permit the material to be pulverized without extracting excessive undesirables? Could a person create a simplified household version of the Capna Labs tech?

Ultimately the benefit of their method should be reduced undesirables, but the original question relates in at what point is the efficiency of super-cooling at producing a cleaner product worth the added difficulty, cost, or lower yields of cannabinoids due to avoiding undesirables. Does the recirculation of even super-cooled ethanol, causing lengthy exposure times, still pull excessive undesirables in a similar fashion to hot ethanol?

Finally, can the products of any of these various methods be cleaned effectively with an lle, AC scrub, degum, winterization, and dcvc… maybe not in that exact order, without utilizing spd?

I tried searching the tags, “hot boil boiling ethanol Etoh alcohol cannabis alchemy” independently and combined in several variations but couldn’t find anything that seemed significant. Though I did see a large number of posts discussing the use of super-cooled ethanol to include this post:

I like the data there, but still am curious what can be accomplished with the old method, and if that can be effectively cleaned without an unnecessary increase in labor that could easier be accomplished using the newer super-cooled methods?

Sorry if this post is too long or asking too many questions all at once. I’m more than happy to clarify anything that’s unclear. If I simply overlooked some available information during my searches even some links would be greatly appreciated.


No comment, but some background on D Gold the author of Cannabis Alchemy, and his ingenious extraction devices.

First, a direct link to the post I made suggesting the LLE method described in Cannabis Alchemy,

“D Gold, Author of Cannabis Alchemy, 1971, Shares Cannabis Extraction History Unfolding!”
Posted by skunkpharmresearch Date: September 25, 2016

“ISO-3 By D. Gold”
Posted by skunkpharmresearch Date: December 17, 2016

“ISO-3 by D Gold”
(An ICMAG Forum thread started by Gray Wolf which I helped fill in the gaps as I had an original Isomerizer back in the mid 70’s)


shameless plug.

and, yeah, you’re thinking about this in exactly the right way!!


I mean absolutely no disrespect when I say his methods may be flawed, and perhaps chose the wrong wording in that sentence. In fact, looking back on the posting I see how it could be construed as insulting, or discrediting, and for that I apologize to both you @SkyHighLer, for inadvertently insulting a person you yourself hold in high regard, and to Dave Gold for unintentionally insinuating his work is anything other than incredible.

I truly believed his work was enlightened from only reading the book which is why I took such an interest in his method. After reading the information you’ve provided, and following that information several places my views on Dave as an innovator and man who deserves the utmost respect has only been further reinforced. His words on his growth and that of the world’s into cannabis extracts, and why he ultimately chose to write the aforementioned book, and even his chosen directions as he’s gone forward in the field really resonate with me.

It is really exciting to see he created a marketable version of the diagram from his book, and I’m willing to bet it increases safety exponentially over the diagram with each rendition and likely increases it’s efficiency through version tweaks, all of which I’m extremely fond of, though it seems like it essentially does the same thing as all the previous versions chemically and within about the same parameters.

I really just wanted to understand and openly discuss the questions I posed with those who have experience with the results of both hot and cold ethanol extractions and perhaps have compiled some sort of data or remember useful observations about the methods, or why one would switch from one to the other; to include yourself it seems with the centrifuge tech you cover in your post on ICMag(, that I’m currently trying to wrap my head around, and your first-hand experience with the various versions of the Isomerizer. You even mention in one of the links you provided you only use the Isomerizer to recover solvent.

I figured there must be some sort of data on refining difficulty vs. extraction completeness, and even if there isn’t any data a healthy discussion on observations could suffice.

I will continue researching the data I can tell is somehow relevant to my questions through links you provide in the links you provided, but honestly it’d be nice to be able to bounce thoughts back and forth with someone of your caliber.

Hopefully you’ll accept my apologies and be willing to discuss the subject with me because your response definitely wasn’t what I was expecting. The side information was enthralling, interesting, and in a roundabout link-link-link way there was viable information to glean to reaffirm the importance of reaching some sort of clear, written consensus to these questions, but wasn’t really what I expected from someone with your level of expertise which is why I can only assume I had upset you.


Well said!!

Although I’m confused as to where or how @SkyHighLer indicated bent out of shape

1 Like

His reply just doesn’t seem to match the caliber of his usual responses, but I probably I read into it wrong. The big problem, in my mind, with written word is it’s very hard to convey tone and the reader’s emotional state can greatly influence what tone they perceive. When I first read his response it just seemed helpful, but when i re-read it later, when more tired from the day, it almost seemed to be written from a defensive stance. When I wrote my post it was coming from a place of respect and awe with D. Gold, but when I re-read my own post I saw how the tone could be mistaken. Either way, I meant no disrespect then, or now. There are a million other reasons to not comment, and perhaps I reached the wrong conclusion.

I find the White Paper seems to answer a lot of the questions, but also raises a few more and further reaffirms my desire to compile viable data as to the variables and the why.

I suppose the first, most obvious answer provided, is that your desired end product and its intended use are going to change the values of many of the variables. The White Paper states,

“There is an ongoing debate about the ideal temperature. Room-temperature extractions generally extract more waxes and pigments than cold extractions, which results in additional dewaxing and clarification steps. However, room-temperature extraction techniques are more efficient and require less processing time. We’ve found that the ideal temperature is a function of the desired end product.”
(pg 6)

I’m trying to decide if they’re referring to wax vs. distillate vs. shatter, or edibles vs. topical vs. inhalants, or perhaps both?

They do cover the why on the amount of grinding of material, “Everything we want is on the outside of the biomass, so grinding should be done gently, without breaking cells open.”(pg 7) which appears to suggest additional grinding would release negligible amounts of cannabinoids alongside excessive undesirables? I seem to recall a paper suggesting there were at least some desirables inside the material and not just in the trichomes themselves, but am having trouble finding it currently.

It also appears they suggest the amount of grinding doesn’t necessarily relate to the temperature of the solvent. As in, they don’t appear to believe different temperatures will behave much differently with different amounts of pulverizing since they make no mention of a relation.

I suppose the remainder of my original questions are dependent on the reasoning for different temperature solvent use. If I understood what they meant there I think I’d understand more about why people are choosing different methods. Though I’d love to see some layman’s scientific data on the subject.

1 Like

No problem here, other than I’m not going to get to play around with my little centrifuge or even unpack the ISO-3 Dave Maryann gave me before I loose my house/lab come the first of the year. The thirty odd solvents I purchased were for extraction/LLE experimentation, with the idea of using the ISO-3 for solvent recovery. I finished the butane mystery oil testing, and just as I was at the end of solvent acquisition for alternate solvent testing I noticed the countertop water distillers were being repurposed for solvent recovery, and foreseeing they would be popular for ethanol RSO I dived into investigating them, which led to the distillation controller experiments just concluded.

If there is someone who has the inquisitive mind of Beaker, the time and work space of a middle aged retiree, and just plain loves cannabis extracts, I would be extremely pleased to donate everything I have cannabis related to him or her. Solvents, equipment, the works. It’d be shame to offload all this on some youngsters who have nothing on their minds but hustle. My only wish is that my ‘beloved pet’ project has a good home. I’m in the Inland Empire area of SoCal, Sun City specifically, and you’ll have to pick up the stuff yourself. TIA, if I get no takers in the next few days I’ll start a dedicated thread.

That white paper rocks, thanks for taking time to create and share it!!!


If you DM me @SkyHighLer I’ll put $1000 in your PayPal account, or a go-fund-me in your name.

If you wouldn’t mind Eugene, you could hang out with @beaker and help out around my R&D lab on any schedule you wanted. I certain @Photon_noir would back me in that.

@Future. You still got that plane? Get @SkyHighLer high in the sky and up to OR??

Like the OG he is…


The perfect offer, but please someone from SoCal, I’m a sickly little runt and seriously couldn’t handle the winter weather. Not that I haven’t thought about OR, according to Craig’s List the rents in Portland are as steep as the beach areas of SoCal. All I need is a small back house for real cheap, like four or five hundred bucks a month, I have a decent car, so location isn’t critical, but somewhere in LA or Orange County where I can easily get to the beach and ethnic markets/restaurants, my favorite pastimes. Not anywhere in Riverside or San Bernardino or any other out in the sticks areas. I’m not afraid of the the older areas, be they South Central, East LA, whatever, I’m not prejudiced, but never learned Spanish, or I’d just move to Baja.

Other than helping me get relocated back into civilization, and maybe letting me help out and putz around in a lab, I just wouldn’t feel comfortable with charity, I haven’t mentioned my situation at my FaceBook page, and don’t intend to. The only help I’ve ever accepted was shelter with my mom when I’d loose a job, and I feel I fully made up for her generosity by taking excellent care of her by myself in her old age (hospice said I was the best male caregiver they’d ever come across.) I gave my word she’d never be alone in a nursing home, and when she broke her leg I stayed the month with her sleeping in a chair by her side. I’m a lazy ass, but I keep my word, unfortunately for me my brother doesn’t, and to get the equity out of this house (I paid the payments!!) he’s giving me the boot.

I wouldn’t spill all this, but it looks like I’m going to disappear come the first of the year, and at least you’ll know what happened. Didn’t get busted, didn’t have a tragic accident, got screwed.

1 Like

You could putz around all you wanted in my lab. I really only fire it up for maybe a week per month anymore. I obtained a goal of mine which was simply to learn how to isolate D9. I am curious to learn but also all my efforts really were in an attempt to achieve this one goal. Now that I have it nailed down to my own satisafaction I have been less motivated to run labs just for the fun of it. Sometimes a DCVC run to see what is in compound is fun and is pretty fast to run but the majority of my efforts have tapered off. I had started a series of counter current seperations using the old school manual test tube method and might resume this tedious aspect. It was the counter current experiments that tipped me off about running an LLE with methanol, water, and hexane to remove terpenes. I have since learned it also removes gums and such to some extent as well and since that discovery my R&D tapered off.

Sorry to hear about your forced move. That sucks big time. I hope things work out for you. New beginnings are not all that glamorous but I suppose we all get “lifed” upon from time to time. Good luck in your adventures. We have entered the rainy season here in Eugene and though not all that cold it does mean gloomy days… perfect for vaping and pondering from inside lol. :nerd_face:


I’d seen your SoCal request, and learned the hard way not to take the sun away from those that need it.

I again encourage you to let the community help you out for all the help you have given us


Hello sir how did everything work out? I live in SoCal with a place for all those things. Just hoping I’m not too late

Like this…

It’s highly unlikely you’ll see a response from @SkyHighLer himself at this point.


Damn. Would have loved to help a brother out