Right there with you brother. I inherited control of my facility almost two years ago now, when I took over the lab was pumping out bland winterized oil cartridges and over-purged “full spectrum co2 oil”. I quickly realized that wasn’t doing us any favors, and pivoted our processes and production to focus on high terpene extracts for vape cartridges, both raw unwinterized oil and distillate with real cannabis derived terpenes.
Shatter will not save you. Shatter made with CO2 extraction is typically going to be lower in terpene content than any hydrocarbon based shatter, and it is difficult and requires specific machinery to accomplish. Not every CO2 extraction machine will be capable of producing a clear shatter without some delicate and time consuming post-processing. As others have said before me, if you decarb your material ahead of time, you are:
- Converting all of your THCA to THC (which increases the extraction efficiency in CO2 but prevents the extract from entering the semi-crystalline phase needed to form shatter)
- Remember, pure “activated” Delta-9 THC is a thick oil/resin while pure THCA is a clear crystal. Shatter is the result of the THCA forming a stable semi-crystalline structure, ideally with a few other cannabinoids and terpenes locked up in the matrix as well.
- You are also stripping out a lot of the terpene content of the material by baking it at decarb temperatures. CO2 excels at removing and isolating terpenes from cannabis, and it is one of the main factors in the desirability of your product (other than the cannabinoids). If you are hard set on decarbing prior to extraction, try to find a way to capture the terpenes lost during the decarb via cold trap on the oven, or steam distill and dry the material prior to supercritical extraction of cannabinoids.
Embrace the cartridge market, it is the fastest growing concentrate item by far due to the convenience and portability and if you make a quality, clean product then you will be able to find people who want it. Cartridges and edibles are the #1 entry point to the cannabis market for most casual consumers or newbies. Use quality hardware (price doesn’t necessarily guarantee quality, you need to KNOW and trust your cartridge guy). And remember the final rule of extraction: quality in, quality out. ESPECIALLY with CO2. Can’t make a delicious extract out of water leaf trim and stems.