The Composition of DIstillate

If I have a distillate that is 75% Cannabinoids

what is the remaining 25%?

Lipids? Phenolic compounds? terpenes?

There seems to be a lot less info on this then i would hope.

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it really depends on your process, but its usually other plant material. fats, waxs, lipids, chlorophyll, aka impurities.


well of course its other plant material lol.

but what is it? what compounds? what lipid chains? what is the rest of the distillate.

Seems important.

any BIOLOGY peeps here?

Want to share your process as that explains more of what is making it past certain processes. FYI there is no way to determine without doubt what makes up your impurities. You can only determine what you can test for which right now is solvent, terpenes, and cannabinoids, heavy metals, pesticides, mycotoxins, etc. Essentially whatever is tested for in a full panel test will show levels of non cannabanoids if all these number dont add up to 100% then you are left with guessing the remainder. which dependent on your process and steps you take can explain whats left to a degree.

Besides plant material your finished product could contain anything that has made its way into your products. silica, clay, dirt, residual solvent, dust, leftover contaminates in your container.

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This is a very interesting question with quite a few different answers in my mind.

First I think of the different types of extractions and what compounds are readily pulled out with each of those solvents. If you were to use super chilled ethanol it is able to pull very clean terp and cannabinoid profiles. There are still probably a small percentage of lipids and waxes but not as much as BHO. I have experience with Wipe Film distillation and these distillates can test high 80% to low 90% THC (my UPLC has shown 99% but it has also shown 102% so calibration is very important in analytical chemistry). The remaining 20-10% seems to be (using GC analysis) terpenes (mono and sesqui), minor cannabinoids (there are close to 100), small chain carbon molecules with hydroxyl groups, and other building blocks for the cannabinoids and terpenes.

BHO can be cleaned up with winterization techniques allowing the distillate to come out more clear but depending on how well this is done more lipids and waxes can make their way into your distillate, this will also cause cloudy distillate.

So the real way to answer what exactly your distillate has in it is to first determine the compounds your solvent can pull out, will your remediation techniques work to pull out undesirables (what are those), and what compounds left in your crude distillate have similar boiling points to THC. There is also the fact that THC and all cannabinoids are very sticky allowing for intermolecular bonding and collusion upon distillation.


Anecdotally from my experience running GCMS scans on distillate, I think the largest group is undocumented cannabinoids. A variety of sterol compounds are also present. Phytol and it’s relatives are also usually present.


I’m told an NMR with a mass spectrometer is the best way to identify an unknown compound. I have no idea if this is true or not. Any input from some of you real scientists?

Well I doubt you’re a real Doctor


a lotta people like GC, your old school organic chemists tend to drift more towards h-nmr if given the choice. nmr is expensive relative to gc, less common as a result

So how was the crude oil extracted? How was it refined? How was it distilled?

Super easy to tell you what the impurity is if we know these things, even a photo would help. Biology? Whatever… You didn’t know some of us kitchen chemists are the best? I mean, in my disty the only impurity is chilli p

Different uses for different things. GCMS has great power to resolve complex mixtures into hundreds of different components and ID them. The downside is it is mainly effective while working with compounds that already have a known spectrum in your database. For identifying never before seen compounds, it is not so useful. Also it is a physically aggressive technique that won’t work with large or fragile compounds.

NMR is gentle, works with almost all compounds, and can often give enough information to ID an unknown by itself (or get you very close). However it needs a relatively pure compound to work; you can’t just throw in some natural extract and tease out the information you want.

As someone who has worked with LCMS, NMR, GCMS (headspace), and UPLC I would argue that GCMS has the best ability to not only separate but also identify crude mixtures. NMR as previously mentioned in here only truly works with very pure compounds. Impurities cause your spectra to be distorted and very difficult to process or even understand.

The real issue here is that with out pure calibration samples to tell you this compound is that compound you usually have to rely on a data base that takes the peaks given and reconstructs them into a molecule that has a % chance of being the molecule you’re analyzing. The questions I previously proposed need answers. If you supply me with something of that sort I could probably steer you in the right direction.