Waters SFE Clogging Issues



I don’t like SFE for a few reasons. I will preface that by saying that my experience is only with Waters, and as others who have used their equipment often agree, and found theirs to not be optimally designed for cannabis (which it wasn’t)

  1. I find that the high pressures of SFE call for a lot of thick steel and high end pumps that are quite costly even for small units.
  2. I find that while “full spectrum”, the profiles from SFE either favor cannabinoids or terpenes but often not a great pull of both.
  3. Generally it’s a slow process compared to other tech.
  4. Again, $$$. Many SFE units are well into 6 figures in price if you want anything that’s up to large scale.

My experience with Waters was that they are incredibly well engineered machines that are high quality. I live within 30 miles of their headquarters and the customer service is great too. But their largest unit I could upgrade to at the time was a 2x5L, and they have a lot of tweaks to do before It’s well engineered for cannabis specifically. It’s purchase wasn’t my decision any way.

I prefer hydrocarbons for extracts that are final destination and are marked for direct sale.

I prefer a combo of LCO2 and EtOH for bulk extraction that is set up to head to further refinement and other products.

The only people I’ve met so far who grin from ear to ear over SFE are people selling them and people trying to impress their investors with buzzwords like “solventless” or “solvent free”.

That’s 100% my own experience based off only my 2 years on SFE and what my peers have told me. If others have found ways to improve throughput and quality I’m all ears for changing my mind.


Couldn’t agree more with this! Even with more efficient and expensive high pressure CO2 extractors its not worth the money, time or effort unless you are limited by regulations to only use CO2 as a solvent. CA allows for EtOH extractions under the non-volatile manufacturing license so that would be my preferred method of extraction for cannabinoid refinement under that license. Less costly equipment, less maintenance, and a far more efficient extraction.


Not only more cost efficient, but incredibly modular. You can build out your own dream EtOH rig piece by piece, bolt for bolt and you’ll still most likely be well below the margin for SFE. CO2 has it’s place, just not really between phases IMO.


Great info thanks! I prefer hydrocarbon because I am a hobbyist and couldnt dream of spending the dollars for a SFE unit.

Can SFE be used to produce a product that is of equivalent quality to what a light hydrocarbon extractor will produce without further refinement? I briefly remember reading that because of the high pressures required for SFE the plant cells are obliterated and release lots of fats and waxs into the extract, but I do not have any first hand experience and am curious as to how true this is? If this is true how can CO2 oil be marketed as solventless when they would need to further refine the CO2 crude with solvents? Or maybe what I read was wrong


I’ve seen SFE extracts that are ok enough, like the basketball orange stuff that used to show up in the Northeast around 2010. IMO it’s just good wax, you can make shatter too if you’re into that sort of thing.

No matter what, the SFE extract will have most likely taken longer to run and used up more energy than a hydrocarbon rig, although that point could be debated I suppose.



After changing some parameters, I’ve managed to alleviate the problem. Seems too much was coming through too fast. Managed to set it up to where I’m not losing any time, and keeping the yields!

Thanks for the input everyone!


We often get crystals like you describe. They ARE water soluble - they are NOT THCA. I suspect they’re plant salts (Mg, K, Na based…) or excess nutrients getting extracted out, but not very soluble in the CO2.


Considering the fact that I’m not getting them anymore after altering my parameters, I decided to test the solubility of the ones I had collected. They dissolved in EtOH as well as heptane, but, did not dissolve in water. After drying the 3 solutions I’m left with; In EtOH: an amber oily residue. In heptane: a slightly less viscous yellow residue. In H2O: the same exact crystals I started with.

I’m inclined to think in my case, they were THCA crystals.


Feel free to DM me but I have fixed clogging issues waters was never able to address. As far as we’ve seen and tested running a p200 in 2014 the Crystal’s arent actually thca (unless your running too cold perhaps, found some in middle of column accidentally making dry ice). The crystals I found on the frit and any constriction were never THCA but only phospholipids(or fatty acids?). One problem specifically is ethanol top side clean only hits as far as CS3 effectively. A bottom clean if not hot only gets oil and useless to Crystal’s as well. The crystals will coat and cause issue with both heat exchangers! If you cant run over night anymore you gotta empty the rez and take that whole bitch apart. Running water through both heat exchangers at as close to 100c as you can get will make her like new. Hope that helps🤙 other thing is those frits should be cleaned seperately with boiling water/ ethanol and maybe simple green in rotation with pressure to push it through; until NOTHING comes out. If it bends it’s already too dirty. Apbr/motor belt, run speed is all effected over time if the crystal build up isnt cleaned out.


Your 100% right pretty sure they are phospholipids because of water solubility. Ethanol is not as effective at removing them for that reason