Wax in solvent solubility test

Here is a time lapse of the wax obtained from dewaxing then being disolved at the same time in six different solvents I keep on hand routinely.
Here on the right is the wax removed from the extract and methanol on the left. It was dried on Column with a vacuum then left to air dry for a bit.

Here now is the dried wax shown distributed by estimation into roughly equal portions and loaded into each test tube. Behind and in the order they are put in the tubes are the solvents to be tested. They are Hexane, Dichloromethane, Acetone, Ethyl Acetate, Rubbing Alcohol 70/30 iso/water, and Methanol.

Here is the first second of the time lapse. The Hexane disolved the wax in about a minute and in time lapse it can only be seen by scrubbing the video slowly during the first second of time lapse video so I included it here for convenience. Here is a screen shot of the first second of time lapse after solvents were added.

Finally here is a time lapse of a few hours showing the effects of various solvents from non polar to polar on the seperated wax. The set of tubes has been placed aside to see how it progresses over days.


Hey that time lapse is cool, you can see solvent refluxing lightly in the first tube on the right.

Here it is now a few days later with tube uncorked but otherwise not disturbed. Acetone, Rubbing Alcohol, and Methanol do not disolve these waxes very well. Hexane disolved them in a minute. Dichloromethane disolved parts very rapidly and selectively made a mush out of other parts but left some behind from evap too.

Ethyl Acetate made a bit of a mush out of the waxes. So now that I have a relative power of solubility for the compound I do not want, my next solubility lab time lapse will demonstrate the same experiment for the isolate that I do want. Then I will do a post and link these.

My theory is that these two experiements can narrow down a solvent system tailored better to reject unwanted but grab the cannabinoid.

Conclusion? The only normal hydrocarbon present was the only one that disolved all of the waxes in two days of soaking at ambient and did so in under a minute. The next best was a conjugated hydrocarbon, Dichloromethane, and disolve much of the compound and left much behind. Ethyl Acetate definitely softens it up. Therefore if my goal was strictly to exclude waxes and attempt an otherwise complete extraction the winner is… Ethyl Acetate, third tube from the right. It is not a hydrocarbon, it is non-carcinogenic, it is contained in some foods like wine, cereal crops, radishes, fruit juices, beer, spirits etc. and it is a dream to evap though it does soak up water if you leave it out. Now for the THC solubility test…


Great stuff as always Beaker.

Please comment on your preference for ethyl acetate over acetone in this instance since acetone is GRAS, lower bp, less effective in dissolving wax, etc.



Hey thanks for the comparison!

@puccinia forgive the length of the post but I gotta be me.

My award went to Ethyl Acetate because it appeared to penetrate the wax but not generally disolve it into solution. The Dichloromethane is clearly much better at penetrating wax but also disolved about half. Plus that stuff stinks and is nasty lolz.

My reasoning is this; the target compound is generally protected by wax. The liquid solvent must be able to reach the soluables. My theory is that a solvent therefor must at least be able to penetrate the wax IF the goal is otherwise complete extraction of the organic compounds. The Acetone did seem to soften the stuff slowly but visually to me did not seem to penetrate very well or at all. Both solvents are safe but Ethyl Acetate is routinely used in food processing and is in foods naturally too. My sensibilities tell me this is a tried and true solvent used for things just like this meant to later be ingested. I believe Ethyl Acetate was how they used to make decaf coffee as well and isn’t that sort of what we are trying to do in a way? Trying to penetrate a material with waxes and stuff and selectively disolve and remove a single (more or less) compound?

If the goal instead was to extract with max exclusion of waxes as the first priority then this test is not really conclusive to me.

As far as acetone I love it for cleaning glassware. It works fine as an alternative to Ethyl Acetate in DCVC with gradient adjustment. It even has a highly exploitable unique property in LLE that is the subject of a future post methinks, but I honestly do not like evaporating this stuff out of extracts. It just seems like it drags enough water along with it and for some reason is kind of tenacious to evap out of stuff.

Keep in mind my efforts are to design a flow more than an SOP. Going from a step that uses methanol into a step that uses hexane is highly exploitable so it flows from one step to the next without fuss. So far Acetone sort of breaks the flow in my chain as it always seems to involve enough effort to be a step all its own just to purge solvent. Acetone in that scheme would only really fit into a step just prior to distillation where purge (fractioning) is already the process and that would only conceivably be a DCVC or LLE run the way my flow is now running.


Ah, thanks for that answer Beaker. It must have something to do with the way acetone interacts with thc, I find it to be hard to strip from an extract too. It does extract from plant mass very well in my opinion though.

There’s a patent from a few weeks ago claiming dry ice acetone treatment on flowers for 10 minutes regularly gives 90%+ extract. Though I believe the tolerance for acetone after evaporating in that work is somewhere like a half a percent.

Considering that its just gross to inhale even amounts below the sense threshold, I think it is a clear loser after all, at least in later stages of extraction. . . I hadn’t thought to try ethyl acetate, will order some soon it looks like.

Thanks again for all your great posts!


Anyone have experience with dimethyl ether to target undesirables such as waxes? @Roguelab

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Explain yourself
Dimethyl ether is a gas so working with iT You Need use a CLS
IT is polar

I wonder if the wax is a value added component in cannabis? Is there any for sale?

We added some of our waxes from winterizing BHO to a lip balm we produced for a while.


I have been able to. Make a decent soap bar out of it :grin: Just to try


Did you end up doing the THC solubility test?

You are asking a question to our dear member that has passed away this spring sadly
Guess this awnser you will have to figure out yourself
VIVA @beaker


Damn… My apologies


Wow, I’ve been following @beakers posts recently and just came across this… brings tears to my eyes. :sleepy:
Thanks for all the knowledge you shared!

I have just bought 95% ethanol with 5% ethyl acetate. Will this improve the amount of waxes that precipitate from solution when doing winterization? End goal is disty.
Otherwise I’m thinking to just go with dewaxing in methanol. Anyone done any more experiments or research into this further?

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This truly has some interesting repercussions. It is common to say “room temperature ethanol extraction dissolves wax” – certainly, the ethanol appears to dissolve waxes. Solutions are clear and not hazy. However, there are reasons i now think most waxes never truly dissolve but only form a very fine emulsion in ethanol.

  1. Leaving a solution out for a very long time (for instance months) typically leads to some crashing of wax, even with no reduction of solvent volume. This behavior seems to indicate a flocculation or creaming type process.

  2. Alcohols failed to dissolve any wax in this test. Breakdown of waxes in extraction is most likely only occuring through cosolvent effects where the wax was already comingled with terpenes and cannabinoids.

  3. Membranes with very large nominal pore size (10k or even higher) eliminate lots of wax even at room temperature.

  4. Flocculants drop wax – this wouldn’t happen much if they were truly dissolved as individual molecules.

I would be very interested in using particle size spectroscopy to investigate this more.


Shining a laser through a tube with the EtOH/Wax mix should show some dispersion of the beam if the wax exists as some kind of micell system.
Poor man’s micelle spectrograph… :grinning:


I have also heard mixed reviews of people claiming centrifugation can drop wax out of “solution” – this would provide further support if real data was posted to prove it.

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Keep in mind a nanoemulsion is completely translucent below 200 nm. That is actually ridiculously large. A 200 nm (2000 A) miscelle has a weight in the billions of Da. One angstrom ~ 1 Da and the weight has a cubic relationship with size. There is a vast gulf between what most consider a fine emulsion and an actual molecular solution.