Cost of Production and Equipment

extraction equipment

Machines like Waters Supercritical Fluid Extraction equipment, which uses CO2 to extract compounds from cannabis, are some of the safer options. Photo by Matthew Staver

Carbon dioxide is the most expensive extraction method, industry executives agreed. The technology has the steepest price tag compared to hydrocarbon and ethanol units. Hydrocarbon systems, by comparison, are the cheapest.

Albert Gutierrez, CEO of Med-Pharm in Denver, can attest to the steep price tag for a CO2 system. His company is running a 25-liter CO2 extraction machine that cost about $400,000.

The company produces pure oil, and CO2 creates a high-potency concentrate. “For us, it’s a better decision,” Gutierrez said of the large investment.

At Puffin Farm, a cannabis cultivation and extraction company in Seattle, Director of Extracts Jeff Wilhoit said if he wanted to save money on equipment, he would have chosen hydrocarbon machines over CO2 extraction units.

“The machines really cost a lot,” Wilhoit said. His company’s 5-liter CO2 machine cost about $100,000, while a starter hydrocarbon machine would run about $20,000.

Ryan Abernathy, CEO and president of Xtracted Labs in Seattle, said cost was one of the reasons his company went with hydrocarbon extraction.

“When you look at CO2 equipment, there’s a huge initial cost of entry,” he added.

Makoso of Lucid Labs agreed: “The most expensive equipment commonly used are CO2 extraction systems.”

 VERDICT: Hydrocarbon extraction machines have lower starting costs, while CO2 equipment is the most expensive.

– Bart Schaneman