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Carrier Solvents in Extraction:

Ethanol vs Butane

CANNA True Stacked-noEPD

It is true, both Ethanol and Butane (also referred to as Hydrocarbon) can be used to extract oil from cannabis and hemp. When considering which solvent to use, a processor should carefully review the safety, efficacy and working history of a given solvent in application. Operating costs can be masked and provide a false positive to select a solvent because it is less expensive to purchase, when, it is more expensive to use. This blog will explain some of these differences between Ethanol and Butane and will help guide a processor to make more informed and better decisions regarding extraction methods and carrier solvents used in these same extraction methods.


Ethanol is an Organic Chemical Compound. It is a simple alcohol with the chemical formula C2H6O. Ethanol is liquid at room temperature.


Butane or n-butane is an alkane with the formula C4H10. Butane is a gas at room temperature and atmospheric pressure. Butane is an easily liquified gas that quickly vaporizes at room temperature.



  • Manufacture of Drugs/Pharmaceutical
  • Manufacture of Cosmetics
  • Manufacture of OTC products
  • Manufacture of polishes



  • Fuel for cigarette lighters
  • Fuel for portable stoves
  • Propellant in aerosols
  • A heating fuel
  • A refrigerant

From the above analysis, ethanol as compared to butane is:

  • A safer solvent
  • A proven solvent in food, medical and human applications/products
  • A more flexible solvent
  • A preferrable solvent to recycle

These are benefits ethanol provides, whereas butane in general cannot provide or does not offer.

When selecting a superior solvent, the extraction method itself is wise to carefully evaluate. Most methods utilize a “piece or type of equipment” that performs extraction. This extraction equipment then needs to be supplemented by purification equipment, filtration equipment and evaporation or distillation equipment. This adds potential variability to process and cost to production.

Integrated and advanced systems perform these functions, converting plant or biomass into a winterized, filtered, purified oil/concentrate, beginning to end. Below is a picture of frozen BHO/Hydrocarbon concentrate compared to ethanol concentrate.

Butane Concentrate

Not winterized, good yield

Butane Concentrate

CannaTrue™ EPD Ethanol Concentrate

Fully-winterized, superior yield

CannaTrue™ EPD Ethanol Concentrate

By using the advanced CannaTrue EPD System, your oil concentrate will be fully winterized, purified, filtered, then ready for next steps.

All with superior yield and absent of operator interaction, meaning the EPD System is fully automated (“labor light”). Processors can also set the system to produce a purged concentrate and decarb the oil as well.

The EPD System takes advantage of the inherent advantages of ethanol through recovery and reuse, reducing a processor’s operating costs.

Ethanol is a solvent offering significant use advantages, while mitigating variability and processing risks which are introduced into production environments by such solvents as butane and other hydrocarbons. The use of ethanol coupled with processing utilizing an integrated, the closed-loop CannaTrue EPD System produces a superior concentrate product. Visit, or contact us today at 800.941.9484.