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You can’t manage what you can’t measure

Dr. John MacKay uses GemmaCert as a teaching aid tool in classes on monitoring THC and CBD concentrations in hemp from beginning to end of the extraction processs. GemmaCert provides a practicale solution for obtaining timely measurements.  

 

There are many definitions of hemp.  Most of the classifications are focused on the cannabidiol (CBD), and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compounds in the plant at different stages of the plant’s growth cycle and manufacturing cycle.  The critical challenge in the hemp industry today is to assure the regulatory agencies that the hemp product has not got greater than 0.3% of THC.

People that have chosen to be active in the hemp market need to be able to assure that the product has not exceeded this value.  The consequences of exceeding this value are dependent upon local regulations.  These can be strict as destroying an entire crop.

I teach classes on the concentration of hemp.  This includes extraction and separation (i.e., with solvent and without solvent) of hemp.  I use the GemmaCert as one tool that should be considered when monitoring the plant during the growth stage to know if the product that is being grown is what they purchased.  But the critical process tools that I encourage attendees to understand is how to monitor the different stages of extraction.

The starting material that is being used for any mode of concentration is critical in the calculation of how much of the components are going to be theoretically possible to achieve.  This includes some of the pre-processing steps.  The second part that is essential is the amount of the compounds are left after extraction.

A simple table can provide reality in a situation.  Through multiple tests, it can give a better answer to the question, “how much oil is theoretically possible to achieve with this chemovar?”


Stage Description % CBD % THC % Moisture Notes
1 Incoming material of representative flower samples from a different super sacks 14.2

15.1

13.2

11.4

14.5

0.01

0.02

ND

0.02

ND

12 This is done with the individual buds that demonstrates the product variability
1 Incoming material of grinding of multiple buds from the same super sacks 14.5

13.5

12.2

11.8

15.6

0.01

0.02

ND

0.02

0.02

12 This is done with the plant, and a representative ground sample that demonstrates the use of the whole bud can influence the percentage result.
2 Post Grinding 10.8

11.2

10.5

0.04

0.04

0.05

10 Taking samples and grabbing three from super sacks gives a better representative number.
3 Decarboxylation 10.5

10.4

11.3

0.03

0.03

0.04

5 This provides the productivity of the decarboxylation step.  The process is not 100% efficient, so it can help know a better number of the loss during this step.
4 Pre-Extraction 11.5

11.6

10.3

0.03

0.03

0.04

7 This is the material that is placed into an individual extraction process.
5 Post extraction top 8 ND 5 If this is carbon dioxide at a specific temperature, pressure, and flowrate.  It provides an answer to whether the conditions were appropriate for the process.
6 Post-extraction middle 3 ND 5 If this is carbon dioxide at a specific temperature, pressure, and flowrate.  It provides an answer to whether the conditions were appropriate for the process
7 Post-extraction bottom 1 ND 5 If this is carbon dioxide at a specific temperature, pressure, and flowrate.  It provides an answer to whether the conditions were appropriate for the process
8 Post-extraction combined 4 ND 5 If this is carbon dioxide at a specific temperature, pressure, and flowrate.  It provides an answer to whether the conditions were appropriate for the process.  A combined total provides the overall yield expected from the extraction.

 

The return on investment (ROI) for testing with a simple to use tool, can be seen it the results in less than a day.  Having essential analytics allows the company to know immediately what to expect from each extraction step versus waiting for third party testing.

In the case above it can be quickly noted that this extraction is not complete.  The decision should then be made about the next action, with real numbers generated by manufacturing staff.  The ease of use means that the user does not need extensive training.  The evaluation of the values might need professional training, but even the manufacturing staff could conclude that the extraction was not completed.  Perhaps the other extractions were all closer to 2%. Probably there is an acceptable number that the team has been assigned to ensure it meets the extraction efficiency.

When teaching a class, these are the essential points in the processes that I emphasize.  You can’t manage what you can’t or won’t measure.

By: John A. MacKay, Ph.D.

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