RxCE - Refined Cannabis Extract

A Fast Simple Way to Make Refined Cannabis Oil in the Kitchen.

15 March 2023

R.x.C.E - Refined Cannabis Extract Oil, Faster, Cleaner and Cheaper. 

In the early 2000’s, Rick Simpson brought the healing quality of cannabis oil to the masses using simple extraction techniques. In the larger picture of extraction processes, this methodology is simple and oils are crude. Crude No Longer!

Introducing RxCE - Refined Cannabis Extract, the faster, cleaner, and cheaper way to make cannabis oil. This simple and holistic process produces a purer and more potent oil that can be vaped. With RxCE, you can go from cured plant to final decarbed winterized oil in as little as 2 hours, compared to a couple of days using the traditional RSO methods. Plus, RxCE uses the same equipment that's used to make RSO, no lab gear or vacuum pumps needed. 

RxCE is the result of three years of research, and it's now easy for anyone to make cleaner and more affordable cannabis oil in less time.

Many thanks to Gray Wolf for his supporting advice to Yet-Another enthusiast repeating everything he has covered in the past. His advise has been instrumental. Links to his informative site are sprinkled throughout the documentation. His website aptly named www.GrayWolfsLair.com is an industry resource for technical discussions on cannabis oil extraction hardware and procedures.

AUTHORS NOTE:  From the feedback over the past few months, I'd like to address a major concern. The Refined Cannabis Extract process is completely solvent agnostic. You are free to choose your solvent. The use of Ethanol or a combination of Ethanol and Isopropyl is at your discretion. You can have peace of mind that this process has been engineered to produce safe consumable oil. The double reduction described below acts as a virtual firewall against residual solvents. Lab tests prove the point by consistently reporting no residual solvents.

Introduction:

RxCE is a simple holistic way to make very clean cannabis oil. The changes can be considered just a hack on the original recipe. This process contains two improvements to the RSO recipe which doubles the potency of the oil. 

Discovery #1 - Simplified Water Degumming

In the Cooking Oil industry, degumming is a common step in the refinement process for clarifying oil. Phospholipids, a type of lipid molecule, are responsible for building oil and water emulsions thus need to removed. The industry harvests the phospholipids for refinement into Lecithin which is used in cooking. Cannabis trichome cells are the major contributor of phospholipids in solvent based extractions. There is enough to inspire new products like a refined hemp-based lecithin.

Back in 2022, Cannabis Home Sciences introduced degumming in the RSO 2.0 Silting step. This was done by mixing fully saturated salt water into Isopropyl Alcohol which caused the alcohol and water to separate into two layers. The phospholipids being semi-polar, voluntarily separate away from the non-polar alcohol. The semi-polar compounds solidified around salt giving a snow globe effect swirling around then settling into the water.

RxCE simplifies this even further. Instead of using salt to de-gum, distilled water is used to help boil off the alcohol and by it's presence, performs a simple form of water degumming

Phospholipids and plant proteins form sludges and are bad news for RSO and FECO, but removed in the RxCE process. By adding water to distillation, the greenish solution will eventually boil down to oil and water. And as you know, oil and water don't mix. The water holds the polar and semi-polar compounds, while the non-polar oils and resins float in the water. 

This is just the first step. The next discovery is enabled by this water degumming process. Keep reading to find out more!

What are Phospholipids, and what is 'Degumming'?

Phospholipids are part of essential lipids found in plant and trichome cell walls that help nutrients pass thru the cell. 'Lipid' refers to a family of molecules that include oils, fats, phospholipids, and waxes. When performing a solvent extraction, alcohol dissolves all lipids it touches, phospholipids included. Problem is, phospholipids are semi-polar and form emulsions which negatively impact the quality of the oil. So, if you extract oils with alcohol, you will dissolve phospholipids into your oil.

Discovery #2 - Rapid Winterization

Discovery #2 called Rapid Winterization, is an accelerated version of the winterization process first used in the Cooking Oil industry and popularized by Gray Wolf in his QWISO and QWET processes. Winterization removes unwanted waxes, fats, and phospholipids from oils. Simplified Water Degumming, which was explained earlier, is a crucial step in this process. By removing polar and semi-polar compounds, degumming yields a purer, non-polar form of resin that is ready for winterization. When mixed with polar ethanol, the non-polar liquefied waxes are repelled and compression into smaller spaces as the solution cools. After being placed in the freezer for an hour, the waxes crystallize in the cold polar environment and can be filtered out using a coffee filter or folded napkin.

This new approach to winterization means it can now be done in just one hour, which is significantly faster than the traditional process that takes anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. Lab tests run over the course of this development show an increasing concentration of Total Cannabinoids derived from these process improvements.

#1 - Milky Emulsion from Distilling with Distilled Water.

#2 - Wax Formation During Rapid Winterization.

#3 - Final Oil from 2oz of Hemp Ready for Vaping

Discussion

RSO and FECO are oils made by simple alcohol extraction which results in an unrefined crude oil. Looking across the isle, the Cooking Oil industry has a well-defined refinement process that has been in place for decades. It is worthwhile reviewing this process to understand how to improve cannabis extracts. One refinement step that has been applied to RxCE is Water Degumming which removes phospholipids. It has been observed that by adding distilled water to the distillation step, a purer non-polar resin is produced. This approach challenges the long-held belief that water is a problem to be avoided at all costs. Water is not the problem, its the solution! By removing water-soluble compounds before winterization, the resins are in a purer state that promotes Rapid Winterization.

Classic cannabis winterization is performed by washing the plant with a QWET or QWISO procedure to avoid dissolving waxes. However, there is too much alcohol for an optimal winterization. This issue has been resolved by moving winterization to follow distillation. This allows the use of smaller amounts of expensive Ethanol. By reducing the amount of alcohol down to a 10:1 ratio of alcohol to oil, winterization can now be performed on as little as a few ounces of alcohol instead of quarts or gallons. With this process, an hour is sufficient for freezing the waxes reducing the time needed for winterization instead of 12-24 hours. The waxes can be filtered out through the standard kitchen paper coffee filter or folded paper napkin. Of course, if you have a vacuum driven Buchner filter setup, all the better, but not required.

Solvent Agnostic, within reason.. 

And the best part? You can use either Ethanol throughout or Isopropyl, Acetone or Ethyl Acetate for the initial bulk extraction and Ethanol for the final reduction. Here is the next assumption to be overcome - the fear of Isopropyl Alcohol. There is an urban legend that says using Isopropyl for extracts will poison or kill you. Both Ethanol and Isopropyl will kill you with very similar quantities. It takes only 20% more Isopropyl vs Ethanol to kill you. 

But did you know the FDA has approved Isopropyl Alcohol, Acetone and Ethyl Acetate with a partial GRAS ratings for certain food additives

Ethanol is loved for it's GRAS rating. But both Isopropyl Alcohol and Ethyl Acetate also have partial GRAS ratings. The FDA approves these solvents with a partial GRAS rating when "used in accordance with good manufacturing practice". Isopropyl is allowed "in making Whole fish protein concentrate with permissible residual quantities at 250 parts per million". So, yes, the four FDA Class 3 solvents recommended here are safe for use when handled properly. Legally? Check with your local governing laws. Some states do not allow for Acetone or Ethyl Acetate. Alaska only permits 99% solvents so even 190 proof Everclear may not be allowed. 

So let's look at Acetone as a solvent. Amazing how afraid people are of Acetone. Acetone is an FDA Class 3 solvent and also has a partial GRAS rating. Did you know your liver produces Acetone when it breaks down lipids, ie, fats and oils? Did you also know your gut produces Methanol when digesting apple peels? The important point is how your body metabolizes Acetone and Methanol. Acetone is an organic compound, the simplest and smallest ketone. Ketones are converted into energy in the body with excess excreted via exhaling or urine. Acetone in drinking quantities may be as toxic as Ethanol, but down at the residual trace level, it's handled as an energy resource for the body. One final point. Keep in mind that the liver breaks down Isopropyl alcohol into Acetone. So when Isopropyl is broken down, it then share's the same metabolic pathway as acetone. 

All this to say, the four recommended solvents are safe to use with the RxCE process.

Author's Rabbit Hole: Watch out for methanol! FDA Class 2 Methanol breaks down into formaldehyde, which is used to preserve dead frogs in high school chemistry class. Methanol in small quantities can make you go blind, and at worst, kill you. 

Do you know what common food ingredient breaks down into methanol? Aspartame! Recent studies have shown a wide array of artificial sweeteners have potential long term negative health effects. Like Ethanol, artificial sweeteners present a danger on a very small scale that takes years to show up. The damage isn't localized and acute, but accumulative, presented as 'aging'. The dangers of artificial sweeteners ingested in drinkable quantities are showing to have long term health effects. But at undetectable trace levels, artificial sweeteners, methanol from apple peels and any residual solvents, all are handled within the capacity of the liver and kidneys to be safely metabolized. 

So, what is the recommended solvent combination?

From a human body perspective, Acetone is the safest compound of all 4 solvents as it is the simplest form of Ketones, an energy source for the human body. For extraction, I highly endorse Isopropyl for the bulk extraction due to it's safer volatility and the fact is gets broken down into Acetone. Acetone would be my next go-to if I could get something other than denatured finger nail polish remover. Ethyl Acetate is actually the best non-polar solvent of the four but it costs more than ethanol. The down side is, Ethyl Acetate metabolizes into Ethanol. The downside to Ethanol is that it metabolizes into carcinogenic Acetaldehyde

So by following all safety procedures, Isopropyl alcohol has the best chemical characteristics, is the best bio-friendly solvent in trace quantities, and fit's the budget. Contaminant-free, medical-grade, Isopropyl is available and costs significantly less than Ethanol. Here in Oregon, USA, a single gallon of 99% USP-NF medical grade Isopropyl costing around $35, while a gallon of 95% Ethanol costs $84. Both solvents work for the bulk extraction and can be recovered using a simple moonshine still or as last resort, a water distiller. After distillation, Ethanol is used to redissolve the collected resins for winterization and final reduction. The final reduction process uses heat to "dry out" the oil, effectively removing any residual solvents, making the process robust as evidenced by the supporting lab tests.

A Better Product with a New Identity: RxCE - Refined Cannabis Extract

RxCE stands for Refined Cannabis Extract, which is the overarching category name for various product "flavors" of extract. The "X" in the name refers to the solvent used for making the oil. The product flavors are:

     R.E.C.E - Refined Ethanol Cannabis Extract (replacing FECO)

     R.I.C.E - Refined Isopropyl Cannabis Extract (replacing RSO)

     R.A.C.E - Refined Acetone Cannabis Extract

     R.E.A.E - Refined Ethyl Acetate Cannabis Extract (sounds like Ray)

These product names carry a consistent message for product differentiation.

Supporting Lab Tests

Below is a table that summarizes the Total Cannabinoids reported in each test. Test #1 was conducted in May 2021 on standard RSO, resulting in a total of 34% cannabinoids. The six subsequent tests were conducted with the incorporation of various process improvements. 

The final test resulted in an increase to 79% cannabinoids, which was achieved simply by adding distilled water to the wash and performing the Rapid Winterization, its that easy!

The seven lab tests can be seen [here] from newest to oldest.

How Does This Compare?

Cannabis products have different potency levels, with crude RSO at 30-50%, Live Rosin at 50-70%, and RxCE reaching 50-80%. Distillates start at 80% and go into the high 90s. Isolates are pure cannabinoids with purity around 99.9%. Distillate and isolates are higher end products that use lab gear to achieve this 80-99.999% purity.


The Trade-offs

Solvent Extraction has its trade-offs and RxCE is no exception. This is the fastest process to make near distillate quality oil, which is great, but with trade-offs.  

First, boiling off the alcohol in water causes emulations that steal cannabinoids. This is expected as the phospholipids hydrate and bond water with oil. These are the expected loses. But, this is a mixed bag where a light emulsion is a useful thing, but a heavy emulsion a bad thing. Emulsions form due to the semi-polar nature of phospholipids and denatured proteins. So to have emulsions means you're removing the bad stuff from the oil but losing some of the good stuff.  Reducing this emulsion to bare minimums is the trick. Watch this space for further optimizations..

From a recent test. The control case generated 9.1g. The actual test case generated 6.1g oils, 1.9g waxes, and the remaining 1.1g lost to emulsions and transfer losses. Note: Other refined processes will have the same wax content and remove the same emulsion forming compounds during winterization.

Secondly, given this process boils away the alcohol and also decarbs at atmospheric pressure, the loss of terpenes is unavoidable.  The oil is very smooth and can be vaped with little odor to be more discreet, not recommended with crude RSO. A higher tech approach is needed to preserve the terpenes. A popular but pricey solution is the Source Turbo or EtOH Pro models that use vacuum to hold down the temperatures. Next step up is to use lab gear, ie, Rotovap with SPD techniques to generate distillates. This system can capture the terpenes to be added back into the final oil.  

Thirdly, simple filtering in the kitchen lets unwanted compounds slip through. Case in point, the Wash step. The solvent washes the plant, then gets passed through a strainer, fryer oil cone filter, then No.6 coffee filters, but still comes up hazy. These are smaller particles slipping by. The desire is to have crystal clear wash. For now, this will do. If you're technical, a stronger filtering setup involves using a buchner filter with vacuum to pull the wash through paper filters. Do that and you're all set. (Authors Note: Ask me about using synthetics for filtering)

Lastly, given that the final oil has been refined at atmospheric pressure, the oil oxidizes and turns amber/reddish in color. This is not harmful, but to some less cosmetically appealing. 

All said, realize this process is a great improvement over RSO using very little tech. But keeping it simple by using only kitchen gear limits the ability to retain terpenes and provide more effective filtering. 

Does RxCE stand for 'Red Cannabis Extract'? 

It very well could! Boiling off the alcohol at ambient air pressure, ie, not under vacuum, will expose the cannabinoids to oxygen causing oxidation. It's this oxidized color you see in the final oil, not Chlorophyll.  I have a discussion in the Shop Manual on how to make golden oil. 

Steps in making RxCE Oil

Overall, there are now four steps to make oil. This new technique is presented in the RxCE Quick Start guide as well as the deep dive RxCE Shop Manual. The shop manual covers more issues and provides a deeper exploration of each step. 

 

#1 - WASHWash the plant material in your solvent.

 #2 - DISTILL: Add distilled water, then boil off the solvent.

 #3 - WINTERIZE: Separate out the waxes. 

 #4 - REDUCEReduce and decarb to final oil.

Additional Benefits..


Making Cannabis Oil The New Way

Here's a demonstration video showing how to make cleaner oil in under two hours. This demo extracts, degums and winterizes then decarbs 2oz of hemp into clean oil that can be vaped.

TIP: Download the Quick Start Guide for the latest step-by-step instructions. 

Click HERE to download the Quick Start Guide. 

Click HERE to view the Shop Manual online.

AUTHOR'S NOTE:  The original demo video and Quick Start Guide were created in March 2023 but does not show recent optimizations. These have been replaced but can still be found via these links video and Quick Start Guide.

                

RxCE Recipe in Easy to Follow Steps:

Here's the 'recipe' for a 2oz run. This scales, but for example simplicity, I'll stay with 2oz.

1) Wash. 

2) Distill. 

The following instructions are for small runs using an open boiler. A moonshine still and water distiller can be used for larger runs. Refer to the RxCE Shop Manual Distilling page for in-depth instructions on moonshine stills and water distillers. For small runs like this, use a quart pot on an electric heat source*

3) Rapid Winterization.

4) Reduction.

*For electric heat sources, use an electric skillet, griddle, fondue maker, any cooking appliances that uses an adjustable control thermostatic power cords for the heat source. I use a Cuisinart skillet for everything.

Conclusion

The RxCE extraction process is a simple change resulting in significant quality improvement over traditional RSO and FECO. By re-ordering the sequence of steps and incorporating well-established cooking oil industry techniques such as water degumming and winterization, the process yields a purer, more refined cannabis extract. The use of either ethanol or isopropyl alcohol for the bulk extraction offers flexibility and cost savings, with isopropyl being a safe and economical alternative to ethanol. The incorporation of distilled water into the wash and rapid winterization steps are the magic in raising the purity of the final product, resulting in higher Total Cannabinoids shown in the lab results.

In addition to producing a superior cannabis extract, the RxCE process is optimized in terms of time and materials. The elimination of the winterization speed bump through the use of smaller amounts of alcohol greatly reduce the time and expense required for making oil. The process also ensures a robust removal of residual solvents, making it a safe and reliable option for cannabis medical patients.

The consistent and informative naming convention for the various product flavors of RxCE further differentiates the product offerings and makes it easier for consumers to make informed choices.

Overall, the RxCE process makes minimal changes with huge improvements in the quality of cannabis extracts in the kitchen. Its efficient, cost-effective, and safe approach will likely make it a preferred method for cannabis extraction in the industry going forward.

So, does this work? The proof is in the oil!  Raw crude RSO started at 34% potency and has now reached 79% Total Cannabinoids Yield losses are slightly higher than the historic RSO with Winterization. By removing the trash, the volume may go down by 15%, but the potency doubles, reaching near distillate potency. Unlike RSO or FECO, vaping is now possible, providing a smoother and more enjoyable experience for those who prefer inhalation.

The objectives of faster, cleaner and cheaper RSO has been accomplished!

   Join our Facebook group to discussions about this process.

WARNING: Never distill alcohol near open flame.  Alcohol vapors are highly flammable so always distill in well ventilated spaces.

This oil is appropriate for oral ingesting and vaping.  Due to the potential of residual salts, do not torch this oil.  Torch temperatures can reach over 760c/1400f and can vaporize any residual salts. 

Disclaimer:  Your use of any information or materials on the C.H.S. Website is entirely at your own risk, for which we shall not be held liable. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure safe use and operation of any processes, products, services or information made available through C.H.S publications and Website.

Revision History - RxCE Home Page

23/12/04 Clarifying Acetone & Isopropyl discussion.

23/12/03 Clarified Author's note on dangers of artificial sweeteners above and below trace levels.

23/11/26 FOUND! Acetone has a partial GRAS rating! Discussion updated.

23/11/17 Clarifying Acetone & Isopropyl discussion.

23/10/28 Edits on Solvents. Expanding on Acetone.

23/10/04 Expounded on dangers of residual solvents.

23/10/01 Page published.

23/09/20 Page done

23/06/10 Soft release candidate published to the FB group.