Waxes and Emulsions


Solvent extraction is non-specific in that it will dissolve anything that meets certain criteria. Non-polar solvents used in the RxCE process love to dissolve lipids. Lipids are a class of non-polar compounds - oil, fats, waxes, plus phospholipids straddling the fence between polar and non-polar. The intent of this page is to show how to recover waxes and emulsions produced in this process.

Wax Recovery

Depending on the strain and temperature of the extraction, from 15-30% of an extraction can be fats, waxes and phospholipids. Recover is easy enough. First approach is to scrape the waxes into a storage jar. This can be done right after 'Rapid Winterization'. The second approach is a bit more work. Following winterization, dissolve all the waxes in Isopropyl alcohol. Add 2 cups water and 1/2 cup non-iodine table salt. Shake it up, let it settle for 2 minutes, then use a turkey baster to draw off the top alcohol layer and place in a boiler.  Add 125ml/half cup water then boil out the alcohol. Once done, a simple 'salt remediation' procedure needs to be done. Drop the temp to 10c/50f and the oil will go stiff. Dump out the waste water saving the oils and sediments in the pan. Rinse the pan with cold water and dump the water. Let it dry then re-dissolve the waxes in ethanol. You can now boil it down into final waxy form just like in the RxCE final reduction. Once done, you can measure the weight of the bowl.


Emulsions are a nasty thing. In our case, a two edged sword. Good news, the emulsions carry away bad stuff. Bad news, the emulsions carry away good stuff.  Emulsions grow with water content. Worst case testing, I added 2 liters of distilled water to 1 liter of wash. The ENTIRE amount of oil was dispersed in the emulsion. Not even oil tar balls, just milky green emulsion. So the fix is to limit the formation of emulsions by using as little water as possible. After distillation, the waste water should be clear but slightly amber in color which is the best case. A greenish milky color shows an emulsion, the worst case. Fortunately, this is recoverable, but results in low quality oil. Think of this as the 2nd extraction, but also saving the trash. Your best oil will come from the oils, not from waste water. 

Here's the trick in recovering the oil from the waste water. This trick only works with Isopropyl alcohol. This comes from the RSO 2.0 'Silting'  procedure. 

Here's what to do - you are going to extract the oil out of the water. Question - how much emulsion water do you have? Add that much in 91% isopropyl and 1/4th as much in non-iodine table salt. Shake, Shake, Shake. Let the jar settle for a couple minutes as it forms two separate layers. Once there are two layers, use a turkey baster to draw off the top alcohol layer. Leave any visible junk behind. Don't try to suck up the last of the alcohol, it's not worth it. Now, boil out the alcohol. Once done, take the temp to 10c/50f to dump the salty waste water. At this point, we need to do a bit of 'salt remediation'. Salt doesn't stick to the oil but the oil can trap the salt in it's folds. In order to free this salt, add 1 cup boiling water and use a silicon spatula to stir up the oils. The hot oils will flex and release trapped salt crystals. Now, take this back down to 10c/50f, then dump this water water retaining oils and sediments. Repeat if that last water was a bit salty. It will diminish quickly.  If the water is salt free, time to move forward with the "Rapid Winterization".

Another way of using salt to break the emulsion during the 2nd step - Distillation. Add 1.25g/ quart tsp of non-iodine table salt to the wash before boiling down. This increases the polar hydrogen bonding and forces non-polar weaker bonds to be broken. This is how the dissolved oil with the alcohol separates can break away from the water. Once free, the alcohol gets boiled off and the oil coalesces into larger oil drops.


Tips and Tools


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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. 

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Revision History - RxCE Waxes and Emulsions

23/10/01 Page published.

23/09/20 Page done

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