In this second part of our exclusive concentrate series, we bring you the Budderking’s recipe for creating clean, butane-free concentrates.
Photos by Budderking
This procedure, which we will refer to here as “Method II,” comes directly from the Budderking himself. For many years, Budderking has produced some of the world’s most amazing concentrates (a.k.a. botanical drug substances or BDS). In fact, he coined the word budder, and had been making it long before most people even knew it could exist in such a pure, flavorful form. Now, given the increasing popularity of concentrates, Budderking has generously decided to reveal his methods so that we can share them with the world at large. When he first created budder, it was a revolutionary step, since it’s a completely organic method of extraction that yields a very potent product. Many others have performed the same extraction process, but Budderking was the first and deserves due credit. Here, his process is simply scaled up and refined for efficiency purposes.
Basically, Budderking’s method is an organic ethanol alcohol wash, performed very quickly so that minimal contaminate (chlorophyll) is dissolved into the extract, which can turn the fluid green and not golden as desired. Almost all of the information in this article came from Budderking himself, and the only thing he requested in return was that we ask Pete Brady to contact him, since Pete performed some of the original budder experiments with him and wrote articles about the result.
For Method II, the frozen buds must first be removed from their stems and allowed to sit out until dry – very dry, crispy dry (as Budderking puts it, “Dry as a bone”). All of the gear needed for the first step in this process is common kitchenware: a sieve or large strainer, two large coffee filters, and a container large enough to catch the filtered fluid.
This first step is best done in a freezer. Suspend the two coffee filters (fitted into each other) over the top of the container and fill them three-quarters full with dried, slightly broken-up buds. Next, use 190-proof organic grape spirits (from organicalcohol.com), which should have been stored in the freezer. This organic grape alcohol is the purest and finest we’ve seen, and it has a sweet nectar smell with very little essence of alcohol.
This process requires two and a half gallons of alcohol per pound of cannabis. While the container is still in the freezer, pour the alcohol over the top of the buds, making sure to cover them completely. Pour it fairly rapidly until the coffee filters are filled and then close the freezer door. After about five minutes, open the door and repeat the wash process by pouring alcohol over the buds and then closing the door. Repeat this process five times. After five washes, the quality will rapidly diminish and chlorophyll and other unwanted contaminates will begin to darken the fluid.
Throughout the extraction process, everything should be kept at or below freezing – but if that isn’t possible, everything must be kept at a maximum of 65°F; warmer than that and excessive contaminates wash from the buds and pass through the filters. If you prefer, you can separate all five washes into separate containers to get five grades of quality (the first being the best, the second being second-best and so on).
The collected alcohol/concentrate solution then needs to be evaporated. Pour the solution into an 11" x 15" aluminum pan or glass dish lined with parchment paper. Place the dish in front of a fan in a well-ventilated area with absolutely no ignition source, as evaporated alcohol is very flammable and unhealthy to breathe; for these reasons, we always advise doing the evaporation outdoors in shade. Place washable plastic filters (the kind used for in-window air-conditioners) over the dish to prevent unwanted dust, insects, and debris from settling on your solution. A double boiler can be used to speed up the evaporation process, but never heat the water to boiling or exceed a temperature of 200°F, and never exceed a temperature of 120°F in the evaporating solution. Also, don’t try to rush things by heating indoors: A little bit of patience results in much safer procedures. A downdraft fan can speed up the evaporation as well.
1. After extraction, the solution is a tincture containing cannabinoids (THC) and terpenes dissolved in the alcohol. From here, winterize or begin evaporation.
2. Pour the solution into a glass dish or onto parchment paper for evaporation. The dish can be steam-heated or fans used to expedite evaporation.
3. Steam heat beneath the dish hastens evaporation. Never use an open flame.
4. Evaporation is complete when the concentrate hardens and can be scraped together. Be patient, as it will take much longer to whip into budder if not completely evaporated.
To evaporate large quantities of concentrate, you can use a 4' x 4' or 4' x 8' grow tray partially filled with water and then circulate the water through an on-demand water heater (available at any hardware store). The water heater must be kept a minimum of 50 feet away from the evaporation dish to prevent fires. Multiple dishes can then be placed in hot water all at once to accelerate processing large quantities. Wait for a complete evaporation of the alcohol with only a slight amount of water left, which will sit on top of the concentrate. But you must have complete evaporation, so continue fan-drying until all of the residual water is gone. When applying heat, never do so for too long or use excessively high heat or you will not get budder. At the same time, too short a heating process or under-evaporating will also result in poor quality product. It takes effort and experience to develop a successful routine, but patience is always the safest policy.
So, once again, let the solution sit and evaporate on low heat. Excessive heat will remove the volatile essential oils responsible for the flavors and fragrances of the concentrate. If the color of the fluid or product begins to darken, the heat is too high. Lower temperatures work best: 113°F seems optimal (and to repeat, do not heat above 120°F). When complete evaporation is achieved, the layer of concentrate on the parchment paper will be sticky or tacky; if it’s oily or runny, the evaporation is not complete.
5. After scraping together, the concentrate will be somewhat fluid if still warm. If not, warm on a hotplate to prepare for whipping.
Once the concentrate is sticky or tacky, place it on parchment paper into the vacuum drying oven. The apparatus I recommend for this step is the Model V vacuum drying oven from acrossinternational.com, along with the vacuum pump/cold trap and bellows available in the K-package from vacuumpumpsupply.com. The vacuum in the chamber is reduced to 8 millitorr, and the oven temperature is brought up to 50°C on the oven readout. The cold trap is utilized to catch any alcohol and water that would otherwise contaminate the pump oil and weaken the vacuum pull (and possibly rust the inside of the vacuum pump, ultimately leading to failure). You can place either liquid nitrogen into the top chamber of the cold trap or dry ice into the bottom chamber, or utilize both chambers to ensure that any remaining alcohol and moisture is caught. After pulling an 8 millitorr vacuum at 50°C, the degassing and drying is complete.
Extract artists like Budderking prefer the texture of a concrete/budder over an absolute/glass (for a discussion of these terms, see Part 1 of this article). But whether you make absolute/glass using Method I or Method II, a form of budder can be achieved from either by whipping the result.
For small batches, Budderking evaporates the solvent in a glass dish using hot water and air movement. After evaporation, he scrapes the concentrate into a mass and dries it by placing the dish into a convection oven pre-warmed to 160°F. After 15 minutes, he removes the dish to cool for about an hour at room temperature. He scrapes the cooled concentrate from the dish using large, properly cleaned razor blades and collects the concentrate into one mass. If the concentrate is dried onto parchment paper in a vacuum drying oven, the paper is folded so that the concentrate sticks to itself and then pulled from the paper to form one large mass.
After drying (using either method), place the mass of concentrate into a glass bowl. Budderking’s procedure for whipping is as follows: First, he places the glass bowl with its concentrate mass into a convection oven pre-warmed to 160°F for 15 minutes. After removing it and allowing it to cool to the point where it’s just warm, he starts whipping. He wraps a lint-free towel around a handheld drill to keep debris from the drill’s motor brushes from dropping into the concentrate. Then he replaces the drill bit with a round-tipped dental spatula and whips the warm concentrate thoroughly by running the drill for 10 to 15 minutes. The concentrate slowly becomes lighter in color and eventually turns blond/semi-white, hardening as it cools. He continues this rapid stirring until the concentrate becomes drier and less sticky. It is then placed briefly back into the pre-warmed convection oven, again at 160°F, but only for three to five minutes before removing.
6. Use a drill fitted with a dental spatula at high speed to make whipping easy and thorough. Periodically warm on the hot plate while whipping, but do not overheat. If comfortable in your hand, it is not overheated.
7. It takes time to become budder, but color and consistency will slowly change; be patient and repeatedly warm and stir thoroughly and evenly.
8. Color becomes lighter and consistency becomes thicker during whipping. Be careful with the drill not to fling concentrate everywhere.
9. Properly whipped budder is near blond before drying. Once it cools a little and thickens, it must be transferred to another container for drying and easier collection.
10. Undried budder should be thick, not runny. Drying is done on parchment paper in a vacuum drying oven or in silicone baking dishes as Budderking does.
When allowed to cool, the concentrate will dry to budder. If the concentrate fails to become budder, you can always try the process again – reheat, whip and cool – to see if it dries, hardens, and becomes lighter, with a color that resembles butter. (If it doesn’t, you may have overheated or burned the concentrate; it will darken, and the result will not be budder.) The whipping can also be done in silicone dishes for easier collection. After the reheating and final drying, you should place the concentrate into a freezer to cool for easier collection. (It will not stick to the silicone dishes.)
From left: The easiest and simplest drying and collection of large quantities is done in silicone muffin dishes; these dishes cool quickly and, to process large quantities, can be cooled even quicker in a freezer for faster reusing.
The biggest factors that will determine the final color of the concentrate are as follows:
Harvest times. Harvesting cannabis on the early side makes for lighter shades of concentrate, while older, later-harvested cannabis results in darker ones.
Heat. Overheating the concentrate (either for too long or at excessive temps) will darken and weaken the final product.
Light. Cannabis exposed to excessive light will produce darker concentrate. Always manicure buds under artificial light (or in shade – not sunlight) and dry them in darkness. Light will degrade cannabinoids and terpenes, and the result is a less potent and darker-colored concentrate. Indeed, GW Pharmaceuticals recommends exposing cannabis only to amber light after harvest, since amber light will not darken or oxidize the trichome contents. Therefore, the recommended method is to make concentrates only under amber or subdued light.
Age. The older the cannabis is, the darker the concentrate will be. To slow down aging, fresh-freeze cannabis using dry nitrogen gas to replace the oxygen in the storage containers.
As mentioned earlier, the timing of the harvest is important. For example, monitoring THC accumulation in the buds from a single plant, we found that the THC increased from 12% to more than 20% over a three-week period, followed by a plateau for another two weeks before it slowly began to diminish.
Also, the longer cannabinoids stay in the suspension fluid, the darker the fluid will become, and the darker your concentrate will be as a result. So always remove the concentrate from the fluid as soon as possible.
Suggestions Worth a Further Look by Professionals
1.) Lyophilization allows you to freeze-dry the extract instead of adding heat during drying; this is freeze-drying under vacuum.
2.) Sublimation (a.k.a. phase transition) is the transition of a substance from an absolute phase to a gaseous phase without passing through an intermediate liquid phase. This process might be used to capture specific cannabinoids and essential oils on a cold finger.
3.) Fractionation (or fractional distillation) is the process of separating mixtures of liquids and gasses by utilizing differences in boiling points. Used with rotovaporization, this process could allow for the separation of terpenoids from cannabinoids.
4.) Steam distillation, a type of separation process for temperature-sensitive materials, could be useful in capturing aromatic cannabis compounds.
All of the processes mentioned above merit a serious look by professional extract artists, since they might enable us to separate beneficial compounds such as pure THCA, THCV, CBD, etc., allowing further investigation into the beneficial effects of each. This is science, not “blasting from a can.”
In order to secure and preserve its legitimacy, the concentrate industry must learn to self-regulate, educate its practitioners, and promote safe means of manufacturing as well as healthy means of ingestion. The industry has entered a stage in which marijuana concentrates are becoming increasingly popular for both medicinal and recreational purposes. We can make pure products with very specific and exacting percentages of specific cannabinoids only through collaborations with reliable professional labs. But if careless fools keep blowing up their houses, the industry as a whole will suffer – and our fear is that, as legalization progresses, concentrate manufacturers and consumers will experience a backlash caused by sensational media hype, possibly even leading to laws prohibiting all concentrate manufacturing and consumption.
And we don’t want that to happen, because all of us would lose.