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THCA Extraction Techniques

June 24, 2024

THCA Extraction Techniques

THCA cannabis flower has long been favored for smoking and vaping. But as the cannabis industry expands, the demand for different concentrates and forms of THCa grows, too.

Understanding all the methods of THCa extraction can deepen your appreciation for the products you enjoy.

Whether you’re a seasoned cannabis enthusiast or just curious, we’ll explore the most common THCA extraction techniques!

Understanding THCA

First let’s understand what THCa is.

THCA, short for tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, is the raw form of THC, the compound known for its psychoactive effects.

THCA converts to THC when the plant is heated—a process known as decarboxylation.

Essentially, THCA is the acidic form of THC before it undergoes this activation process.

THCA is federally legal under the 2018 Farm Bill. It can be extracted and found in products such as tinctures, topicals, capsules, vape cartridges, diamonds, and live resin.

Now, let’s explore different methods of extracting THCA.

Common THCA Extraction Methods

Understanding the various methods used to extract THCA from cannabis plants is essential to producing THCA diamonds and pure crystalline THCA.

This section will explore two primary categories of extraction methods: solvent-based and solventless.

Solvent Based Extraction

Solvent extraction methods use liquid solvents to extract THCA from the plant material. Imagine these solvents as liquids that dissolve and pull out the beneficial compounds from the plant.

This method is popular because it’s quick and efficient. Common solvents like butane, propane, and CO2 are used for this process. They dissolve the THCA, which can be purified and concentrated to create potent products like THCA diamonds.

Butane Hash Oil (BHO) Extraction

One of the most common ways to extract THCA is through Butane Hash Oil (BHO) extraction. This method uses butane, a highly flammable hydrocarbon, to pull cannabinoids like THCA from the cannabis plant.

Here’s how it works: First, cannabis is packed into a tube. Then, butane is passed through the tube to dissolve the cannabinoids, including THCA, creating a solution. The next step involves evaporating the butane, leaving behind a cannabis extract known as shatter, wax, or budder.

BHO extraction can yield very potent concentrates, but it comes with risks due to the flammability of butane.

Ethanol Extraction

Another method for extracting THCA is using ethanol, a common and safer solvent.

Here’s how it works: the cannabis plant material is soaked in ethanol, which dissolves and pulls out the desired compounds. Afterward, the solution goes through a filtration to remove any plant bits and impurities.

Ethanol extraction is known for its efficiency and safety compared to other solvent methods.

CO2 Supercritical Extraction

CO2 supercritical extraction is a modern method that uses carbon dioxide (CO2) in a special state where it acts as both a liquid and a gas to extract THCA and other cannabinoids from cannabis.

Here’s how it works: CO2 in this supercritical state flows through a chamber containing cannabis starting material. As it passes through, it dissolves and collects the desired compounds. When the pressure is reduced, evaporation of the CO2 leaves behind a pure cannabis extract with no residual solvent.

One of the most significant advantages of CO2 supercritical extraction is its precision and control. By adjusting temperature and pressure, manufacturers can target specific compounds like THCA, ensuring a high-quality end product. Because no solvent remains in the final extract, there’s no need for additional purification steps.

However, CO2 supercritical extraction is not suitable for small-scale or home use. It’s complex and expensive, typically reserved for large-scale production facilities.

CO2 supercritical extraction uses a special form of carbon dioxide to extract pure THCA and cannabinoids from cannabis, resulting in a high-quality, solvent-free product suited for large-scale operations.

Solventless Extraction

As the name suggests, solvent extraction methods do not involve using solvents. Instead, they rely on physical processes such as heat, pressure, and agitation to extract and isolate THCA from the cannabis plant.

Unlike solvent-based methods, which use chemicals to extract compounds, solventless methods are simpler and safer. They preserve the plant’s natural terpene profile, contributing to its aroma and flavor.

Rosin Pressing

Now, let’s explore rosin pressing—a method known for its simplicity and safety in cannabis extraction. This technique, heat and pressure extraction, doesn’t use solvents. Instead, it applies heat and pressure to cannabis plant material or hash.

Here’s how it works: Heat and pressure are applied to the cannabis, causing the resin-producing glands (trichomes) to burst open. This releases a concentrated substance called rosin, which contains THCA and other cannabinoids.

People love rosin pressing because it produces a clean concentrate without needing solvents. However, it can be challenging to achieve consistent results, and the yield might be lower compared to methods that use solvents.

Dry Sift

Dry sift, known as dry sieving, is a method of extracting THCA without using solvents.

Here’s how it works: You take dry cannabis and gently shake it over a series of screens with increasingly fine mesh. The trichomes, which contain THCA and other cannabinoids, are smaller and more fragile than the plant material. They pass through the screens while the larger plant material remains on top. You collect a concentrated form of trichomes known as kief or dry sift.

Dry sift is favored for its simplicity and affordability in obtaining THCA. It’s popular because it preserves the full spectrum of terpenes and cannabinoids in the plant. However, it can be labor-intensive, and yield may not be as high as solvent methods.

In contrast to solvent-based extraction methods, which use chemicals to dissolve and extract cannabinoids from the plant material, dry sift relies solely on mechanical separation through screens. This makes it a solventless and natural way to obtain THCA-rich extracts.

Ice Water Hash

Ice water hash (also known as bubble hash or full-melt hash) is a solventless method that uses ice water and agitation to separate the trichomes from the plant material.

The cannabis is submerged in ice water and agitated. The trichomes detach and sink to the bottom due to their density.

The hash is then collected, dried, and graded based on its purity and quality. Ice water hash is famous for its potency and purity and for preserving the plant’s natural terpene profile, making it a highly sought-after concentrate among connoisseurs.

Innovative THCA Extraction Techniques

While the methods mentioned earlier are proven effective, the cannabis industry constantly evolves with new techniques that promise better efficiency, purity, and higher yields. Here are some exciting new ways to extract THCA:

Ultrasonic Extraction

Ultrasonic extraction is a new technique that uses high-frequency sound waves to extract THCA and other cannabinoids from the cannabis plant.

In this process, the plant material is submerged in a solvent, and ultrasonic waves are applied. Cavitation (the formation and collapse of microscopic bubbles) occurs in the solvent.

This cavitation effect breaks down the plant cell walls and allows more efficient extraction of the desired compounds. Ultrasonic extraction is touted for increasing yield, reducing extraction time, and minimizing solvent use compared to traditional methods.

Microwave-Assisted Extraction

Microwave-assisted extraction (MAE) is another new technique that combines microwave heating and solvent extraction. In this process, the cannabis plant material is mixed with a solvent and exposed to microwave radiation, which heats the solvent rapidly and extracts the desired compounds, including THCA.

MAE is more environmentally friendly and energy-saving than traditional methods, as it reduces extraction time and solvent use. The rapid heating and pressure changes from microwave radiation can also increase yield and selectivity.

Post-Extraction Processing

Once THCA is extracted, the process continues. Most extraction methods leave us with an oil after removing the solvent.

This cannabis oil contains plant lipids, possibly chlorophyll, waxes, fats, terpenes, THC, and other cannabinoids.

To enhance purity and potency, further processing is required to remove plant lipids and waxes to get better, more potent impurity-free thca crystals.

Two crucial steps in this process are winterization and decarboxylation.


Winterization is crucial to removing unwanted fats, waxes, and lipids from the crude extract.

These can detract from the purity and quality of the final product.

In winterization, the extract is mixed with ethanol and then cooled to temperatures below -20 °C (-4°F). The cold causes the fats and waxes to freeze, coagulate, and separate from the mixture so they can be filtered out.

Winterization is essential to produce a transparent, more concentrated THCA that looks better, is more potent, and is easier to consume.


Decarboxylation is another process that happens after THCA extraction. This involves heating the extract, which converts THCA into THC, the psychoactive compound that gets you high. We decarboxylate because THCA doesn’t get you high until it’s converted into THC.

This is important for any cannabis product that’s meant for recreational or medicinal use that requires the psychoactive properties of THC.

During decarboxylation, temperature control is key to ensuring the THCA is converted efficiently without degrading the cannabinoid.

Where To Buy THCA Products Online?

When you’re ready to try high-potency THCA products, remember that your experience is only as good as your chosen supplier!

Bay Smokes is the best place for high-quality THCA products for newbies and old-timers.

We have THCA concentrates in all forms! THCA Diamonds, THCA Live Resin,  THCA Sugar Diamonds, and THCA vape carts.

All products are lab-tested to ensure they meet high purity and potency standards and are contaminant-free.

We also wholesale THCA products if you want to stock up or resell. Try BaySmokes Extracts and Dabs for a potent cannabis experience! Our customer support team is here to help you with questions and help you navigate our products.


Does THCA get you high?

Yes, THCA gets you high when heated, like smoking or baking edibles, as the heat turns it into THC, which is Psychoactive.

What is live resin?

Live resin is a type of cannabis concentrate made from fresh, flash-frozen cannabis plants to preserve the complete terpene profile. Live resin is known for its flavor and aroma and is used to make high-quality vaporizing carts and dabs.

What’s the best solvent for THCA extraction?

The best solvents for THCA extractions are butane (BHO extraction), ethanol, and supercritical CO2.

How is THCA extracted from cannabis?

THCA can be extracted from cannabis using various methods, solvent-based (e.g., BHO, ethanol, CO2 supercritical extraction) and solventless (e.g., rosin pressing, dry sift, ice water hash).

The process involves separating the THCA-rich trichomes or resinous compounds from the cannabis plant material, often using solvents, mechanical agitation, or heat and pressure, and then a purification method to remove impurities.

What solvents are used for THCA extraction?

Some common solvents for THCA extraction are butane (for BHO extraction), ethanol, and supercritical CO2. Other solvents, such as isopropyl alcohol and hexane, are used in certain extraction processes or for post-processing steps like winterization.

How do I make my THCA more potent?

To make your THCA more potent, you can focus on optimizing the extraction system and purification methods.

This can involve adjusting temperature, pressure, and solvent ratios during extraction and using methods like winterization or chromatography to remove impurities and concentrate the THCA.

Is Delta 9 and THCA the same?

No, Delta 9 and THCA are not the same. THCA is the precursor to Delta 9 THC, and THCA converts to Delta 9 THC through decarboxylation, which can happen through heat or light exposure.

Is THCA natural or synthetic?

THCA is a natural compound found in the cannabis plant, not synthetic or man-made. It is found in the plant’s trichomes (resin glands).


Legal Disclaimer: Bay Smokes products are not approved by the FDA to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any illnesses. All products are compliant with the US Farm Bill and under 0.3% THC. Bay Smokes products and website are intended for ADULT use only. Full disclaimer in Terms of Service. Delta8 or other Hemp-Derived THCs will not be shipped to states where the product has been expressly banned. Product availability varies from state to state per each product’s regulation.

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