Kristina Etter   |   August 27, 2021

Solventless Rosin: A New Horizon for Cannabis Edibles?

Reintroducing a full-flavor, full-spectrum, full-effect cannabis edible experience.
Kristina Etter spent 20 years in corporate IT with a niche in mobile technology and IoT in agriculture. Today, she combines her love of technology with a passion for cannabis as the Editorial Director for Cannabis Tech.

Cannabis rosins are quickly taking center stage in the legal market. Considered by many to be the highest quality, cleanest cannabis concentrates available, solventless extracts aren’t produced with hydrocarbons or harsh chemicals, only ice water along with a bit of heat and pressure.

However, in edibles production, many producers prefer to work with distillates that strip nearly all the compounds from the oils, except THC. This process affords them a potent starting point for infusions and allows them to add specific terpenes back into the product to manipulate and control flavor and effect.

But, while cannabis distillates offer THC potencies as high as 99%, connoisseurs know and understand that with cannabis, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And thanks to cannabis edible producers like äkta, a woman-led cannabis brand in Colorado, true full-spectrum edibles are making a comeback with rosin.

Rosin, A Lesson in Supply & Demand

According to an article from MJ Biz Daily with data acquired by Headset, rosin is the number one growing sub-concentrate category across all mature cannabis markets, including California, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon. Demanding a premium at $60-$80 per gram, many producers are adding rosin concentrates to their product lineup.

Eric Vlosky, Director of Marketing and Business Development at PurePressure, a solventless equipment manufacturer, believes that for producers, rosin production is an “easy and comparably affordable way to additional SKUs to an extraction brand.”

During an interview with Cannabis Tech, he commented, “People who have the income to buy a top-quality product are gravitating toward solventless. For connoisseurs of hash and concentrates, it’s similar to the model of farm-to-table concept in organic food.”

While making rosin is nothing new, creating consistent, scalable processes and equipment for commercial rosin production have been ramping up in recent years.

“Consistency is critical and difficult to do with basic equipment,” Vlosky explained. “Operators need the maximum amount of variable control and reliability to make extremely consistent products in a repeatable manner.”

Edibles Come Full Circle

As cannabis has gained acceptance, a new consumer influx influenced edibles production. To appeal to a broader range of cannabis consumers, many edible producers changed their formulations from the traditional full-flavor cannabis extracts to flavorless THC distillate. Then, to distinguish particular effects, they reintroduce terpenes in specific ratios to complement the final product.

During an interview, Renee Grossman, CEO of äkta creations, acknowledged, “The mass-market consumer didn’t like the hash taste; they wanted products that tasted like regular candy, so [distillate] became much more profitable.”

So, when asked about the motives behind her decision to use rosin, Grossman explained, “We wanted our products to be about the authentic, ultimate cannabis experience, which is really about full-spectrum and whole flower.”

While the terpene-enhanced formulas do the trick for most casual consumers, another segment of cannabis consumer prefers the full plant flavor of traditional hash and recognizes the difference in the full entourage effect. The potency chase in cannabis products was novel, but mature markets are starting to reflect a demand for a more profound experience.

äkta, Swedish for genuine, authentic, real, and true, prefers to educate the consumer about the more balanced, mind-body high produced by full-spectrum cannabis products. Grossman reminds, “It’s not just about THC potency in cannabis, it’s about the full cannabinoid and terpene profile,” which she believes is more robust in soil-grown plants.

Returning to more traditional processes, Hava Gardens, the cultivator behind äkta, starts with plants grown in organic, living soil rather than the chemical nutrients of hydroponics. Grossman compared cannabis to tomatoes, explaining, “Hydroponic tomatoes are big and red, but they have no flavor, no aroma.” In contrast, regarding soil-grown tomatoes, she continued, “the smaller and uglier the tomato, the more concentrated the sugars, flavors, and nutrients.”

She believes the same is true with cannabis.

Quality In – Quality Out

Vlosky agrees and describes one of the biggest challenges of producing quality rosin, “is that you really need high-quality starting material, and rosin will tell you the truth.”

“Not all strains play nice with the mechanical separation process of ice water hash,” he continued. “Maybe they don’t have good bud structure; they don’t produce enough resin, the trichomes are too small; there’s some nuance there, and not all strains work.”

However, for newly licensed operations, rosin presents some advantages. “Solventless extraction is easier to get approved from a city or municipality perspective,” Vlosky explained. “You’re not using volatile chemicals or solvents; nothing is flammable, there’s really no safety considerations.”

Additionally, he said, “solventless products tend to command the highest prices in the market, so if producers get their yields right, they can offer a high-profit margin.”

 

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