Aldehyde (noun): an organic compound containing the group —CHO, formed by the oxidation of alcohols. Typical aldehydes include methanol (oxidizing to formaldehyde) and ethanol (oxidizing to acetaldehyde).
This article is a brief discussion of aldehydes- something those in the cannabis extraction and distillation industry need to be aware of. Even though aldehydes are natural and used often in different industries, they are showing to promote the development of cancers by disrupting our DNA repair processes. Some natural compounds are only tolerated by our bodies in low concentrations. This is shown with how the human body naturally produces methanol, but any real excess of methanol causes terrible things to happen- like going blind after ingesting just a few milliliters or dying from only ten milliliters or more. Scientists are noticing that the accumulation of aldehydes increase cancer risks, especially for those with genetic susceptibility via mutations of genes BRCA2 and ALDH2.
We have seen that especially during butane extractions with the use of higher psi, open blasting, or looping tech- the fat and lipid components seem to carry most of these different aldehydes and carbonyl compounds out of the plant material. We have noticed an increased sheen and believe it be comprised largely of aldehydes. If a TTP (time, temperature, pressure) extraction is completed properly, we see from our research that less of these compounds will be present in the extracted oil. For the most part they would only be present in the lipids/waxes and residual plant matter. Unfortunately, with some extraction processes like rosin pressing, you are guaranteed to pull significant aldehydes and other unwanted compounds into your product.
By utilizing fractional distillation and various polishing techniques (like multi-pass dewaxing), you can remove the vast majority of these compounds from the cannabis extracts or oils you are collecting. The thing to remember is that in essential oil extraction, aldehydes can be a heavily concentrated compound within the oil. This is one major reason we at Summit always promote the creation and use of clean products.
Let’s make something clear- with oxidation, the degradation of aldehydes exists. Now take what we learned and apply it to any “live resin” extract. We understand that live resin type extracts tend to contain significantly more water, aldehydes, methane, etc. than properly cured and dried material. These chemicals are the results of a decomposing plant, as when plants are strung up to dry, they actually decompose. This vents many gasses like chlorine, chloramine, methane etc. When you start extracting fresh plant material, this can be an issue because you really cannot control what decomposing components you are extracting along with the cannabinoids.
In the case where a plant has not matured in the drying state, you are also performing a less efficient extraction. This is in part due to the water molecules allowing hydrocarbons to wrap around them, preventing some of the hydrocarbons from grabbing cannabinoids. This almost guarantees to provide you an incomplete extraction, with cannabinoids still present in the plant material. These poor-quality extractions are often seen in the grey and black markets. The user is tricked by water weight and the “artist” now sold you boofed product filled with water, aldehydes, and other inactive compounds. We are solely against this practice.
We want to encourage further discussion around the topic of aldehydes, so we ask you to email us at email@example.com. We can also elaborate and help people understand how to avoid extracting these compounds, so that you have a smaller risk factor of heavy aldehyde concentrations within your extract.
We ask, why would anyone want to have this in their product, or even consider not removing this when making medicine…? –JBV
Aldehyde Information Links