Once you’re in the solventless game, a galaxy of options reveals itself. Solventless extraction equipment can create dry sift, bubble hash and live rosin, each of which can be further honed into a number of popular products on the market.
“Live hash rosin is where most brands want to get to at the very beginning,” PurePressure Director of Marketing Eric Vlosky says. ”That's really where they want to start with solventless, unless you have a brand that is really focused on edibles or topicals and you don't do dabbable concentrates. For the vast majority of brands that we talk to and consult, it really comes down to: You want to make a high-quality hash rosin, which is made with fresh-frozen cannabis, and bring that to the market because that's going to be your highest margin product.”
Solventless concentrates are a rapidly growing category within the broader cannabis market. On dispensary shelves from more mature markets like California and Oregon to newer medical cannabis markets like Oklahoma and New York, customers and patients will find a variety of solventless products.
“A lot of the more advanced solventless brands that really put their name on the map with hash rosin early on started moving toward cartridges because they knew that it would enable them to expand their brand into a much bigger audience, because the number of people out there that will buy a vape cartridge and take it with them somewhere is quite a bit bigger than in the market that will take dabs, necessarily,” Vlosky says.
As consumer sophistication develops, the market broadens itself considerably. Because solventless extraction retains the chemical nuances of the original cannabis plant material, it’s an intriguing option for customers seeking something more focused to their tastes. And, increasingly, because retail staffers tend to be themselves sophisticated consumers, the educational engagement around these products on the sales floor is eager and in-depth.
That’s what makes the hash rosin vape cart such a prized end goal: Outside of flower itself, the vape cart is one of the most ubiquitous SKUs on the market. A solventless approach to that category is something that connoisseur customers want.
“The caveat is that you really have to master your hash rosin process before you have any realistic shot of being able to make a good hash rosin cart,” Vlosky says. “It really comes down to making great hash rosin first, and then you can do the various processes and mechanical fractioning and all the other things that are needed to make a good rosin cart.”
Putting the cart before the horse, so to speak, might land your business a subpar product, typically a finished hash oil that doesn’t have the right viscosity for a cartridge environment. This is why it’s critical to have a multi-phase approach to a solventless operation. Set a foundation, and then chart a course to get where you’re going with your goals.
So much of the solventless process comes back to good source material. WIth fresh-frozen hash, you’ll often be purchasing your plant materials already frozen. This means that you’ll want to store it promptly and properly back in the lab (“You don't want to pack [the material] in too tight because then it makes breaking them up more difficult,” Vlosky says. “Those trichomes are delicate even when they're frozen. You do want to be delicate with the products that you're working with.”)
For brands that are vertically integrated with a cultivation operation, going down the road toward solventless SKUs actually cuts out some of the time spent otherwise on drying and curing. Defan the plants, and then place them into turkey bags for the freezer. It’s a degree of efficiency that will be clear on the balance sheets: If time is money, you can funnel your plant material toward lucrative end uses while buying yourself some more time with the rosin press.
Other types of SKUs that are making a splash in the broader market include edibles (often enough, gummies) and hash-infused pre-rolls. These products provide a solventless version of familiar consumption methods, a new twist on the effects that a consumer or patient might be seeking.
Once you’re in the solventless world, the possibilities start adding up fast. The goals that a business sets for itself in solventless are a testament to the team’s creativity and willingness to meet the market where it’s headed.
“If you're thinking about getting into solventless, I think really paying attention and becoming a student of the game, in terms of what some of these other giant brands are doing with solventless, is a really good place to start,” Vlosky says. “It's really good to get inspired and to see what they're doing.”