🇺🇸 Retired veteran, father, rock-climbing expert & rosin connoisseur.
Building out a quality ice water extraction system represents a significant capital expense. When it comes to investments, few things in your operation will deliver the returns that a hash washing set up is capable of delivering. But getting it right requires some key considerations.
The process of collecting loose resin has gone through several iterations over the decades. And the equipment that hash makers use to build out their labs have kept up. In fact, sometimes the equipment itself drives the innovations in hash making. That said, there are many different variations of systems to choose from. And a variety of manufacturers who make them.
Starting with the end goal in mind provides hash makers with the north star to guide them through the process of selecting the right system to meet their needs.
Choosing the wrong system can result in lost capital, exorbitant operating hassles and expenses, and a subpar solventless product. So let’s take a look at the key considerations you need to select the right system for your ice water extraction lab.
1. What products am I bringing to market?
What solventless products you’re planning to bring to market is the first consideration when shopping for the right solventless system. Work with your team to identify your full list of product offerings, which will inform the capacity requirements for your system. It’s important to purchase equipment, such as agitation vessels, that are large enough to process the amount of biomass required to meet your product goals.
The specific solventless products made in your lab also impacts process workflow, and your system will need to accommodate that.
2. What price am I willing to pay for quality?
Both processes and equipment determine the quality of your solventless products. While quality in, quality out is the mantra usually referring to the quality of the source material (cannabis flowers), it also applies to the system and equipment you’re utilizing. Not only do you need to repeat high quality results, you need to be able to do it at scale.
Component selection, materials used, and overall construction quality are the types of equipment specifications that need careful consideration, and will be extremely important factors in choosing the right system. System specifications dictate the end-quality of your solventless products, the operators’ experience, and the durability and longevity of your equipment.
High quality stainless steel with proper polish is the way to go. And equipment manufactured in North America is ideal.
If you end up skimping on the quality of your equipment, your system may be more susceptible to wear and tear, damage, bacteria build up, rust, and even metal flaking off. Contaminating your final product becomes a huge risk.
When this occurs, the system will need to be shut down for maintenance and repair, which translates into lost time and money.
3. Will my solventless system allow the operation to scale?
Building out a system that allows for future growth of your operation gives you flexibility and runway for expansion. Flex capacity is a key consideration.
Speaking of flexibility, consider the variability of a modular system. Modular systems make it easier to upgrade one component at a time, as needed. Also consider what add-ons may be available. Consider what costs would be associated with upgrading and augmenting your system, to accommodate future growth. Thinking a few steps ahead during the initial set up phase will pay dividends down the line.
Facility size and building infrastructure are additional big-picture considerations to take into account.
4. What are the costs associated with running the system?
This consideration pertains to operating costs to run the equipment, plus the operators who use it. While solventless extraction systems generally cost less to operate than their solvent-based counterparts like CO2, the expenses associated with running the system still need consideration.
Automating processes such as agitation for ice water extraction represents significant reductions in labor inputs. Automations are more costly to establish up front, but pay for themselves over time. The more you can automate, without sacrificing quality, the better.
Every piece of equipment in your setup should be designed with a specific purpose in mind. Using equipment that’s not manufactured to meet its respective step in the solventless extraction process can be less efficient and more labor intensive.
Speaking of labor, how easy and efficient your system is for your operators to use is a key consideration. Operators who deal with inefficiencies and counter-intuitive workflows day after day are more likely to burn out and exit. Minimizing user fatigue is a critical consideration.
Consider how your system can automate labor-intensive processes, create an effective workflow, incorporate easy-to-clean components, and keep maintenance to a minimum. Clean-in-place capabilities will also massively benefit your operation, making the system easier to maintain and keep clean and also reducing the likelihood of contaminations.
5. Is there reliable customer support?
This consideration relates not only to troubleshooting if anything goes wrong, but to initial design and set up. From the outset, a quality manufacturer should be available to offer support and guidance to get the most out of their systems. These services likely include lab design, documentation and SOPs, user and training manuals, installation/assembly, and operator training. And of course, reliable and responsive after sales service.
Investing in a quality ice water extraction system for your hash-making operation is a pivotal decision, one that can significantly impact your returns and product quality. It's essential to carefully consider your product offerings and capacity requirements, prioritize equipment quality, and evaluate scalability options. Always keep in mind that cutting corners on equipment quality can lead to operational hassles and subpar products, while investing wisely can ensure efficient, high-quality, and scalable production.
Also, don't forget the importance of minimizing operating costs through automation and operator-friendly systems that reduce labor fatigue. Extra up-front expenses to automate the process, without compromising quality, will more than pay for itself over time.
Check out our other articles How To Build The Ultimate Bubble Hash Washing Room and How To Build A Cold Room for Washing Bubble Hash.
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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What are the key considerations when selecting an ice water extraction system for solventless extraction?
Product offerings, price for quality, scalability, operating costs, and customer support are the key considerations when selecting an ice water extraction system for solventless extraction.
Why is product selection essential when choosing an ice water extraction system?
Your choice of solventless products impacts the capacity requirements and workflow of your system. Different products may require various processing equipment, so it's crucial to identify your product offerings to select the right equipment and system size that align with your goals.
How does equipment quality affect the ice water extraction process and product quality? The quality of equipment plays a significant role in the success of your operation. High-quality components, materials, and construction are essential for ensuring the efficiency, durability, and longevity of your equipment. Using subpar equipment can lead to wear and tear, contamination, and operational setbacks, affecting your final product quality.
What are the benefits of a scalable ice water extraction system for a hash-making operation?
A scalable system provides flexibility and room for expansion. It allows you to adapt to changing demands and market growth by accommodating increased production capacity. Modular systems and add-ons make it easier to upgrade components as needed, reducing downtime and investment costs associated with future growth.
How can I reduce operating costs for my ice water extraction system?
Automate labor-intensive processes like agitation, ensure that your system is user-friendly and efficient to minimize operator fatigue and increase productivity, and select equipment with easy-to-clean components to reduce operating costs for your ice water extraction system.