QWET Extraction With Ethanol

Quick Wash Ethanol, also know as QWET is one of the techniques commonly employed to extract oil from cannabis.

Here is skunk pharm’s QWET formula to produce an absolute using a 3 minute quick wash.

As most of our extracted oil goes into oral meds, we also decarboxylate ours. This process is based on the 252F curve shown in the attached graph.

The first question is why use a quick wash technique to extract the resins, instead of long soaks to extract as much resin as possible, or just boiling the material in alcohol to get the greatest amount of extracted material?

The answer to that is that because alcohol is a polar solvent that is soluble in water, the latter two techniques also extract the water solubles like chlorophyll and plant alkaloids, as well as the plant waxes and vegetable oil.

Even quick wash does to a lesser degree, but the added steps that we include here minimize pickup even further and we take additional steps to remove the impurities that we do pick up.

The first wash will usually extract 75 to 80%, leaving the balance for the second. The second extraction will be more sedative and less heady. If you use a hand microscope, you can easily see when the trichome heads are gone and the stalks look like wet fur.

You can also use the material for other extraction methods after it has dried. I have subsequently used BHO after the first QWET wash that yielded 16% oil by weight, and got 5% more pristine oil, or about 21.6% total.

A cured material QWET absolute is one of the most aromatic and tasty of the extraction methods and consistently gets high raves from the volunteer test panels, as well as the patients and students. Both from an efficacy, as well as a flavor standpoint.

The first step in the process is to get as much water as possible out of the material.

A fresh material QWET is possible, but this procedure is specifically for material that has been cured to about 15% water content, which is typical of cured material. 15% is a lot of water and the alcohol already has 5% in it, so unless we reduce the water content even further, we will be extracting a lot of water solubles.

We dry our cured material even further by spreading it on a cookie sheet and baking it in a 200F oven until just frangible when rolled between the finger and thumb.

If the material is prime bud, we break it up loosely by hand and extract from trim as is.

We never, ever, use a blender or coffee grinder to reduce material, because it produces a lot of ultra fine powder that makes it through conventional filters.

Next, while it is still warm, we seal the material in a jar, which we place in the freezer to tie up any remaining water as ice. We also put the 190 proof grain alcohol in the freezer.

When they have both stabilized at about 0F, pour the alcohol into the jar of plant material, so that it is at least an inch above the material, and shake it gently a few times to make sure everything is wet. Place back in the freezer.

Remove and gently shake twice more until the material has soaked for 3 minutes, and then dump it through a wire strainer to drain quickly.   We set the strainer atop a fine mesh stainless French Chinoise strainer, or a stainless coffee filter can be used.  Don’t press on the material to extract more, but just let it drain.
Set the material aside to dry for a second extraction. We usually keep the two extractions separate, as they will have different properties, as does the third extraction using water.

After refreezing, the second extraction is done like the first, but when it is drained this time, the material is returned to the jar, which is then refilled with water and set aside.

Filter the extracted liquid.

We use either a #1 lab filter with a vacuum assist, or a simple coffee filter to further filter the solution, depending on the quantity we are processing.

Place that filtered liquid in a suitable container and set that container in an oil bath heated to 250F. We use bain marie and other stainless ware from a restaurant supply or a still, so as to recover the alcohol.

Make sure that the container is sitting on something that suspends it up off the bottom of the oil pot. I throw four jar lids in the bottom of my electric fondue pot and use it for that purpose.

Never trust the numbers on the dial and use a good thermometer to set temperatures. We use either a mercury lab thermometer, or a digital one. Good temperature control is key to the process.

That means the device that you use to control the oil temperature must have a narrow dead band, so that the temperature control is stable.

We paid about $60 for a Quisinart fondue pot that was designed to heat sensitive sauces like chocolate and has excellent control throughout its temperature range. We also have a couple of Revels, that are slightly larger and work well, plus cost only about $30, though they have a slightly larger dead band.

Some fry cookers have sensitive enough controls, but many deep fryers designed to primarily run at 375F, lack control sensitivity and have large dead bands at 250F.

Either boil or distill off the alcohol until the liquid is reduced to a pool of oil, with no large solvent bubbles.

We suck it out of the container using a 60ml syringe, and then filter it to 0.2 microns using a PTFE syringe filter, but a coffee filter or a #1 lab filter may be used..

Place in a suitable container for return to the oil bath and this time cook it until there are not only no large alcohol bubbles, but the production of small CO2 bubbles along the edge dramatically slows down, even when stirred with a bamboo skewer.

Since you have much less material, a smaller one may be used. At this point we put them in small stainless cups with their tare engraved on their sides or a Pyrex beaker. The smaller container reduces the surface area that will be coated with oil when we cook it down the last time and knowing the cups tare weight allows me to take it directly from the oil bath and place it on a scale after simply wiping the exterior.

Since we know the tare, we then know the extracted weight, and exactly how much other ingredients to add. Once adding those ingredients, we place the cup back in the oil bath, where we stir it until well mixed and then decant into its final container.

Since the added ingredients include things that lower the cannabis oils viscosity, very little is left as a film in that container.
If we plan to use the oil as is, without adding any other ingredients, we extract it from the container using the syringe, or a pipette, so as to not leave a streak of material in the vessel. After we have extracted all that I can using a syringe or pipette, we wash the container and pipette out with hot alcohol, and save the wash for the next run.  Nothing is wasted or left behind.

In that vein, as a final step, and for a different product, we strain the water from the plant material, the same way we did the alcohol and cook it off exactly the same way.  When the water is cooked off, we redissolve the remaining oleoresin in hot alcohol, and place it in the freezer for a couple of days, before filtering it.  This time there will also be red waxy globs of insoluble material collected in the bottom of the jar.

Cook off the alcohol, and it produces an oil that is more sedative that either of the first two extractions.

Attached thumbnail(s)


For all of ya’ll living where 190 proof isn’t readily available, here are a couple sites that will ship most anywhere,

East coasters check out, http://www.winechateau.com/

West coasters, try http://organicalcohol.com/store/

281 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by RAZZ-Berry on November 15, 2015 at 12:28 PM

    I think I missed it, what is the purpose of the 3rd wash with water that is set aside. I didn’t see it explained…. or maybe I am just stupid.

    Thanx in advance,



  2. Posted by Peacefull warrior on November 10, 2015 at 5:34 PM

    Need any ones assistance quickly. Is it possible to get 89% THC from ethanol extracted cannabis oil?

    How is it that I see 89% RSO for sale and the CO2 oils are around 50%. (California)

    Just wondering if this is even possible before the trying it for a few medical conditions.

    Other wise ill just go back to diluting co2 oil into mct or coconut oil.
    Please help thanks


    • Posted by IchiBanCrafter on November 10, 2015 at 6:12 PM

      I think the answer is yes and no. I tested some concentrate I made and it came back as 85%. This started as 19%-21% bud. That was washing to get out only THC. So it is possible to get concentrates up to 89%. Now when you are talking about RSO it is washed to include a bunch of other CBD, CBN, and Terpenes. In getting those additional CBD, CBN, and Terpenes you also end up getting wax and chlorophyll. Because of all the other stuff in medical cannabis products like RSO I don’t know how it would get to 89%. I would say it isn’t RSO if 89%, and if it is RSO then it isn’t 89% THC. Maybe 89% all cannabinoids? That would be different.


      • Posted by peaceful warrior on November 10, 2015 at 6:17 PM

        Lol slightly confused there but i think I understand what you’re saying. 85 % sounds great., congrats. and 19-21 % sounds great too, and thats what this oil started out with, probably more i’m assuming so perfect. when you say “Wash” do you mean winterzigin?


        • Posted by IchiBanCrafter on November 10, 2015 at 6:34 PM

          By “wash” I am referring to the process of mixing the alcohol and cannabis together (extracting) then separating the alcohol based liquid from the cannabis. If you just want to get the head high and THC, you ‘wash’ is for just a short time, 1-3 minutes. For best results I learned here on SkunkPharm you use frozen cannabis and frozen alcohol. The resulting alcohol mix will be golden to light brownish. If you are looking to get all the more medicinal components or sleepy components (CBD, CBN, etc) then you wash longer and more vigorously. Your resulting mixture there will be vibrant to dark Bruce Banner green. So the wash determines what kind of end product you are going to have.

          You can also do more than one wash for the two different effects (also props to SkunkPharm for teaching me this!). The first wash you do to get the THC then the second wash you do to get the remaining THC and pick up the CBD and CBN for medicinal and sleeping qualities.


    • Posted by William Mackenzie-Smith on November 10, 2015 at 6:00 PM

      I believe that 89% is possible if the strain you are using is particularly potent. I made one RSO oil that tested at 83%, but on average the oils I make test between 75-80% and if the material is less resinous it can go down to the 65-70%. It seems to come down to the potency of your starting material with ethanol..


      • Posted by peaceful warrior on November 10, 2015 at 6:15 PM

        I see, yes I believe the starting product is superior. (LA Confidential) has origin of Afghani and that other one. 83 % is great., happy to hear that.


  3. Posted by IchiBanCrafter on November 8, 2015 at 7:26 PM

    Mike, that is awesome advise! I am going to try that tomorrow, this could be exactly what I have been looking for. I have also noticed that it seems like the more alcohol you use the more gummy the final product remains, where using less alcohol in the wash sets up nicer in the end. As for the spattering when purging is probably too much heat, creating to much of an active bubble when the surface tension increase do to decreased viscosity of the thicker material. The I don’t know if it is kosher to name brands on here, but the unit I use for home extraction has no splatter problem.


  4. Posted by IchiBanCrafter on November 7, 2015 at 9:35 AM

    R&D for treatment, I have a home unit that distills and does concentrates. It is the next big thing for home users, but I don’t want to turn this forum into a commercial. If you have somewhere I can send you the link let me know and I will give you a peek.


  5. Posted by Jonsey on October 20, 2015 at 8:55 AM

    How are you using an .45 ptfe syringe filter with that thicker liquid?
    I tried filtering just the alcohol and it is super hard, and takes forever just to get 20ml to filter, & gave up on filtering.


    • It isn’t thick when we put it through the syringe filter, and has already been rough filtered at 1 micron. You are right in that it isn’t a good way to do large quantities, but we’ve filtered liters, not mililiters.



      • Posted by Tarheeltravis on October 24, 2015 at 2:37 PM

        Can i use 151 proof all my state sales or should i just go with iso?


        • Posted by IchiBanCrafter on November 5, 2015 at 9:01 PM

          If you distill the 151 with a system that recaptures the solvent you will have the 190 left over. There is only one home system I know that does that though.


          • Posted by R&D for treatment on November 6, 2015 at 6:03 AM

            It is very easy to make your own still out of a wide variety of materials. My college and I have kicked around the idea of selling a partial built still as DIY kit. If what you say is true, then we should get to work.

        • I personally like to use Ethanol and suggest you consider having it shipped to your doorstep by one of the two sources listed in the article.


  6. Posted by Marcus on October 16, 2015 at 5:15 PM

    After purging/cooking are you able to obtain a shatter consistency after using the QWET method? If so, how did you cook it?


  7. Posted by chaswool on June 29, 2015 at 7:55 PM

    Purge longer


  8. Posted by Nick Avens on June 29, 2015 at 11:39 AM

    What ratio do you use for cab and ethanol? Like how many grams per, lets say, 20oz ethanol? And in the final process are you saying you took the trim and shake after the 2 ethanol washes and put it in a jar then added water, washed for 3 mins, and then evaporated the water to extract the new resin with more alcohol and then evaporated that off for a different red colored resin?


  9. Posted by Jack on June 2, 2015 at 10:38 AM

    If you are using 151 proof ethanol, do you need to increase, decrease, or not change the extraction time of 3 minutes in freezer to maximize yield on first extraction and second extractions?


  10. Posted by HappyJack on May 27, 2015 at 10:13 AM

    Have used you QWET method of extracting and I love it because I’m anti BHO. Im looking to make the carboxylate acid “shatter” form of absolute for vaping. I use dry ice sift to reduce trim or flower to kief using a coarse stainless steel mesh. Probably a 220 to 250 micron size. Shaking until just slight green. I shake left to right so I can separate where I want but retain as much yield as possible. I do one quick wash with Everclear at three minutes everything frozen or dry ice frozen. Chinois strain and let settle in freezer. Then coffee filter again.The second wash is 12 hour and Ethanol is boiled off and is decarbed for edible coconut oil infusion. Evaporate first wash with a nylon stocking stretched over mason jar til thick with fan only no heat, then pour out over a glass pan with silicone liner and stretch stocking over pan to keep out dust and lint. Place on heating pad sandwiched between a wooden cutting board and ceramic tile. Use IR therm to keep under 115°F. Takes few heat cycles and couple days to evaporate. Fan on low nearby. I have cut a piece of rubber floor mat to insulate tile but let pan set directly on tile so fan doesn’t cool it too much
    Works great. BUT! I don’t always get shatter. Do I need to vacuum? Or is material too old. I use under 3 months when I can but get gifted a lot of shake from top shelf flowers.
    How can I get shatter more consistantly?
    50% of time I get taffy in a very translucent golden to dark golden amber. I get 15-19% returns from the original flower…like 30% from the dry sift. Also is a very slight ethanol taste but oil gets many great comments but I notice the ethanol flavor especially at vape pen temps. Less so on a ceramic banger or nail but very slight blackish residue post dabbing.
    How can I refine this method for the maximum yield and flavor consistantly?


    • Posted by Hugh on September 27, 2015 at 7:32 AM

      Hay HappyJack, You first mentioned planning to use carboxylate acid to make a high grade shatter. My first thought was that was brilliant until realising that there are at least 20 different forms of “carboxylate acid.” So I have to ask, which form, compound, or product name are you working with? Good luck and keep us posted!! -Hugh


    • i also want to know about getting qwet to shatter. i don’t even know why i care cause i just decarb it for eating, but i want to do it anyway so somebody plz tell me


    • Posted by IchiBanCrafter on November 3, 2015 at 9:19 PM

      Hey Happy Jack. I have been having the same problem with getting my Taffy/Sap/Wax all the way into shatter using ethanol (Ever Clear) I have been doing a lot of testing of a device that is coming to the market to make concentrates. What I have found with the alcohol extraction is that the concentrate always wants to revert to a stiff Sap/Wax. If you cure it enough it will become shatter like in a thin crystal kind of way but not the real rigid shatter you see pretty photos of. I am thinking you can’t actually make thicker shatter with alcohol? I have tried extended purging, low grade heat, more solvent, less solvent, more vacuum time after. There is something the BHO adds into the process to give shatter the rigidity, or something the ethanol takes out. If you have any insight I would be very interested to hear your thoughts or anyone else also please!


      • Posted by Mike on November 8, 2015 at 5:49 AM

        There is still quite a bit of water in Everclear as it is only 75.5% alcohol. I distill my own ethanol at around 180 proof or 90% alcohol then use a molecular sieve 3A Theolyte in an attempt to remove more water. The Theolyte is nothing more than a desiccant, like one of those little packets you get inside of products they want to stay dry that says “Do Not Eat” on it. The Theolyte is reusable multiple times, just need to bake the moisture out of it. I’ve gotten my ethanol up to 194 proof or 97 %. This produce a shatter that actually shattered but I was working with a very thin layer and it splattered all over inside of my purging chamber. Hope that helps! Now, can anyone tell me how to stop this stuff from splattering everywhere when purging? Peace


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