The Generic Terpenator Operators Manual

The Terpenator closed loop essential oil extraction system invented by Graywolf, was donated to public domain, insuring that it can never be patented and that the prices will stay in check.

As a result, the basic Terpenator design now has numerous manufacturers world wide that copy or emulate it, though not builders are scrupulous, nor do all meet ANSI/ANSI design and build requirements.  Because the industry is unregulated, that means caveat emptor.

This general guide is intended as a straw-man starting point, for a general instruction guide that can be used by all Terpenator design close loop system users, to select, assemble, test, and run their system.

I simply took a Mk IVB operating manual and reworded it, removing valve number reference and brand name hoopla, because it is about Terpenators in general, not a specific brand.

There will be some differences, as not all Terpenator style systems offered are bi-flow, nor do all offer dedicated column recovery, so if your system does not, skip those steps.

Many of the same issues apply to systems designed and built by others, but some are enough different that they will have their own unique operating criteria, so a separate thread dedicated to those systems may be called for.

Because the backup reference file is large, I will post it in multiple bits. I also encourage all operating Terpenator systems to take this opportunity to toss in their own thoughts and questions.

Step One in safely operating a Terpenator style closed loop extraction system, is to purchase a system which is certified to meet ANSI/ASME. To meet ASME, all components must be rated at 3X the maximum operating or greater.

Some things to look for when selecting a system:

1.0 Terpenators are typically constructed primarily from stainless Triclamp sanitary parts, with the valves rated at 800 or 1000 psi WOG or higher.

Sanitary component design is standardized and the strength of the individual triclamp component varies by size and design, but meet ANSI/ASME requirements in our application, as originally designed.

Examine custom built components carefully, and ask for their ASME certifications to cover the design, the process, the facility, and the welder.

If you are not a mechanical engineer, befriend or hire one to look at the component’s design, to insure that it has adequate structure for not only stress at the extreme fiber, but also for deflection.

What is the level of workmanship, considering fit, the welds, and final finish? Was it electro-polished or passivated after welding to remove any iron deposits on the surface?

2.0 Clamps larger than two inch and at every location not requiring regular removal, should be only high pressure.

2.1  Use only high pressure clamps for PTFE gaskets.

3.0 Sight glasses should be designed to put the viewing window in compression, rather than tension, and should not be located at the top or bottom of a column, where they are isolated with the full column when the valves are closed.

The thermal expansion pressures generated in a full and closed column, are hydraulic, rather than gas pressure, which is why LPG storage tanks can only be filled 80%.

4.0 Buna n or Viton are the seals of choice for normal temperature operation, with Viton having the advantage that it can subsequently be cleaned with alcohol.

4.1  PTFE seals are required to operate at subzero temperatures.

5.0 There should be a pressure relief valve, set to relieve any pressure rising above the systems maximum operating condition. That pressure varies by size, but is typically from 70 to 100 psi.

The pressure relief valve should be plumbed to vent the relieved pressure into an auxillary storage tank, held under vacuum for the purpose, or have a hose connection allowing it to be vented at a more suitable location.

The pressure relief valve shall be of quality manufacturer, preferably factory set and certified at that pressure and with letters of compliance furnished with units.

5.1 Typically Mk V operating pressure is 15 to 30 psi and doesn’t exceed 45 psi. The pressure reliefs are set to relieve at 70 psi, because a 12″ lid high pressure clamp connection is the lowest rated pressure item at 100 psi at 250F and 150 psi at 70F.

6.0 Is the recovery pump supplied oil less, and is it certified by the manufacturer for use with flammable refrigerants like R-290/600/600A?

6.1 We supply the Haskel pneumatic refrigerant recovery pumps rated for the application, but I have personally used others that perform  well in the application, but are not rated for flammable refrigerants.

Despite the claims of certain unscrupulous manufacturers of passive recovery systems that don’t meet ANSI/ASME, pumps like the Appion G-5, and the CPS TR-21 are not poisoning the recovered butane, but do have an Achilles heal in that the piston seals overheat running long periods under vacuum and essentially un-lubricated, resulting in limited life.

None of the oil less recovery pumps tolerate ingesting oil laden butane well, and  require cylinder deglazing and piston seal replacement after doing so.

Most of the recovery pumps are also not rated for flammable gas recovery, although leaks at a pump are typically small, and in the case of the TR-21, the fan blows any leaks in the pump end, away from the electrical, which I understand they may now pot to seal.

7.0 Are the hoses either lined with a thermoplastic like Nylon or Kevlar, or best are they stainless over braided PTFE, with a rating of 2000 psi or greater? Do they use stainless JIC/SAE/or NPT fittings?

8.0 Stainless tubing used should use compression fittings, typically rated above 2KSI.

9.0 Is the storage tank rated 350 psi or higher, and is it DOT rated for transport? Is it stainless?

All storage tanks require regular water venting, but non stainless tanks will also require regular replacement, especially if they are not regularly drained of water.

10.0 What vacuum pump is included? How fast does it evacuate the system and to what levels? For something the size of a Mk IV or V, I prefer 6 scfm or larger.  A smaller one will do the job, but takes longer, and time is money.

11.0 How is the system heated and cooled. How is the temperature controlled?

11.1  The basic systems use a warm/hot water bath heated with a heat mat for the recovery tank and PID controlled heat mats for the column.

11.2  A more elaborate system will circulate hot water through the recovery tank bath, as well as the columns during final recovery.

12.0 Does it have adequate quality gauges and controls to perform the task?

12.1  At a minimum, it requires a compound pressure gauge to keep track of internal pressure, but thermocouples in the storage tank bath, recovery pot, and recovery pot bath are helpful, as is one in the heat exchanger tank, butane injection port, and heat exchanger discharge to storage tank.

13.0 Does it have a filter drier, and if so, how large?

13.1  We use a small filter in front of the recovery pump, to catch droplets, and a large one after the recovery pump to take out the water before it reaches the heat exchanger.  If water is allowed to accumulate in the butane, it will turn to mush in a low temperature heat exchanger and shut down the pumps overpressure protection.

13.2  Filter driers must be vacuum/baked out or replaced regularly, as they absorb water.

14.0 Does it have an auxiliary heat exchanger to shorten cycle time?

14.1  To return to a liquid state, the butane must be either cooled back down to below 31.5F or compressed under greater than atmospheric pressure.  You can eventually do that simply by cooling the storage tank, but it is much faster to cool the pump discharge to remove the heat gained from the extraction, the heat of compression from the pump, and the heat of vaporization.

14.2  The heat exchanger coil should be at least 3/8″ diameter to process chilled butane and can be cooled using an ice bath, or an alcohol dry ice bath to achieve an even greater delta T drop through the exchanger.  Some also add an additional coil to the heat exchanger and inject vapors from liquid nitrogen through it to cool the heat exchanger.

How does a Terpenator closed loop system operate?

The Terpenator is a sealed closed loop system, consisting of a vertical electro-polished 304SS extraction column, sitting above a collection and recovery pot, and interconnected by plumbing and valves.

The prepared plant material to be extracted is loaded into the column between filters and screens, and the system is evacuated of atmosphere to a level of -29″ Hg.

Valves are positioned so that refrigerant injected into the bottom of the column, flows up through the column and out the top, carrying dissolved essential oils with it.

A vent at the top of the column allows the oil laden refrigerant to flow down to the collection and recovery pot, from which the refrigerant is pumped off as a vapor, using a refrigerant recovery pump, and returned to the original storage tank for reuse.

Pressure in the system varies from -29″ Hg to about 45 psi gauge, depending on process and stage.

After the refrigerant has circulated through the column for the desired amount of time, the flood valve and vent valves are closed, and a dump valve is opened at the bottom of the column, in concert with the opening of a top refrigerant rinse valve, which drains and rinses the column of residual oil.

The refrigerant recovery pump continues to recover the vapor and once the liquid pool has boiled away, to boil the remainder away under increasing vacuum levels, until -22″ Hg are reached.

At -22″, the chamber is backfilled with nitrogen, and then evacuated to -29″ Hg using the high vacuum pump. Pump discharge is to a remote location through piping or hoses.

While flammable, none of the refrigerants used are ozone depleting and blended with 74% nitrogen, isn’t flammable.

Once the system has soaked under -29″ Hg vacuum for 5 minutes, to determine pressure rise from residual butane, it is vented to atmosphere and the lower pot opened to harvest the extracted essential oils.

These essential oils are typically further refined to produce products ranging from flavors, to medical products.

Where can a Terpenator be operated?

Even though a Terpenator fully contains the flammable refrigerant, something can go wrong, go wrong, go wrong, and it requires an enclosure that meets the national fire codes, for the fire marshals to sign off on it.

That means fire rated walls, static mats, NEMA 7 Div II electricals, sprinklers or halon, and a ventilation exchange rate that keeps any leaks below ignition limits.

Connections can loosen, employees can fail to tighten clamps, seals can wear, and any number of other scenarios leading to a leak and release of flammable refrigerant to atmosphere.

For that reason, daily start up checks, include inspection with a portable hydrocarbon detector and the location must be treated as if a leak was a given.


What guarantee was provided with your equipment, and what disclaimers?

Is the company building it substantial enough to still be there if you do run into problems, or have enough insurance to cover the damages should things go side ways?

Assembling a Terpenator Kit

The Terpenators are designed to extract essential oils using refrigerants, some of them flammable, so should only be assembled by those who by training and experience can do so safely.

Many of the Terpenator kits offered, are manufactured to industrial stainless sanitary piping standards in China, out of electro polished 304SS.

First visually inspect the parts as you loosely assemble them into a kit to insure all the parts are present and that they fit.

Once that step is complete, the next step in assembly, is to repeat that inspection as you reassemble the parts with tape and sealant.

All joints in the Terpenator kit are either a sanitary joint using a sanitary seal and clamps, or a NPT pipe thread, for which we recommend a thread sealant such as Rector Seal:

And two wraps of Mill-Rose yellow gas line/PTFE Teflon thread tape to seal.

The steps to installing a NPT tapered pipe thread joint, is as follows:

1.0 Inspect both the male and female threads to insure they are clean and burrs free.
1.1 Clean all components in hot soapy water and dry.

2.0 Apply a stripe of Rector Seal, or equivalent pipe sealant around the male thread and wipe smooth with the top of the threads.

3.0 Wrap two turns of Mil-Rose yellow gas line/PTFE thread tape around the threads tauntly, in a clockwise direction, as viewed looking at the pipe end.

4.0 Following the assembly directions or pictures for your specific model and configuration, screw the two mating joints together and tighten hand tight, before tightening per the following table. While it shows torque, torque installation isn’t recommended because of varying fits and thread sealants.

4.1 When installing a fitting that requires orientation, plan the final position to not exceed the torque specifications in the table that follows.

4.2 Never reverse and loose a NPT fitting to correct orientation. Remove, clean, reseal and tape, and reinstall to the correct orientation.


NPT Pipe Size Thread Count    Turns Past Finger Tight        Approximate Torque ft/lbs
1/8″                      27                      1.5-3.                                                            .0 12
1/4″                      18                       1.5-3                                                            .0 25
3/8″                      18                       1.5-3                                                           .0 40
1/2″                       14                       1.5-3                                                           .0 54
3/4″                       14                      1.5-3                                                             .0 78
1″                            11.5                    1-2.5                                                            1.12

5.0 Sanitary joint high pressure clamp should be tightened to the following inch pounds torque.

5.1 Sanitary Clamp bolt torque.

Seal Type    Torque In/Lbs
Viton            44
PTFE            50

6.0 Pressure test the Terpenator assembly at 100 psi, by installing a 1/2″ male NPT pipe plug in the Pressure relief valve discharge port and closing all the valves except the dump valve at the bottom of the column.

Install an airline adaptor to the system. We do so by installing a 3/8″ 1/4″ NPT bushing in the butane injection port, and inserting a 1/4″ MNPT X airline quick disconnect.

Bring system up to 100 psi test pressure, by opening the butane injection valve until the compound pressure gauge reads 100. Close valve and watch to see if gauge is stable or if it registered an ongoing pressure drop.

7.0 Submersion test:

7.1 Submerge the Terpenator assembly into a barrel of water and watch for bubbles while pressurized to 100 psi.

7.2 If your barrel is not deep enough for full immersion, you may immerse one end at a time.

7.3 The assembly passes this test when there is no pressure drop after one hour and no bubbles are observed in the water bath.

8.0 First vacuum test:

8.1 Vacuum systems passing the water bath test to -30″ (-29.92″) Hg and valve off.

8.2 Observe for vacuum decay by watching compound pressure gauge.

8.3 System passes after first assembly after no vacuum loss registering in one hour.

9.0 System pressure test:

9.1 Once the pressure tested Terpenator assembly is installed into a full system, a second pressure test of the ancillary plumbing is conducted at 100 psi for one hour. Any losses require remediation.

9.2 Systems passing that test are vacuumed to -30″ (-29.92″) Hg and tested for one hour. Any losses require remediation:

10.0 Hydrocarbon Detector inspection:

10.1 Open all valves, except butane flood valves, and evacuate system to -30″ HG.

10.2 Heat collection tank bath to 100F.

10.3 Inject refrigerant until pressure gauge reads 30 psi.

10.4 Inspect all joints and connections using a Hydrocarbon Sniffer.

10.4.1 Check all valve stem seals.

10.5 Remediate any leaks.

10.6 The Terpenator assembly is ready for shakedown trials, when no leaks are found at any location.

11.0 Shakedown:

11.1 We make our first run in a new Terpenator using spent material, and discard the extraction, as the first run will clean the various manufacturing lubricants from the extraction system, missed by the hot soapy water wash in Operation 1.1.

11.2 Follow the operating directions for your specific Terpenator model and configuration.


Mk IVB Terpenator Operating Instructions

1.0 Starting up a dormant system:

1.1 Vent any water:

1.1.1 Remove the storage tank and set upside down for thirty minutes to an hour, to let any water settle.

1.1.2 Crack vent valve and blow out any accumulated water. Stop when water ceases and butane follows.

1.1.3 Note color of any water present, and if excessively rusty, discard and replace tank.

1.1.4 Replace tank in system, leaving vent hose off.

1.2 Vent all non condensible gases:

1.2.1 Add ice and bring storage tank bath temperature to 31.9F and allow the tank temperature to stabilize.

1.2.2 Crack vent valve to blow off any trapped atmosphere.

1.2.3 Install vent hose and tighten.

1.2.4  Replace filter drier.

1.3 Visually and tactically inspect system for:

1.3.1 Loose clamps, or clamps that are not uniformly tensioned. Viton gasket clamp bolts are torqued to 44 inch pounds. PTFE gasket clamp bolts are torqued to 50 inch pounds.

1.3.2 Any clamped joint misalignment suggesting potential sealing issues.

1.3.3 Loose hoses or compression fittings.

1.3.4 Loose filter drier cartridges.

1.3.5 Any staining at connections, suggesting low level leaks on previous runs.

1.4 Evacuate the system.

1.4.1 Open all valves except the valves on the storage and nitrogen tank.

1.4.2 Start high vacuum pump.

1.4.3 Evacuate the atmosphere from the system to a level of 30″ (29.92″) Hg on the analog gauge.

1.4.4 When 30″ Hg is achieved, close the vacuum pump isolation valve.

1.4.5 Shut off vacuum pump.

1.4.6 Allow to soak for 5 minutes and monitor pressure using compound pressure gauge 9, to detect any rise in pressure, indicating a leak.

1.4.7 If vacuum decay is detected, remediate source of leak until vacuum levels hold steady for 5 minutes.
1.5 Inject refrigerant:

1.5.1 Start ventilation:

1.5.2 Close butane and nitrogen injection valves.

1.5.3 Open butane storage and nitrogen tank valves.

1.5.4 Open valve butane injection valve 10 seconds and then close.
1.6 Inspect for leaks:

1.6.1 Using a portable Hydrocarbon Detector, inspect for leaks at all Triclamp connections.

1.6.2 Check all hose connections.

1.6.3 Inspect for leaks at valves, both at the NPT fitting, and at the valve stem.

1.6.4 Check for leaks in the column head assembly threaded joints.

1.6.5 Remediate any leaks and retest until leak free.

1.7 Recover refrigerant:

1.7.1 Start recovery pump.

1.7.2 Recover to -22″ Hg.

1.7.3 Close recovery pump isolation valve.

1.7.4 Turn off recovery pump.

1.7.3 Inject nitrogen until zero pressure gauge is reached using nitrogen injection valve .

1.7.4 Start vacuum pump.

1.7.5 Open vacuum pump isolation valve, once vacuum pump has smoothed out.

1.7.6 Evacuate to -29.9″ Hg.
2.0 Operating the Mk IVB Terpenator

2.1 Load the prepared material into the column:

2.1.1 Remove the column from the Mk IVB using a 5/8″ wrench to remove the 2 clamp bolts.

2.1.2 Inspect the column and seals for cleanliness and clean as required using denatured alcohol.

2.1.3 Clamp a blank end cap on one of the column, using a hinged speed clamp, and pack wadded commercial coffee filters in the bottom firmly, using a 2″ or larger dowel.

2.1.4 Pack the material firmly and evenly every six inches or so, until the column is loaded within an inch of the end.

2.1.5 Finish the column by packing two more wadded coffee filters in the last inch, and set aside for mounting on the machine.

2.2 Mounting the columns.

2.2.1 Place a screened gasket on top the Mk IV injection manifold, and set the open column end on the gasket, centering it using the raised ridge on the sanitary seals.

2.2.2 Install the two bolt high pressure clamp, and tighten uniformly.

2.2.3 Remove the clamp and end cap from the other end of the column, and after setting a screened gasket in place, place the column head on top and center it on the sanitary seal ridge.

2.2.4 Install the two bolt high pressure clamp and tighten uniformly.

2.2.5 Check the tightness of all clamps and hose connections.
2.3 Preparing system:

2.3.1 Turn on ancillaries: Turn on chamber ventilation. Turn on pot heat and circulation pump. Observe water temperature on PID controller for process specified. 85F for carboxylic acid 200F for maximum speed extracting essential oils to subsequently be
decarboxylated for topical or oral use. Add more ice and water to storage tank ice bath as required. May also add dry ice, depending on process. Add 70% denatured alcohol and water to heat exchanger for a -48C/55F freeze point. Add 25# of dry ice, or turn on nitrogen coolant flow to heat exchanger coil.

2.4 Evacuating the system.

2.4.1 Open all valves except the flood and rinse butane injection valves, the nitrogen backfill valve, and the vacuum pump isolation valve.

2.4.2 Start high vacuum pump and when running smoothly, open vacuum pump isolation valve.

2.4.3 Evacuate the atmosphere from the system to a level of 30″ (29.92″) Hg on the analog gauge, to exclude oxygen from the system.

2.4.4 When 30″ Hg is achieved, close the vacuum pump isolation valve.

2.4.5 Shut off vacuum pump.

2.4.6 Allow to soak for 5 minutes and monitor pressure using compound pressure gauge, to detect any rise in pressure, indicating a leak.

2.4.7 If vacuum decay is detected, remediate source of leak until vacuum levels hold steady for 5 minutes.

2.4.8 Once vacuum stability is achieved for 5 minutes, close dump valve, and column recovery isolation valve.

2.5 Safety checking the system.

2.5.1 Listen for leaks in the line from the recovery pump and the tank connection valve, as well as the line from the refrigerant tank to the Terpenator injection valves.

2.5.2 Using a Hydrocarbon Leak Detector, check for leaks in the liquid butane line. Check for hose leaks by sight and sound.

2.6 Flood the system.

2.6.1 Start recovery pump.

2.6.2 Open butane injection flood valve and time how long it takes until the liquid flows through vent line or sight glass. Record that time.

2.6.3 Continue to flood for the additional specified period of time , or until the color of the oil passing through sight glass clears.

2.6.4 Close vent valve.

2.6.5 Close flood valve.

2.6.6 Slowly open column dump valve, so as to not splash when the column dumps.

2.6.7 Open rinse valve to top rinse the draining column for the specified period of time.

2.6.8 Close rinse valve.

2.7 Recover to -10″ Hg

2.7.1 Allow recovery pump to lower system pressure to -10″ Hg, and then close dump valve.

2.8 Repeat flood and recover cycle for as many times as required to fully extract the material being processed.

2.9 Finish process:

2.9.1 When last cycle reaches -10″ Hg, close dump valve and open column recovery valve, to recover the column separately from the lower pot.

2.9.2 Turn on column heat.

2.9.3 Continue to pump until -22″ Hg is reached.

2.9.4 Close recovery pump isolation valve.

2.9.5 Turn off recovery pump.

2.9.6 Turn on nitrogen injection valve inject nitrogen until zero pressure is reached. Nitrogen regulator pressure not to exceed 25 psi. Turn off injection valve at zero gauge.

2.9.7 Start vacuum pump.

2.9.8 When pump smoothes out, open vacuum pump isolation valve.

2.9.9 Evacuate to -29.9″ Hg.

2.9.10 Hold at high vacuum for length of time specified on process. Repeat 2.9.6 through 2.9.9 if excessive pressure rise is noted during soak.

3.0 Harvesting the extracted essential oils and oleoresins:

3.1 Open nitrogen injection valve to equalize pressure to zero gauge and close.

3.2 Remove 2 bolt high pressure clamp from the 10″ lid on lower recovery tank.

3.3 Remove lid assembly and clean underside using 190 proof ethanol. Set aside alcohol mixture.

3.4 Set lid assembly on clean lower tank bottom and replace clamp.

3.5 Return Mk IVB to service.

3.6 Two methods of harvesting the extracted oleoresins.

3.6.1 Place lower tank in 0F freezer for 30 minutes before scraping out of tank using PTFE scraper. Further process as required for end use.

3.6.2 Wash out with 190 proof ethanol. Place in 0F freezer for 48 hours to winterize. Filter at 15 microns to remove precipitated waxes. Remove alcohol using Rotovape and vacuum oven.

Loading refrigerant into the system and Vacuum distilling:

LPG and Refrigerant recovery tanks are rated by approximately how much water they will hold. IE: A 50# tank will hold about 50# of water at standard temperature and pressure.

Because of LPG expansion rates as it warms, regulations limit a storage tanks to an 80% fill, so 50# X .8 = 40# of water allowable.

The specific gravity of n-Butane is approximately .601, so the same volume of butane would weigh only 24#.

24# of n-Butane is the maximum you can safely put in a 50# tank.

To determine how much refrigerant is in the tank, weigh it and subtract the Tare Weight stamped in the top skirt.

Load refrigerant into a new Terpenator system as follows:

1.0 Disconnect the dip tube hose from the new storage tank, and open the valve to release the nitrogen.

2.0 Connect your high vacuum pump to the dip tube valve connection, and pull a full vacuum to -29.92″ Hg.

3.0 Close the valve and shut off the vacuum pump. ALWAYS isolate a vacuum pump from the vacuum system with a valve before shutting it off, so that the contents of the pumps gearbox aren’t sucked backwards through the connecting hose, to the tank or chamber.

4.0 Reconnect the hose to the tank.

5.0 Reconnect vacuum pump to system, and open all valves, except the storage tank valves and the nitrogen tank valves.

6.0 If your system includes a thermocouple/loading port in the lid, remove the thermocouple and install the charging adaptor, secured with a 1 1/2″ Triclamp.

6.1 If your system doesn’t include this feature, disconnect the liquid hose from the storage tank, and attach it to the new LP-5 refrigerant tank valve.

6.2 If you are can tapping, attach to the can tapper, with a ball valve at the tapper, to keep the system isolated when changing cans. Leave this valve closed at all times unless injecting butane.

7.0 Open ball valve on charging adaptor.

7.1 If charging through the butane injection tee, insure flood valve is open.

8.0 Fill Terpenator refrigerant tank bath with ice and water.

9.0 Charge heat exchanger with ice water/or 70% denatured alcohol and water.

9.1 Add DI or open N2 coolant valve, if using the latter, depending on your system.

10.0 Pull a full vacuum on the complete system.

11.0 Open N2 back fill tank valve, and close N2 injection valve.

12.0 Open storage tank valves and continue to pump for 5 minutes, to dry out a new system.

13.0 Close vacuum pump isolation valve and shut off vacuum pump.

14.0 Close column vent and dump valves when injecting through the charging adaptor.

14.1 Close only the vent valve when loading through the injection tee.

15.0 Set supply tank on refrigerant scale and zero.

16.0 Start recovery pump.

17.0 Open refrigerant supply tank valve and transfer butane to the Terpenators recovery tank in batches. Use scale to tell how much. Zero after each transfer to eliminate math errors.

17.1 If using a can tapper, orient can so that the welded seam is opposite the penetrator, and the penetrator is as close to the bottom of the can as possible, to limit deflection and insure a good seal.

18.0 The amount you transfer in batches, depends on the size of the Terpenator collection pot. I never fill the collection pots more than half full with a batch.

19.0 Pre-cleaning residuals from Alkane refrigerants before use:

19.1 For processes using Alkane refrigerants such as R-290, 600, or 600A, even 99.99% purity can still have 10,000 Parts Per Millionth contamination from other gasses or longer chain molecule gasses, though typically they are under 100 parts per millionth.

To reduce the contaminants to the Parts per Billionth levels, you can hold the collection pot bath temperature to 85F and if you stop recovering at zero gauge, most of the heavier hydrocarbons are left behind in the lower collection tank, where they can be rinsed out with hot denatured alcohol and discarded.

When using a can tapper, you will also find paint scrapings in the residual oil, scraped from the outsides of the cans by the penetrator.

20.0 When all of the refrigerant has been transferred and the compound pressure gauge reads zero gauge, close the supply tank valve, followed by the ball valve on the charging adaptor.

21.0 Close recovery pump isolation valve, and shut off recovery pump.

22.0 Turn on high vacuum pump.

23.0 Open vacuum pump isolation valve.

24.0 Pump to -29.92 Hg.

25.0 Close vacuum pump isolation valve.

26.0 Shut off vacuum pump.

27.0 Open N2 backfill valve until compound pressure gauge reads zero gauge, and then close.

28.0 Open and clean pot with boiling denatured alcohol, to remove residual heavy hydrocarbons and any solids like paint chips.



17 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Reggie on September 21, 2016 at 2:00 PM

    Where can I buy one of your terpenator closed loop systems? Thanks


    • You can’t from us’n at SPR, but check out for a selection of Mk III’s, for Mk IV and V central assemblies, and for commercial grade Mk IVC’s and VC’s turnkey, with bells and whistles.



  2. Posted by Tortabeech on August 8, 2016 at 11:14 PM

    I bought an mk3 terpp extractor from Terpp Extractors and having problems with my recovery pump bringing my system back to -10 inHg from 1st recovery…it’s been an hour…it usually takes about 30-40 minutes to recover 4.350 lbs of butane I soak my column in, but I’ve been having pressure issues with my recovery tank today. When I first introduced butane into my system, it shot out really fast, like 2 pounds in 5 seconds. I’m not sure what is wrong, because I triple checked hose fittings, vacuumed my whole system and let it sit for an hour to test if it would hold. The only thing I can think of, is maybe my chiller coil is frozen? I have it under dry ice and isopropyl alcohol that has now turned into a block of ice that won’t let me remove the coil. I read somewhere that maybe I introduced oxygen into my recovery tank, and that I need to ‘burp’ that out? Any help is appreciated, thank you


    • Non condensible gasses, aka entrapped atmosphere, is one cause of sudden long recoveries. I would chill the supply/recovery tank and burp it of any entrapped atmosphere by burping it out through the vapor valve.

      If you have the chiller coil after the pump in alcohol and dry ice, the chance is good that it could be frozen. What size is the tubing and how long a coil?



  3. Posted by Cameron on March 22, 2016 at 5:08 PM

    Can you recommend a pressure relief valve for a 1/4 MNPT port?


  4. Posted by EETLLC on May 19, 2015 at 7:07 PM

    I have a small stockpile of empty R-600 Butane cylinders … how can I recycle these, none of the local busineses want to touch them??


  5. Posted by Ben Hebert on January 9, 2015 at 1:57 AM

    Can you recommend a hydrocarbon leak detector?


  6. Posted by Sam on January 2, 2015 at 7:23 PM

    Ecogreen’s refrigerant smells like Freon. I feel any professional would stay away from refrigerant. Also you need a new gasket supplier. My friends and I, use single pin 2 in clamps from Emerald Science all day every day no problems. We’ve been beta testing their in-line dewaxers mine has 3 2in ptfe screened gaskets. Again no trouble at all I traded the high pressure clamps for more single pins.


  7. Posted by Chris on December 18, 2014 at 6:48 AM

    You say to tighten the nuts on the high pressure clamps to 44lbs. I bought a new Chinese torque wrench and set it for 44lbs. I tried it on a bolt that I clamped in my vise and it did click and seemed to work fine. When I tried tightening the actual clamp nuts to 44lbs the bolt actually started to bend and the clamp was nearly completely closed and the torque wrench never clicked. I was told by Glacier that the clamps are not supposed to be fully closed with both halves touching. I always tighten both nuts equally until the gasket starts to squish out just a bit. Are you sure the 44lbs is correct?
    Where can I get PTFE tri-clamp gaskets.
    Do you ever purge the loaded column with nitrogen prior to the extraction to dry out the column, similar to a refrigeration style triple evacuation? Does pulling the column into a deep vacuum prior to extraction destroy terpenes or cannabinoids? Either way it has to be done but perhaps a person should limit the time the loaded system is kept in a deep vacuum?
    I keep my 100lb butane storage tank in a chest freezer full of anti-freeze with a continuous circ pump and hydroponics type chiller. Needless to say my recovery time using twin TR-21’s is lightning fast. I guess any water in my storage tank would be completely frozen as the holding temp is zero degrees and max operating temps have been barely above freezing. Do I need to worry about water in my tank? I also freeze my loaded columns prior to be placed on the extractor, any concerns about doing that?


  8. Posted by Gholladay on December 15, 2014 at 8:56 PM

    This is awesome GW. Thank you so much.


  9. Posted by Sam on December 14, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    Very interesting! I do not have nitrogen on my system, and am curious how it would help. Would it help stop my shatters(snapable) from crumbling?

    I am located on a mountain so my gauges never read -29 Hg. I found that the tr-21s brake quickly when I brought the system down to -20 hg. Ive done over 700 hrs with the current pump and usually stop before -15hg


    • Posted by S.T Burns on December 14, 2014 at 8:27 PM

      Someone correct me if I am wrong, but I believe the nitrogen is to create an atmosphere devoid of oxygen in the unit. This would make it impossible for any residual solvent left in the unit/collection to catch fire when opening the unit after an extraction.


      • Diluting the 25% butane atmosphere present at -22″ Hg, with nitrogen, both further dilutes it and shields it from the 21% oxygen content in the atmosphere, when the pump discharges it.

        Ostensibly, a vessel that has subsequently been evacuated to -29.92″ Hg, and again backfilled with nitrogen so that it can be opened, has little residual butane left to ignite when the vessel is opened.


    • It is certainly true that oil less pumps don’t last as long under vacuum, because they are running with little lubricant on the piston seals and have little gas flow to carry away the heat generated.

      The crumble is usually a hydrate, which needs water, and dry nitrogen helps lower water content by drawing away the molecules with them as they exit.


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