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Extraction DIY Labs Blow Up All The Time: Should You Make Your Own Concentrates?

Lydia K. RN
cannabis, butane, explosion, CBD oil, THC, hash extract, risk, solvent, cannabis oil, resin

The short answer is ‘no.’

Cannabis concentrates could be legalized in Canada at some point next year, and we’re looking forward to having that option. The concern is that exposure to this level of goodness is going to send cannabis cowboys into an extraction rodeo that is not going to end well. It’s just one of those things that is not the safest DIY project. While, you stand to save a few good bucks, you risk blowing yourself up in the process.

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Image credit: Roxana Gonzalez

Cannabis concentrates are ideally made in hash oil labs, but home chemists are eager to give it a turn.  There are lots of videos on Youtube showcasing explosions caused by amateurs and this really harms the image of this important medicine. It sort of puts things on par with meth labs in people’s minds. Not cool.

At the beginning of this year, a case was reported where three people were injured after a hash oil extraction at a San Diego hotel went south. They were in the process of making cannabis concentrate using butane when a cigarette lit by one of them set the room ablaze. Another case, from Northern California, saw felony murder charges laid against 2 young men who blew up the garage while making concentrate and killed their buddy.

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Image credit: Javanese

The explosion blew through three of the hotel’s walls and left the three men severely injured. Another explosion occurred in Santa Cruz when a 29-year-old man was making hash oil in the bathroom of his home. The blast blew out doors and the front window of the home. I could go on. And on.

The process of making cannabis concentrates is potentially dangerous at any given time. Butane hash oil or BHO, which is the substance of choice, is highly flammable and must be handled carefully.

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Image credit: Danae Abreu

The process involves taking large amounts of ground cannabis and running a solvent (usually butane) through it. At this time, the cannabinoid-rich oils are extracted and the mixture is then purified and cooked into a solid toffee like sheet. This super potent concentrate is then vaporized or dabbed by the consumer.

According to Oscar Pascual of SF Gate, “Butane hash oil production can be explosive even when one takes appropriate safety precautions.” When butane mixes with air accidentally it sets off a massive explosion.

The justice minister for Alberta was interviewed and acknowledged that such a concern is valid, in spite of not having heard of it before. She added that the public needs to be educated about potential risks. The legalization of cannabis is a project of great magnitude and compounding factors will need to be considered, and this is definitely one of them.

Attorney Rob Corry, a Denver cannabis advocate, believes that some of the fears are exaggerated. Corry has worked as a representative of hash oil manufacturers facing arson charges following explosions for some time. He expressed concern that police and prosecutors are targeting a small number of hash oil extractors who make manufacturing mistakes similar to ‘those of a bad cook.’

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Image credit: Roxana Gonzalez

He further stated that “What makes it dangerous is not so much the extraction process itself, but rather the problem of improper butane ventilation”.

Butane is highly flammable and should be handled with caution. When it mixes with air, it produces a powerful explosion that could literally bring your apartment down in a short span of time. In one minute you could be in the process of mixing and cooking ingredients and the next, your whole house is on fire. Remember that it just takes some butane to escape and mix with air, and any ignition will create a HUGE explosion.

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Image credit: Mitch M

So as much as you may be excited about the prospects of DIY dabs, you may just want to leave that to the pros. Thoughts?


Lydia Kariuki

RN, Expert medical writer who is passionate about cannabis!

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