The gold standard for spotting a high-quality cannabis extract from a lesser-quality derivative used to be looking at the color.
Unfortunately, you can no longer purely rely on this conventional wisdom. The new methodology is called color remediation column (CRC) tech.
Like many things in life, the cannabis industry can implement CRC Tech for good or evil. If used for good, the cannabis oil that’s been through a CRC process is safe and even purer than before.
If used for evil, consumers are being duped into paying a fortune for a low-grade oil that looks high quality.
So what is CRC, and what’s the real impact on cannabis consumers?
What Is CRC Tech?
CRC tech isn’t new. It’s regularly used in the production of wine and food to extract impurities, but the technology has only lately become popular in the hemp and cannabis industry.
How does CRC help cannabis manufacturers?
One main advantage is that color remediation gives the cannabis extractor more control over the color of their product. With CRC, dark-colored oil changes to light gold or colorless.
The other benefit is that CRC also removes unwanted elements, like lipids, plant sugars, pesticides, carotene, lycopene, xanthophyll, pheophytins, other contaminants, or chlorophyll, from oil.
Thus, the end product is purer, more transparent, and colorless.
In the end, a clearer product is more in demand and fetches a higher price.
How Does CRC Tech Work?
If cannabis manufacturers opt to use CRC tech, it’s essentially just an extra step in their closed-loop extraction process. CRC can be used for both ethanol and hydrocarbon extraction systems.
With color remediation column technology, the cannabis oil is added to a pressurized metal column where it is dissolved into a solution or concentrate.
With the help of heat or pressure, the extract passes through a filter media, which can be bleaching clay (bentonite), Magnesol, activated charcoal, diatomaceous earth, or silica. From there, the oil is purified with the help of a paper filter and a filter plate.
This second filtration process occurs after the cannabis is extracted but before solvent recovery, purifying the final product.
Who Uses CRC Tech?
Since CRC is still new in the cannabis industry, not every manufacturer has adopted this technology. However, both legal and illicit cannabis manufacturers are using CRC to “improve” their final product.
Manufacturers that care about their final product and consumers are implementing this second fine-filtration system to get rid of impurities. They also use this filtration technology to remove the grassy taste from the chlorophyll molecules.
Those who care about money use the process to purify dark brown or black, low-grade or old cannabis flowers, or hash oil to produce a product that is lighter in color.
They can then easily sell this “up-market” product to consumers at a higher price, even though the product is still, in fact, of inferior quality.
Are CRC Products Safe for Consumers?
Using CRC technology is quite controversial in the cannabis sector.
There is no legislation requiring the disclosure of CRC use. Regulators don’t mandate testing related to contamination from CRC. The safety data and research into CRC cannabis products are insufficient, especially for inhaled products like cannabis.
This then begs the question: Are cannabis products that have been run through CRC media filters safe?
Contamination is always possible. If the hardware fails or there is an operator error, trace amounts of the powders used for the CRC media filter could end up in the final product.
For example, there may be trace amounts of microscopic silica, bentonite clay, or diatomaceous earth in your extract. If you smoke or inhale these substances, they can injure your throat or cause damage to your lungs.
Even activated charcoal can break down during the filtration process. This can release heavy metals into the final extract. Benzopyrones are toxic and can have negative health effects on your nervous and immune system. They are also carcinogenic.
The good news is that these contaminants are removed with proper extraction, and a pure product is ensured.
The CRC-run concentrate should be passed through a 0.45-micrometer filter as this simple filtration will remove CRC media from the oil. This will also ensure there are no cross contaminants present.
How Can You Detect CRC in Your Cannabis Products?
There are ways you can detect whether your cannabis products have been purified using CRC technology.
Most butane hash oil carts and dabs these days have been through a CRC media filter; however, this technology is gaining popularity. Producers are now using it in various cannabis products.
Cannabis extracts filtered with CRC can smell like chemicals or lime. The CRC tech removes some of the terpenes from the product, so manufacturers replace these with non-cannabis terps, which add to the synthetic odor. Think super fake blueberry or overly sweet smells that you’d pin on a candy rather than a cannabis strain.
If your product is clear or colorless, it’s pretty much a given that the producer used CRC tech during the filtration process.
As non-CRC cannabis products mature, they turn a natural amber or even light yellow; however, CRC-extracts will stay colorless.
The chemical flavor is another hint that your cannabis extract has been through CRC media. Sometimes, manufacturers add too much of the media in the filtering tube, and as a result, the products end up with a chemical taste.
Cannabis does, however, have terpenes, which do have a chemical taste, but these are more natural-chemical tasting.
Final Thoughts on CRC Tech for Cannabis Consumers
Armed with all this knowledge about CRC tech and how it potentially improves your cannabis extracts, how can you trust cannabis products?
In essence, it is best to buy from reputable manufacturers who care about you, their customers and want to provide high-quality cannabis products.
If you aren’t sure whether your extract has been through the CRC process, remember to check for the chemical flavor and smell and the clear, colorless oil.