Heating one’s starting material for blending is the first step to producing an oil blend. Due to the natural high viscosity of the starting material, it is necessary to heat it to liquefy it enough to mix in flavoring compounds. Once flavors are blended in, heat is also required to expedite transfer and allow reliable and expedient filling. There are many ways to skin this particular cat depending on:
- the vessel holding the material
- the amount of work the operator is willing to put up with
- the amount of time one wants to spend
- the amount of risk the operator is willing to take
For spherical flasks, a heating mantle can be utilized to provide an even heat. Most times, starting material will come in a cylindrical container like a jar, media storage bottle, or beaker. Cylinders can be heated by oil bath, heating pads, forced air, and microwave radiation.
- Oil bath is the slowest, because the vessel must be cleaned prior to transfer to prevent contamination.
- Heating pads are faster, but may overshoot and take time to assemble dissasemble
- Forced Air (as simple as a heat gun) can be very fast, but if not properly preformed can overheat cannabanoids. This is also the least uniform heating method.
- Microwave radiation is the fastest possible process. There is no risk of contamination with this method. There are two disadvantages to this method. (1) Short bursts (10-25 seconds) must be utilized to prevent overheating and (2) the equipment will take unavoidable damage over time. This is due to the magnetron being tuned for water and not oil.
Blending is a simple process, but has the potential to make or break a product. Cart Farming is an art as much as it is a science. The most important aspects of one’s blends are:
- Cleanliness of starting material
- Quality of flavoring additives
- Technique used when mixing
Your starting material should be clean. This means deodorized and free of diluting agents. Clean material gives your blend the best head start possible, as you will have complete control of viscosity and flavor. Your starting material should have no distinct odor, and should not flow freely when flipped for at least 45 minutes at room temperature.
There are two ways to flavor your material. Some operations like to utilize terpenes for a true to for cannabis oil. Other operations utilize alternate cannabanoids.
- Botanical terpenes can be harsh when used excessively. To remedy this, some producers will utilize cannabis or hemp terpenes, either as a stand-alone product, or to add to the flavor of botanical terpenes.
- Cannabanoids are a perfect addition to modulate effect and create a low viscosity solution. The less pure your solution is, the less viscous it will be, despite individual ingredient viscosity.
Mixing is where an operation can be made or broken. Utilizing a hotplate/magnetic stirrer to heat and mix one’s solution is often utilized by inexperienced Cart Farmers due to the excessive costs of the correct mixing solutions. Magnetic stirrers take a very long time to heat a solution, and even longer to mix it. Even after the ~45 minutes it takes to blend, the oil will have uneven concentrations of terpenes and cannabinoids throughout. This will lead to some cartridges having not enough flavor, and some cartridges having too much.
A better solution is heating one’s material in the glass container it came in utilizing heating pads and the aforementioned hot plate. Once to the correct temperature (80-100c, dependent of viscosity and equipment) the flavoring components can be added to the mixture and be mixed. A more effective and efficient solution is microwaving the material in 15-45 second bursts until the correct temperature is achieved.
A uniform mix cannot be achieved without utilizing a homogenizer. Most of these mixers take 20-45 seconds to evenly disperse the constituents in the oil. The oil to be mixed MUST be at the correct temperature, otherwise, it will damage your equipment. Most homogenizers require 1-5 minute cleaning/lubrication after usage to prevent friction and contamination when mixing successive batches.