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Winterization

An extraction process that uses subzero temperatures to remove undesired waxes and fatty lipids from a cannabis concentrate, including plant lipids, which can negatively impact the flavor and aesthetics of a product. Winterization is similar to dewaxing, which also separates undesirable fats and waxes in concentrates.

“Winterization helps purify fats from concentrates.”

What is winterization?

Lipids, or fats, occur in many plants, including cannabis. Winterization is an extraction process that removes these fats and waxes through the use of subzero temperatures. It’s important to remove lipids as they are generally undesirable and will negatively impact the flavor and aesthetics of a concentrate. 

Winterization vs. dewaxing

Winterization and dewaxing mainly differ in the solvents used in each process, and their methods are slightly different, although both employ cold temperatures. Dewaxing uses a closed-loop system with butane, whereas winterization uses ethanol, which requires a higher temperature to purge. This higher temperature tends to result in a loss of terpenes and flavonoids, but also a higher yield. 

When choosing between the two processes, extractors are effectively choosing between a lower yield and better terpene profile (dewaxing), or a bigger yield but less flavor and terpenes (winterization). 

With winterization, a rotary evaporator (rotavap) can be used as an alternative to high heat, to purge ethanol. Winterization can produce a wide range of consistencies in concentrates, including, shatter, oil, crumble, and more.