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How Are Terpenes Isolated From Plants?

Terpenes are found in everything these days, but they all come from plants. Terpenes are found in all plants on earth and determine how each one tastes and smells. Here's a brief walk-through on how they're extracted from plants for use in vapes, soaps, cosmetics, perfumes, cleaning agents, foods, beverages, and aromatherapy infusions.

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How are terpenes isolated from the plant?

Extracting the essence or essential oil from a plant has been done safely for hundreds of years. These days, when you think of terpenes you probably think of cannabis. Terpenes are isolated and concentrated in the same way as your favorite cannabinoids (or cannabis concentrates), using solventless or solvent-based extraction methods.

In a solvent-based extraction, the extractor will take plant materials and blast them with gasses (like CO2, butane, propane, or hexane) or alcohol to separate the terpenes from the rest of the plant materials and compounds. In the end, the alcohol or gas, known as the solvent, is evaporated out leaving behind the terpenes and other essential oils. From there, they are typically separated and refined even further through distilling to isolate each individual terpene from the rest, leaving behind a pure terpene isolate, such as Linalool, Limonene, or Myrcene.

Some terpenes can undergo solventless extractions, though this is typically rare for isolating specific terpenes. In a solventless extraction, plants are separated mechanically using heat or pressure. This is as simple as grinding up coffee beans to release their terpenes for flavoring. But with that said, It's not possible to isolate a single terpene using solventless methods. Solventless methods offer the full spectrum of terpenes and other plant materials.

Once terpenes are separated from plants, they can be used in a ton of different commercial products. Isolates make a great addition to aromatherapy infusions thanks to the way they interact with our endocannabinoid systems and alter our moods. They can also be found in various concentrations in cannabis products, vapes, soaps, cosmetics, perfumes, cleaning agents, foods, beverages, and anything else that needs a little scent, flavor, or effect boost.

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