You and your team are plotting a business strategy that will get you into the fast-growing solventless segment. This is distinct from solvent-based processing, and the lab build-out needs are different. In terms of pure equipment purchasing, where should you begin?

Developing a complete equipment list is one of the most important steps along the way. While you’re working out your facility design with architecture experts and contractors, you’ll need to be cognizant of what, exactly, you’re going to be using in the building. The equipment list is your guide. And to understand the list, you need to understand the basic elements of solventless processing. Vendor partners can help.

“Having the ability to work with quality equipment and more importantly, quality business partners, is crucial to anyone’s success in this rapidly evolving cannabis market,” says Jillian Krall, director of hash production at Papa’s Select. 

1a. Ice water hash vessel

The first step in the solventless process is to wash your fresh-frozen cannabis plant material with RO water in an appointed vessel. You will want a food-grade surface in your hash vessel; this is an example of best practices that will keep your lab ahead of the curve and ready for future regulations. While many legacy labs might still be using trash cans or other receptacles for their washing process, it’s important to prepare for future regulations and to make the switch to stainless steel, food-grade vessels for this task.

Based on your output goals, hash vessels vary by size. Boutique labs may err on the side of hand-washing. Larger labs with goals at a greater scale may look to automated solutions.

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Also consider the foot traffic of your lab: How will employees move around the space? Ports and wheels will make your vessel mobile, so that you can move it around and attach hoses for draining (either for gravity-draining or automated filtration). This can increase your lab’s efficiency considerably.

1b. Agitation source

During the wash process, you will need to agitate the fresh-frozen material to detach the trichomes. This can be done by hand or with automated devices.

If you’re washing your material by hand, use a food-grade paddle. The same principle works for automated solutions, too, like PurePressure’s Axis trichome separator: Food-grade material is paramount.

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The agitation process can take eight to 15 minutes, and you can agitate the material up to six times.

WATCH: How To: Designing a Solventless Processing Lab

1c .Filtration bags

Following the agitation, you’ll need to filter and drain what you’ve just washed. This can be done manually, through simple gravity-draining, or with an automated solution that filters the washed product inside and runs through hoses attached to the hash vessel.

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When gravity-draining, your vessel will be placed on a platform, providing the space to pour the water into a second vessel on the ground. In that second vessel, filtration bags will catch the material coming out of the first vessel. Those filtration bags come in different increments of micron measurements, each of which can be used to produce a different type of end product (220 microns through 25 microns).

If you’re using an automated hash pump, pneumatic hoses will pull the water out of the vessel and use positive-displacement suction to drain the water and leave behind the material you need. Dollies and/or rolling hash vessels will come in handy here. PurePressure’s Pneumatic Hash Pump, as an example, can be used for hand washing as well as to eliminate the need for gravity draining. The key is to move everything to the ground to make the process mobile.

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2. Freeze dryer

The freeze dryer is a necessary component in your lab, especially as your storage needs expand with time.

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If you plan on scaling your lab and producing more SKUs in the future (and a greater number of those SKUs), it’s good to identify larger solutions early on. Consider pharmaceutical-scale freezers that you might see in other industries. If you’re thinking big with your business’s five-year plan, think big with your freezer purchase.Let your output goals drive your freezer selection.

3. Rosin press

Like the freeze dryer and most other equipment in the lab, output goals are important here. How much product are you planning to process in a given day or a given month? There are many types of rosin press options on the market, with different sizes correlating to different end product needs. 

The critical variables with a rosin press are heat and pressure. It helps to use a rosin press that will provide accurate readings of those variables, so that you have a keen understanding of how your processing work is done.

PurePressure rosin presses also allow users to save recipes and revisit for later processing. The key here is to build your lab efficiencies around your own business’s needs.

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“The equipment that PurePressure has designed for solventless cannabis concentrate manufacturing is the perfect balance of effectiveness and simplicity,” Krall says. “The addition of their equipment to my hash lab in northern California has allowed me to scale my manufacturing while still maintaining the fully hand-crafted, high-quality products that Papa’s Select is known for. Every piece PurePressure offers has been thoughtfully designed and thoroughly tested by their own hash makers and allows any buyer to proceed with full confidence in their ability to deliver beyond expectation.”