Pesticides in Oils and Extracts

Pesticides in Oils and Extracts

Pesticides in Cooking Oils and Extracts

From olive oil to coconut extract, we analyzed 12 of the most commonly used oils and extracts for residual pesticides. Of the 12, four failed our analyses- including (not surprisingly) all of our citrus extracts (find out why in PART 1 of our case study).

Fruit and vegetable extracts, like cannabis extracts, are created by concentrating parts of the raw material using solvents such as ethanol, methanol or water. Pulps and sugars are removed to preserve the flavors and aromas of the fruit, making it easier to incorporate into baked goods and candies.

However, flavors and aromas aren’t the only elements being concentrated. If there are residual chemicals present on the raw material before extraction, those chemicals can become concentrated during the extraction process, resulting in an end product with even higher levels of contaminants than what it started with. The same applies for cannabis- if a trim sample passes a pesticide analysis but fails after the extraction process, it may be because pesticides that weren’t detected or were detected in non-failing amounts prior now make up a larger percentage of the product.

Our “Failing” Oils and Extracts

Olive Oil

Olive oil is produced by grinding olives and extracting the oil by mechanical or chemical means. Our sample of extra virgin olive oil was produced using pure, cold pressed olives and zero chemicals to refine it during the extraction process. However, the oil contained trace amounts (beneath our level of quantification) of chlorpyrifos, a category I pesticide banned in cannabis and cannabis-derived products.

Although several pesticides are registered in oil-producing countries for use on olive trees, information on the level and rate of residues found in the resulting oils is limited. However, it is clear that fat-soluble pesticides such as chlorpyrifos tend to concentrate during oil production, both after full coverage and bait spraying.

Chlorpyrifos use on olive groves in the United states is prohibited. However, according to the National Consumers League the US only produces about 5% of the world’s olive oil, while it imports 62%  of oil from the Mediterranean (Europe, Spain, and North Africa). Europe has different regulations for olive oil production, meaning chemicals such as chlorpyrifos, which is used to control devastating olive fly infestations, may have been used on recent olive harvests. The discrepancies between permitted chemical residues in olive oil have been a long debated topic between the EU and the US, and as of January 31, The Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (PAFF Committee) voted in favor of two draft Implementing Regulations that denied the renewal of approvals for chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl in the EU. However, the half life of chlorpyrifos residue in soil ranges anywhere from 2 weeks to a year, which suggests contamination is still possible even when use has ceased.

This is just one example of  why it’s important for edible manufacturers to note where their raw materials were produced. Regulations differ from country to country – even with random checks made by the United States Customs and Border Protection on imported goods, contaminated products may still be able to pass through ports.

Lemon, Lime, and Orange Extracts

Our citrus extracts sourced from one of the most popular producers of baking additives in the US also failed for chlorpyrifos in amounts below our level of quantification. Category II pesticides fludioxonil, trioxystrobin, and malathion were also detected.

In traditional agriculture, chlorpyrifos is one of the most widely used organophosphate insecticides in the United States. Despite being banned for use on olive groves, it is still heavily used on crops such as corn, almonds, and fruit trees.

Chlorpyrifos belongs to a class of organophosphates chemically similar to a nerve gas developed by Nazi Germany before World War II. It’s essentially used as a neurotoxin to paralyze and kill insects, but has been found to disrupt brain development in fetuses and babies and affect reading ability, IQ and hyperactivity in children. A handful of states, such as Hawaii and New York, have prohibited the use of chlorpyrifos-based products, and the Obama administration attempted to phase it out completely. However, that motion was overruled by the Trump administration in 2019.

Due to this pesticide’s popularity and the fact that it isn’t going away anytime soon, edible manufacturers should be encouraged to source their fruits and fruit-derived products from harvests grown in states where chlorpyrifos is banned. These include Hawaii, New York, and, as of February 2020, California, with many states following suit. However, this does not guarantee chlorpyrifos will not be detected in fruits grown in these states as the chemical will take years to break down in the soil.

The other three pesticides we detected were fludioxonil, trifloxystrobin, and malathion. Fludioxonil and trifloxystrobin are both post-harvest treatments used to prevent mold and decay. It’s interesting to note that neither of these pesticides were detected on our citrus fruit samples in Part 1 of this study, leading us to conclude these chemicals were possibly concentrated along with the fruit flavors and aromas during extraction.

Malathion, like chlorpyrifos, is an organophosphate used to control sap-sucking insects. However, it is not commonly used in citrus fruit cultivation. It is entirely possible the grower may have applied the pesticide themself, but malathion is also used in public health mosquito control and fruit fly eradication programs. Depending on where the raw materials for these extracts were sourced (i.e. Florida, California) aerial drops of this chemical by local public health departments may have contaminated the product.

Our “Clean” Oils and Extracts

Coconut Oil and Coconut Extract

Our analysts did not detect any pesticides in our unrefined virgin coconut oil, nor the coconut extract. Although large amounts of post-harvest fungicides are used when transporting coconuts overseas, the coconut’s thick shell prevents the chemicals from leaching into the flesh and water. This study, conducted by Brazil’s Unesp Paulista State University, analyzed 15 coconut samples for 11 different pesticides with results also non-detect for each pesticide.  Even when flavors were concentrated, the resulting extract we tested contained no residual pesticides. Generally, organic and conventionally-cultivated coconuts are one-in-the-same once cracked open.

If an edible manufacturer is having issues sourcing clean traditional cooking oils, coconut oil is a great alternative with far less risk of contamination!

Canola Oil and Vegetable Oil         

Our two vegetable-derived oils passed our pesticide analysis with zero analytes detected. However, it’s important to note that this was not a representative sample of every vegetable oil on the market.

Traditional vegetable oil is made by extracting oil from vegetable seeds- typically soybeans- using mechanical or chemical means (just like cannabis oil extraction!). Canola oil is created the same way using rapeseeds.

Conventional soybean cultivation utilizes numerous pesticides and herbicides. However, the three most common pesticides used by US cultivators – (aminomethyl)phosphonic acid, glyphosate, and pyraclostrobin – are not restricted or banned in cannabis products, and therefore not analyzed in our study. The next three most common- malathion, azoxystrobin, and chlorpyrifos- were analyzed, but with only 10% of soybean cultivators utilizing these chemicals we were not able to detect any of the three.

Canola and rapeseed are produced mainly in Canada, China and Western Europe. Production in the U.S. is currently concentrated in the upper Midwest in the Dakotas, however canola has been grown in many states across the U.S. on a limited basis.

The crop – once grown only sparingly to rest soils between grain harvests – must be intensively managed for farmers to attain the high yields they need to maximise profits, and that means high use of pesticides. Historically, farmers relied on neonicotinoids such as thiacloprid (cat. I) and imidacloprid (cat.2) to control pests from devouring their crop, but since 2013 the EU and Canada has banned such pesticides to help preserve bee populations. Growers worldwide are struggling to find a safe and effective alternative, with yields plummeting to a 14-year low in 2019.

Grapeseed Oil

Our grapeseed oil sample contained trace amounts of category II pesticides boscalid, dimethomorph, and trifloxystrobin, at levels low enough to pass our pesticide analysis for cannabis edibles.

Pesticides applied to grape vines before harvest may concentrate in the grape seed due to their high oil solubility. In fact, studies show residue concentrations are higher in grape seed oil and grape seed meal than in the fruit and the marc.

Because grapeseed oil is a by-product of conventional wine grapes, this is especially concerning. According to the California Department of Pesticides Regulation, in 2017 29 million pounds of pesticides were applied to conventionally-grown wine grapes in California. That was a 5.4 percent increase from the year before, and trends indicate that number will continue to rise. While the most common pesticides used in wine cultivation are not restricted in cannabis, 260,000 pounds of category I and II pesticides, including chlorpyrifos, boscalid, and myclobutanil, were still used to treat vineyards in 2016. Conventionally-grown wine grapes received more pesticides than almonds, table grapes, tomatoes or strawberries.

Pure Vanilla Extract

Based on our research and results of this analysis, pure vanilla extract is one less ingredient you’ll have to worry about sourcing in regards to cannabis regulations. Because most vanilla cultivators are independent farmers in third world countries – with 80% of today’s vanilla grown in Madagascar – nearly all natural vanilla is grown without pesticides due to lack of resources and expense.

Pure Almond Extract

Our almond extract also passed the pesticide analysis with no pesticides detected. Contrary to the name, almond oil is not commonly extracted from almonds, a good thing considering almond growers use numerous category I pesticides that could cause a cannabis edible to fail compliance.

Pure almond extract is made from three primary ingredients: alcohol, water, and bitter almond oil. The last is extracted from almonds or (more frequently) their kin, drupes, the botanical term for stone fruits such as peaches and apricots. The almond flavor comes from benzaldehyde, a substance in the kernels of drupes.

Mint Extract

Our mint extract sample contained none of the 66 pesticides we tested for, and we figured it wouldn’t- mint is commonly used as a natural pest deterrent itself. The pesticides that are used to protect mint plants are used sparingly, with only 8,687 pounds used in 2016. Of the 50 most common pesticides used in mint cultivation, only bifenazate- a category II pesticide- was also on the BCC’s list of restricted pesticides in cannabis products.

In our next study, we’ll examine the residual pesticides we found in common essential oils purchased from our local pharmacy. For oils we found in the “alternative medicine” aisle, you may want to think twice about how healing these products really are.

If you have any questions or concerns about the products you’re using to manufacture edibles, please reach out to us so we can help ensure your products make it onto the shelves.

A Session with Leticia Gomez: Analyst I

A Session with Leticia Gomez: Analyst I

At InfiniteCAL, we take pride in the diverse knowledge and experiences of our employees. Our team of 50+ chemists, account managers, sample technicians and compliance specialists all have unique skills to contribute to the lab’s success, from new method developments to client and consumer outreach and education. In this series, we’ll be interviewing one of our own about what lead them to the cannabis industry, their role in the lab, and their plans for the future.

Leticia recently celebrated two years with InfiniteCAL and has proven herself an invaluable asset to the team. When she first started working at the lab, Lety had little knowledge of gas chromatography but has worked diligently with our master chemist to perfect the technique. She is now our lead GCMS analyst, analyzing hundreds of samples a day for residual pesticides and terpenes.

Name:  Leticia Gomez

Position: Analyst I

University: Point Loma Nazarene University

Degree: Chemistry

First Started at InfiniteCAL: June 2018

What made you want to start working in the cannabis industry?

To be honest I had no idea the legal cannabis industry existed but I was very interested in working in an analytical lab. I came across Infinite’s job position for a lab technician and decided to give it a chance!

What were you doing before you started working  here?

As an undergrad I conducted research in an organic chemistry lab at PLNU under Dr. Dale Shellhamer for two years. Our research was focused on examining the reactions of chlorosulfonyl isocyanate with various alkenes. We would run these experiments under various conditions such as different temperatures. These reactions were all done via Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) in which we would gather data to determine the different pathways that these reactions would make.

I also had the opportunity to travel around Europe for a couple weeks before coming back to San Diego to start my job search.

What’s your favorite thing about working at InfiniteCAL?

My favorite thing about InfiniteCAL has been getting to learn a lot more about Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCMS). I learned about GCMS while in college but never got the chance to experiment much with the instrument. I’m thankful that at InfiniteCAL I have gotten a much more in depth understanding on how a GCMS works and have gotten the opportunity to actually work on the instrument. The senior chemists here have been great mentors (Thank you David Marelius!)

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? How will your experience at InfiniteCAL help you reach that ?

I have no idea where I see myself in ten years but I know that I would like to continue working in the analytical chemistry field. InfiniteCAL will help me reach that since everything I have learned here has given me the background to be able to analyze an infinite amount of analytes.

Edible Case Study Pt.1- FRUITS

Edible Case Study Pt.1- FRUITS

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Edible Case Study – PART 1

From cannabis-infused gummies, beer, cookies, beef jerky, jello shots, granola, popcorn and freeze pops, edible manufacturers are continuously expanding the market with unique, delicious ways to consume. Since state legalization, cannabis edibles have steadily increased in popularity due largely to the discrete method of consumption and longer lasting effects compared to smoking or vaping.

However, many edible manufacturers looking to pass state compliance testing are faced with a major issue- sourcing their raw ingredients. Unlike regular food-grade products approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, cannabis-infused edibles are held to much higher standards, especially for residual chemicals commonly used in traditional agriculture. Even trace amounts of a category I pesticide can cause an edible to fail at the compliance level, barring it from retail.

The California Bureau of Cannabis Control’s limits for pesticides are based on the limited knowledge the state has available regarding pesticide, herbicide, and fungicide use on cannabis crops and how they react with specific consumption methods. Certain chemicals are significantly more harmful – and potentially deadly – when combusted and inhaled directly into the lungs. Azoxystrobin, fludioxonil, and myclobutanil, for example, contain cyano groups that convert in hydrogen cyanide gas when heat is applied – the same gas the United States has previously used as an execution method.

In addition, The Drug Enforcement Agency still considers cannabis a Schedule I drug, and no extensive studies concerning cannabis consumer safety have been conducted by the FDA. California’s incredibly strict cannabis regulations – specifically for category 1 pesticides – have been created to protect consumers from currently undiscovered dangers. The BCC and California Department of Pesticide Regulations are reportedly developing appropriate action limits for residual pesticides in cannabis products, but substantial research of this scale could take years.

Even though edibles are ingested – not combusted and inhaled – they are still subject to the BCC’s detect/non-detect limits for Category I residual pesticides, though some limits have been raised accordingly for Category II pesticides.

Oftentimes, residual pesticides found in edibles after analysis stem from one or more of the ingredients used to create the product, not the cannabis extract used to infuse it. Edible manufacturers are obligated to purchase quality raw materials from suppliers that not only meet FDA requirements, but cannabis regulations as well.

To prove just how important it is to research and test raw materials prior to compliance, Infinite Chemical Analysis Labs conducted a case study analyzing 35 different fruits and extracts, oils, nuts, and other commonly sourced ingredients purchased from a local grocery store. Based on the BCC’s standards for cannabis-infused edibles, we tested each sample for 66 different pesticide concentrations at or below a 0.2 ppm limit of detection. Our results, along with the Pesticide Action Network’s extensive research on the most common pesticides used in traditional agriculture crops, details what manufacturers can expect to find in non-compliant starting materials.

Note: Our results do not reflect a representative sample of the foods and ingredients listed. 


We tested 13 different types of fruits and vegetables for residual chemicals based off the BCC’s regulations for cannabis-infused edibles. Of the 13, 31 percent failed the analysis, including most citrus fruits tested. From our experience, citrus-infused and/or flavored cannabis edibles are more likely to fail residual pesticide testing, especially when adding citrus concentrates. Trace amounts of pesticides were also detected in 4 more samples.

Our “Failing” Fruits


Our navel orange, grown in Bakersfield, CA, failed for Imazalil, a banned category 1 pesticide for cannabis and cannabis-derived products, at 3.899 µg/g – about 129x our limit of detection. According to the Pesticide Action Network, 69.9 percent of commercially-available oranges contain Imazalil, often used as a fungicide postharvest to prevent mold during storage. Even after peeling, imazalil can diffuse into the fruit through the upper most cell layers to which it was applied. This chemical is a developmental and reproductive toxin, a known carcinogen,  and can affect the nervous system when consumed in high enough amounts.

Commercially-available products that contain imazalil include Bromazil, Deccozil, Fungaflor, Freshgard, and Fungazil. While imazalil may not be considered dangerous at 3.899 µg/g, it’s enough to cause a cannabis edible to fail compliance with the detect/non-detect limits set.

We also detected azoxystrobin, a category II pesticide, at  0.087 µg/g, far below the BCC’s threshold of 40 µg/g for cannabis edibles. Azoxystrobin is used to control certain diseases in edible and ornamental plants and can be found in products such as Abound, Amistar, Bankit, Heritage, and Quadris.


Like our orange sample, the lemon and lime also failed for imazalil at 1.667 µg/g.

The lemon sample also contained low levels of Cat. II pesticides azoxystrobin, fludioxonil (BCC limit: 30 µg/g), and propiconazole (BCC limit: 20 µg/g).

Fludioxonil is a non-systemic fungicide used to treat agricultural crops and ornamental plants, and is found in products such as Austral plus, Beret gold, Beret multi, Elest, Xtyra, Cruiser OSR, Instrata, Maxim XL, Medallion TL, Switch and Wakil XL.

Propiconazole, another fungicide, is the active ingredient in Banner, Benit, Desmel, Orbit, Radar, Tilt, Fidis, Alamo, Spire, Practis, Bumper, Mantis, Restore, Banner Maxx, Taspa, Juno, Novel and Break.


Rounding out our failing fruit samples is the apple, which again failed for imazalil below our limit of quantification. This is especially concerning since, unlike citrus fruits, apples are commonly eaten unpeeled. Imazalil is sprayed on the surface of fruits after harvest, so consumers eating unpeeled, unwashed apples may be consuming this fungicide in dangerous amounts. While it won’t remove all chemicals, washing your fruit before eating it is strongly advised!

In PAN’s research, 12.7 percent of apples were also found to contain the category I pesticide thiacloprid. Thiacloprid is a neonicotinoid insecticide (affects the insect’s nervous system) and can cause cancer when exposed to humans. The US EPA has taken a variety of actions to regulate neonicotinoids in response to concerns about pollinators, but a few products containing thiacloprid are still available.

Apples may also contain these category II pesticides that have been restricted for cannabis products: chlorantraniliprole (BCC limit: 40 µg/g), imidacloprid (BCC limit: 3 µg/g), fludioxonil, boscalid (BCC limit: 10 µg/g), fenpyroximate (BCC limit: 2 µg/g), myclobutanil (BCC limit: 9 µg/g), diazinon (BCC limit: 0.2 µg/g), and trifloxystrobin (BCC limit: 30 µg/g).


Our “Passing” Fruits


Our grapefruit sample was the only citrus fruit to pass pesticide testing, though trace amounts of fludioxonil were detected. Although this sample passed, like most citrus fruits, imazalil and azoxystrobin are commonly used chemicals to cultivate and preserve grapefruits.


Yes, corn is not a fruit. But many corn products are sourced by manufacturers, so we decided to include it in this study. While our corn sample passed the residual pesticide test, we still detected quantifiable amounts of category II pesticide chlorantraniliprole at 0.399 µg/g (limit: 40ppm)  and hexythiazox (limit: 2 µg/g) below our limit of quantification. The most common pesticides found in corn and corn-derived products that are restricted in cannabis products are malathion (limit: 5 µg/g), chlorpyrifos (detect/non-detect) and permethrin (limit: 20 µg/g).

Malathion and chlorpyrifos are both organophosphate insecticides- but don’t let this category name fool you. There is nothing ‘organic’ about organophosphates. It’s a highly toxic class of chemicals, and the Environmental Protection Agency has already restricted use in some of them. Since 2016, organophosphate use has decreased considerably. Still, there are 156 currently registered products containing chlorpyrifos, and 86 containing malathion.

Unlike organophosphates, permethrin is actually organic as it resembles naturally occurring chemicals called pyrethroids found in chrysanthemums, which have insecticidal properties. However, permethrin is considered to be a PAN “bad actor” because it is a known carcinogen and suspected endocrine disruptor. Products containing permethrin include most insect repellent sprays, such as OFF!, Nix, and Repel, as well as many agricultural products. You can find the full list of the 1,142 registered products containing this chemical here.


Our raspberries passed the test, but residual category II pesticides were detected. This sample contained 0.222 µg/g of bifenazate (limit: 5 µg/g) and 0.082 µg/g of spinetoram (limit: 3 µg/g).

Bifenazate is a miticide and active ingredient in products such as Floramite SC and Sirocco Miticide. It is especially effective against spider mites, and the lab has seen more fails for bifenazate in cannabis flower and trim from growers trying to keep these pests under control.

Spinetoram is an insecticide used on numerous agricultural crops, as well as home gardens, nurseries, greenhouses and lawns. It is a fermentation byproduct or spinosad, an organic insecticide, and is relatively nontoxic.

Other pesticides commonly used in raspberry cultivation that could cause a cannabis edible to fail include malathion and boscalid. Boscalid is a fungicide used to control a range of plant pathogens in horticulture crops and is found in products such as Emerald, Encartis, Endura, and Pristine fungicides.


Strawberries are a constant leader in the “dirty dozen” list of contaminated fruits, with nearly 11,345,900 pounds of chemicals used in 2016 for cultivation in California alone. Surprisingly, we only detected 0.281 µg/g of fludioxonil in our sample, allowing it to pass our analysis. However, according to PAN more than half of US cultivated strawberries contain pesticides such as captan (limit:5 µg/g) , fenhexamid (limit: 10 µg/g), and boscalid.

Captan is a non-systemic fungicide used to control diseases of many fruit, ornamental, and vegetable crops. It’s also highly toxic and carcinogenic, making it onto PAN’s “bad actor” list. There are currently 126 registered products containing captan, including Bean guard and pretty much every Bonide fruit tree spray.


Our analysts did not detect any residual chemicals in our red cherry sample. However, like all our food samples, this was not a representative sample of every red cherry available on the market. Boscalid, bifenthrin (limt: 0.5 µg/g), myclobutanil and spinosad (limit: 3 µg/g)- all category II pesticides- are some of the most common pesticides used on cherries according to the Pesticide Action Network.


The blueberry sample passed our analysis with not one single pesticide detected out of the 66.

However, like we mentioned above, chemicals such as boscalid and captan are commonly used in berry cultivation but restricted in cannabis and cannabis- derived products.


Our pre-cut watermelon sample did not contain any of the pesticides we tested for.

According to PAN’s research, 11.2 percent of watermelon samples tested contained thiamethoxam (limit: 4.5 µg/g) and/ or imidacloprid, while 8.8 percent contained metalaxyl (limit:15 µg/g), all category II pesticides.


Our commercially-purchased pear passed testing with only trace amounts of fludioxonil detected, but some of the most common pesticides used for pear cultivation also include acetamiprid (limit: 5 µg/g) and thiacloprid- a category I pesticide. PAN reported over 40% of pears in the US contained some sort of chemical residue.


Peaches are another long-time member of the “dirty dozen”, and for good reason. While our peach sample passed pesticide testing, we did detect fludioxonil, the most common pesticide used for peach cultivation with almost half found to contain this chemical. Other chemicals used on peach orchards include phosmet (limit: 0.2 µg/g), spinosad, chlorpyrifos, and boscalid.

In our next study, we’ll break down common cooking oils and extracts used in edible manufacturing, including olive oil, vegetable oil, and various fruit extracts.

If you have any questions or concerns about the products you’re using to manufacture edibles, please reach out to us so we can help ensure your products make it onto the shelves.

Solventless or Solvent-Based Extracts- What are You Dabbing?

Solventless or Solvent-Based Extracts- What are You Dabbing?

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California’s market for cannabis extracts has exploded in recent years, representing 37 percent of cannabis sales in California in 2018 compared to traditional flower at 33 percent.

This exponential consumer demand of these products since legalization has helped refine concentrate extraction methods to innovative heights, resulting in many new and exciting forms of concentrates available. From terpene- rich sauce to brittle wax, dabbers nationwide now have a plethora of options to explore when attempting to achieve their preferred state of mind.

Solventless Extracts

Solventless extracts are resin concentrates produced without the aid of chemical solvents. Instead, these concentrates are extracted mechanically to maintain high purity and potency. As opposed to solvent-based extracts, there is no risk of inhaling any residue or potentially harmful solvents if the product isn’t properly purged, making solventless extracts the concentrates of choice for many health-conscious or medical cannabis consumers.


Since ancient times, cannabis connoisseurs have been extracting resin-containing trichomes from the plant to produce traditional hashish. This method of extraction originated in Afghanistan, where producers utilized dry sifting to filter cannabis trichomes- or kief- from the dried plant material by beating a cannabis plant over a series of sieves. The kief was then pressed by hand with the addition of a small quantity of tea or water, and once the hashish was highly elastic it was molded by hand into ‘hash balls’. Before export, these balls were pressed into blocks.

The result is a spicy extract on the lower end of the potency spectrum that is almost black on the outside and dark greenish or brown on the inside. However, the purest hashish blocks produced through new methods of extraction will appear blonde and can boast potency up to 60 percent. The traditional hashish flavor profile stems from the types of cannabis strain used for extraction- since the method was popularized in Afghanistan, India, and Morocco- home of most indica landraces- indica strains with earthy, spicy terpene profiles are often used for extraction.

Today, the dry- sifting method has been modernized with the invention of mechanical separation, which uses gentle physical force to separate the trichomes from the rest of the plant. However, like dry-sifting, mechanical separation may still result in products high in plant matter. To increase purity, this separation method has been further developed to involve static electricity, resulting in up to 99 percent pure resin heads for the highest quality hash.


Whatever you decide to call it, all three terms describe the same product- cannabis resin extracted from plant material using very cold water, ice cubes and agitation. Buds or trim are gently stirred by hand or spun using an electric mixer in ice-cold water, causing the trichomes to become hard and brittle and eventually snapping off of the plant. After a short period of mixing, the water is poured through a series of mesh filter bags- often called ‘bubble bags’- with the uppermost having the largest mesh and the lowermost the finest.

Like all extracts, the quality of water hash depends on the starting material used, with the lowest grade being dark brown pressed resin- a little better in appearance and purity than imported hashish. On the other hand, water hash expertly extracted from well-cultivated flowers will result in a fine, golden extract resembling light brown sugar, with total cannabinoids testing between 50-80 percent.


Possibly the newest method of solventless extraction popularized in 2015, rosin involves extracting a full-melt oil from flowers or hash using nothing more than heat and pressure. From DIY rosin pressed using hair irons to heavy-duty industrial presses capable of exerting more than 30 tons of pressure for large-scale manufacturers, rosin is the easiest and quickest method to extract precious resin from plant matter while still preserving terpenes.

Rosin can be made from many types of starting materials, including flower, kief and bubble hash – either dried or fresh frozen. However, it’s important to keep in mind that rosin is debatably the only product on the market that is a direct reflection of the starting material used. There’s no workaround to producing high-quality rosin because there’s no way to manipulate its chemical structure. Since there are no chemicals or solvents introduced during rosin extraction – like hydrocarbon extractions – the integrity of the plant is maintained throughout the process. For example, when some cultivators experience issues with their crop (powdery mildew, mold, bud rot, etc.) they can mask them by extracting hydrocarbon concentrates from that flower. With rosin, if you start with subpar material, you will get subpar rosin.

Other factors that may affect end results include the strains used, the temperature of the press and the subsequent storage of the rosin. The final texture of rosin can vary greatly- from shatter to wax to budder to sauce- depending on these factors. As a general rule, flower rosin will be tastier since the terpenoids found within the trichomes have not been manipulated, while hash rosin will be more potent as most plant material has already been extracted. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule.

Many extractors are now experimenting with live rosin to create fresher, more flavorful concentrates. Live rosin is extracted from fresh or fresh-frozen cannabis material. By skipping the drying process, monoterpenoids present in fresh cannabis can be successfully pressed and extracted within the rosin.


Using light heat and agitation, rosin can be “whipped” to create budder. Budder has a consistency similar to salve or batter that can be much easier to work with when dabbing, and this technique can significantly increase the aromatic properties found within the terpenoids of the original starting material. Budder can be found in most legal retail dispensaries, but the process can be achieved easily with preexisting rosin by simply stirring it consistently with a warm dabber tool.

Solvent-Based Extracts

Solvent-based extraction methods have advanced quickly since legalization, with the solvents of choice including ethanol, CO2, and hydrocarbons such as butane and propane. This method uses volatile chemicals to distill trichomes away from the plant material. Once the trichomes are collected, the solvent is then removed typically by means of evaporating, leaving behind a cannabinoid-packed product. The purity and potency of solvent-based extracts vary greatly, but THC-rich extracts that contain up to 90% of the plant’s original cannabinoids can be found in most legal dispensaries.

While these compounds sound like things you’d definitely want to avoid ingesting, this method of extraction has been used in the food industry for decades to create flavorings and food coloring. If produced correctly and tested accurately by a certified third-party lab, solvent-based cannabis extracts can be safe, both in terms of minimizing production risks and creating a product fit for consumption.


BHO is the most common extraction method for commercial manufacturers, utilizing refined, lab-grade butane to create products like honey oil, badder, crumble, sauce, wax, or shatter. Butane is preferred for its non-polarity, allowing efficient separation of non-polar compounds, such as chlorophyll and plant metabolites, from the cannabinoids and terpenes. It also has a low boiling point, which allows extractors to remove the solvent from the extracts without altering any of the cannabinoids or terpenes that were removed from the plant material while ensuring that no residual butane makes it way into the final product.


‘Honey oil’ is the pot culture term for hash oil, named so for it’s honey-like amber color and sticky consistency. This oil is primarily used in the production of shatter and wax, with THC levels upwards of 80 percent.


Shatter is glass-like, brittle extract named for its breakability and is favored for its ease in handling when dabbing. However, the physical texture of individual products range from extremely brittle to taffy-like, depending on the product’s cannabinoid profile. Shatter that’s higher in d9-THC will tend to be more malleable than those containing primarily THCA, which will be more brittle. These concentrates get their translucent, peanut-brittle like structure from their molecular arrangement, with all of its molecules stacked on top of one another like a wall.


Cannabis wax is the soft, opaque golden concentrate made of extracted oils from the cannabis plant. It can have a soft viscous texture (budder) or a slightly firmer but crumbly texture (honeycomb or crumble). Cannabis wax can be an incredibly potent concentrate containing as much as 90 percent THC.


THC sauce is one the newest trends on the market, consisting of pure THCA crystals, or ‘diamonds’, imbued with natural terpenes. BHO derived from a high-quality cannabis strain is left to age and crystallize, resulting in a product with a viscous sauce consistency. Sauce is a high-terpene full-spectrum extract (HTFSE), meaning products consist of around 50 percent THCA and anywhere between 13–40 percent terpenes.


In a jar of sauce left to cure, diamonds are the crystalline structures that form on the sides and bottom of the container. These THCA diamonds may also refer to the crystals left over after the terpene sauce has been removed from the initial sauce mixture- these are usually coated in residual sauce.  Diamonds can also be extracted and further processed to become pure, isolated THCA.

THCA is a pseudopolymorph, meaning it can crystallize into multiple forms when acted upon by variables such as temperature, moisture, chemical impurities, and solvents used in the extraction process. Unique terpene profiles that are dependent on the cannabis variety that is being extracted can also alter the size and composition of the diamonds created in an unrefined cannabis extract. However, different shapes and sizes don’t necessarily mean different levels of purity- a larger diamond may not correlate to better quality. A diamond’s physical attributes are more a reflection of its path to crystallization than an indicator of how pure the diamond is.

Diamonds range in size from very small to large chunks.. Sterols, lipids, and even terpenes can impurify and alter the course of crystallization.


Propane Hash Oil (PHO) extraction is a method that uses propane to filter cannabinoids from starting plant material. It works similar to BHO extraction, though most PHO extractions run at slightly lower temperatures with higher pressure than you might use with butane, which can help avoid unwanted residual compounds from the plant material.

Propane boils at a lower temperature than butane, so it doesn’t take as much heat to purge propane from the concentrate. There’s less likelihood that terpenes will be burned off during this stage. PHO concentrates are high-terpene full-spectrum extracts, and they naturally reach a consistency that’s excellent for budder.


CO2 oil is the popular golden-brown liquid commonly used to fill vape pens. Because carbon dioxide is non-toxic and safe for human consumption, choosing Co2 as a solvent for extraction significantly reduces consumer health risks. It also isn’t flammable, making this solvent-based method one of the safest for producers.

However, CO2 extraction isn’t effective at extracting polar hydrophilic molecules from cannabis, leaving some desirable parts of the plant, such as terpenes, behind. Producers often add plant-derived terpenes back to the oil before retail, mimicking the original starting material’s flavor and smell or creating a completely unique profile.


Ethanol is a colorless, volatile, flammable liquid that is the intoxicating agent in liquors and is also used as a solvent and in fuel. It is said to be as safe as CO2 and is commonly used as a food preservative and additive. Some manufacturers believe it is also as effective as butane, though it lacks butane’s non-polar properties. Ethanol-based concentrates often retain chlorophyll, resulting in dark coloration and a bitter, grassy flavor. Ethanol extraction proponents would argue that most of the water soluble plant component extraction can be circumvented by keeping very cold temps below -5F. However, because of its polar nature as a solvent, the resulting concentrates almost never reach concentrations of purity greater than 80 percent, and therefore have their limitations in making a less pure, full spectrum type extract. If a manufacturer is willing to put in the labor, money, and time, the extract can be further purified and crystalized thorough a series of filtration, separation, and chromatography.


Only cannabis products sold in licensed retail dispensaries have undergone quality assurance and safety compliance testing by a licensed third-part laboratory. This is incredibly important to consider when purchasing concentrates, as harmful residual solvents, additives, and low-grade chemicals used in the extraction process can have pose serious health risks to consumers. Always purchase your cannabis products from a licensed dispensary or delivery service!

Know Before You Grow: Cannabis Genetics

Know Before You Grow: Cannabis Genetics

Genetics Cover

“Good weed comes to those with money.

Better weed comes to those with friends.

Best weed comes to those who grow.”

– Ethan Russo

Whether your growing for retail, manufacturing, or padding your own supply, knowing how to cultivate cannabis can be an invaluable asset with quite a rewarding payout! But before you can begin gathering your materials and getting your hands dirty, you should first understand what type of cannabis strains will work best in your environment. While all cannabis varieties are interfertile and can be crossed to create new strains, different strains have distinct morphology and characteristics, growth requirements and applications.

Commercial cannabis varieties are largely indica- or sativa- dominant hybrids. Hybrids allow cultivators to take the properties of two dissimilar species and cross them to get a desired trait, such as mold resistance, frost tolerance, or high cannabinoid production.

Depending on the strains you choose to grow, it is important to acknowledge where the strains originated from in order to fine-tune your practice for that particular cultivar.

While most cultivators are familiar with the three most common distinctions between cannabis plants, there are actually 5 subcategories of landraces. Landraces are populations of cannabis that have adapted to specific geographical regions, in isolation from other populations.

The Correct Cannabis Taxonomy

Broad- Leaved Drug (BLD) Type: Cannabis Indica spp. Afghanica

Plants under this category are most commonly referred to as “Indica” and are characterized by their short stature, broad leaves, high cannabinoid and terpene production, and copious resin production. As the Latin name suggests, BLD types are generally agreed to have originated either on the Asian subcontinent or possibly in Afghanistan- hence the high resin production, which protects the plants from excessive heat and frigid temperatures common in these regions. When it comes to aroma, indica strains tend to emit musty, earthy, and skunky odors due it’s terpene profile- β-myrcene, α-pinene, and camphene are the three common terpenoids found in these strains. Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, a French naturalist, was the first European botanist to classify this type in 1785.

At one time Indica strains typically contained around 15-18% total THC. However, with modern and improved cultivation methods some strains have been tested at over 30%, putting these strains’ cannabinoid content on par with Sativa strains.

Narrow- Leaved Drug (NLD) Type:  Cannabis Indica spp. Indica

The Latin name may be a bit misleading, but NLD types are more commonly called “Sativa” in the commercial cannabis industry. Technically speaking, however, all THC- producing varieties of cannabis are indicas.

NLD types originate from Central and South America. This strain of cannabis is typically distinguished by its long, thin leaves, lighter color, and tall, airy buds. Plants can grow up to 20 ft tall when cultivated outdoors.

The THC of a Sativa strain will contain between 19-25% total THC while exhibiting sweet, fruity and/or spicy aromas from terpenoids such as α-terpinolene, limonene, and Linalool.

Broad- Leaved Hemp (BLH) Type: Cannabis Indica spp. Chinensis

BLH types are found in certain parts of East Asia above the 40th parallel. Because they do not produce high amounts of cannabinoids,  BLH crops are most commonly used for fiber and seed.

Narrow-Leaved Hemp (NLH) Type: Cannabis Sativa

NLH types The term sativa simply means “cultivated” and describes the common hemp plant grown widely across Europe in the 1700’s. Native to Europe and western Eurasia, NLH types have been grown for centuries as a fiber and seed crop, and were introduced to the New World during European colonization. Although it is the only “sativa” in the bunch, NLH types do not produce high amounts of cannabinoids or terpenoids.

Ruderalis: Cannabis Sativa spp. Spotanea

Ruderalis are most likely feral, escaped populations of cultivated European hemp which have adapted to their cold environment by expressing autoflowering characteristics. Ruderalis landraces are found north of the 40th parallel, exhibit excellent mold and frost resistance, have a very short flowering cycle and produce small, thin flowers with low cannabinoids and terpenes. These landraces are not very common in the commercial genepool, but hybrids with the ruderalis’ autoflowering characteristic are becoming more widely available. Because these strains flower based on the age of the plant- not the light cycle- crops can be grown year-round without the need for artificial light or light deprivation.

Know Which Genetics Work Best for Locations and Grow Technique.


Indoor cultivators have the advantage of being able to control almost every aspect of their environment, from the light cycle to temperature and humidity levels. However, the one thing these growers must consider when choosing genetics is space. An indoor grow may not be able to accommodate a 20 foot sativa plant!

The vast majority of commercial cultivars bred for indoor grow rooms are Indica-dominant (but almost all contain some sativa lineage). Indica-dominant hybrids are preferred for their short stature, quick flowering cycle, dense flowers and copious resin, so growers can get the most out of their limited space.


Outdoor cultivators are limited to the strains they can grow because of the lack of environmental control. Without lights, humidifiers, dehumidifiers, and fans, growers must consider which genetics will work best in their given climate.

Varieties that perform well in cool climates originated in cool climates, and vice versa. This is one reason why indica strains and indica-dominant hybrids are so popular in commercial varieties, as the majority of sales take place in Europe and North America. If these varieties are grown in climates that are too hot, too humid, or experience an ample amount of rain, mold will likely be an issue.

Sativa strains, on the other hand, will perform worse the further they are from the equator. If you’re growing outdoors in a tropical climate, opt for tropical varieties unless you can add supplemental light. You may also need to provide shade if temperatures are extremely high (over 90F).

Sativa strains and hybrids require more time, space and energy for a successful crop. The payout is large, sparse flower clusters with fragrant aromas and a more uplifting high when consumed.

It is essential to keep in mind that sativa strains can exhibit indica characteristics and vice versa- with excessive controlled breeding, commercial genetics have become difficult to trace back to the original parent plant(s). The only true way to tell how a strain will grow is by growing it, especially if the origins are unknown. The best cultivators keep detailed notes throughout the first few grow cycles of a new strain in order to continuously customize and perfect the practice.

Genetic Mapping and the Future of Cannabis

More recently, cultivators have been examining cannabis at a chromosomal level, selecting exceptional characteristics and ‘mapping them’.Having mapped genomes of an organism gives scientists and breeders alike a better understanding of which genes are responsible for outwardly expressed characteristics. Now with the genome map providing more precise information on the species’ genetic makeup, researchers expect the map will speed up breeding efforts to create new strains with desired medical properties as well as varieties that can be grown more sustainably, or with increased resistance to diseases and pests. Researchers are currently developing a biodiversity map of cannabis found throughout the world.

A Session with Cameron Matin: Director of Accounts

A Session with Cameron Matin: Director of Accounts

At InfiniteCAL, we take pride in the diverse knowledge and experiences of our employees. Our team of 50+ chemists, account managers, sample technicians and compliance specialists all have unique skills to contribute to the lab’s success, from new method developments to client and consumer outreach and education. In this series, we’ll be interviewing one of our own about what lead them to the cannabis industry, their role in the lab, and their plans for the future.

Cameron is our Director of Accounts and one of our go-to compliance experts. With over 3 years of customer relation experience in the cannabis testing field, he’s helped numerous clients navigate their way from seed to shelf.

Name:  Cameron Matin

Position: Director of Accounts

University: University of San Diego

Degree: Business Administration

First Started at InfiniteCAL: 2018

What made you want to start working in the cannabis industry?

It’s not often you get the chance to be one of the pioneers of a burgeoning industry. I got the opportunity in 2017 and had no idea where it would take me. I really liked the lab side at that point because I wasn’t manufacturing, distributing or selling any product- and it was nice feeling like I was helping people and not just doing this to make a quick buck.

What were you doing before you started working  here?

Before I started working here I was working for another small-time cannabis lab in San Diego. It’s how I met Josh and Dave and relatively quickly made the transition to work for them.

What’s your favorite thing about working at InfiniteCAL?

When I started here, Josh and Dave gave me the opportunity to build out my team the way I wanted to. Obviously I wanted to bring in smart and driven people who could help take the company to the next level, but the culture we were able to establish is what I’m most proud of. Having capable people doesn’t mean anything if we’re not on the same page, rowing the boat in the same direction. Successes here are felt collectively throughout the entire organization rather than individually, and I think that’s what makes our company so great. It’s a true team environment, and we strive to be the best team members we can not only for the clients, but for our colleagues sitting next to us.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? How will your experience at InfiniteCAL help you reach that ?

I seriously have no idea. I think I’ll want to go back to school at some point in the next 10 years.

What I can say is that I’m certainly counting my blessings to be in the position I’m in now. I’ve had the chance to see what it takes to grow a business from the ground up, and I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to build a good team around you. I’d like to think I’m a better leader now than I was two years ago, and I’m learning new things all the time. Which is why it’s hard to say where I’ll be in 10 years- I may learn something or come to some realization in the next few months that may totally alter the path of where I thought I wanted to take my career.

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