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Ultrasound Extraction – How to Improve The Extraction Process

Extraction Magazine, Media Partners

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Cannabis Extraction methods have been the focal point of innovations since the discovery of .  The job of building extraction facilities and maintaining them can be an arduous task, at times not breaking into profitable due to the high costs of operations and investments to maintain.  The need for sustainable and environmentally friendly practices are an imperative subject to add to the conversation as well as consistent quality within manufacturers.   

With traditional masticating extraction methods such as solvents, heat, and pressure, quality can be inconsistent. In fact, chemically sensitive Phyto-Cannabinoids can be degraded by applying heat and they could lose their chemical value if not treated with care. Combining old knowledge and new technology, it is possible to circumvent these issues and create even more superior products than are found in the present day. 

We now investigate the ancient wisdom of vibrations and sounds. How sound affects us, how we can use it to make pictures of babies inside wombs and how it changes our moods. How sound can move water and make patterns in soils.  Now, at the cusp of evolutionary cannabis innovations, we learn about cavitation and investigate the science of sonochemistry and how sound interacts with chemicals.  

How can we ultimately use Ultrasound to make Cannabis Concentrates?

Botanical extraction has been performed for centuries by different cultures for many reasons from therapeutic applications to religious ceremonies. With the evolution of extraction techniques, Ultrasound Assisted Extraction (UAE) has become a promising and useful innovation capable of pursuing the shortening of extraction time, preservation of thermolabile compounds and reduction of solvents use.

 By using soundwaves, different forms of separation methods have become a part of an essential spectrum of environmentally friendly advancements in cannabis and hemp technology.

Ultrasound is well named, with its definition being sound that is above 20 Kilohertz (Kilohertz is 1k Hertz, humans averagely hear at 20k Hertz) – this is of such high Intensity and strength that it not only is not able to be heard by humans, but also can break molecules and cause shock waves equivalent to that of a bomb. On a molecular level it also causes tiny “explosions” which results in cannabis phytoconstituents separation  in a short time: too soon to cause shock waves in the cannabis extraction industry.

Ultrasound Cavitation Theory has been applied to create incredibly pure extracts in a shorter time compared to other methods. [1] The “Acoustic Cavitation Phenomena” is when sound creates bubbles of gas vapor which forms, grows, and implodes, causing small shock waves which in turn cause molecular compression and “rarefaction” on the crest of the sonic waves. This in turn causes molecular , liquefaction, and homogenization. Essentially, the sound wave is extracting and mixing the elements at high speeds, creating what is referred to as a “slurry”, which is the state of agitated matter.

Cavitation and extractions through the UAE are created using two different devices.  

  • An ultrasonic bath is a stainless-steel tank with transducers (ultrasound conductors) inside.  Batches of formulas are put into the bath to be stimulated by the frequency.   
  • The second type of device is a probe.  This is a stick type element made of Titanium that can be put into any solution creating Ultrasonic waves. 

These methods are already currently popular in the nutraceutical and herbal essences industry as a promising alternative to keep heat sensitive phytochemicals intact and available to us. Being the most cost effective and pure form of extracting elements including anthocyanins and other flavonoids, terpenes, cannabinoids, proteins, sugars among others. [2]

Using sound to disrupt the cell walls increases extraction yields and quality as well as assists in formulations becoming more bioavailable.  In comparison to conventional methods, UAE uses just a fraction of energy, time, and solvents. Using these methods also allows reduced costs to build and maintain a processing facility.  In combination with supercritical fluid extraction (SFE), UAE appears as the most efficient and safe option to extract active constituents from plants.

Think of the damage done by an earthquake. The vibrations of movement cause massive disaster.  Sound creates vibrations that share and spread energy in an atomic energy movement we call “mass transfer”.  Microscopic tremors produce amazing effects, such as breaking apart molecules facilitating the phytochemical extraction.

Wrap up on UAE to make cannabis extracts

As Cannabis Concentrates become more and more popular as well as Federal legislation changes to include an entire new demographic, it will be more and more essential for us to integrate the most efficient ways of working with plant matter to match the need that it will produce in society. Studies have found that UAE can cut time in processing by over 75%, therefore cutting costs exponentially, in addition to energy consumption. 

Many processes of the cannabis Industry already use vibrations to separate trichomes from biomass, such as Kief tumblers and Separation machines. But for the extraction industry, the good vibrations of the future will be coming from Ultrasound Assisted Extraction.


[1] Chemat F, Rombaut N, Sicaire AG, Meullemiestre A, Fabiano-Tixier AS, Abert-Vian M. Ultrasound assisted extraction of food and natural products. Mechanisms, techniques, combinations, protocols and applications. A review. Ultrason Sonochem. 2017 Jan;34:540-560. doi: 10.1016/j.ultsonch.2016.06.035.

[2] Kumar K, Srivastav S, Sharanagat VS. Ultrasound assisted extraction (UAE) of bioactive compounds from fruit and vegetable processing by-products: A review. Ultrason Sonochem. 2021 Jan;70:105325. doi: 10.1016/j.ultsonch.2020.105325.

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