What does "ZERO-WINTERIZATION" mean to you?

Updated: Dec 13, 2020

The people of Cannabis have spoken, so I will try my best to answer!

MYTH #1: “Zero-Winterization”

We’ve all heard the term "zero-winterization" and I’d be willing to bet that most of us pretend to understand what it means. But do any of us (including the experts in extraction) really know what it means to our brands? I would say NO, unequivocally, and wholeheartedly, NO. Why you might ask? Well, I'm glad you asked, I honestly feel product development is unique to a brand so a term like "winterization" is a loose term at best. I mean how much winterization is needed? Is it a universally excepted tolerance? Should it be? Or is it just a word used to sell extraction equipment in the cannabis space?

Again, I'd like to ask what you know "winterization" to mean? Most of you are probably going to say "I don't know", and that’s of great interest to me because most of the “winterized” oil you are buying on the market today still have fats/lipids and waxes in the product, they definitely have sugars, chlorophylls and I'm guessing pesticides (because a COA apparently means "Total Cannabinoid") so what exactly do you think you are buying/selling when looking at the US Supply Chain for Cannabinoid Oils? Purified oils? Clarified oils? Remediated oils?

Oh, wait, we aren’t talking about “Winterization” we are talking about “Zero-Winterization”! You’ve heard the term time and time again, its a great term, ZERO which automatically correlates to "free of" non-desired compounds. But what does ZW (I'm going to now refer to "zero-winterization" as "ZW" because it’s a taxing word to continuously type out) refer to? Ethanol extractors feature sub-thermal temperatures extraction equipment that can In-line “Dewax”, but is "dewaxing" synonymous with "ZW", ZW is such a broad term that when its relayed to the novice extractor or decision-maker, they think purity, so much so that often owners of extraction equipment are confused when their ethanol extractors produce cannabis oil that looks like tar!

So let's look at Ethanol first.

Since ethanol acts as an aggressive solvent, it's great at aggressively attacking the substrate of whatever it tasked to “extracting” and no matter how fancily you describe how amazing Alcohol Extraction is as a method, it is NOT selective at all! So whether the material is polar or non-polar [think back to 8th-grade chemistry] it’s going to effectively complete its task and EXTRACT! That means:

  • Sugars,

  • Fats/Lipids,

  • Chlorophylls (yeah that’s right plural there are several types of Chlorophyll) A & B,

  • Waxes,

  • Pesticides (most are water-soluble which makes them…the word you are looking for is POLAR),

  • Glove or Cigarette butt

  • Part of the vape pen that you just dropped because the “extractors” in industrial cannabis are “over-regulated” and GMP technically doesn’t apply to them because it's only for APIs

  • And of course CANNABINOIDS (yes, ∆9-THC, and for those of you that are curious, its option + J and BAAM ∆ symbol).

But the same critique shall also apply to Carbon Dioxide (CO2) extractors, we often hear the BIG NAMES in CO2 extraction boasting “Zero-Winterization”, just think about WHO you are hearing the verbiage from? Is it the engineers or was it from a site visit that you took part in when the sales team was laying down the red carpet at a facility where one of their pieces of equipment was being showcased? Or, even worse, was it a salesperson who has probably never turned on an extractor in his/her life?

I’ve been on the site visits, I’ve asked the one question that you should be asking,

“Do you receive an incentive to give these tours?”

– chances are good that if you catch them off guard and you’ll hear “yes”, or perhaps not, but chances are pretty good that they receive compensated service agreements (which can be in the tens of thousands of dollars annually on a single piece of equipment - I think most "service agreements start at 10% of the overall value of the machine) or some form of incentive.