Is It Possible to Extract Cannabinoids from Smoke?

Stephen Andrews
29 Mar 2023

If you've ever wondered whether it was possible to capture THC from smoke and infuse that extraction in other products, the answer is: it has been done! The Massachusetts-based company Real Isolate has been building its brand exactly around this novel method of cannabinoid extraction, thus making smoke extracts a real thing.

Manufacturers rely on various methods to harvest cannabinoid and terpene content from hemp and cannabis plants. 

Most extracts, such as wax, shatter, live resin, or vape oils, are produced through solvent-based extractions. In solvent-based extractions, trichomes from the cannabis plant are dissolved with the help of a solvent, which could be ethanol, butane, carbon dioxide (CO2), or some other chemical. The process completes with the removal of the residual solvent. 

There are also solventless extractions where the cannabis plant material is compressed using only suitable pressure and heat in order to obtain oils and rosin. Rosin extraction can be as simple as pressing the buds with a hair straightener. 

But what about extracting cannabinoids from smoke? For a long time, it seemed like something impossible to do. However, one manufacturer got there. Real Isolate is a company that has found a way how to activate cannabinoids at levels only achievable through smoking, using a special filter that traps the chemical profile of the smoke after the cannabis plant material is burned. 

The company's cannabinoid extraction method was rewarded a patent, and they debuted on the market last year. They use the unique extraction process for their brand Smokenol, which started out with two oil products: a CBD-based cannabis smoke extract made from hemp, and a THC-based extract derived from the smoke of THC-rich plants. The slogan that the company uses cannot be more accurate for what they do: "We smoked it for you."

The team behind Smokenol initially experimented with pure CBD isolates to find out if they could collect cannabinoids once the isolate burns in a dab rig. The experiment involved the use of a special filter. The team was able to capture almost 20 different cannabinoids through their innovative method of extraction. 

The chemical composition of smoke is different than that of a cannabis plant. The next goal of the team was to explore what would happen if they added the smoke extract to edibles in order to get edible products and tinctures that would get you high as if you were smoking, or a different high than you would get from eating regular edibles. 

The creator of Smokenol and the co-founder of Real Isolates, Andy Westerkemp, told High Times Magazine that his team designed the special filter "to selectively capture those compounds out of the smoke, so that we can deliver them in different formats like specifically edibles, but edible tinctures, topicals, suppositories, vapes, you name it. So we can take that profile, that chemical fingerprint that you would only get from smoking, and now put it into other things." 

The smoke extraction method could be a turning point in the cannabis industry and extraction of cannabinoids. Products derived through this method may work as the optimal choice for a lot of users who prefer smoking over edibles, but they cannot smoke because of various health issues affecting the respiratory tract. To feel the same high as if you were smoking when you weren't, it sounds pretty amazing when you think about it. 

Stephen Andrews