By Troy Ivan
Recently I’ve been making medicated coconut oil (previous post) for a friend that was diagnosed with lung cancer, and it got me curious about making a better, richer, more medicinally potent extract for home healing. Again, I came back to the Source because you can control exactly what is going into your medicine, insuring against harmful, irritating and unwanted chemicals. You can even experiment, extracting and adding other botanicals with additional healing properties to the cannabis extract or simply add your choice of flavor.
WHAT ARE “RSO” & “FECO”?
These abbreviated terms refer to types of extracted resinous cannabis oil (CO) with concentrated amounts of cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, used for therapeutic and medicinal uses for treatment of various conditions.
RSO is short for ‘Rick Simpson Oil’, named after the man that made it famous and has helped an unfathomable number of people with his ‘Run From the Cure’ documentary showcasing the cancer curing attributes of cannabis. I think we all owe this man a huge debt of gratitude. Eventually, his method fell out of favor due do the use of the solvent Naptha. Naptha is non-polar so it’s a very effective solvent, but unfortunately it’s use comes with a number of health risks. Extractions moved back to using 190-proof food-grade ethanol in substitution for Naptha, solving the health risk problem, but introducing a new problem. While Naptha is completely non-polar, ethanol has polar attributes making it difficult to use without collecting chlorophyll and other undesirable water based components of the cannabis plant. Using the same steps to produce RSO using ethanol results in a dark-green and almost black oil. This process and resulting extract is known as Full Extract Cannabis Oil (FECO). These extracts are meant to be used orally, topically, or in suppositories and are not suitable for smoking. The Naptha in the original RSO recipe makes it a very unhealthy choice for inhalation, while the plant matter in RSO and FECO made with ethanol make the oil unsuitable for a quality smoke.
There are many people that will disagree with me equating RSO and FECO as the same thing, but that’s ok as I’m not afraid of people disagreeing. The reason I’m addressing them the same here is that now they are both made with food grade ethanol, and if you make either of them with ethanol, without augmenting the process and changing the way the cannabis is handled before extraction, both operations will result in a green full plant extraction. The only difference will be how long it soaks and how dark green it gets. To avoid green color when extracting with ethanol you must freeze materials before extraction and this has never been part of neither the RSO nor FECO practice. Thus, when using ethanol RSO and FECO are the same to me, and for the remainder of this blog, and probably for the rest of my life, I will refer to this kind of deep, medicinal extraction as FECO and I’d advise others to do the same.
FECO is a full extraction, differing from what’s commonly used for smoking or clean edibles (edibles made without all the green plant taste or color but just as potent). By ‘full extraction’ I refer to the use of a more vigorous wash to bring out the most beneficial compounds of the cannabis plant in the highest efficiency. The longer, vigorous, deep wash results in a very dark extraction. Some people feel the deeper extraction unlocks enough extra medicinal power to make the extra green in the meds acceptable, or even preferred.
HOW TO MAKE FECO?
1. DECARB: Decarb your cannabis (if unfamiliar with ‘Decarb’ see this post)
2. WASH: Add 95% Ethonal, like 190-proof Everclear, to the decarbed cannabis (the ‘wash’) until the alcohol completely covers the cannabis plus a little extra for good measure. Allow the combination to soak for as short as 5 minutes to as long as overnight. Opinions vary on how long the alcohol needs to interact with the cannabis to get the best extraction results. From my experience 5-15 minutes is plenty for cannabis, but I would highly encourage everyone to experiment and find what works best for you. If quality flower is being used, repeating this step and performing a second wash with the same cannabis material can collect the 15-20% of THC and CBD left behind in the first wash, however, if you are using low quality flower or trim a second wash is not so productive.
3. FILTER: Separate the alcohol solution from the cannabis material by filtering through an unbleached coffee filter. It is important to filter well or the particulate concentration will become mud like. I make this step a little easier by doing the wash in a ziplock, cutting a small corner from the ziplock, and draining slowly into a coffee filter (makes cleanup very easy).
4. PURGE: Separate the alcohol from the cannabis extraction and presto! You have crafted your own FECO! I recommend using a DIY system detailed in my DIY posts ( links for part 1 & part 2). Due to the price points, noise, low performance and various equipment problems I no longer recommend ExtractCraft equipment. We now have better solutions.
5. EXERCISING YOUR CRAFTING SKILLS: Lastly, exercise your Crafting skills and combine other botanical extractions with the FECO to charge it with additional healing properties or add great flavor. There are a few ways this can be accomplished. First, if the additional botanical is of similar extraction characteristics to cannabis, like hops, add it right in with the cannabis at the ‘wash’ stage, wash them together, and complete the extraction as directed. Second, if the required wash time of the additional botanical(s) is substantially different from cannabis, like oak chips or citrus peel, wash separately from the cannabis but combine the washes and purge together in the Source. Third, if you have a previously prepared botanical extraction and would like to incorporate it with your FECO you can either dissolve it into the alcohol solution during the FECO wash stage, or, after the FECO extraction is complete simply mix the previously prepared concentrate into the FECO while it’s still warm.
I hope this helps anyone in need of some help and hope. If you would like to shoot me an email with any questions you can get me at IchiBanCrafter@gmail.com
If you want to see this process in a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yhz6VeFQy_M