Carbon Chemistry ZeoClear™ vs. Media Bros CR(x/y): Everything You Need to Know
+ Benefits of Granular Media
Cannabis consumers today are presented with a veritable smorgasbord of cannabinoid products. Unless these customers have an encyclopedic knowledge of the entourage effects of every Cannabis compound along with an understanding of the pros and cons of different extraction methods and preparations, as well as experience with how their individual biology physically & psychologically responds to these products, a trip to the dispensary requires a lot of guess work. Many customers rely on the advice of experienced budtenders, friends, family or internet personalities to determine which qualities to look for in a product and what effects they can expect after consuming it. In the end, they must make decisions based on their sight, smell, and personal budget before they ever get to experience the taste for themselves or understand how the ratio of cannabinoids will interact with their personal physiology. Even sophisticated cannabis connoisseurs shift their opinions about which qualities are the most important in an extract. Suffice to say this is a fickle market.
At Carbon Chemistry, we provide quality extraction media and guidance to help you, the cannabis processor, adapt your production methods to stay ahead of this rapid and ever-evolving industry. When our media is applied properly to an extraction method, it can improve the efficiency of your process, improve the quality of your product, and reduce your investment of time and operational costs, thereby keeping your high-quality extracts financially accessible to your customer base. By fine tuning your processes with affordable Carbon Chemistry media, your brand can stand out from the competition.
You may be asking why you could benefit from using Carbon Chemistry media instead of similar products from competitive media brands. Well, in addition to our lower prices, get ready for some science, folks, because we are here to formally introduce our ZeoClear™ technology and to explain the results of a side-by-side comparison test: Carbon Chemistry ZeoClear™ L & Y versus Media Bros CR-X & Y.
With this guide, you will learn:
- The definition of granular media filtration
- The differences between the media used
- The results of granular media comparison experiments
- The benefits of integrating granular media with extraction techniques
So, let’s get started!
What is Granular Media Filtration?
Granular media filtration (GMF) is a process for removing suspended or colloidal particles in a fluid by passing the suspension through a bed of granular adsorbent media. I.e., visibly distinguishable porous particles, generally sized above 100 micrometers (100µm or microns ≈0.1mm or millimeters). For example, filtering cloudy extraction tincture through a bed of granular adsorbent can successfully remove all or some of the suspended solids causing haze, even after prior steps to clarify the solution by sedimentation, alone. The solids are attracted to the granular media (i.e., adsorbed or chemisorbed) while the liquid flows through it, so the opacity (aka: turbidity) of the mixture is reduced, improving its optical clarity. Among other potential benefits, the adsorption can lighten the color of the solution and ultimately provide cleaner concentrates in both chemical purity and also visual appearance.
In Cannabis, granular media is used as an adsorbent for the oily extract solutions (aka: miscella) to remove unwanted plant compounds like chlorophyll & carotenoid pigments, biological components like sugars & waxy fats, and even toxins like pesticides & fungicides. These contaminant compounds negatively impact not only the aesthetics like color clarity, but also the overall flavor or even safety profile of the end-product for consumption.
We’ve all seen how competitive the Cannabis market is today: Anything extractors can do to stand out, they are doing. That includes producing “diamonds” (large, pure crystals of THCa) and the clearest, brightest colored concentrates to capture the eyes of consumers for sales. However, these desirable visual traits often directly conflict with the darkly colored resin of mature, cured Cannabis flowers, bearing the tastiest essence and a sumptuously “sticky” appeal. Solventless “rosin” makers must often choose flowers harvested early with underripe trichomes to achieve the lightest colors, so many solvent-based extractionists use herb harvested at full or late maturity with dark amber resin. While this resin has superb flavor and aroma, it just doesn’t have that visual “shelf appeal” in clear glass pucks and vape carts. That’s where the true art of extraction and skilled application of adsorbent media come into play; making Cannabis extracts that look as delicious as they genuinely taste.
So, is it time to include granular media filtration among your extraction and purification techniques? The results from our experiment just might help you decide where to begin.
Before any experiment, we answer the “Why?” behind the work and formulate hypotheses to test. At Carbon Chemistry, we’ve been working with granular media for the last year to provide solutions for clients who are seeking optimal adsorbents, but with better flow and less hold-up than powdered media. While both powders and granules can produce high-quality results, granular media is better suited for many solvent-based extractors for several reasons, including its simplified adsorption control, less mess, and its targeted permanent capture of specific contaminants.
Cost is always a concern. This fact is true now more than ever as product prices decline during this turbulent adolescence of the Cannabis industry. Even the most advanced extractors and brands are struggling to turn a profit. In fact, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) and Whitney Economics reported 37% of Cannabis businesses were unprofitable and 21% were just breaking even over the last fiscal year. Without profits, Cannabis brands struggle to keep operating day in and day out, so R&D for scaling and growth becomes a pipe dream. Therefore, businesses ardently seek to make Cannabis products that can capture higher prices, while at least maintaining if not lowering their baseline operating costs.
Carbon Chemistry, therefore, proposes the following two (2) purposes for this experiment comparing our ZeoClear™ L & Y granular media with MB’s CRX™ & CRY™:
- We believe hydrocarbon extraction using granular media purification techniques is the present state of the art and that it will be important to solvent-based Cannabis concentrates well into the future, as it offers a variety of benefits to Cannabis resin extractors. These include:
- Removing chlorophyll and other plant compounds that produce color (pigments)
- Improving cannabinoid acid crystallizations by minimizing interfering compounds
- Granular media requires no pre-baking, but it also produces little to no dust when baked
- Providing higher flow processing rates and cleaner handling compared to powders
- Simplified adsorption control: just dialing in residence time via flow rate or recirculation
- Making highly marketable resin from biomass that has aged past its prime appearance
- Carbon Chemistry’s ZeoClear™ will yield similar or superior product results for Cannabis concentrate creators and at far better prices compared to Media Bros CR-media.
Now that you know the ‘why’ of our granular media filtration experiment, let’s delve further into the ‘what’ and ‘how’.
An In-Depth Look at the Experimental Controls & Variables
As you explore what type of granular media you’ll use or what granular media extraction techniques will deliver the highest ROI, you’ll be inundated with vendor sales and pitches. We know it inevitably comes down to the numbers and efficacy of your choices. Hence our exploration of two of the industry’s biggest names in the adsorbents market, today; to see which brand comes out on top.
To help extractors make the decision of specifically what type and brand of granular media to use, Carbon Chemistry set out to perform a side-by-side comparison of our ZeoClear™ L & ZeoClear™ Y with the directly equivalent, albeit 1.5X-1.8X more expensive Media Bros CRX™ & CRY™ products. Of course, scientific method demands at least one control for every experimental group, and ideally that only one variable is altered in each experimental group. The inputs and parameters must be rigorously controlled to produce reliably accurate results for comparison.
Since we know environment, input materials, and timing can change the outcome of the extraction, we set up the control and experimental runs in precisely the same way, using automated extraction equipment (Luna Technologies “io” Model, BHO extraction system) with pure n-butane solvent to eliminate operator error. This allowed us to monitor runs with precisely controlled times, temperatures, pressures, and other operating parameters, mitigating nearly all variability that would otherwise affect the extraction output.
The experiment used Carbon Chemistry Silica 60A as the control medium and as a constant baseline with each of the experimental granular media. In every run, 3312.5 grams of ground and homogenized biomass from a single strain called “Sweet Tooth” was extracted with an equal volume of n-butane, passed once through the CRC (Color Remediation Column) filled with media. The control run had only 300 grams of Silica 60A in the CRC. Each experimental run had 300 grams of Silica 60A on top of 1500 grams of granular media in the CRC: ZeoClear™ L, ZeoClear™ Y, CRX™ or CRY™.
Before we get to the results, let’s briefly understand the comparison between Carbon Chemistry’s ZeoClear™ and Media Bros’ CRY™ and CRX™ media. ZeoClear™ is Carbon Chemistry’s granular clay media, mainly used for in-line (CRC) light hydrocarbon extract purification. ZeoClear™ comes in Y and L formulations, which are most comparable to Media Bros’ CRY™ and CRX™ formulations, respectively. CRY™ is a Media Bros’ proprietary granular medium, which has 1.5X the embedded silica that their CRX™ granular media contains. By looking at their performance results with those of the control silica and ZeoClear™ shortly, you’ll see just how crucial the product differences can be with only one variation in a medium or its source.
The Breakdown of Results
As you can see from the tables below, we directly compare ZeoClear™ Y with Media Bros CRY™ and ZeoClear™ L with Media Bros CRX™, all with the Silica 60A baseline and all straight out of new, freshly opened packages of each medium. We had plenty of the homogenized biomass, so we also did 2nd runs of equal biomass through each of the once-used Zeoclears, and even a run with thoroughly pre-baked media using ZeoClear™ L. With every run we collected results in eight of the most important categories to producers & consumers, alike:
- Yield % = mass extracted / biomass input
- Total Cannabinoids = sum total of all cannabinoid percentages: ∑ [C1%+C2%+C3%+…]
- Relative Yield Cannabinoids = total cannabinoids % ⨉ yield %
- Total Terpenes = sum total of all terpene percentages: ∑ [T1%+T2%+T3%+…]
- Relative Yield Terpenes = total terpenes % ⨉ yield %
- Media Cost: MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price)
- Aroma (indicative of flavor)
- Color (indicative of shelf-appeal)
The relative yield calculations are intended to convey how well the media is keeping those valuable compounds, like cannabinoids and terpenes but also factoring in the yield performance from the run. The smell and flavor categories are a subjective summary related directly to the total terpene counts and percentages. The color category is also subjective; therefore, high-resolution photos were taken of every end-product under exactly the same conditions.
Click here to see above table
Now let’s get into our observations. First, we looked at the control and observed it had an orange color to it which is common to runs using exclusively silica. As for the smell of the control outcome, we’d classify it as ‘good’ if not optimal. Because it’s most common for producers to consider replacing CRY™ with ZeoClear™ Y and replacing CRX™ with ZeoClear™ L, we’ll focus on these outcomes the most.
Starting with ZeoClear™ L and Media Bros CRX™, right off the bat you can see ZeoClear™ had a significantly higher yield and higher cannabinoid percentages. Following the same results, we again see higher yields associated with ZeoClear™ Y in comparison to CRY™. The ZeoClear™ Y had higher terpenes which lowered the cannabinoid value. As for color, you see (and smell) an ideal end-product with ZeoClear™ with a light, clear golden color and bright and lively flavors of captured terpenes. We can also see the 2nd run of ZeoClear™ L surprisingly gave even lighter color than both 1st runs (of L & X), and even a larger overall yield, yet similar ratios of cannabinoids and terpenes to the 1st run CRX™. Since these factors are often what consumers consider when making purchasing decisions, it’s important to note that both the Media Bros CRX™ and CRY™ runs produced more brown color and mainly heavier terpene compounds. ZeoClear™ Y consistently yields high terpenes, while ZeoClear™ L yields highest mass overall and higher in cannabinoids. Compared to Media Bros, the Carbon Chemistry ZeoClear™ gives the best color and the biggest yields, right out of the package, even if it’s re-used for a second batch.
In the end, results are clear: Carbon Chemistry ZeoClear™ granular media, as-is, provides brighter colors and higher yield performance, all at greater cost effectiveness than the competition.
The Benefits of ZeoClear™ and the Future of the Cannabis Industry
Before we go, let’s review how granular media filtration will apply to future Cannabis industry and what benefits extractors can expect for implementing the technology with ZeoClear™.
- Consumers are more knowledgeable – Put simply, consumers are getting smarter when it comes to Cannabis products, content, and what they need to achieve their desired effects. Almost every brand is investing in educational components of their marketing and as consumer use rises, so does the research into precisely how various terpenes and cannabinoids can benefit users’ health conditions and everyday ailments.
- Demand for minor cannabinoids and terpenes is on the rise – With that expanded knowledge from education, consumers are learning that Cannabis is more than just THC. “The Entourage Effect” of cannabinoids and terpenes interacting synergistically is now more well-known than ever, and even budtenders are helping consumers tune in with the fact that a properly balanced ratio can produce more full-bodied effects. Since honest labeling is paramount, to attract more consumers, you’ll need to create these complex concentrates with granular purification, then put your best foot forward by advertising your products are replete with major and minor cannabinoids, including all the terpenes you captured.
- Concentrates and vape sales are increasing – When you look at the numbers, they don’t lie: Concentrates, oils and vapes are where it’s at. Year to year, the product category is increasing, as displayed by a 40% jump in sales in 2021, alone. Even more important to note, is the fact that Gen-Z consumers seem to be using concentrates the most. In July, Cannabis analytics firm, Headset reported that Gen-Z and Millennials tend to be the biggest consumers of concentrates at 25.3% and 19.8% of the total wallet share, respectively. As these generations continue to come of age, they’ll continue to command purchasing strength as one of the biggest groups of consumers.
- Cost-effective production – It’s not just sales that are increasing for concentrates, it’s prices, too. Three of the biggest markets (California, Colorado and Michigan) showed 5-7% year-to-year price increases of 1-gram products which made up 96% of all 2021 concentrate sales. Granular media filtration techniques are cost-effective, especially with ZeoClear™, which allows operators to maintain better margins and potentially increase their profits.
- Top-shelf price points – Additionally, total market share and sales of concentrates is expected to rise. From 2019 to 2020, total sales of concentrates increased from $567 million to $797 million, again according to data from Headset. Rest assured; experts believe this number will continue to grow as concentrates rise in popularity. Using ZeoClear™ purification, you can ride First Class on that gravy train, selling some of the best concentrates on the market.
- Gain a competitive edge – Let’s be honest; cannabinoid markets are becoming saturated across the US. That means Cannabis operators are seeking ways to stand out amongst the growing crowds with products that are unique, or which target new audiences. By exploring purification using ZeoClear™ granular media, you too can enhance your product line or launch with a high demand concentrate that your competitors simply don’t match.
With the knowledge you’ve gained today, a few things are clear. Consumers are on the hunt for higher quality concentrates for their health and wellness routines; products with higher percentages of minor cannabinoids and effective terpene ratios. These are now key selling points for some of the most notable top-shelf brands, as diamonds and high clarity oils trend across the Cannabis community. Even more, now you know the way to achieve these in-demand goods with granular media filtration and how Carbon Chemistry’s ZeoClear™ reigns supreme over Media Bros’ equivalents through real-world, experimental results.
If you’re considering how to achieve a scalable, profitable future in the bourgeoning Cannabis industry, it’s time to consider the implementation of top-notch granular media purification techniques with your extractions. Connect with our Carbon Chemistry team to learn more about the most advanced media in today’s world of extraction, or find a vendor near you now to begin producing better, clearer extracts… before your competitors do.
Have any questions? Please feel free to reach out below and we will back to you ASAP!