Cannabis oil extraction at home has become a dangerous trend, and an incident reported in the Nelson Mail underlines some of the dangers of attempting solvent extractions. 34-yer-old Matthew Maher nearly died after his butane extraction project went wrong, blowing a large hole in the roof and causing burns across 37% of his body.
Near-death experience a “wake up call”
The man, who nearly died as a result of his injuries, is expected to suffer further health impacts in the future. He says that the explosion has ‘woken him up’ and that he won’t attempt home cannabis oil extraction again.
Cannabis oil extraction using solvents is highly dangerous, and this is by no means the first incident in which there has been an explosion, fire or injury as a result of domestic experimentation with the technique.
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Court passes lenient sentence
Maher was not attempting to manufacture cannabis oil on a commercial scale, and owing to the small amount of cannabis he was working with, and his subsequent suffering as a result of his injuries, he will not be incarcerated.
US explosions becoming “too frequent”
Springfield radio station KVAL reports that explosions as a result of butane cannabis oil extraction are becoming all too frequent. The report comes after a butane mixture exploded inside a freezer, apparently set off by a spark. One Springfield police officer says that he has dealt with at least three such incidents in recent months.
Even legal operations that are presumably quite well equipped have experienced incidents. In a recent news report a New Mexico medical marijuana company is being sued for unsafe work practices after an explosion injured two of its workers.
Meanwhile in Denver, a butane explosion gutted two apartments, causing flames to shoot through the roof of an apartment block. Although the person believed to be responsible for the explosion was uninjured, a fire-fighter responding to the emergency was less fortunate. However, Fox News says that the firefighter will be “OK”.
Other dangers of butane extraction
Apart from the danger of explosions, butane cannabis oil extraction presents other dangers. Residues left behind in the extracted oil can make it toxic, and as little as 1% would be dangerous, particularly if the oil is swallowed or used to make edibles. Regretfully, butane extraction is relatively common, and not only in backyard operations.
What’s the alternative?
Although other solvents can be used to extract oil from cannabis, all solvents are volatile and carry the risk of causing fires or explosions.
There is an alternative – supercritical CO2 extraction will not leave residues behind and does not carry the risk of an explosion with it. Unfortunately the expensive equipment that is required is out of reach for most private individuals, and YouTube videos make the solvent extraction method look easy and relatively safe. However, the risks outweigh the benefits, as Maher’s near-fatal case demonstrates.