How Wiped-Film (Short-Path) Distillation Works

By Blog

Within the CBD industry, there are many conversations surrounding the various methods of distillation available today. Whether your end goal is a pure CBD isolate or a product that features a fuller cannabinoid profile, there are a few different distillation processes you can consider. 

Although each of the possible methods varies in terms of technology, cost, and scale, they also share some similarities. Ultimately, selecting the best distillation method for CBD products largely depends on several factors unique to you.

With a better understanding of how the distillation process works, you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed and confident decision. Today, our team is breaking down the basics of wiped film distillation, one of the most effective options for achieving outstanding results. 

How Wiped Film Distillation Works

Let’s take a closer look at the wiped film distillation process, so you can get a better idea of how it works and why it’s considered a superior method with a broad range of benefits.

Wiped film distillation is simple and straightforward but also extremely effective. This method can operate in either batches or continuous modes, and because it utilizes a continuous feed (versus the short path method), is particularly ideal for high throughput and high production/scale.

For the first step of the wiped film distillation process, crude oil is directed into a distillation column using an automatic dosing pump. The feed rate can be controlled and adjusted according to the optimal throughput. As the crude oil is pumped into the column, it is distributed by specially designed wipers (also called PTFE rollers) to rotate through and wipe the oil. The result is a thin film, which is ideally suited for a highly efficient heat transfer.

In the middle of the wipers inside the evaporator body, a long condenser cooled by a recirculating fluid is used to condense the vapor. At the bottom, separate receiving vessels accumulate the high-temperature residue and the distillate. 

Throughout the process, both the feed container and outer jacketed wiped film evaporator body can be temperature-controlled with a recirculating heater. In turn, the cold trap and condenser are cooled by refrigerated circulators. For optimal results, there must be a careful optimization of the temperatures, vacuum, and feed rate.

Benefits of wiped film distillation 

So, what are the advantages of wiped film distillation? Like most methods, it has its pros and cons – although most agree that the benefits far outweigh any potential drawbacks:

  • Using the wiped film distillation method in continuous mode can offer a useful boost to productivity while also cutting down on the oil’s exposure time. 
  • Wiped film distillation works very well for large-scale productions, making it an outstanding choice for manufacturers interested in distilling large batches at one time.
  • The thin-film distillation unit allows for considerable customization, which gives the operator the flexibility to account for different variables and parameters when optimizing the process.
  • Because the method uses an extremely thin film of oil, heat transfer is exceptionally even and efficient, regardless of viscosity. 
  • The final product is extremely high in quality.

Interestingly, what some might view as a negative of wiped film distillation is actually a contributing factor to its excellence. For a high-quality distillate, you will need to complete two passes through the system. However, even though the second round of distillation does require you to invest more time, the payoff is an exemplary end product.

WayMaker Labs: The Gold Standard of CBD Extraction

At WayMaker Labs, every decision we make is driven by our passion for providing best-in-class cannabis extracts to the farmers, retailers, and practitioners that will help put premium-quality products in the hands of consumers. Our team is passionate about the ways in which CBD can support a greater sense of well-being and serve a valuable role in the lives of a diverse range of individuals. 

We also believe that, as industry experts, we have a deep responsibility to hold ourselves to the highest standards of excellence. For that reason, we utilize only the best extraction technology, including wiped film distillation from Precision Extraction Solutions. As a result, we are able to produce exceptional-quality CBD extracts that are rich in cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes, while maintaining less than 0.3% THC. If you are seeking extracts with specific cannabinoid profiles, our advanced methods also make that possible.

For more information about our CBD extraction services and how partnering with WayMaker Labs can help your business flourish, contact our team today.

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