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A Quest to Go Solvent Free 

One man's canna-mission

  • Permaculture Solutions

frequently write about my fondness for solvent-free concentrates, and did so in my recent series covering my trip to California to check out the adult use cannabis program rollout in January.

Selecting a concentrate or extract is already overwhelming, and sometimes you aren't getting the best advice. I wrote of a budtender at a San Francisco dispensary who insisted that the "live resin" he sold me met my clearly and emphatically-stated request that I was only interested in solvent-free concentrates, such as rosin. His stoned explanation that because the butane used in this was "pretty much taken out," it did qualify as a solvent-free concentrate.

All love and respect to every butane and propane processor across this great land, but no, the live resin I bought was not a solvent free extract.

When we talk about SFC, it refers to a finished product that has a high concentration of THC, CBD and terpenes—the oils that give cannabis its flavor and scent, greater in potency than in the cannabis flower(s) from which it's taken. Hash is a SFC, for example.

Any dispensary I've been to in Washington, Oregon and California has had more solvent-extracted products than non solvent (Exception: RIP Calyxes.) But I recently came across a dispensary that had a larger collection of solvent free than not, and produce in house what they offer up.

Just off Portland's SE 82nd Avenue., Alternative Remedies has a well-curated collection of flower and concentrates, including a wide spectrum of SFC that I had not seen before at dispensaries, under the name Permaculture Solutions. I talked with Ryan Biglione, who owns and operates both Alternative Remedies and Permaculture Solutions with his wife, Martine Lelievre.

He started with a clarification.

"Technically, the "solventless" explanation is a bit tricky, because water is considered a solvent, but it's the only solvent that doesn't add chemicals or substances not already currently in our bodies, and vital to life. The main focus for us is that we believe in the healing powers/properties of cannabis." said Biglione, "so we see any additives (other than water) as potentially hazardous to your health. By being a "solventless" processor, we are maintaining the integrity of the cannabis itself, by utilizing ONLY water and ice in our processing methods.

"We started as a single-source processing lab, meaning we grew our plants specifically to process our garden into cannabis concentrates," he continues. "We only processed what we grew ourselves—paying close attention to growing methods, as well as processing methods we have cultivated over the years. We have fostered extremely selective relationships with other farmers that maintain the highest quality standards in their gardens, as well as the genetic base and growing techniques required."

He explained the differences in their offerings. "Both our rosin and live rosin are ultra refined bubble hash products, hand collected and machine pressed using stainless steel products for screening—no nylon!" says Biglione. "Our rosin is made with dry trim material, and our live rosin uses only fresh frozen whole plant material, and is produced with only water and ice. Our ice wax is hand washed and micro separated, and we only pull the first wash for consumption, so the integrity of the product is maintained. Temperature and humidity are controlled at every step, for resin preservation."

The finished product sparkles in the light, and is so pure that it "bubbles" when smoked (hence, "bubble hash"), leaving behind virtually no ash when done. The production process removes the chlorophyll, leaving you with a "full melt" concentrate that fills your mouth with intense flavor. For old school heads who miss the Nepalese Temple Ball hash experience, this will bring back memories, and AR produces both single-strain and mixed-strain products. The ice wax looks like bright and clean fine sand, and the rosins are closer to shatter in consistency. All can be consumed using a dab rig setup, although I used a vaporizer and got stellar results.

Using hydrocarbons to produce a concentrate is an art form, and so is doing so using water and ice. Recommended for any craft cannabis concentrate fan.

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