CRC Technology! Popular or Unpopular Opinion?
It’s all the craze! A growing number of cannabis producers in the industry are now using CRC Technology, or Color Remediation Column Technology to filter their concentrates of all plant debris and color before putting them on the market. I completely understand why! We love to see the purest looking concentrate before we dab it, and like some may judge a book by its cover, we assume the lighter or more golden the butter, the purer the dab.
A religious dabber who appreciates the high end concentrates, will look at its color and texture to determine its quality. We all want beautiful and pure concentrates to toke. However, I have to wonder, is a little plant debris or a naturally darker color created by the plant really all that bad?
CRC mainly applies to BHO concentrates. It changes a lower grade hash oil’s color from almost black, or dark brown, to light gold, or even white. It also strips it of almost all its natural terpenes.
The process of CRC involves running the concentrates through different filters, to pull all unwanted debris and color from the oil. However, this process is striking up a lot of conversation and controversy and some people are completely unaware.
Here are the big questions: what are these filters made of? Does the use of these filters contaminate the concentrate and pose a potential health risk?
Currently there are no regulations set in place for the CRC method, so all participating in producing concentrates using this technology, really have no oversight. They have their own CRC method using their own preference in filters.
I decided to do a little investigating and experimentation. What was the word on the street and can I taste or feel the difference between a concentrate that had been through the CRC process vs not?
I visited 3 cannabis retailers outside of King County. All the budtenders I met were friendly, extremely knowledgeable and happy to answer all my questions.
Note: In order to respect the integrity of brands and maintain the privacy of budtenders, all brand names and store locations are anonymous.
Q: “What brands are using the CRC method to produce their concentrates?”
A: “Almost all of them except for a few select premium brands. Some vendors won’t confirm if they are or aren’t using the method. It’s like a big secret”
Q: “What filters are they using in the CRC process?”
A: “None of the vendors will share that information. They consider it proprietary information.”
Q: “Do you know if the filters contaminate any of the concentrates?”
A: “Most will say ‘no’, but there really is no proof at this point. No labs are testing for contaminants created by CRC yet and there are currently no regulations.”
Q: “What do you think about CRC?
A: “I mean, you get a nice color, but it removes all the terpenes. Some brands are adding terpenes back in after the fact.”
I decided to buy a few dabs, a different one from each store. I bought one pure rosin for comparison, knowing it’s the most purest form of a cannabis concentrate you can get. I bought a wax from a premium brand and a butter from a mid level brand.
Here were the results:
The rosin was mellow, potent and delicious, offering a full bouquet of terpenes. A long lasting and very balanced high that gently faded after a few hours.
The premium wax was tasty, super potent but within the hour I started to get a mild headache that lingered through the whole experience. You could say it was buzz kill.
Finally, the last sample. The butter had a soft flavor, but great consistency and color. It was actually picture perfect. I could see how by its look alone, it would be appealing to an avid connoisseur. The butter was also very stoney. The experience followed with a 2 day migraine. Brutal!
Could the concentrates have been contaminated or was it just a coincidence? I decided to research a little deeper to what types of filters are being used with CRC and if they pose any potential health risks when consumed via inhalation. Here’s what information I found.
Over the last few months, I’ve read that many cannabis companies are increasingly using CRC to remove waxes, lipids, pesticides, heavy metals, toxins, and other compounds that give the extracts a darker color. The process of CRC also removes much of the beneficial terpenes.
There are a wide range of substances that can be used in CRC technology including activated charcoal, bentonite clay, Magnesol, diatomaceous earth and silica.
Diatomaceous Earth is a type of powder made from the sediment of fossilized algae found in bodies of water. It is often used in toothpaste, as an insecticide or in pet litter. There aren’t enough studies that can determine side effects, however it has been scientifically proven that high exposure to the powder can cause lung problems or even lung cancer. Skin contact may possibly cause wounds or loss of the skin too.
Magnesol, the most commonly used filters in the fryers at your favorite restaurants, is meant to remove unwanted particles, fatty acids and other bi-products, keeping the oil clean and clear. Technically, Magnesol is a synthetic, amorphous, hydrous form of magnesium silicate.
Magnesium silicate, is the primary component of talc, commonly used in cosmetics. Interestingly, the FDA considers talc safe for general use, such as for cosmetics, but recommends limited use for food.
Depending on where the magnesium silicate, is sourced from, or whether it is synthetic or natural, leaves the possibility that it could be contaminated with asbestos fibers. This could pose a risk for respiratory toxicity and cancer. Studies by the National Toxicology Panel demonstrated that cosmetic-grade talc free of asbestos is a form of magnesium silicate that also can be toxic and carcinogenic.
According to the company Fry Oil Savor, who sells Magnesol filters “Synthetic magnesium silicate is amorphous, which means it does not contain crystalline silicate. Synthetic magnesium silicate should not be confused with natural magnesium silicate which contains crystalline silicates i.e asbestos and talc.” Source: fryoilsaver.com
This brings us to Silica. One of the most common minerals in the earths crust, it can be found in glass, beach sand, silicone and granite. Silica takes two forms: crystalline and noncrystalline. Crystalline, the most common form is quartz, may post a bigger risk for the health of lungs. Non-crystalline, found in glass and silicone, poses less risk.
According to OSHA, construction workers who have been exposed to silica dust have the potential to develop silicosis, lung cancer, COPD and kidney disease.
Luna Technologies, a company that sells Inline Color Remediation Columns, when referring to the type of filters used in these extraction machines “Activated carbon is usually made from coconut shells, wood, bamboo and other carbonaceous materials. After a certain number of uses, activated carbon begins to break down and can release heavy metals from its ash content into the final extract. Activated carbon from natural sources can also release benzoprenes, which are carcinogenic metabolites.”
Luna also followed that up with “For those worried about mutagenic metabolites and heavy metals getting past the filters into the final extract, buy activated carbon filter sheets instead of loose carbon.” Source: Luna Technologies
Really, in the cannabis industry, this is somewhat new. Not enough research or testing is available yet to determine how safe this process is. This new and increasingly popular technology may be effecting our concentrates, and it is still unknown if it poses any health risks at all.
Personally, I would like to see companies being more up front and transparent about if they are using CRC technology, and what filters they are using. This will allow consumers to make a more educated choice for themselves. In addition, there should be regulations that include testing for possible contaminates from the CRC filters. There should also be recommendations on what type of filters should be used to ensure the safest product that’s produced for inhalation.
Until then, I’ll be sticking with my old school roots and enjoying all the clean and pure, terpene packed Rosins!