Cannabis Processing: Sonication vs. High Pressure Homogenization

Posted by Bryan Colwell on Aug 17, 2022 12:45:00 PM


Manufacturing cannabis so that it can be used in consumable products is difficult. This is because the chemical compounds (i.e., “cannabinoids”) that are found in the cannabis plant and (generally) responsible for a product’s psychoactive and modulative effects are naturally fat-soluble; it is impossible to mix them with water and/or other ingredients without first finding a way to break them into extremely small pieces. Even then, no cannabinoid will ever be truly water-soluble. Instead, its particles will simply be small enough that they can be mixed into a stable emulsion or suspension and, thus, ready for use. Take a look at the difference between using sonication vs. high pressure homogenization to produce heterogenous mixtures during the production of cannabis oils, beverages, edibles, topical creams and capsules (to name just a few):

Using Sonication for Cannabis Processing

Sonication uses sound energy to disrupt the molecular bonds that hold cells together, causing cells to break into nano-sized particles. It works like this: a probe is inserted into a solution containing the sample. This probe vibrates at a super high speed so that bubbles form in the solution, grow and then burst; it’s a process that simultaneously sends shock waves into the solution, breaks apart the sample and ultimately disperses the resulting particles evenly throughout the solution. While sonication is effective for small batch samples of delicate materials, it is not especially suitable for processing large quantities of certain types of tissues. Many plant tissues, for example, are so tough that it would require a longer duration and higher intensity of force to break down the sample’s cell walls. This often produces heat that causes molecular damage to the sample itself, rendering any subsequent products biologically ineffective.

Why High Pressure Homogenization is a Better Solution for Cannabis Processing

High pressure homogenizers use pressure to break down a sample, forcing it through a series of orifices so that its cellular bonds are eventually broken. BEE International homogenizers, in particular, are able to be customized with a combination of additional forces (shear, cavitation and impact) to further maximize particle reduction, speed processing and lower the time and overall cost of production. In this way, high pressure homogenization (HPH) is a far superior option for cannabis processing. Not only can high pressure homogenizers be used for large batches and with multiple types of samples, they can be set up as part of an inline process, allowing the mixing and homogenization of large volumes of the sample to occur without interruption. Indeed, this continuous flow of operation ensures faster and more consistent results and is a lot more economical than sonication since no additional pieces of equipment or processing steps are needed to produce readily useable cannabinoid nanoparticles.

The BEE International Advantage

The proprietary emulsifying cell technology behind our high pressure homogenizing equipment produces stable nanoemulsions, enhancing the bioavailability of cannabis products by up to 75%; reducing the amount of active ingredient needed for optimal effect; speeding the rate of absorption into the body; extending shelf life; and ensuring consistency and clarity for better appearance and taste! To learn more about the value of using BEE International high pressure homogenizers for cannabis processing, please contact us at this link.

Feel free to also download our free eBook, “3 Reasons Why High Pressure Homogenization Improves Cannabis Products,” for additional information.

Particle Size Reduction, High Pressure Homogenization