For centuries, distillation has been used to separate the components of liquid solutions through extremely selective heating and cooling. Numerous instruments are used to control the differing thermodynamic properties of the fluidic compartments within a solution, stimulating mixtures to separate through boiling, evaporation, and condensation.

This methodology has a wide range of applications but is conventionally related to increasing the alcohol content of fermented beverages and sanitizing water sources for safe human consumption.

What is short-path distillation?

Short-path distillation is a compact purification technique that is suitable for laboratory applications where minimal instrumentation footprint is vital. This low-pressure method uses numerous flasks and, comparatively, brief extraction feeds to separate condensate media across paths of just a few centimeters. Conventional distillation techniques frequently require much larger apparatus to realize the requisite purity levels for application-specific requirements. Short-path distillation meanwhile can realize distillate purity levels of up to 99% using many components in a smaller working space.

How Does Short-Path Distillation Work?

In a short-path distillation arrangement, a liquid solution or emulsion is suspended in an evaporating flask that is connected via a short feed to a condenser or chilling unit. The evaporating flask is positioned in a heating mantle that slowly increases the temperature of the solution to pre-defined boiling points, triggering distinct compartments of the solution to evaporate.

Vacuum conditions are used to draw vapors via the feed into the condensing unit, where the separated gas-phase compartments of the liquid solution are cooled and changed back into liquids. This distillate material is divided into distinct flasks according to their weight, enabling chemists to easily combine multiple desirable elements from a single sample.

In the case of cannabis oil distillation, short-path distillation signifies an economical solution for separating terpenoids, cannabinoids, and flavoring chemicals, and both organic and inorganic contaminants. This technique does not require extra solvents to catalyze the distillation process and can offer high evaporation rates for higher levels of distillate consolidation with good degrees of automation.

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