You probably have a plan for your cannabis and hemp trimmings. But how do you know if you’re getting the most cannabinoids out of your trim? Or the most profit out of those cannabinoids?
If you’re reconsidering what to do with your trim, this blog has a few new ideas and quick tips on how to maximize your returns.
What Makes Good Trim?
All leaf foliage could be considered “trim,” including the plant’s large, low-potency fan leaves. But for the most part, when we talk about trim, we’re referring to the smallest fan leaves and the “sugar leaves” found close to the flower.
Sugar leaves are the best trim. They’re visibly trichome-rich and frosty with cannabinoids. Some hand trimmers prefer to leave the sugar leaves untouched because they slow the drying of wispy flower and give the final product a robust, natural taste. Most consumers, however, find that sugar leaves are harsh on the palette when smoked alone.
Big fan leaves don’t have much THC or CBD, which means they’re generally not viable for commercial extraction. But they aren’t worthless either: fan leaves are medicinal and nutritious.
Fan leaves contain a full spectrum of terpenes, flavonoids, phytonutrients, and modest amounts of major and minor cannabinoids. If you feel inspired, try throwing some wet fan leaves in your salad or smoothie.
Sugar leaves are great for simple extraction methods. Simply soak the trim in ethanol to make a tincture or heat them in an oil-based matrix to release the cannabinoids. As you may know, cannabinoids are not psychoactive until they are heated to about 240℉ for decarboxylation.
Another simple approach to trim optimization — if you’re producing edibles — is rosin production. If your cultivar has potent sugar leaves, you may be able to press them without any other preparation. A quality rosin press capable of high pressures can press trim into an extract that’s acceptable for edible or topical formulations.
But rosin pressing trim isn’t for everybody. It’s a slow, low-yield form of rosin pressing best suited to those with a lot of time on their hands and not a lot of product. And while it’s a viable way to separate cannabinoids from biomass, the resulting extract isn’t suitable for dabbing.
Trimming for Trim Quality
If you’re using an industrial cannabis and hemp trimmer, how you remove the fan leaves before trimming will determine the quality of your trimmed material
Obviously, with fewer fan leaves going through the trimmer, fewer fan leaves will end up in your trimmer’s collection bin, thus increasing the ratio of sugar leaves to fan leaves. More sugar leaves means higher-quality trim.
The closeness of your trim matters too. If you’re trimming close to the bud, you’re removing more of the trichome-rich sugar leaves and maybe even some pistils. Trimming is always a balance and a matter of personal preference: You don’t want to trim too tight so as to damage the flower, but trimming close does increase trim potency.
Some trimmers use a vacuum system to pull trimmed material through the tumbler. However, this design degrades the quality of the trim by battering the trichomes against surfaces of the catchment enclosure and fan system. Fans also increase cleaning time.
All Triminator Dry trimmers operate without fans. With fewer moving parts, our machines have fewer potential problems, and they also produce higher quality trim.
The design of the Triminator’s cutting band eliminates the need for suction required by other trimmer models. This is in part because the nylon band lowers friction and heat, preventing the sticky build up of trichomes on the cutting surface. You can expect the same production capacity as a vacuum-fan trimmer without the complexity, noise, or beat-up trim.
Increasing Profitability: Kief Tumblers
The fun starts when you separate trichomes from the plant material. Collecting trichomes (otherwise known as pollen or kief) from the biomass dramatically increases your cannabinoids’ value. It also opens up doors for other processing methods.
Agitating the trim across a mesh screen is all it takes to make kief. Here at Triminator, we designed two mesh-screen kief tumblers that work flawlessly with our Triminator Dry and Triminator Dry Mini batch trimmers. The standard trimming drum swaps out for the kief drum in seconds using our turn-loc system.
With the kief drum in place, you can tumble your trim dry or add dry ice to speed up the detachment process. The kief drops freely into a catchment tray for easy removal.
The Triminator Dry trimmer is a particularly good kief machine because of its fan-less design. With a fan system trimmer, kief conversion creates a messy cyclone of sticky pollen that increases cleaning time, and it sacrifices high-value kief to the surfaces of the fan and ducting.
Without the fan, the Triminator Kief Kit can produce better quality kief because it treats the trichomes more gently. There’s less cleanup, more kief, and fewer mechanical subsystems that could fail.
Making Bubble Hash with Trim
Another favorite option for trim processing is bubble hash. It’s simple, it’s easy, and the results can be excellent.
If you’re processing trim into bubble hash on a commercial scale, you’ll need to buy more equipment than you would with a trimmer conversion kit for making kief. However, if you don’t own a kief-capable trimmer, bubble hash may be the way to go.
A bubble hash system can be as minimal as a bucket, some ice water, and an egg beater, or as massive as the latest 55-gallon commercial washers.
The ice water expedites trichome detachment, and a series of mesh screens let the trichomes pass through as the trim is agitated by stirring. The material passes through a course, 220-micron screen, a few medium-sized screens, and a final 25-micron screen for the purest material. When you remove the screens from the water, what’s left is high-purity concentrate ready for sale or further processing (think rosin).
As the cannabis industry evolves, everything gets bigger, and the latest bubble hash commercial washers are no exception. Though they represent a big investment, these machines have massive reservoirs that let you process more than 30 pounds of bubble hash daily. Of course, smaller bubble hash washers are available too, and for those on a very tight budget, a 5-gallon bucket and some micron mesh bags work just fine.
Solvent-Based Extraction with Kief
A kief tumbler or bubble hash system mechanically separates the trichomes from the leaves, but that’s not the same as extraction. Extraction typically refers to solvent-based cannabinoid recovery.
When the starting material of an extraction has greater potency, the process will run quicker, use less solvent, and result in a higher-purity product. So, taking the simple, easy step of kiefing trim before extracting creates powerful leverage into the next steps of production.
Kief is great for rosin too. If you’re looking for golden, light-colored rosin, start with premium kief.
Whether you’re extracting with hydrocarbons or CO2, kief will yield a higher purity product. With less plant wax, chlorophyll, and phyto-metabolites in the crude oil, the next step (distillation of the oil) is easier.
Commercial Kief Tumblers for Simplicity and Profit
If you’re a cultivator, you probably aren’t producing solvent-extracted concentrates. It’s more likely you’re selling your product wholesale than running a vertically integrated business.
A kief tumbler is a particularly important addition to your grow if you’re focused on cultivation. It’s a simple step to greater revenue because the market value of your trim multiples several fold.
So, when you’re buying a cannabis and hemp trimmer, consider its kiefing capability. Is your new trimmer easily converted to kiefing mode with a quick switch of the tumbler? If it is, it can churn out revenue that would have been inaccessible otherwise. If not, selling your trim sends your profit downstream to the next guy — somebody with a kief tumbler.
Ready to make some serious kief out of your next crop?
Check out the products below. Regardless of your production volume, we have a kief system that’s right for you.