ABOUT THE LOCATION
The CannMart lab facility is located in Etobicoke. Etobicoke is part of the Greater Toronto Area, located in southwestern Ontario.
From the outside, the CannMart facility in Etobicoke looks like any other mid-sized industrial brick building in Ontario. Once you step inside, however, the spicy-citrus scents of cannabis greet you and the magic of what’s inside takes hold. When you move beyond the lobby and peek inside one of the lab rooms, you’ll discover the enchanting equipment and technology used for cannabis extraction. And just steps away, through another door, you’ll find a walk-in freezer with stacks of flash-frozen cannabis quietly waiting for its turn to be made into concentrates.
We recently took a field trip to check out the CannMart facility, and we were lucky enough to get Brennan Costello, CannMart’s head of product development and extraction, as our tour guide. Costello not only showed us around, but he also walked us through the entire production process and explained how concentrates like shatter and live resin are made start to finish.
Costello works on many of the Licensed Producer’s most popular concentrates under their brand Roilty. He oversees the team responsible for operating the company’s extraction equipment and directs product creation.
Costello shows off shatter created for the Roilty brand.
According to Costello, high-quality sun-grown crops make the best source material for concentrates. The production team seeks out high terpene content and unique strains to ensure the concentrates from Roilty meet consumer expectations. Costello assured us that old-school legacy strains have their place in the lineup, too — as he puts it, “everyone loves a callback.”
For Costello, the process of making concentrates is about one thing: chilling.
Roilty’s extraction process starts with a major chill, where fresh cannabis is flash-frozen immediately after harvest.
When the frozen plants arrive at the CannMart facility, they’re bundled inside nylon mesh bags called “socks.” These specialized filtration bags are designed to fit precisely inside CannMart’s extractors.
CannMart believes that locking in freshness straight from the grower means preserving every component of the plant, including the delicate terpenes that deliver ideal flavours and scents.
Oleoresin before the solvents are extracted.
The prime imperative guiding the company’s process? “Terpenes are king.”
Concentrates are a family of products made by refining raw cannabis flower to isolate desired cannabis components.
Early on, extracts focused on the primary cannabinoids like THC and CBD. CannMart’s concentrates don’t hesitate to deliver high levels of THC, but the company’s ultimate priorities are character, quality and flavour, and those can be achieved only by capturing the full range of terpenes.
How it’s made: Concentrates creation process
Wearing warm gloves to guard against the cold, staff remove prepared “socks” of cannabis from the storage freezer and insert them into vertical stainless steel extraction columns. Once the extractor is sealed, the frozen cannabis is soaked in an even colder bath of super-chilled liquid butane.
Costello puts the oleoresin into an oven.
Liquid butane is a solvent that’s capable of gently removing flavours and terpenes from raw frozen cannabis. The solvent is easily removed without using heat, which could degrade the final product, and recycled after extraction.
Once the entire process is complete, the team gets to work producing Roilty’s line of products. Without giving away any trade secrets, Costello explains that there’s been years of trial and error and experimentation involved in getting the recipe for its concentrates just right.
Some of Roilty’s most popular products are its live resin and shatter. Live resin is slushy in consistency and, according to Costello, contains more fresh terpenes that are more exciting and flavourful than those found in shatter or wax. For this reason — and because of the lower THC potency in Roilty’s live resin — he usually recommends it for consumers who are newer to concentrates.
Costello shows off live resin.
Mindful of the higher THC levels, Costello recommends a “start low, go slow” approach for people who are new to concentrates. For example, beginner consumers might try sprinkling a few specks of CannMart’s Roilty shatter into their regular flower roll.
One of Costello’s favourite parts of his role is getting to work with the chemistry involved in the production of concentrates. He says developing new cannabis products is a dream job, but more than anything, he loves watching people enjoy their experience with Roilty and CannMart products — which, he tells us, has been the highlight of his career.