Definition - What does Solvent mean?
In general, a solvent is a liquid that is used to dissolve a substance in order to form a solution. In terms of marijuana extraction, a solvent is a liquid that is used to separate the psychoactive compound THC from the cannabis flower. Solvents like butane are used to obtain concentrates like hash oil, dabs, wax, and shatter, which carry a heavier dosage of THC while leaving the unneeded plant matter behind.
Solvent-less or solvent-free techniques of extraction use things like water or gravity to isolate resin heads.
Hydrolife explains Solvent
Solvents such as butane, CO2, and ethanol help in the extraction of concentrates that are a mix of oils, waxes, cannabinoids, and terpenoids. Varying types of solvents effect the color, taste, and the consistency of the end product. For example, butane-extracted products can result in stable shatters and sticky saps, while CO2 makes for oily products.
Butane-extracted products can be produced by using two different processes: open blasting or a closed loop system. The blasting process requires stuffing raw weed into a glass tube and pouring in filtered butane through the packed glass, where the liquid butane dissolves trichome heads and the cannabinoids. Since butane is non-polar, it works as a solvent to gather the resin into a plate beneath the tube. Butane Hash Oil (BHO) is what remains after removing the solvent that is remaining in the liquid. Meanwhile, closed loop extraction machines use filtration systems to keep the solvents from getting loose.