Imran Rashid is currently working at a hydrocarbon lab as an extraction technician in Ontario, Canada. A lover of all things cannabis, his extraction journey is a decade in the making, and includes working in alcohol extraction, solventless extraction, as well as designing and testing equipment. In addition to his current position, he is the founder of Extractwise, a company focused on cannabis extraction and education.
What makes you so passionate about Hydrocarbon Extraction?
Remember the scene from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory where the lucky golden ticket holders and their chaperones are guided into a room where everything is edible candy? Both children and adults alike are struck spellbound by the magical creations. When people ask what it’s like as a hydrocarbon extraction technician, I make the comparison to that movie. The same awestruck expressions show up on visitors to the lab I work in. I can’t say I blame them- I also find myself getting lost in the plethora of wonderful sights and smells that this world has to offer.
What is it like to work in a lab that uses Hydrocarbon Extraction?
It is amazing to work somewhere that smells good all the time. Each morning I walk into the lab, I am instantly wrapped in a smorgasbord of olfactory delights. Exposure to the differing profiles provided by varieties of cannabis makes boredom impossible. I encounter unexpected, puzzling, as well as classic and familiar great smells. I’ve smelled flavours like concentrated oranges, pine needles, and something I would describe as sweet bread, or cake-like, just to name a few. It feels like I’m training my inner sommelier trying to put my nose on exactly the scent I’ve walked into first thing when I show up, smiling. This field has shown me aromatherapy in a way I wouldn’t have imagined.
What makes Hydrocarbon Extraction more exciting than other extraction methods?
The versatility of hydrocarbon extraction affords a wide range of potential product outcomes, and within them, the potential for artistic endeavours. A hydrocarbon lab can be a playground for a creative mind. I relish the opportunity to play with an arsenal of colours and textures. Slabs of shatter or jars of crumble? Micro diamonds or big, gleaming crystals? It’s just a question of creating the right conditions and following your recipe. I love hydrocarbon extraction because it feels like a cooking show mixed with a chemistry class.
As an Extraction Technician, how does hydrocarbon allow you to be more creative?
I think the more ingredients at my disposal, the greater potential there is for diversification and development of new recipes. The versatility of hydrocarbons broadens my product development toolkit. It makes filtration and separation relatively easy and it provides the ability to extract the delicate acid forms of cannabinoids without decarboxylating them. I feel there is lots of room for new discoveries within this realm. Not only can I make proven winners, the potential exists for me to discover and design future consumer favourites.
There seems to be a lot of opportunity and freedom to create. What else would you say to someone who is considering this extraction method?
The variety of products means there’s always something to talk about- especially with other extractors. I value the connections I make with people, discussing innovation and exchanging creative ideas. Everyone has opinions on how best to marry art and science, what’s new and worth trying, why something will or won’t work, and sometimes, it’s just fun to show off. Whatever the conversation, there is something new to be learned in hydrocarbon extraction.
How do you keep motivated to continue innovating through Hydrocarbon Extraction?
I think making products that people love- and will continue to love in the future gives a sense of pride in your work. You cannot help being in high spirits knowing that you’re teasing out flavour profiles that turn heads and textures whose photos get people to pause scrolling through their newsfeeds. To me, hydrocarbon extraction of cannabis is the perfect combination of craft and scalability, and I’m really glad I get to work with it hands-on.