Here at Dab Connection, we are relentless in our coverage of the fake THC cartridge epidemic. We’ve noted the top THC cartridges most likely to be faked, and now one of those companies, West Coast Cure, has given up on producing carts and switched to pods exclusively.

In California, where the majority of black market cannabis activity still thrives, the black market in cannabis rolled in $8.7 billion in revenue in 2019, while the legit market only did $3.1 billion. But parallel to all those fake cartridges on the street, we often overlook the fact that at least some of that creates a demand for black market THC oil – when they’re not filling carts with vitamin E acetate, synthetic weed substitutes like Spice / K2, or who knows what else.

It turns out there are indeed butane hash labs out there being busted all the time – sometimes after they make themselves known in exactly the way you think they do.

San Jacinto California honey oil lab explosion – June 2020

Riverside County authorities responded to an explosion and fire that sent one woman to the hospital from a tiny shack. The shack turned out to be stocked with butane canisters, glass tubes, and cannabis.

El Cajon California home butane oil fire – June 2020

The fire killed two dogs in a blaze on Elisa Drive, and later investigation turned up a THC butane oil extraction lab on the premises. This is the ninth butane THC lab discovered in the San Diego county region alone this year. In 2019, authorities in San Diego uncovered thirty home oil extraction labs, four of which resulted in fires or explosions.

Eugene Oregon cannabis extraction home labs spark two fires – March 2020

It’s very weird to see Oregon in the news at all in the cannabis black market, let alone the location of two hash oil labs blowing up. But that prompted Oregon police to issue a warning that this is a dangerous practice, as well as underlining Oregon statutes which bring extra harsh penalties down on home THC oil extractors who cause explosions and fires, compounding danger to life, limb, and property for themselves and others on top of the felony they were already committing.

Indio California suspects arrested in honey oil fire case – July 2020

The original honey oil lab fire happened in September of 2019. Five fire fighters were injured in that incident, partly because they didn’t know they were heading into a butane-fueled blaze. After months of evading authorities, the two suspects who ran the lab were caught, now facing charges of arson as well as manufacturing a controlled substance.

San Leandro California butane honey oil lab explosion – May 2020

Four men ended up getting arrested after the incident, which caused an explosion and fire that threatened a downtown warehouse district. Police spokesmen gravely reported that the arrested men were “lucky to be alive.”

Fresno California honey oil lab explosion – February 2020

A butane canister caught fire while two people were trying to use it to extract oil from cannabis. They were both hospitalized and the fire was put out with little apparent incident.

LA hash oil factory burns and injures eleven fire fighters – May 2020

First came “one significant explosion,” which drew first responders in time to be exposed to “superheated gases” which sent them to the hospital for ventilator treatment. The one-story commercial building eventually took 230 firefighters to put out the blaze. This one appears to have been a legit operation which just made a mistake.


Butane is really, really dangerous!

Butane is a super-flammable alkane which is a colorless gas at room temperature. Consider that butane is what they put in cigarette lighters, precisely because it ignites into a flame from a single spark. If that tiny spark is enough to ignite butane, just imagine what a light switch, appliance compressor, static electricity, or a lit cigarette can do.

While it’s a popular method of extraction in BHO wax and other cannabis extracts, butane is best handled by trained professionals in a clean, controlled lab environment. Even in legal states, it is still illegal to extract cannabis products using butane at home or in an unlicensed facility. These laws are in place precisely because of all the incidents we just read about above.

If you must extract at home, there are safer methods

Along with hydrocarbons, CO2 and alcohol are also discouraged for exactly the same reason – they can be flammable too. Ice water extraction from kief or a rosin press are the best ways to do this. Check out these handy guides:

Out of all those, the edible oil one is the most “idiot proof.” It’s basically the same thing as baking pot brownies, just with extra steps. But failing all that, in a pinch you can still extract concentrates using the Rick-Simpson-Oil method, plain ice water which is then boiled down over a rice cooker.

Maybe not the best results, sure, but still better than getting blown away in a fireball!

Of course, the best option is to leave extraction to the licensed professionals and strive for legalization in every state. But as we see in California, even the best legalization environment can stumble over its own bureaucracy.

Readers, share your thoughts in our dabbing forums.



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