What is working in a hemp lab like? | Lab Life #1

4 minute read

One of the defining aspects that sets us apart from the herd is our lab. All our products are conceived of and brought to fruition in-house, and all other operations revolve around the innovation and excitement that emanates from the back of the building – just beyond the curtain – where the science of our business takes place. This new blog series is all about sharing that excitement and giving you a behind-the-curtain look at the people, processes, and goings on of our lab.

As we explore this new topic further it’s beneficial to consider not just how our lab churns out new products, but how these new products in turn come to define us. In other words, who we are as a company, also takes shape in our lab. This is perhaps most noticeable in our exploration of minor cannabinoids.

Minor Cannabinoids are no longer second fiddle

With all the craze around CBD, let us not forget that CBD is one cannabinoid among roughly a hundred found in hemp. Extract Labs got its start in CBD like so many others, but in following what truly excites us, we are pushing into uncharted territory by extracting the other stuff too. CBG, CBT and CBN are all now part of our product offerings, and each one provides a unique set of qualities that we will explore in rich detail in future articles. 

Part of the excitement we get from launching a new product, especially when it features a minor cannabinoid, is that we can’t wait to hear back from our community. Is this helping you? What specifically have you enjoyed or been disappointed with? We use our customer’s feedback to assess our original formulations, and this often leads to improvements. CBG 2.0, if you will!

Of course no part of exploring who we are as a company can leave out the people that work here. What is it like to work in a hemp lab? Is it science as usual? Getting to know the personalities alongside the innovations provides another layer.

What is working in a hemp lab like?

To answer that question, we spoke with Refinement Engineer Liv Cooley to get a candid look at what day to day life is like.

Grant: So what is it like being a scientist in the hemp industry?

Liv: You just never know what is going to happen each day. I would say in a word, “Surprising”? We’re experimenting with methods and processes and just when you think you have a problem figured out, the exact opposite happens. But then there are these other moments where you have these breakthroughs and the only thing you can do is just scream “YES!”

Grant: What is the hardest part of your job?

Liv: *Laughs* Uhm, moving 55 gallon barrels? No, I’d say getting mobile phases to be exact.

Grant: What are mobile phases?

Liv: It’s the combination of solvents that carries material through your high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) equipment. It consists of a combination of water with organic solvents, aqueous buffers with polar solvents or mixtures of organic solvents in desired proportions.

Grant: Interesting! Well opposite of my last question, what is the best part of your job?

Liv: Honestly, the stories of customer success we lab folks get passed from customer service. There are certainly easy day, there are certainly hard days, but hearing how much of an impact we are making on people’s lives is just beyond rewarding.

Grant: Well, those people wouldn’t be feeling well without all of the hard work our lab puts in!

Liv: True, but that’s the great thing about us. We are all a team at Extract Labs, helping people together.

Grant: Would you say working in a hemp lab is different from a traditional lab?

Liv: Definitely. Personally, I have never worked in any other labs as Extract was my first job out of college. The biggest difference is we face so many unknowns. Traditional labs have established standards, tried and true methods of producing consistently good results. We’re really paving the way here. Figuring out the best practices from our experiments and developing methods. It’s kind of cool to be going through each day writing the book ourselves instead of following a strict recipe for success. 

Grant: Can you give me an example?

Liv: We recently started offering 15 cannabinoids on our potency testing. Nobody else is doing that.

Grant: This may sound ignorant, but why is that significant?

Liv: Well essentially, we are taking a sample into our machines and separating 15 different cannabinoids from it. We are talking about sorting compounds on a molecular level here. Your standard is what tells you what something is through a chromatography machine. If it is even slightly off, the overlap can make it look like two distinct compounds are actually one. Being able to separate a sample into 15 different fractions has allowed us to develop products like our CBG Oil.

Grant: Aha! That’s how you do it! So last question, what does the future of the industry look like to you?

Liv: Minor cannabinoids. CBD is everywhere and it’s just one part of the plant. Our attention is all on compounds like CBN, CBC, and Delta 8. I think the world will only keep wanting more parts of the hemp plant. It’s so cool to be able to give them what they want. Really, I see hemp starting to become an alternative to big pharma. Instead of pills and side effects, the world will have something more safe and natural. It’s an amazing movement, and it’s so amazing to be a part of it.

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