Since using cannabis oil to put my breast cancer into remission (while doing away with 10 prescription meds) four years ago, it’s been an ongoing, proactive quest to keep the medicine of the plant in my system on a regular basis. Luckily, I already knew my way around the kitchen, and knowing how to cook is the perfect skill set needed to make medicine.
Making medicine from plants is all about extracting the essential oils or terpenes from beneficial herbs, spices, fruits and vegetables. And once you know how to do that, the sky’s the limit on what you can make at home.
While the tried and true crockpot works wonders for slowly steeping plants in oils, butter, and more, controlling the temperature is often an issue. And while there are many steeping and grinding machines out on the market, a machine to safely handle alcohol ensuring against explosions is sorely needed by the at-home medicine maker.
With many large, commercial oil machines costing thousands of dollars, a cost effective unit is sorely needed for the average patient.
Entrepreneur inspired by his parents
Thankfully, engineer Lee Sutherland saw the need and stepped up. Previously a research and development engineer for a range of commercial, scientific, and aerospace programs, Sutherland said his parents were the catalyst to create The Source, and he created company ExtractCraft, LLC.
“My parents needed a safe, clean, convenient way to make plant extracts of all kinds for their health needs,” he explained. “The interest in botanical extractions for medicinal, culinary, and personal care products has become mainstream. Methods to extract safely and effectively are currently not available to the average person.”
Customers who use The Source are primarily cannabis patients, and Sutherland said the low temperatures during processing help make products that compare favorably with the highest quality of products currently available in retail dispensaries.
“Other home processors use butane, which is dangerous for use in the home and is toxic, or they use solvents that are removed at high temperatures that leave unpleasant flavors, odors, and remove beneficial terpenes," said Sutherland. "Using alcohol at temperatures close to body temperature means the terpenes, cannabinoids, and other desirable parts of the extracts remain largely intact.”
The machine that currently sells online for $599 cooks down up to 12 ounces of alcohol, after rinsing or soaking plant material first, then straining with a fine mesh. This writer made a strong chamomile concentrate using 96 proof cane alcohol in about three hours, with an added bonus of reclaiming the alcohol for future use in other batches. Depending on the recipe used and time of cooking, you can also make smoking oil, dabs or wax.
“Other customers use the Source to create herbal extracts for medicine, aromatherapy, beverages, food, and personal care products like soaps and lotions,” he said.
“You can extract from citrus, rosemary, lavender, and mint – those are the most popular concentrates made with the machine, but one customer from the Rocky Mountains extracted mushrooms for his restaurant in place of truffles. Our customers are diverse!”
Expensive, but worth the price
Cancer patient Robert Lagerstrom was a skeptic - calling the Source a “high priced still” on social media - until he tested it himself.
“For someone who does several small batches a month, this machine takes the hassle out of it – and adds practical benefits, like no smell in its closed system, and ethanol recovery of up to 95 percent that rice cookers don’t have,” Lagerstrom advised. “I could walk away for two hours and not worry I was going to burn a batch of oil.”
Among the other pluses Lagerstrom found with the unit was the fact that it would recoup its cost after 75 runs. He also appreciated its low temperature process, preserving more terpenes and delicate cannabinoids – that would burn off using the rice cooker method.
“It’s very well-engineered and handmade with American parts – right here in America, dagnabbit!” he exclaimed. “It may be an expensive machine to me, but to a lot of people spending $600 on a restaurant grade extractor is a bargain compared to other machines on the market today.”
From Tokyo to Colorado, from finance to cannabis
ExtractCraft partner Troy Ivan left Tokyo for Colorado after a successful career in the finance industry. His intent was to put his family of five into a new, healthy lifestyle that would include skiing with lots of Rocky Mountain fresh air in the great outdoors. But what he found was an entirely new career in the cannabis space.
“We considered everywhere in the world and decided on Colorado,” he shared. “We spent three weeks looking for a home around the state and decided on Boulder County. It was a great choice, and I didn’t have any idea what I was going to end up doing, but I had my sights set on getting involved in the strong startup community here.”
Ivan said he poked around looking for projects and found Lee Sutherland and his machine, The Source.
“The medicinal side of the industry is nothing short of amazing,” he added.
“It’s a great honor to be able to build a company that fosters health, allows the sick to heal, and most importantly, gives people the power and control of their own medicine – while escaping the grasp of big pharma.”
Customers are varied, with the largest faction being cannabis patients, needful of making their own medicine. With the average bottle of tincture hovering around $40, home apothecary becomes necessary to many.
While the small batch machine is popular and much needed, Ivan said they are working on a larger model now.
Sutherland’s bottom line is simple, answering to a basic need, stating, “The Source lets people take control of their extracts and lets them be creative with plants from their own garden – and it saves them a lot of money in the process. That’s really what it’s all about.”