Cold Trap Terpene Capture—How Does it Work?

Terpenes are aromatic compounds that are present in many plants. They are commonly associated with cannabis plants as they contain high concentrations of terpenes. Terpenes create the characteristic scent of a range of plants – making up the bulk of the fragrance.

Terpenes protect animals from grazing and infectious germs but they can also have some health benefits to humans. Terpene extraction and capture usually refer to terpene in cannabis. This article will discuss the key techniques of terpene capture.

Terpene Capture is Challenging

Extracting terpenes from organic sources can be challenging and time-consuming. That is why it is important to ensure the optimum method is selected. The methods can be generally sorted into two categories: solventless and solvent-based extracts.

What is a Cold Trap?

Cold traps are devices that condense all vapors into liquid or solid, apart from permanent gases. The main reason cold traps are used is to stop vapors produced during an experiment from going into the vacuum pump as they could condense and contaminate it.

Using a cold trap for isolating terpenes involves an oven set at a very low temperature. The oven is filled with plant material under a vacuum. Terpenes have very low vapor pressure meaning they will evaporate very quickly, vacuums help to protect the terpenes from temperature degradation, allowing the change in pressure to do the work and preserve the terpene.

How do Cold Traps for Terpene Extraction Work?

Vacuum Purging

Vacuum purging is a critical aspect of solvent extraction, producing a high-quality end-product. Some terpenes are also removed during the process due to the low vacuum pressure and heat needed to remove the residual solvents.

Without a mechanism for trapping terpenes, the terpenes will enter the vacuum pump and they will likely degrade and cause damage. Using a cold trap helps to preserve the terpene vapors as liquids before they enter the vacuum pump. These terpenes can then be consumed or reintroduced to the material post-process.


High temperatures are needed to decarboxylate and this results in large levels of terpenes being lost to the atmosphere. Cold traps help to collect these volatile organic compounds.


Terpenes are soluble in most solvents. This means that some terpenes vaporize with the solvent whilst it’s being reclaimed from the collection vessel and returned to the solvent tank. Cold traps can separate the terpenes from the solvent vapor steam.

Terpene Capture with Ecodyst

Ecodyst manufactures revolutionary evaporators that work on the same principle as traditional cold traps. The terpenes are removed from the solution before they become damaged by heat.

Instead of the time-consuming cold traps of the past, Ecodyst uses a highly efficient condenser cooling system that offers continuous cooling and rapid condensation.

To find out more about using Ecodyst evaporators in place of traditional cold traps, get in touch with the team today.