If you’ve ever used butane or similarly volatile solvents to make cannabis concentrates such as butane honey oil, you may have found out the hard way that it’s not totally safe and healthy for you to do that. And the huge explosion in downtown Los Angeles last night (May 16, 2020) that burned a block of buildings and seriously injured 11 firefighters is yet another apparent example of a butane extraction gone terribly wrong.
Firefighters arrived at a location in downtown Los Angeles and entered a building looking for the source of smoke reported by nearby residents. When firefighters went inside, they saw “light to moderate smoke” and noticed increasing air pressure and heat.
Realizing an explosion was about to happen, the firefighters tried to flee, but were caught in the massive explosion before they could all exit the building. Some of their coats caught fire, and the entire neighborhood shook like an earthquake.
Nearly 300 firefighters were called in to control the blaze. Four firefighters were taken to a burns intensive care unit, two were put on ventilators due to damaged lungs, and others were hospitalized with burns and other injuries.
Officials said the explosion likely came from unsafe practices by a manufacturer or seller of butane honey oil cannabis extract in the building. Scattered butane canisters were found all around the disaster scene. Butane honey oil is rich in THC and other cannabinoids and is used by itself as a dab or in vape pens, medibles, waxes and other cannabis concentrates products.
Nobody is yet sure if the people involved with the butane honey oil had licenses to do so, but unlicensed butane honey oil operations have long been responsible for property damage and human carnage.
The people who caused the explosion may well have been working for a licensed wholesale butane honey oil manufacturer or distributor, but the nature of the operation and the cause of the fire were still under investigation as we published this article.
This apparent butane honey oil-related marijuana concentrates explosion is no surprise. It happens a lot. In 2019, for example, an illegal Southern California butane honey oil lab blew up and a worker in the lab died. Five men have been charged with murder for operating the deadly lab where their colleague perished. Their 62-year-old co-worker who died in the explosion wasn’t found until the day after the lab blew up. He was burned beyond recognition and found under a pile of debris.
There are dozens if not many more explosions from butane honey oil processing that occur every year. In some cases, the explosions kill or injure people and are sometimes not reported, and other attempts are made to hide workers or accountability from police and fire investigators because illicit marijuana processing was involved.
There have been so many butane honey oil lab explosions that even the most cannabis-friendly legalized states, such as Oregon, have adopted strict laws that punish unlicensed, unsafe processors. Under Oregon law, starting a fire or causing an explosion while producing butane has oil is a felony, punishable by up to a $375,000 fine and 20 years in prison.
The grow team here at Growing Marijuana Perfectly have always advised growers not to use butane or other dangerous solvents and processes to make cannabis extracts. We’re so health conscious, we don’t even recommend using butane lighters.
Although butane extraction is relatively efficient and cost-effective, only the most experienced processor with the right equipment and expertise can purge ALL the butane from the cannabis concentrate they make with it.
If you’ve ever used butane hash oil or any other contaminated solvent-made cannabis extract, you’ve probably tasted the butane solvent poison…and inhaled it. Inhaling even tiny amounts of butane from impure cannabis extracts, from lighters, and in any other way poisons you, and can result in dizziness, lethargy, passing out, coma, and heart problems.
It’s not easy for a home grower without professional equipment to make dabs of any kind. We’ve tried alcohol, butane, C02 and other cannabis extraction methods and materials–and decided it isn’t worth the risk, cost, effort, and work. We’re very satisfied making dry sift, bubble hash, tincture and heat-derived extracts (such as coconut and glycerin honey oil). They don’t contain as high a percentage of THC and other cannabinoids and terpenoids as solvent extracts do, but they’re way easier and safer to make, and much safer to use, and they’ll get you seriously stoned.
The recent Los Angeles explosion as well as explosions at many other butane honey oil labs should convince you not to work for a butane honey oil processor, or to try to use a “home butane extraction kit” to make your own. Stick with buds, dry sift, bubblehash, and other non-solvent cannabis, so the only explosions you experience will be the pleasurable psychedelic ones in your head!