The Expert's Corner
Living the High (Shear) Life
March 9, 2023
As the cannabis industry continues to expand and more states legalize both medicinal and recreational cannabis, the demand for cannabis-infused products will only increase. According to industry research group, New Frontier Data, the cannabis market is projected to reach $72 billion annually by 2030. This presents a significant opportunity for manufacturers, but it also poses challenges in terms of increasing production capacity and maintaining product quality and consistency. In order to keep up with growth, manufacturers will need to invest in advanced technology and equipment that can help to streamline the production process and ensure that the products they produce are of the highest quality. One example is the ROSS high shear mixer, a machine used throughout the food, pharmaceutical, chemical, and other industries to produce fine dispersions and stable emulsions. As cannabis dispensaries become more common and the market for cannabis-infused products continues to grow, it will be essential for manufacturers to stay ahead of the curve, mature from kitchen mixing devices and adopt more scalable industrial mixers to remain competitive.
What is a high shear mixer?
A high shear mixer is a type of mixing equipment that is used to produce emulsions, dispersions, and other mixtures by rapidly and uniformly dispersing one or more substances in a liquid. The most basic design features a single stage four-blade rotor that turns at high speed within a stationary stator. As the rotating blades pass each opening in the stator, they mechanically shear particles and droplets, and expel material at high velocity into the surrounding mix, creating intense hydraulic shear. As fast as material is expelled, more is drawn into the bottom of the rotor/stator generator, which promotes continuous flow and fast mixing.
ROSS offers both batch and inline high shear mixers that are ideal for cannabis product manufacturing. Both types of mixers are designed to create a homogeneous mixture of ingredients, ensuring that the active components of the cannabis are evenly distributed throughout the product.
Batch High Shear Mixers:
Batch-style high shear mixers are either fixed mounted to a vessel or suspended over a vessel on a portable or floor-mounted lift. The mobile configuration offers the flexibility to use a single mixer for multiple vessels in different locations. Interchangeable stators provide flexibility to adapt to a variety of product formulations. Batch high shear mixers are versatile and can handle a wide range of formulations. These are especially ideal for creating small to medium-sized batches of cannabis-infused products, such as creams, lotions and gels.
Inline High Shear Mixers:
Inline high shear mixers behave like a centrifugal pumping device. They are typically positioned on the floor or on a platform below the liquid level, so that gravity feeds the product into the mix chamber. Depending on the rotor/stator geometry, an inline mixer can handle viscosities up to 10,000-20,000 cP without external pumping assistance. With an auxiliary pump, it can process much more viscous materials. Designed to process materials in either continuous or recirculation mode, inline high shear mixers are ideal for creating large quantities of cannabis products, such as beverages, syrups, sauces and flavors. Inline mixers are highly efficient and can significantly increase production output, making them a great choice for cannabis product manufacturers who need to keep up with growing demand.
ROSS high shear mixers are particularly well-suited for the cannabis industry, as they offer a number of key benefits, including:
- Consistent and homogenous mixtures: ROSS high shear mixers are designed to create uniform mixtures, ensuring that active ingredients are evenly dispersed throughout the product. This results in consistent potency, flavor, and texture.
- Efficient and fast mixing: High shear mixers can achieve rapid and efficient mixing in a fraction of the time it takes with traditional mixing methods. This is particularly important in the cannabis industry, where time is of the essence and efficiency is key.
- Scalability: ROSS high shear mixers can be scaled up or down to meet the needs of different production volumes. This makes them an ideal choice for both small-scale and large-scale cannabis manufacturers.
- Easy to clean: High shear mixers are designed to be easy to clean, reducing the risk of contamination and making them ideal for use in the production of food, beverages, and other consumer products.
How high shear mixers are used in the cannabis industry.
High shear mixers can be used in a variety of ways to create cannabis-infused products. Some of the most common methods include:
- Mixing cannabis/CBD oil and carrier liquids: High shear mixers can be used to uniformly disperse cannabis oil into a carrier liquid, such as coconut oil or alcohol. This produces a consistent and homogenous mixture that can be used in a variety of products, including edibles, oils, gummies, topicals, tinctures and even pet treats for your dog or cat.
- Creating cannabis/CBD emulsions: High shear mixers can also be used to create emulsions and nanoemulsions, which are mixtures of two immiscible liquids, such as water and oil. This is particularly useful for creating products like cannabis-infused beverages, where the cannabis must be evenly dispersed throughout the liquid.
- Creating cannabis/CBD-infused creams and lotions: High shear mixers can be used to create highly stable emulsions that are the base for cannabis/CBD-infused creams and lotions. This ensures that the cannabis is evenly dispersed throughout the product, resulting in consistent potency, smooth texture and long shelf life.
The use of ROSS high shear mixers offers several advantages over low-speed impellers, kitchen devices and other conventional mixing methods in the production of cannabis-infused products. They provide efficient and fast mixing, scalability, easy cleaning, and the ability to create consistent and homogenous mixtures. As this relatively new industry continues to grow and evolve, the use of high shear mixers will become increasingly important in the production of high-quality cannabis products.