Updated: Aug 29
RESEARCHING THE CORRELATION BETWEEN MEDUSA STONES, FAST CRASHING, BAR FORMATIONS, AND EXTRACTION GASES. JUNE 2022.
ENGINEERED FOR EXTRACTION™
Solvent Direct is committed to the research and development of high purity, safe, and sustainable lab supply for the future of extraction.
WHAT IS MEDUSA?
By: Michael Medley
MEDUSA STONES, FAST CRASHING, AND BAR FORMATIONS
Extractors across the US have been experiencing unusual formations and reactions while extracting biomass with butane, propane, and isobutane. Extractors have been having issues with THCA diamonds that change from a clear, transparent crystal into a chalky, opaque crystal within hours to a couple days after formation. This is what is being referred to as Medusa Stones. The chalkiness is present throughout the diamonds.
It is speculated that it may be caused by changes in LP gas supply that have introduced an unknown chemical or chemicals into the current supply of gas in the US. Some of these issues have been remedied by passing the solvent through 13x molsieve, activated alumina, and/or activated charcoal before use with varying degrees of success.
Fast crashing diamonds are diamonds that start forming almost instantly upon pouring out of the extractor, sometimes even forming while still inside the machine. Normally this would take days to a week to occur. They are nucleating and forming in much more dilute solution than normally seen. Usually there would be much less solvent remaining before reaching the saturation point.
The bar shaped formations are diamonds that take on a rectangular shape as opposed to the typical triangular faceted shape of traditional thca diamonds.
WHAT IS THE DEFECT BEING OBSERVED?
Butane, Propane and Isobutane used to make THCA Crystals (diamonds) are not behaving normally.
Abnormal bubble formation is seen from "pours" - more than usual.
Many small cubic faceted or rectangular bar shaped crystals may form instead of the typical triangular faceted crystals.
Upon sitting, crystals that had initially formed as clear crystals appear to degrade into a "chalk-like" appearance.
LEADING THEORIES ABOUT THE CAUSE?
Alcohol, Ethanol and/or Methanol contamination
Solvent impurities tied to benzene contamination
Ammonia or Amine interactions left over from the LPG sweetening/refining process
Biomass processing changes
WHY DO WE CARE?
MANUFACTURING EFFICIENCY AND SIX SIGMA OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY
Medusa reactions are causing significant disruptions to normal manufacturing SOP's for labs across the US. It appears all gas distributors have been impacted by the fast crash, and some more than others. Solvent Direct is committed to helping extractors find operational efficiency. Medusa reactions must be stopped by using the Six Sigma quality management system to prevent variability.
Extraction is similar to the world of craft beer and big beer in many ways. Craft brewers live with inconsistency, they make batch adjustments and accept some waste in order to meet the demands of their "craft" customers. Big brewers understand their process, they control ingredients and product quality up and down the distribution chain.
Six Sigma is a system of management using engineering and statistical techniques to reduce product defects and to "control" processes. It's called "Six Sigma" because a system described by a normal distribution will be error free 99.9997% of the time if it is operated within +/- 3 Sigma.
SIX SIGMA IN SIXTY SECONDS
Six Sigma relies heavily on defining specifications to meet customer needs, understanding critical factors for products, and use of statistical tools to analyze and maintain product and process consistency (quality).
Consistency demands understanding and attention to important details. Living in the world of the Wild West is fun and exciting, but it's not the world of delivering consistent products day in and day out.
IS IT THE GAS?
COULD THERE BE A CORRELATION BETWEEN THE MEDUSA REACTION AND SOLVENT IMPURITY?
Extractors are looking for answers. We are seeing Medusa impact all distribution channels in the US causing unnecessary time and expense for labs trying to achieve desired results. It appears as though the cause of the crash is deep within the supply chain in the early stages of production.
With unprecedented demand for high purity gases around the US, cases of benzene contamination, other impurities and recent pandemic-related changes in petroleum feedstock, we just don't have the data we need to conclusively rule out the possibility of gas as the cause.
Although Solvent Direct utilizes extensive quality control and vendor audit processes, as well as industry-leading 3 Phase Cylinder Decontamination™ on every LP cylinder before every refill - until there is scientific consensus on standards and methods for analyzing extraction gases, we cannot rule out the risk of undetectable impurities and contamination introduced early on in the production stages of LPG.
In respected circles there has been discussion of hydrogen peroxide, ammonia water, extraction equipment, and of course biomass as potential causes for this excessively fast precipitation process, but Solvent Direct believes there is simply no way to say conclusively whether or not hydrocarbon extraction gases are the cause of Medusa at this time.
WHAT ARE WE DOING?
SOLVENT DIRECT IS COMMITTED TO ENSURING SAFE AND CONSISTENT STANDARDS FOR EXTRACTION SUPPLY.
Solvent Direct is 100% committed to supporting our clients with the highest purity lab supply exclusively for extraction. Our goal is to identify the cause of the Medusa reactions, create a standard for future identification, and eliminate potential variability in the supply chain as quickly as possible.
At this point, there is no data conclusively absolving the gas as a cause of the fast crash. We are actively researching these reactions and will not rule out the gas until we have the answers. We have formed a Medusa task force and engaged a leading University Researcher and PHD Analytical Chemist with 30+ years experience in hydrocarbons and petroleum, with access to one of the most advanced analytical testing labs in the US.
Going back to the first reports of the Medusa reactions in 2021, our supply teams have been documenting incidents, traveling to labs, collecting samples, inspecting cylinders, and working closely with extractors, chemists, and petroleum engineers to identify a cause. While this research is still in progress, our team is actively seeking new incidents and we encourage clients and non-clients to reach out.
Solvent Direct was built from the ground up to help extractors and while some of our peers are quick to point the finger at alternative causes, we believe we owe it to our clients to get to the bottom of this problem so extractors can get back to operating at their highest, best and most profitable use of time.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
SOLVENT DIRECT WANTS TO HEAR FROM YOU.
We are actively investigating all potential leads and seeking more information from extractors, petroleum experts, chemists, and nucleation experts with insight or expertise into these reactions. We are researching Medusa reactions in cylinders from many different distributors as well as tracing chains of custody and looking into the supply streams earlier in production with the scientific community. Please let us know if you are interested in contributing your time, samples, or money to our research
Additionally, our Team is traveling to labs impacted by medusa to collect samples, interviews, and data. If you are interested in allowing us to come in to your facility and analyze your process, please contact us to start a file.
PRESERVE EVERYTHING, TAKE NOTES, GIVE US A CALL.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing Medusa, fast crash, or unusual bar formations please share this checklist and ask if they are willing to save samples and data per the following:
Cylinder - mark the cylinder with permanent marker and write down the serial number in your notes.
Save the cylinder and do not return it to your supplier.
Boil off sample of gas into clean jar. Look for residue and save jar for analysis.
Save any material samples exhibiting the reaction.
TAKE NOTES AND PHOTOS
Record as much information as possible including: time, temperature, pressure, odor observation, and residue. Pour off sample of gas into clean jar and allow gas to boil off. Look for residue and save jar for analysis.
If possible to safely take photos and video, please document reactions, samples, film, media, and information.
If you are using any media to correct for the reaction, please save spent media.
If you notice any film or residue left behind in your system, please save a sample.
If you are willing to participate in our research, please contact 1-833-PURE-GAS.