Brandon Bahr: The Industry Has a Solvent Problem

The quality of your solvents matter.

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This week, Brandon Bahr, co-founder and CEO of Simple Solvents, joins the Cannabis Equipment News podcast to discuss his evolution into a supplier of premium solvents for extraction. 

Brandon Bahr saw a need in the industry. The solvent supply chain was chaotic — with little transparency and few people specifically focused on quality. He was well-connected and helped clients in the cannabis and hemp industries with procurement for everything from seeds and biomass to finished oil. However, the one product category that kept coming up was ethanol and solvents used for extraction. 

Solvents weren’t his primary focus at first, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, his hemp network shut down when contract manufacturers and processors were deemed inessential and forced to halt production. To keep the doors open, many hemp processors pivoted to sanitizer and started looking for ethanol. Bahr knew just where to find it. 

Bahr shifted his focus to supplying ethanol for sanitizer manufacturing. Although he knew it was an unsustainable bubble, he used the time to build and establish a chemical supply chain. When the sanitizer bubble burst, he decided to work exclusively on cannabis with a focus on quality. 

When he looked at the industry, Bahr saw a lack of accountability and companies sacrificing quality in exchange for cheaper solvents. He stressed that the quality of solvents matter: they affect the end product substantially, and could even lead to harmful, toxic chemicals winding up in the final product. 

Simple Solvents partners with Nebraska ethanol manufacturer Midwest Renewable Energy because the company can guarantee consistency and quality. Bahr works with other manufacturers to supply different hydrocarbons. 

Part of Simple Solvents’ business model is to be able to supply clients of any size, from a 30,000-gallon railcar to a 6,500-gallon tanker or even a single gallon of product. 

Today, the company is focused on regionalization in an effort to get the supply chain closer to key markets. Solvents are sometimes an afterthought for processors, and some are located far from Nebraska.

Bahr says the cannabis industry has a solvent problem, particularly in the hemp world, and he spends significant time and resources educating the industry. It all comes down to choosing the right grade and material and guiding consumers to the correct product for each botanical extraction application. 

He is working on creating standards that prevent residual solvents and heavy metals from tainting products, and while he offers as much support as possible, he warns that consumers should be wary of less regulated products, like Delta-8 and other synthetic products.

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