Some cannabis producers and processors seem to operate under a shroud of secrecy. Whether it’s out of fear of competition, or fear of the public knowing about their shady practices, either way, many producers and processors are far from transparent. Heylo Cannabis has taken the complete opposite approach.
Education and transparency are Heylo’s core values–it says so right on their website. And it’s not just talk, they truly are all about letting people in on what they’re doing. Heylo Director of Marketing and Brand, Daniel Luebke, was eager and accommodating in scheduling a tour with The Sesh Seattle, and once we got inside Heylo’s facility, it’s easy to see why.
Heylo Cannabis is located in SODO, and their warehouse is a former steel foundry. The facility has a wide-open layout, and the interior design is equal parts sterile-industrial and warm-human. That is a tough line to walk. But Heylo manages it.
The products Heylo produces, are vape cartridges, topicals, and edible quality CO2 oil. The concentrate Heylo makes is unique in several ways. The first being Heylo uses bud, not trim, to make their concentrate.
The flower is selected based on three criteria:
- It must be sustainably grown.
- It must be pesticide-free.
- It must have an interesting chemical profile, meaning minor cannabinoids and rare terpenes.
“Interesting chemistry will lead to interesting experiences,” Luebke explained. “We’re not just interested in what the percentage of THC is. In fact, that’s lower on the list. We’d rather see how much CBD is in it, or even better, how much CBG, or THCV. Are there rare terpenes like valencene or linalool, that will open up different effects for the user?”
This flower selection criteria results in some really special concentrate that can elevate, relax, or enhance your mood in a specific and effective manner. The process to create the concentrate is clean, meticulous, and impressive. That is likely due to its founder’s impressive background.
Heylo, which is an all women-owned business, was founded by Laurel (Lo) Friesen in 2017. After graduating from Northwestern University with a degree in Environmental Chemistry, Friesen went on to work in a renowned gastroenterology lab in Chicago. This experience helped prepare her for her role at Eden Labs, a Seattle-based CO2 extraction equipment manufacturer, where she helped manage the development of Eden Labs’ FX2 Supercritical CO2 Extractor. Following her time at Eden Labs, Friesen worked at two cannabis extraction companies, before founding Heylo.
Friesen’s expertise led to a state-of-the-art extraction lab that produces some one-of-a-kind products. Heylo runs their carefully selected flower through a closed-loop extraction system, in fact, they use the Eden Labs’ FX2 Supercritical CO2 Extractor that Friesen helped design. Once it’s run through the extractor, the cannabis oil is further processed in the lab, in as respectful of a manner as possible.
Heylo uses what they refer to as a two-step process, called the RawX method. The two steps are:
- Source great flower.
- Respect it at every state of extraction by processing it using low temperatures and low pressure.
A phrase Heylo uses to explain this is, “The plant is smarter than us,” hence the respect, and tedious measures to maintain the flower’s integrity.
Keeping pressure and temperatures low during processing, helps keep terpenes intact, and helps the extract provide the same kind of high as the flower it was created from, just more powerful. The first stage post-extractor is adding organic grade ethanol to the extract and freezing it, that’s called winterization. The frozen cannabis oil and ethanol is then poured into a container where it’s vacuum-pumped and filtered. The plant lipids are filtered out during that stage and used in topicals.
After that, the cannabis oil is poured into a rotary evaporator, where the remaining ethanol is distilled off. From the rotary evaporator, the oil is then placed in a vacuum oven and heated at 100-degrees Fahrenheit. This low-temperature heating raises the temperature of the oil and evaporates certain compounds while maintaining the integrity of others.
Cannabis oil is kept in its raw form whenever possible. All of Heylo’s cartridges have some raw cannabis oil in them, sometimes it’s even 100% raw. The main factor for determining what percentage of cannabis oil will remain raw is viscosity. Heylo uses a viscometer in the lab to measure viscosity and determine how much of the oil can remain raw. The raw cannabis oil in the lab looked thick and gel-like and smelled amazing.
Heylo is a facility with an admirable and impressive commitment to sustainability. Heylo is a zero-waste facility concerning cannabis, every part of the plant is used. Leftover plant material from extraction is composted. Ethanol used to winterize the concentrate is collected and reused to sterilize the facility. Gloves and hairnets are placed into special boxes for recycling. Pretty much everything that can be reused or disposed of ethically and responsibly, is.
Luebke did a wonderful job explaining Heylo’s processes and products in a way that was easy to understand and appreciate. Aside from getting an inside look at the extraction process, which is always fun, it was genuinely refreshing to see a workplace that was enjoyable and positive. The entire staff seemed friendly, familiar, and like they actually enjoyed working for Heylo.
When staff is happy and in sync, it radiates through a workplace. There’s no way to fake that. The vibe at Heylo was very much that everyone wanted to be there, and liked to be there, and that was nice to see.
Heylo’s processing facility is part lab, part classroom, and part home base for a cool crew of folks. The facility, just like the brand is smart, and they definitely create a product that’s geared toward smart people. Their proprietary vape lets you heat it to an exact temperature, just like their concentrates are ultra-specific by chemical profile. All of this science and technology manages to not be alienating. It’s actually quite endearing. When scientists nerd out on cannabis concentrates for the right reasons, everybody wins.