Everything You Should Know About Concentrates
The world of cannabis comprises significant components, namely cannabinoids and terpenes, produced by the delicate flowering plant Cannabis sativa. Of these cannabis components, our attention has recently focused on THC and CBD for many reasons.
Cannabis concentrates (or marijuana concentrates) have different chemical compositions, but they all have one thing in common; they contain high levels of THC. The chemical composition of cannabis concentrates depends, primarily, on how the cannabis concentrate is extracted from the plant.
Other important factors are: how is it refined? What are the remaining chemical compounds in the final concentrate? Below, we'll take a look at cannabis concentrates, focusing on the many different types and how they're consumed.
The Basics of Cannabis Concentrates
Before consuming cannabis products, you need to understand what exactly they are. As the name implies, cannabis concentrate is a highly concentrated marijuana product made through extraction.
All other plant components (impurities) are removed during the extraction process so that only the essential compounds, i.e., the cannabinoids and terpenes, are entirely purified. Among all cannabinoids derived from the cannabis plant, we usually find two: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Tetrahydrocannabinol has psychoactive properties, while cannabidiol has none. By concentrate, we mean the type of cannabis plant that has gone through an extraction process—this process– which removes the excess plant material, leaving only cannabinoids and terpenes.
Cannabinoids & Terpenes
To date, scientists have identified over 110 different cannabinoids and over 120 terpenes in cannabis plants. Cannabinoids and terpenes are produced in the cannabis plant's trichomes, i.e., tiny white crystalline parts that cover cannabis plants and look like tiny mushrooms. These microscopic outgrowths are found on the surface of the plant's buds and leaves.
They surround the budding marijuana flower and produce the plant's cannabinoids. Trichomes make the cannabis plant sticky, and they play an essential role in protecting the hemp plant from insects. There are different trichomes for a smoke-free, long-lasting high, and they're utilized to produce what is known as cannabis concentrates.
Terpenes are responsible for making marijuana concentrates aromatic and pleasant to consume. Not only do the terpenes give each marijuana strain its unique taste and aroma, but they can also alter or enhance the psychoactive and medicinal effects.
THC & CBD: The two principal cannabinoids derived from the marijuana plant are CBD and THC. THC is a cannabinoid with psychoactive properties responsible for the euphoric feeling associated with marijuana. In simpler terms, THC is the psychotropic chemical compound that causes the "high."
While THC levels can vary from one cannabis strain to another, concentrates usually contain very high levels of THC. Cannabinoids– most notably, CBD and THC– act on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) of the human body and brain. THC and CBD are perhaps the best-known cannabis compounds.
Potency of Concentrates
Concentrates are much more potent than the hemp flower itself. While the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content in hemp flowers is typically between 10-25%, the content in marijuana concentrates can be 80% or more.
In addition to the more potent high– sometimes linked to bioavailability– concentrates have a rapid onset of action. Depending on the user, the effects of concentrates can last between 1-3 hours.
How Concentrates Are Made
Some cannabis should be produced in a commercial setting with modern technology. However, some others could be made in a DIY setting. There are several methods of making them, including:
- Dry processing
- Dry ice processing
- Water-based processing
- Combining pressure with heat
- Using non-flammable CO2 solvents
- Using flammable solvents, e.g., butane (lighter fluid), propane, ether or alcohol.
Flammable solvents are commonly used because they result in high THC levels, consumers report longer-lasting effects, and it's a more or less inexpensive and operational production method. Butane is a popular solvent that results in a potent marijuana concentrate, namely, butane hash oil (BHO).
Various Types of Concentrates
Different extraction methods– butane, hydrocarbon, and carbon dioxide CO2 extraction– produce other concentrates, including shatter. There is a variety of cannabis concentrates that we'll talk about in what follows:
Cannabis concentrates are popular–bubble hash and rosin– because of the absence of solvents. These concentrates can be guaranteed to have vanishingly small amounts of residual solvents in the ppm range.
However, these products can also have their advantages; during extraction, the chemical or physical processes can damage the structure of the plant buds.
As mentioned above, cannabis concentrates are prepared in different ways, but the two main preparation methods involve solvent-based and solventless extractions. First, let's look at the solventless extractions (non-solvent methods):
Bubble Hash: This concentrate, sometimes referred to as water hash, is a solventless product made using ice, water, and bubble bags (micron bags) to filter the desired plant material from the waste. You can safely make bubble hash at home.
It would be best to have marijuana flowers, ice, water, a bucket, and several seven-micron bags for a proper extraction method. Suffice to say; the DIY process involves freezing the trichome glands and letting them sink to the bottom; trichomes are heavier than water.
Kief (Dry Sift): More commonly known as kief, Sift is considered the most basic concentrate. The powder-like material is made of the flowers of cannabis. Kief is made by filtering (sifting) the flowers of the plant through mesh screens and collecting the trichomes at the bottom.
The resulting fine powder can be incorporated into joints, used with a vaporizer, or sprinkled over dabbing bowls. Kief is harder to find these days, as it has a lower potency and profit margin than solvent extracts. When you're careful enough, you can collect it yourself at home.
The "live" kief comes from freshly-frozen cannabis flowers that are cut at harvest time and immediately frozen to keep the full cannabinoid and terpene profile intact.
Rosin: Rosin is one of the newer marijuana concentrates hitting the market and is rapidly gaining popularity. Perhaps, the main reason for the rising interest is that you can safely make it yourself at home, without any solvents or special equipment.
It would be best if you had well-ground cannabis flowers– or more preferably kief (accumulated trichomes)– which you wrap in the folds of parchment paper. Then, place a hair straightener on the wrapped material at a low temperature for about 7 seconds.
Once you hear sizzling sounds, you have made your rosin. The consumption method for rosin is the same as smoking hash or shatter. However, it is best to leave the production of rosin or any other cannabis concentrate to the professionals.
Hash: Hashish or hash is centuries old and comes in many forms. Its colour can range from light gold, yellow-red, brown, green, or black.
As an authentic and straightforward example, you may consider a rich brown, resinous hash with a firm but smooth feel that we offer: OS.Hash10 | 2g. This cannabis concentrate is produced from a single hybrid strain and is made using dry ice sift trichome extraction.
Charas: This cannabis concentrate is a form of hashish produced from slow hand-rolling the cannabis flowers and part of the plant stem. This process releases a tar-like substance that is subsequently formed into a ball. Charas plays a clear role in the Hindu religion.
In India, the god Shiva is well-known for his fondness of cannabis, and people dedicated to his worship smoke charas as part of their religious practice.
Perhaps the most illustrative example of solvent-based concentrates is butane hash oil (BHO); let's find out why!
Butane Hash Oils (BHO's)
The BHO includes various cannabis concentrates like budder, shatter, and crumble. These are the products that people usually think of when focusing.
BHO is made by mixing a solvent, usually carbon dioxide or butane, with ground plant material. The necessary oils are extracted from the plant by solvent extraction, and the butane is removed. The product is a highly concentrated, honey-like material containing more than 80% THC; compare this amount to the corresponding value of the plant matter: ~20%.
If you slightly change the consistency of the product, you get different marijuana concentrates:
- Budder: This concentrate's name derives from its butter-like, creamy texture. Suppose you agitate the crystallized, honey-like material (BHO's material mentioned above) and subsequently whip it similarly as you'd do for a cream or batter. In that case, you end up with budder (wax).
- Crumble: If you perform budder's extraction method at a lower temperature and without whipping, you're left with crumble (wax).
- Shatter: You will get shatter if you don't stir the mixture and allow the BHO material to lay thinly on a tray to harden. This marijuana concentrate resembles a golden piece of glass and is one of the most popular concentrates on the cannabis market.
Let's take a closer look at these solvent-based concentrates:
Shatter: Shatter, found in almost all dispensaries, is a common form of cannabis concentrate. Shatter– clear or amber in colour– is sometimes carved into attractive shapes and has a glassy, translucent consistency that derives its name. The concentrate shatter is one of the purest (cleanest) forms of marijuana concentrates.
As an example of such purity, you may consider Blendcraft Indica Shatter | 0.5g– a pure, concentrated, indica-dominant shatter. Butane or propane is often the extraction solvent in shatter production, and its composition makes it perfect for dabbing with rigs or using in vaporizers.
Butane is also utilized as a solvent in producing this cannabis concentrate. First, the plant material is soaked in liquid butane, flushing all cannabinoids and terpenes. The remaining mixture is purified, heated, and put in a vacuum to eliminate the solvent. "Purging" refers to the process of removing the solvent from this mixture.
Shatter is tremendously potent due to its higher THC content than other cannabis concentrates. However, the preparation process can modify the THC levels based on the final requirements.
Wax/ Sugar Wag: As the name implies, this marijuana concentrate has a waxy consistency. It's often creamy yellowish and can be very sticky, like the Shatter concentrate; the wax is processed with a butane extraction and can be used in a dab rig or vaporizer. The consistency of wax ranges from a crumbly resin to thick syrup. These differences are due to the level of moisture and heat during preparation.
Waxes and hash oils are consumed via vape pens. Solid products– solids with a texture similar to lip balm– can also be heated on platforms, usually made of quartz, titanium, or ceramic. Then, these solids are vaporized by heat, and you inhale the vapor through a dabbing tool, i.e., a dabbing rig or rigg.
Budder (Badder): This concentrate is a variety of wax-concentrate that has recently become relatively popular. It is yellow to bright orange and has a glaze-like creamy consistency. Budder is known as the cleanest (purest) concentrate.
The preparation process is complex as it has to be vigorously whipped at low and steady temperatures to introduce and redistribute the air molecules during the purging step. It's a similar step used to make the crumble and shatter.
Tinctures: Tinctures– which come in a dropper bottle– are easy to use and a soothing alternative to smoking cannabis. With a mixture of THC extract and alcohol, tinctures are convenient, and you can find a variety of them, flavoured and unflavored.
Many people opt for CBD tinctures containing no or low THC content to reap the medicinal benefits of cannabidiol. Tinctures are fast-acting and very versatile. You can use them in most beverages or foods to make your cannabis edibles at home.
Butane Hash Oil (BHO): As mentioned already, this extract is prepared by forcing the solvent butane through the marijuana flower. Then, the solvent is removed from the trichome mixture by heating until a wax-like substance is obtained.
Propane Hash OIL (PHO): The primary solvent is propane, eventually removed from the product in the final process. In principle, the product is the same as the BHO extraction system. These hashish oils can have a THC content of more than 80%.
Distillate: These concentrates are produced through a process known as molecular distillation. To distill hashish, winterized concentrates - i.e., butane or CO2 hash oil that has been refined with ethanol or other alcohols and then cooled to extreme temperatures - must be distilled to extract and further concentrate the THC.
Live Resin: This extract uses frozen plant material to preserve the original cannabinoid profile. By flash freezing the fresh cannabis plant, the preparation process skips the curing and drying phase, resulting in a richer flavour as the terpenes are effectively preserved. This concentration process retains the terpenes as a profile in the living plant.
Although live resin can be made with CO2 extraction, almost all the varieties you find in dispensaries are made with butane extraction. The material usually looks glossy and has a golden (amber) colour.
The popularity of live resin is because of its solid aromas and flavours, which are due to the high level of terpenes preserved. In other extraction processes, terpene content is considerably lowered during preparation. Because of its strong flavour, this marijuana concentrate is becoming increasingly popular.
Crumble: Crumble wax is produced similarly to shatter and budder. To turn wax into crumble, a standard extraction method purges the oil in a vacuum oven at lower temperatures. This preparation process retains more terpenes (and cannabinoids) and produces a better-tasting concentrate.
The crumbly form makes it difficult to handle; however, you can still shave off the granules and consume cannabis in dab rigs or vaporizers.
Sauce: Terpenes are lost during THC distillation, as the THC is isolated from virtually all other compounds, leaving a tasteless/odourless cannabis concentrate. Furthermore, terpenes can be extracted from hash and flowers, and that's how terp sauce comes into play.
Crystalline: This concentrate is in crystal form (a solid extract), similar to salt or sugar, made from trichomes resulting. Pure crystals should have no aroma or flavour. Crystallization involves many processes and filters to ensure that the THC and CBD are extracted and isolated from the other cannabis compounds.
Crystalline is considered one of the purest marijuana concentrates and can have up to 99% pure THC content, known as diamonds. Diamonds are very expensive extracts due to the time-consuming preparation process. After the purging step, the diamonds are left to settle in a cool, dry place for a couple of weeks. These crystals have very high potency.
Rick Simpson Oil (RSO): This is a form of marijuana concentrate used primarily for medical patients. Unlike other extracts, RSO is made from the female plant. It can be high in THC and is usually consumed in small rice-sized grains that are either ingested or applied sublingually under the tongue or on the gums.
Is It Safe to Make Solvent-Based Concentrates
Throughout this article, we mentioned several times that it's safely possible to make solventless concentrates at home. That's not the case for solvent-based ones. If you use solvents to make concentrates, the production process itself becomes dangerous. Some people who have tried to make DIY marijuana concentrates with butane have caused fires and suffered severe burns as a result.
A 2015 study observing the implications of cannabis legalization conducted by the University of Colorado burn center showed a significant increase in burns from amateur THC extraction using the solvent butane.
In the US, it is illegal under federal law and some state laws to make hash oil with flammable liquids, including BHO. State authorities recommend alternative methods using non-flammable dry ice (CO2) or purchasing the product from a licensed retail cannabis store.
An extraction system is safely used in commercial, licensed production facilities to prevent flammable solvents from escaping into the open and accidentally catching fire. One form of abuse of marijuana concentrates is the oral consumption of concentrates in various beverages or foods without considering the effects.
How to Consume Cannabis Concentrates
You can use marijuana concentrates in various ways, such as smoking, vaping or infused products such as topicals or edibles. Let's review these methods.
For an intense fast-acting, potent high, you can choose to dab.
When it comes to marijuana concentrates, "consuming" typically refers to vaporizing the concentrate with a dab rig. Dabbing is the primary method to consume marijuana concentrates. Using a vaporizer or an e-cigarette to ingest marijuana concentrates is commonly known as "dabbing" or "vaping." You require a dab rig, a device made for dabbing for this method.
First, heat the nail or dab rig, which is the equivalent of a bong bowl in this method. Then, apply the extract directly to the hot surface and turn it into an inhalable vapour. Dab rigs are usually made of glass, with nails made of either titanium, glass, ceramic, or quartz.
Although you heat the nail with a torch in the traditional method, you can now take advantage of the many user-friendly e-nails available on the market. Traditional dabbing used a blowtorch and a water pipe. With the introduction of e-rigs and dab pens, the consumption method has become easier than ever before.
For a low-maintenance potency boost, you can top your flower.
This method involves adding marijuana concentrate to the flower to give it an extra kick. This way, you enjoy the concentrate's potency without overdoing it (or repeating it). If you're using a pipe or bong, you can sprinkle a little of your extract into the bowl with the flower.
If you're more into blunts or joints, sprinkle a little concentrate in while you roll the joint with your hand; this method is known as "twaxing." If your extract has a stretchy consistency, you can draw a line around the outer surface of the joint or blunt! As for the topping, users usually opt for bubble hash.
Remember that bubble hash can remain lit if it gets too hot, so try to extinguish the flame as soon as possible. Keep the flame close enough to melt the bubble hash but not burn. Adding marijuana concentrates to flowers is an excellent option.
Start with a layer of flowers, then sprinkle a desired amount of concentrate on top, and add more flowers. Before inhaling, the top layer prevents the concentrate from self-igniting and burning off potentially beneficial cannabinoids (or terpenes). The bottom layer contains the sticky residue from clogging the bowl.
You can use a vape pen for a mild high on the go.
You can still have a desktop vaporizer, but a growing number of users prefer portable vape devices such as pens. Rudimentary vape pens allow you to put marijuana concentrate into the chamber and turn it into vapour; all you should do is inhale! There are also special devices that will enable you to set a specific temperature.
With this important option, you can get as many cannabinoids and terpenes as possible. Using vape pens is a portable, discreet, and effective way to use marijuana concentrates. While they probably won't get you as high as a dab rig, the high feeling is caused almost immediately. You need a pre-filled cartridge and a battery or all-in-one vape pen.
The battery turns on a heating element that provides the concentrate with the optimal heat to melt but not burn or scorch it.
You may opt for an edible concentrate for a smoke-free, long-lasting high.
Edibles do not come up as often in conversations about marijuana concentrates, but maybe they should. Homemade or bought edibles are both made possible by marijuana extracts. Like vapes, concentrate edibles do not require any special equipment to use and are easy for novices to use.
Like dabs, edibles can produce a potent, long-lasting high depending on the THC content. The main difference between edibles and inhalable concentrates is the time they take to kick in. Suppose you inhale vapour or smoke. The high kicks in immediately. If you use an edible, the high is much gentler and can take up to two hours to start working.
There are many ways to try marijuana concentrate. If you wish to test concentrates– or other cannabis products– please get in touch with us and try out our high-quality products.