The world of cannabis can be overwhelming and confusing to navigate, with its unique language, products, and experiences. If you struggle to differentiate between terms like kief and extracts or wonder what shatter and crumble are, don’t worry – this guide to cannabis concentrates is here to help clear any confusion.
Before delving into the different types of concentrates, it’s important to have a basic understanding of cannabis itself. It has various components that contribute to its effects and flavour as a plant. Specifically, we’re interested in cannabinoids and terpenes.
Cannabinoids VS Terpenes
Cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, are the primary players in the cannabis experience. This also explains the use of THC and terpene oils. While scientists have identified over 113 cannabinoids, THC and CBD are the most well-known and studied.
THC is responsible for the euphoric, relaxed high that many people associate with cannabis use, while CBD offers a range of therapeutic benefits without the psychoactive effects of THC. By understanding these basic components of cannabis, you’ll be better equipped to explore the world of cannabis concentrates with confidence.
In contrast, terpenes are a group of chemical molecules responsible for the flavour and aroma of cannabis. Now, let’s talk about the Trichomes, another plant structure.
White crystalline “fuzz,” or trichomes, can be seen on the surface of the buds of some plants. They’re the source of the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes. Trichomes are present in nearly all plants and are thought to protect the plant from pests and other threats. They are essentially the star of the show when it comes to cannabis.
What Are Cannabis Concentrates?
Cannabis concentrates are made from the cannabis plant that has been processed more. Only the good parts of the plant make it into the final product. Concentrates only have cannabinoids and terpenes, with the stem, leaves, and other unwanted plant parts removed. Since we know what trichomes are, we can say that Cannabis concentrates are a bunch of trichomes from the plant put together.
Since they are more filtered and concentrated than flowers, they have a stronger hit and effect immediately. This is one reason why people who smoke and use cannabis a lot like cannabis concentrates too. Also, there is more than one way to use cannabis. You can smoke it, make it into food, or put it under your tongue.
Difference Between Cannabis Concentrates and Extracts
Regarding cannabis, the terms “concentrates” and “extracts” are often used interchangeably, but there is a key difference between the two. Trained cannabis enthusiasts know this difference, and now you can too!
Both concentrates and extracts are derived from trichomes, the small glandular structures on the cannabis plant that contain cannabinoids and terpenes. However, the extraction process for each is different. Extracts are a type of concentrate made using solvents like CO2 or alcohol. On the other hand, Concentrates can be made through mechanical or physical means to separate and collect trichomes. Examples of concentrates include rosin, dry sift, and kief.
Before diving deeper into the world of cannabis concentrates, it’s important to understand that there are many different consistencies and textures of concentrates, each of which can be used to create a specific strain of concentrate. Rather than getting bogged down by trying to memorize all the names, it’s helpful to focus on the texture and consistency of different cannabis plants. By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to understand the nuances of cannabis concentrates and extracts.
Cannabis Concentrates – Textures and Consistency
Cannabis concentrates come in various textures and consistencies, each with its unique name. Understanding these names can help demystify the world of cannabis concentrates.
- Shatter is a concentrate with a hard, glass-like texture that is usually golden. A transparent shatter does not necessarily indicate purity, as there are two types of shatter: sap and pull-and-sap. Sap has a soft, fluid consistency, while pull-and-sap is stretchy, like toffee.
- Budder or badder is a less potent concentrate than shatter, but it has a soft, buttery consistency that makes it easy to spread. It comes in light yellow to bright orange colours and can be used in joints, bongs, or dab rigs.
- Crumble is a brittle version of budder with a plain yellow colour. It can easily lose moisture, so it should be stored in a cool, dry, airtight container.
- Sugar has a wet, clumped-together texture, similar to sugar. It comes in colours ranging from light yellow to deep amber.
- Sauce is a wet, sticky sugar version with a high viscosity and crystalline structure. Its colour can range from deep amber to bright mustard.
- Crystalline concentrates come as single, crystallized compounds in small rocks or powdered form. They can vary in density and size, depending on personal preference.
Types of Cannabis Concentrates
There is a variety of cannabis concentrates available, with different extraction methods, solvents, and origins. To help clarify, we can divide cannabis concentrates into two categories: non-solvent-based and solvent-based concentrates. It’s worth noting that water is not considered a solvent in the cannabis world.
Non-solvent-based cannabis concentrates include the following:
- Kief is the simplest and most common type of concentrate that collects terpenes separated from flowers. Kief can be easily produced by rubbing cannabis against an object and can be sprinkled on joints for an extra boost.
- Hashish, a popular and well-known concentrate from North India, Europe, and the Arabian Peninsula, is another non-solvent-based concentrate. Hashish is similar to kief but is compressed with heat and pressure to make it more potent and desirable.
- Charas, a popular form of cannabis in India, is made into a ball or long, thin sticks. The only difference between charas and hash is that charas is made from fresh buds and flowers, while hash is made from dried flowers.
- Bubble hash is another form of hash that is gaining popularity worldwide due to its high purity level and low levels of unwanted plant material. Water is used in the extraction process, but since water isn’t considered a solvent, bubble hash is categorized as a non-solvent-based concentrate.
- Rosin hash is made by extracting resin from cannabis buds using heat and pressure, resulting in amber-coloured, sticky hash drops. The remaining bud can be used to make cannabutter.
Solvent-based cannabis concentrates include the following:
- Wax is an amber-coloured cannabis extract with a soft, wax-like texture made through a high degree of agitation during extraction. Crumble, a wax form is produced by allowing the wax to purge longer at a lower heat. Wax concentrates are commonly used for dabbing due to their consistency, which allows for a clean hit. Budder, however, has a buttery consistency, while wax is more honey-like and sticky with a dark amber colour.
- Live Resin is a cannabis extract highly regarded for its medicinal benefits and is also popular among recreational users. Typically produced using BHO, it is made from frozen flowers as a starting material. Live Resin is known to be rich in terpenes, which results in a more flavorful extract.
- BHO, or Butane Hash oil, is a cannabis extract that creates wax, shatter, crumble, and other products. It is unsafe to attempt to make BHO at home due to the explosive nature of butane.
- PHO, or Propane Hash oil, is similar to BHO but is slightly cheaper and less flammable. Nonetheless, neither BHO nor PHO is considered safe for DIY projects.
- CO2 oil is a cannabis extract produced using the CO2 extraction method, the safest and most efficient method of extracting cannabis. This method separates terpenes and cannabinoids through a contaminant-free extraction process that yields high-quality results. CO2 oil is commonly consumed using oil vape pens. However, it is essential to note that the CO2 extraction method requires a functioning laboratory and is expensive. It is not safe to attempt this method at home.
Different Ways to Consume Cannabis Concentrates
Cannabis concentrates offer a versatile range of consumption options, allowing users to enjoy the effects of trichomes without smoking. The method of consumption largely depends on the texture of the concentrate and the tools available. For instance, powdery concentrates like kief are better suited for use with a more stable foundation, like flowers, whereas shatter or crumble can be smoked using a dab rig.
Here are some of the various ways to consume cannabis concentrates:
In a Joint, Bowl, or Pipe
Cannabis tinctures such as kief and hash can be mixed with ground flowers in a joint, bowl, or pipe. This technique, known as T-waxing, involves sprinkling a powdery cannabis concentrate over the buds or flowers to intensify the experience. Some users create “moon rocks” by rolling a joint in oil and covering it with kief.
Cannabis concentrates can also be consumed using a chillum, smoking pipe, or bong. Specialized hash pipes come in various designs to provide a complete smoking experience for avid users.
Dabbing is the most popular method for consuming concentrated cannabis extracts. It involves dabbing tools, such as a bong-like device with a mouthpiece, nail (made of titanium or quartz), water chamber, or torch. When inhaling cannabis concentrates, the concentrate is placed on the heated nail, and the smoke produced is inhaled. Dabbing or using dab rigs or dab concentrates can be quite potent, so beginners should start with smaller amounts and work up.
Vapes have quickly become a favourite paraphernalia in the market due to their portability, ease of use, battery life, and size. These tiny devices are capable of producing impressive vapour clouds. Two types of vapes are available for smoking cannabis concentrates – pre-filled vape pens and handheld vape pens.
Pre-filled vape pens come with a cartridge already filled with cannabis extract, which cannot be refilled once consumed. On the other hand, handheld vapes allow you to refill the chamber with your preferred cannabis concentrate, providing more flexibility.
Consuming cannabis extract in edibles is a fun and delicious way to enjoy its effects. From baked goods to beverages, there are endless possibilities for incorporating cannabis extract into your food. Remember that edibles’ effects take longer to kick in, so if you want an instant hit, smoking is a better option.
Cannabis tinctures are made by infusing cannabis with alcohol, making them a discreet and accurate dosing method for those looking to benefit from the plant’s medicinal properties.
Methods of Extracting Cannabis Concentrates
There are two primary methods of separating desirable compounds from cannabis extracts, regardless of their type. While these methods can be adjusted to suit specific cannabis extracts, their fundamental processes remain unchanged.
To physically extract cannabis concentrates, trichome glands are shaken or pressed until they fall off the plant. The cannabis is sifted through screens with varying sizes to ensure that only the trichome heads are in the final product. Rosin is also created using heat and pressure to extract the desired compounds from the plant.
In solvent-based extraction, a liquid solvent separates the active compounds from the trichome gland. The resulting extract is then further refined to ensure that only desirable components of the plant remain. The pressure and temperature are adjusted accordingly to achieve the optimal outcome. Depending on the selected solvent, the resulting extract is placed in a vacuum oven to ensure complete solvent removal before consumption.
Tips for Storing Cannabis Concentrates
If you want to ensure that your cannabis concentrates remain fresh and potent, proper storage is key. Here are some tips on how to store your concentrates:
Parchment paper is a convenient short-term storage option. However, concentrates stored this way are susceptible to moisture and environmental changes, which can cause them to harden or soften over time.
Silicone containers are a better option than parchment paper but are not ideal for long-term storage. Use parchment paper to wrap your stash before placing it in the container, and store it in a cool, dry, and dark place.
Glass containers are the best option for storing cannabis extracts and concentrates. Wrap your concentrates in parchment paper and store them in an airtight jar. Use a glass jar with a wide rim for sticky concentrates and store the concentrate directly without the parchment paper.
If you plan to freeze your concentrates, wrap them in parchment paper, place them in an airtight plastic storage bag, and then put them in the container. Before using, make sure to let them defrost completely. Store alcohol tinctures in the fridge to ensure their longevity.
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It’s essential to store your cannabis concentrate in a cool, dry, and dark place away from heat, light, and moisture. This will ensure that the concentrate stays potent and maintains its quality.