What are Cannabis Concentrates & How Do I Use Them?
Concentrates are made from the cannabis plant and are included in many of the products you will see at Fire Leaf dispensary, including shatter, wax, and CO2 oil. Cannabis concentrates are oils made through an extraction process that distillates cannabis’ chemical compounds such as CBD and THC. These cannabinoid filled products are created when solvents (CO2, ethanol, butane) strip compounds from the cannabis plant. These highly potent oils are much stronger than your average flower, with some extracts testing as high as 90% in THC, while others are high in CBD and give no psychoactive effect.
The final products derived from concentrates are most commonly used for vaporization and dabbing, however they can also be in creams that are rubbed onto your skin. These products and their variations allow you to enjoy a variety of cannabis experiences.
Types of Concentrates
Butane Hash Oil (BHO)
BHO results from the removal of terpenes and cannabinoids by using pressure, butane and heat. Butane is pushed through the marijuana plant drawing out the necessary oils, which are then collected, leaving the butane to evaporate. This process leaves behind wax that will either stay sticky, harden to make crumbles, or have a glasslike consistency. BHO concentrates are extremely potent and are popular for dabbing. They can have up to a 70% – 90% THC content. To put this into perspective, normal cannabis flower tests between 10% to 25% THC.
Concentrates can also be made in other forms, including solvent-free, but are most commonly made as BHO. The following are different names and types of concentrates that are made as BHO:
- Shatter – Looks like amber colored glass and is known as the purest form of concentrate.
- Pull-and-snap – This concentrate is between the consistency of shatter and sap.
- Sap – Has a texture similar to tree sap. It is different from shatter and pull-and-snap due to differences in moisture, heat and high terpene.
- Wax– Softer and more opaque than shatter, pull-and-snap or sap. Wax has its form due to the crystallization of molecules due to agitation. Since light cannot travel through irregular molecular densities, wax is solid and non-transparent. Factors such as heat, texture and moisture off the oil, before purging during the extraction process, dictate the consistency of wax.
- Budder– A type of wax, this concentrate is runny, gooey and has more moisture.
- Crumble/honeycomb – Another wax variation, this concentrate has a brittle, soft texture.
The BHO extraction process is a difficult process and it is important to ensure your concentrates are purchased from a reputable and legal source, and never made at home. Butane is a highly volatile gas and can very easily cause serious burns and injuries. If improperly done, the concentrate may contain traces of toxic butane. Please do not ever attempt creating your own BHO!
This concentrate is created by a method called supercritical fluid extraction where botanical extractors use carbon dioxide and pressure to separate plant matter. The oil created through this method can be vaporized in a number of ways but is most commonly used with vape pens. Cartridges containing CO2 oil and polypropylene glycol (a medical-grade solvent that gives the oil its liquid form) are popular among cannabis users.
This concentrate is a non-psychoactive oil created to focus on the CBD cannabinoid. It holds a variety of medicinal uses. For more information, see our CBD page.
The oldest form of cannabis concentrate, hash is made by compressing cannabis resin. Although not as potent as BHO or other concentrates, hash can be smoked by vaporizing on a hot surface (dabbing) or made into hash oil. Traditionally, it has been either eaten or made into bhang, an ancient medicinal drink.
Freeze-dried hash oil
Still a relatively new technique of extraction, this process requires sub-freezing temperatures that keep trichomes suspended in their degradation cycle. This provides tepidness that gets destroyed in other processes.
This powdery substance is what you will commonly find after grinding or breaking up cannabis flower. Kief consists of resin glands on the trichomes of marijuana flowers. It contains a high amount of cannabinoids and terpenes and is used to make hash. You can sprinkle it on top of your bowl or add to your joint for a stronger effect.
A ‘solvent-less’ type of concentrate, rosin is made using a balance of heat, pressure and a specific exposure time. The cure time and degradation of trichomes when making this hash oil determines the consistency in rosin. It can be made from fresh and/or cured flowers, water hash, kief or trim from the plant. The consistency, color and flavor of rosin vary depending on which of these materials are used. Although many solvent-free oils come in less stable, sappier forms, rosin can be sappy but if made with higher temperatures it can come in a more stable glass-like form.
Whipped rosin, also known as cake batter, is a solvent-free form of budder that can be made from this extract. The combination of light heat and agitation, with rosin, creates a creamy texture that is easier for dabbing. Whipped rosin can be made at home by stirring rosin consistently with a warm dabber tool.
Created by a man named Rick Simpson to treat his skin cancer, RSO is made when cannabis is soaked in isopropyl alcohol or naphtha. Once the solvent evaporates, this method draws out therapeutic properties that turn into a liquid with a consistency similar to tar. Sometimes known as Phoenix Tears, Rick Simpson oil can be taken via oral administration or placed directly onto the skin. Many versions of this oil are now available, with some containing THC while others are completely non-psychoactive.
These are liquid concentrates made through alcohol extraction, and until cannabis prohibition, we’re the main form of medicinal marijuana used in the United States. Tinctures are a good choice for those who prefer not to smoke cannabis, as they can be used as drops under the tongue or swallowed. They hold a long shelf life and will last for years if stored in a dark, cool location.
For first time tincture users, start with 1 mL dose under the tongue. If that does not give the desired effect, try 2 mL the next time you are ready to medicate. Continue adding 1mL each time until you find a dosage that works for you. Tinctures’ effects are felt in 15-45 minutes and reach maximum high at around 90 minutes. Drinking the dose (as opposed to dissolving it under the tongue) will have a slower onset, similar to edibles. Your high won’t last as long as with butter or oil-based edibles but the effects last longer than smoking or vaporizing.
Dabbing has become increasingly popular in recent years, and is the process of flash-vaporization where concentrates are placed on a heated water pipe or dabbing rig and inhaled. It is preferred by some cannabis users due to the inhalation of vapor as opposed to smoke, and it offers a plant material free method of cannabis consumption. You will need specific materials for dabbing:
- Dab rig – There are rigs made for dabbing, or you can add an attachment that will turn a regular water pipe into a dab rig. Resin from normal cannabis can negatively impact the quality of your dab, so it’s recommended that you have a separate rig used for dabs only.
- Nail – A quartz, titanium or glass surface that is heated prior to putting wax on. Nails come in two forms, regular or dome-less. For regular nails, the dome covers the nail and captures the vapor once heated. Nails aren’t as efficient without the dome, but have the option of using a carb-cap that catches more vapors with less heat.
- Torch – It might sound intimidating to use a torch for heating purposes, but small torches that you use in the kitchen for making things such as crème brulee work well for dabbing. These torches can be purchased at most head shops or where cannabis concentrates are sold.
- Dabber – Ceramic or metal utensil that is used to place the concentrate on the heated nail. This tool is designed to keep you from getting messy concentrates onto your fingers and more importantly, from burning yourself on the extremely hot nail.
How to dab:
You should always sit down for dabbing. The intense high you get from dabbing and the very hot materials mean its safer to sit during the process.
- Take the dabbing tool and prepare a small amount. Due to the potency of concentrates, it’s best to start with something about the size of the tip of a pencil.
- Carefully turn on your torch and begin heating up your nail, it’s common practice to heat your nail until it begins to glow red. It is necessary to let the nail cool for 10-15 seconds after it turns red, otherwise the vapor will be too hot for your lungs.
- Touch the dabber to the nail. The rounded scoop at the end of the dabber should fit the rounded nail, which allows you to vaporize all of the concentrate on the dabber. Ensure that you are taking your hit by pulling from the mouthpiece of the rig, just like a water pipe hit.
- Exhale fully.
Please keep in mind that dabs are around four times stronger than a joint. One hit of concentrate equals 3 to 10 hits of cannabis flower, depending on the potency level. If you have too much during one sitting you might become nauseated or feel paranoid – this is especially true for beginners. CBD oil can actually counteract these negative effects if they occur, so it is always good to keep some on hand!
Now that you are more familiar with the most popular cannabis concentrates, talk to your budtender about what concentrates would work best for you. Fire leaf has an excellent selection, and features different types of cannabis concentrates as well as other types of medical cannabis. To learn more, visit Fire Leaf today to discover what types of cannabis concentrates will improve your health and peace of mind.
*Information included in article is not intended to be interpreted as medical advice. For more information about medical cannabis please speak with your Oklahoma physician.
Always purchase your cannabis from an OMMA licensed dispensary.