Intro to Concentrates

Why consume concentrates?

Concentrates can be beginner friendly and potentially offer a healthier alternative to other consumption methods. With the right accessories and knowledge to select the most suitable product, almost anyone can enjoy the wonderful world of wax.

What is a concentrate?

Concentrates are extracts of the cannabis plant. Various extraction techniques are designed to produce an end product that leave a higher percentage of beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes.

Users favor concentrates because of their enhanced flavor, effects, and because they can be consumed without potentially harmful combustion.

Concentrates are generally labeled and grouped by their consistency. The consistency of a product is a result of how it was processed during extraction. The varying extraction methods and their resulting consistencies are:


Hydrocarbon Extraction

Hydrocarbons are solvents; solvents dissolve other substances. In hydrocarbon extraction, a hydrocarbon is blasted at the cannabis material in a closed tube at very high pressures. This causes THC to separate out from the plant material, leaving an extract. The solvent is then removed from the extract through purging, or, the dissolution of a solvent in a vacuum oven.

You may see these solvents being used in various techniques:

  • Butane Hash Oil (BHO)
  • Propane Hash Oil (PHO)
  • Ethanol (alcohol) extraction
  • Hexane extraction

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Shatter

Texture: Shatter is generally brittle and breakable, like a piece of glass. Pull ‘n Snap is shatter but with a taffy-like consistency.

Process: The clarity and texture of shatter is dependant on two things: the 1. de-waxing and 2. purging processes. De-waxing, the process of taking out lipids (fats) through combining the extract with ethanol, reduces the chances of the concentrate fogging up or becoming opaque. Agitation after extraction can also cause an extract to fog or budder up, so it’s best to avoid unnecessary movement throughout the purging process when aiming for clear concentrates. Different strains will also have different results in terms of clarity, so the input plant material matters as well.

Try this with: Dab rig, vaporizor

Sugar

Texture: A sugar is typically a collection of tiny crystals stuck together; it has a granular, wet sand-like consistency.

Process: Sugars go through the same process as shatter, the main difference is that it sugars up because of moisture, like terpenes.

Try this with: Dab rig, vaporizor

 

Sauce

Texture: A sauce is typically THC crystals suspended in a terpene-rich, saucey consistency. The “sauce” that surrounds the THC crystals is a coagulation of terpenes, cannabinoids, and water.

Process: A sauce is processed in a closed loop BHO extractor, which then sits for 22 plus days in the vacuum chamber, depending on the method used. The compounding heat and pressure causes it to coagulate like a sugar, but with hard, rock-like concentrated diamonds.

Try this with: Dab rig

Badder, Budder

Texture: As the name suggests, a badder or budder (the two words are used interchangeably) has a smooth and relatively soft texture.

Process: Budders go through the same process of sugar and shatter, but it’s whipped afterwards. The goal with budder is agitating it to the point that it gets to a creamy consistency.

Try this with: Dab rig, vaporizor

Honeycomb

Texture: Honeycomb often has holes throughout it like swiss cheese.

Process: Honeycomb is budder, but not whipped. When honeycomb is purged in the vacuum oven a mixture of heat, pressure, and purge time gives the extract a Swiss cheese like appearance.

Try this with: Vaporizor

CO₂ Extraction

Carbon dioxide (CO₂) supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) is another process that uses a solvent to break down raw plant material and turn it into an extract. In supercritical extraction, a machine turns CO₂ from a gas into a liquid through adjusting pressure and lowering temperature to below -70°F. The liquid is then passed through the cannabis, which ideally separates out the trichomes and leaves an extract. Subcritical extraction happens before supercritical extraction, it’s how terpenes are captured from the plant.

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Oil

Texture: Oils are generally thick, sticky, and viscous. Some CO₂ oil concentrates are sold in applicators, which are syringe-looking devices designed to make dispensing the product easier. Oil is also commonly used in disposable vape pens and vape cartridges.

Process: Oil goes through supercritical CO₂ extraction and is further refined in post-processing. After being extracted, the oil undergoes a solubilization and winterization process and is then filtered, purged, and activated (decarboxylated). Activating oil means adding heat under pressure in a vacuum to make THCA turn into THC, the psychoactive part of the plant.

Try this with: dab rig, vaporizor

Sap

Texture: Sap is sticky like the sap on a tree or molasses, it’s gooey and jelly-like in consistency.

Process: Sap goes through supercritical CO₂ extraction and is then purged to remove the remaining CO₂.

Try this with: Dab rig, vaporizor

Water Hash

Hash uses water as a solvent to facilitate separating trichomes out from the rest of the cannabis flower to leave an extract.

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Hash

Texture: Hash has a sand-like consistency that’s gummy and sticks together.

Process: Hash is the process of taking cannabis, and separating trichomes from plant matter using water and ice. Bubble bag hash uses a series of bags in water to extract THC from cannabis flower. The process begins with water in a sieve at cold temperatures, ideally below 40°F. Water and ice causes trichomes to separate from plant matter in a delicate way by disconnecting, pulling apart, and sifting a series of bags using a series of microns. Each bag sits within each other and as the plant matter is sifted, each bag pulls out more delicate, perfect trichomes. If done correctly, the final bag should produce a 5-6 star rated bubble hash.

Try this with: Add it to flower in a bowl or blunt

Solventless Extracts

Solventless extracts are concentrated forms of the cannabis plant that are derived naturally and unaided by chemicals or solvents. They are generally collected and processed using natural methods like friction, heat, or pressure.

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Kief

Texture: Kief is a collection of trichomes that bunch together in a granular, sandy form.

Process: Kief, also known as “dry-sift,” is produced by taking dry cannabis and sifting it through a series of screens with continued agitation to foster separating out the trichomes from the plant matter. This is done in an effort to get the best trichomes fall to bottom as coagulated, dry THC.

Try this with: Add it to flower in a bowl or blunt

Rosin

Texture: Rosin has a buttery, smooth consistency and crumbles to the touch.

Process: Rosin is generally made from kief, then subjected to heat and pressure on parchment paper to achieve the highest yield of THC content in concentrated form. Some producers may use flower as the input instead of kief.

Try this with: Dab rig

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Trim run, Nug run, or Live Resin?

Some concentrates are labeled as trim run, nug run or live resin. These refer to the state of the starting cannabis material. Trim run products began as the sugar leaves, clipped from the cannabis plant, while nug run products began as the same flowers sold for smoking. Products labeled live started with cannabis that was frozen fresh and extracted, rather than dried and cured as is more common.

Methods to Consume

All concentrates can be smoked by simply adding them to flower in a bowl or joint, but most users prefer vaporising concentrates. Rather than using a flame to burn the product and inhale the smoke, vaporising involves heating it to it’s boiling point, below the point of combustion. At this temperature, the product will release water vapor containing cannabinoids and terpenes, which are inhaled. There are small battery powered devices all the way up to larger blow torch operated rigs, specifically designed to vaporise cannabis products.

 

Contributions made by Aaron Nino and Jeremy Francisco.

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