What are cannabis extracts?
Cannabis extracts also known as concentrates are the extracted essential oils of the cannabis plant. Like all plants, cannabis produces an essential oil. Essential oils are nutrient-rich fats that plants create to help them survive. Essential oils can contain fragrances to attract pollinators, as well as antimicrobial compounds and bitter flavors to keep predators at bay. Extracting these essential oils from plants is how we harness the medicinal benefits of cannabis. Because concentrates are packed with several times more cannabinoids than regular dried flowers, and their potency can reach up to 90% THC levels.
While all essential oils are unique, the oils produced by the cannabis plant contain an impressive array of nutrients. Cannabis resin not only contains the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that causes the famous “high”, but it also contains an abundance of flavor and aroma compounds. In addition, cannabis oil contains other cannabinoid compounds related to THC, including cannabidiol (CBD). These lesser-known cannabinoids not only contribute to the overall experience the concentrate provides, but they may also have medicinal benefits.
How to consume cannabis extracts
Cannabis extracts also known as concentrates can be smoked, vaporized, or eaten. The most common way to consume extracts is via a smoking process called dabbing. Dabbing requires a special type of water pipe, called an oil rig.
To properly dab, a titanium, quartz, or glass “nail” is heated to temperatures between 315 and 500℉. A small amount of concentrate is then applied to the heated nail as the consumer inhales from the water pipe.
For beginners cannabis concentrates can also be used in vaporizers and to fill favor pen cartridges. Similarly, they can be added to drinks and foods to make fast infused edibles. Both cannabis and hemp oils are also added to balms and lotions for topical application.
Getting to know Extracts
Does the type of concentrate really matter? Sort of. There are definitely some differences between them and experienced users tend to have their favorites. Here are some of the most common types of cannabis concentrates you will come across.
SHATTER, RESIN, WAX, BUDDER
Shatter, Resin, Wax and Budder are likely to be the most popular cannabis concentrate around. Being one of the first concentrates on the market, it has established a following of dedicated dabbers.
It is made using BHO (butane) extraction before going through a filtration process designed to strip it of any remaining impurities.
Rosin is a concentrate that is prized for its purity, potency, and flavor. Unlike other concentrates, it is not extracted using a solvent (like butane). Instead, rosin is meticulously harvested out of dried or fresh frozen flower and then finished using only heat and pressure.
Because no solvents are involved, rosin also tends to retain more of the natural terpenes and flavonoids found in the cannabis plant. Because of this, it is more flavorful than other concentrates and many people find it more enjoyable to dab. If purity and flavor are priorities, you can’t go wrong with rosin.
CO2 oils are produced through an extraction process that uses CO2 gas. These oils are commonly found in the pre-filled vape cartridges and vape pens sold in dispensaries across the country. Because the CO2 extraction process takes place at a lower temperature, more of the plant’s natural terpenes and flavors are preserved. Like rosin, CO2 oils are considered to be more pure and flavorful than most other concentrates.
Distillate is a concentrated oil that is completely devoid of any waxes, terpenes, flavonoids, or other compounds found in the cannabis plant. Instead, it contains only a specific cannabinoid (usually THC) at a very high concentration. Distillate undergoes a complex extraction, separation, and purification process that results in a unique and potent oil that has been systematically stripped of everything but THC.
Cannabis concentrates come in all shapes and sizes. From rock-like crystals to syrupy oils, there are more types of extractions than ever before. In order to create concentrated cannabis oil, you need to separate the resin from the plant material. This is not an easy task. You cannot simply wash resin off of plant matter.
Cannabis resin is a fatty oil, which means that it will not mix with water. In order to collect concentrated resin, you need to extract it with a solvent. Some of the most common solvents when making cannabis concentrates are butane, ethanol, and carbon dioxide (CO2). While most extractions contain either THC, CBD, or some combination of the two, there are differences between concentrates depending on what type of solvent is used.
Botanical extractions are nothing new. Pharmaceutical companies use extractions when studying new plant-derived medicines. Decaffeinated coffee is made using CO2 extraction technology and many seed-based cooking oils are extracted using similar methods. With cannabis, however, extractions are a fairly new addition to the industry repertoire. Thanks to decades of prohibition, the advanced extraction technologies utilized by other industries are only just now entering the world of medical and recreational cannabis.
Concentrates for Beginners
One of the most common mistakes beginners make is consuming too much shatter, wax or budder, etc. Doing so will result in an uncomfortable high for anyone involved. As a result, the first tip for beginners would be to start small, as they don’t call them “dabs” for nothing!
Starting with only a tiny piece of concentrate will also allow you to determine your personal tolerance for consuming concentrates. As with most things, you can always do more if necessary.
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