Concentrates – The Basics May 22, 2018 – Posted in: City, General, Lifestyle – Tags: cannabis oil, concentates, edibles, grow your own, make your own, medical marijuana, shatter
What are they?
Concentrates are, as the name suggests a concentrated form of cannabis. The levels of THC and other cannabinoids are much higher in smaller dosages. There are solvent-based and non-solvent extraction methods, which produce a wide variety of types and consistencies.
A solvent is a liquid that is used to separate the cannabinoids and terpenes from the actual flower. The most popular solvents are: butane, carbon dioxide, water, propane and alcohol.
Common names like shatter, wax, and budder describe the consistency of the concentrate, although it is the method of production that determines the differences in melting points, appearances and price. While many concentrate products are similar in THC percentage, they have different cannabinoid profiles.
How Do You Make Them?
The most common method of trichome collection is through using a three-chamber grinder. During the grinding process, trichomes are sieved through a mesh screen and broken off of the cannabis flower through what is known as agitation. The collected trichomes can then be used for different methods of making concentrates, or simply smoked as kief.
We’ve evolved since then. Here are few other ways to produce extracts:
BHO – Butane hash oil is a solvent-based extraction using butane as the solvent. BHO offers a variety of end products with high potency including budder, shatter, wax, sap and more. Generally, the flower or shake is packed in a receptacle tube while butane is added. This strips the cannabinoids from the bud. The material is contained while the gas is released. We also use the word blasting to describe the process. Butane was one of the first solvents used in concentrate extraction and is the common culprit of open-blasting induced explosions. Because of its low burning point butane is extremely volatile, which is why it is unsafe to use outside of a closed-loop system.
CO2 – this process uses temperature and pressure to effectively extract elements of the flower/shake. It requires advanced technology and machines that can experiment with supercritical carbon dioxide methods, which keeps CO2 at high pressures. Extractors can finely control the rate at which cannabinoids and terpenes are extracted. These machines use computer interfaces to calibrate diagnostics and fine tune the desired extraction parameters.
Alcohol – cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis flower, trim or hash dissolve fairly easily in alcohol (specifically isopropyl alcohol or ethanol). This method of extraction is one of the safer options, but requires exact temperature control for optimal results. This process can be completed rather quickly and easily using minimal equipment. It’s created by filling a vessel with cannabis, which is then soaked in isopropyl alcohol and lightly shaken. The longer the mixture is shaken and steeped, the more cannabinoids are extracted—but so are chlorophyll, plant alkaloids and waxes. Depending on the starting material and the quality desired, the cannabis is soaked anywhere from a minute to a few hours, after which the solvent is strained into a dish. The remaining solvent is then evaporated from the extract in a vacuum oven by bringing it to its boiling point (just under 181°F) for several hours to a couple of days to ensure that all of it is removed, leaving behind a powerful oil rich in THC.
Bubble hash – is a non-solvent product made using ice, water, and fine micron bags (often referred to as “bubble bags”) to filter out plant material and other waste. Producing bubble hash is a very safe extraction technique. Ice water is used throughout the process to freeze the trichome gland which makes it easier for them to snap off and sink to the bottom and the plant waste will rise to the surface. Additional sieving and drying is necessary to remove any extra plant matter and for excess water to evaporate.
Six or seven bag operations are considered typical. Most bubble bag sets include 25, 45, 73, 90, 120, 190, and 220 micron bags. The bags are sequentially placed inside an appropriate-sized bucket, with the 220 micron bag placed last in the bucket. In a traditional bubble hash extraction, the 220 micron bag is considered the “work bag” and houses the starting flower material during the extraction process.
How Do You Use Them?
They are much more potent than flower, providing a more economical way to consume cannabis. Because of the high potency, they also allow medical patients to achieve faster relief than flower or edibles. Concentrates are also more efficient than flower, allowing patients to remedy medical ailments efficiently with a quick, large dose of cannabinoids.
There are many ways to consume concentrates. Vaping and oil consumption are by far the most popular. The easiest and most accessible way for new users to consume cannabis extracts is by crumbling them up on top of a pipe bowl or into a joint. This allows you to see if you even like the additional potency offered by these products. The downside: doesn’t allow the user to experience the concentrate itself directly and that much of it ends up wasted as part of the smoking process.
Vaping – convenient “vape pens” range in price from $30 to $300 depending upon features and quality. Rather than being tethered to a power outlet for the entire smoking session, these devices can be charged via USB and taken anywhere, allowing the user complete mobility. Most personal vaporizers of this ilk can accept only solvent-extracted extracts (wax, shatter, oils), but some can also vaporize high-quality water hash and even flowers if they are designed to handle various substances. Vaping allows the user to experience the pure flavor of the extract while avoiding any actual combustion of the material, which generally makes it an easier experience on the lungs and results in less carcinogens and tar than smoking.
Dabbing – arguably most effective way of consuming concentrates is dabbing. The process involves vaporizing extracts on a hot surface (the “nail,” generally made of titanium, quartz or ceramic) and then inhaling them though an “oil rig,” which is a specialized pipe meant for this use.
If you want to learn more about concentrates, feel free to email us at email@example.com or swing by the shop at 1332 Bloor Street West, Toronto.