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Concentrates are among the most popular formats in the cannabis hyper world, as they are extremely potent, tasty, and entertaining. In the minds of many cannabis enthusiasts, they have become the quintessential marijuana product.
The different textures and consumption methods of concentrates, however, can quickly make the world of concentrates confusing. Whether you’re a newcomer or regular consumer, you may hear of hash or wax, two forms of cannabis concentrate extracted through different methods.
While we can extract many components of cannabis, the most common/popular cannabis compounds are cannabinoids such as THC and CBD. Concentrates contain high cannabinoids (THC) concentrations and are more potent than smoked cannabis flowers.
Concentrates containing high doses of THC are ideal for people who need a fast-acting treatment to manage their pain. Concentrated marijuana extracted from cannabis has been popular for many years, but recently, the name has gained more fame; why? Read on to find out.
Constituents of the Cannabis Plant
Cannabis plants (particularly the flowers) are covered with tiny, mushroom-shaped hairs called trichomes. These small, hair-like outgrowths grow around the budding flower and produce cannabinoids.
A cannabis bud appears to be covered in a blanket of crystals to the naked eye. These mushroom-like trichomes provide a defence mechanism for the plant. Trichomes are glands that produce an oil-based resin protecting the plant from potential harmful agents like ultraviolet (U.V.) rays, molds, and insects.
These resinous glands produce cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, giving each strain its characteristic scent and effect profile. The basis of all concentrates is the trichomes of cannabis.
After different trichomes are collected, the resulting substances are called cannabis concentrates (or extracts). These extracts can contain very high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychotropic component in marijuana.
Marijuana extracts contain higher levels of cannabinoids than those found naturally in the marijuana plant itself. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that can potentially affect your brain and body when consumed.
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)– which closely competes with cannabidiol (CBD)– is perhaps the most prevalent cannabinoid with euphoric and intoxicating properties. CBD is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid suggested to have some therapeutic benefit, but more research is required to confirm its potential medical utility.
THC is the cannabinoid that induces psychotropic experiences and mild hallucinations. Terpenes are the chemical compounds that primarily make up the aroma and flavour profile of the cannabis strain.
What Are Cannabis Concentrates
A cannabis concentrate, also known as marijuana concentrate or cannabis extract or marijuana extract, is the substance that remains after a cannabis plant has gone through an extraction process.
This procedure removes unwanted plant matter while preserving the cannabinoids and terpenes. The process essentially concentrates the plant material into an often sticky substance.
Cannabis extracts can vary significantly in their THC and CBD contents. Some extracts contain 99% THC, while others may contain CBD with low THC content. Unlike some blog articles, which naively use “cannabis concentrates” and “CBD concentrates” interchangeably, we distinguish them here.
Marijuana concentrates are high-THC extracts obtained from the hemp plant: Sativa, Indica, or hybrid. Their THC content is on average 50-90%. For this reason, marijuana extracts are much more potent than conventional buds, whose THC content is 10-25%.
What Do Concentrates Look Like
Marijuana concentrates usually appear as a sticky, translucent, golden substance. The exact texture of extracts can vary from a waxy semi-solid substance to a brittle slab. Most of the time, different forms of concentrated marijuana bear their names based on their textures.
In other words, marijuana concentrates are sometimes named for their appearance or consistency. Therefore, the terms “wax,” “shatter,” and “honeycomb” already give specific information about what these extracts may look like or feel like.
Production of Cannabis Concentrates
Extracts are made using a process that extracts the THC content of cannabis. The extraction process removes the intense THC and aromatic terpenes from the flower. As a result, the plant material is concentrated into a waxy substance (light yellow) called concentrates.
The extraction method is aimed at– aside from changing the consistency– maintaining the desirable constituents of cannabis that play a significant role in the potency, flavour, and aroma. These components that we insatiably crave are cannabinoids and terpenes.
Different Types of Cannabis Concentrates
Concentrate producers use various techniques, some of which have one thing in common: solvent is used in the extraction process. Butane and CO2 are two commonly used solvents resulting in some of the highest quality extracts.
Don’t feel intimidated by these solvents. All commercial manufacturers purge the solvent from their finished extracts.
Depending on how they are produced, extracts fall into two categories: those extracted with a solvent and those made without a solvent (solventless). Depending on the extraction process, marijuana concentrates have varying amounts of cannabinoids (THC and CBD particularly), terpenes, and textures (consistencies).
Kief: Kief, also called Sift, is considered the essential substance and consists of trichome crystals that are physically removed and accumulated from the plant material. This powder-like substance is extracted from cannabis flowers.
When the dried flowers are sieved through mesh screens and the trichomes are collected at the bottom, kief is produced. Kief usually contains a much lower THC dose compared to other extracts. However, it is much easier to process and an excellent option for adding joints or smoking out bowls.
You can easily use the resulting fine powder in a vaporizer, add it to joints, or sprinkle it over bowls. Currently, kief (or sift) is more challenging to come by due to lower profit margins and potency compared to solvent-based extracts. You can easily collect the kief of your ground herb at home with a filtered weed grinder.
Hash: Hash, or hashish, is a thick little brick collected from trichomes; it is centuries old. Hash is one of the oldest concentrates globally and comes in many forms. Hash can also be produced in bubble hash, which is very similar to kief but still keeps its flavour and texture.
The colour of hash varies from light golden, yellow-red, brown, green, or black. Hash can be produced in various ways, leading to a wide range of potency and quality. Kief can be compressed to produce the simplest hash concentrate: small green “pucks.”
Hash also comes in a form referred to as finger hash. When cannabis leaves and buds are handled, resin forms on the fingertips called finger hash. Since the resinous trichomes can dissolve in water, the higher-quality hash is produced with ice water and filtered through micron screens to collect the material.
Different sieves screen the material, from the largest to the smallest. This option allows for the production of hash with superior qualities such as bubble and full-melt hash. The former bubbles up when you smoke it, while the latter contains only the trichome heads and dissolves completely when smoked.
Rosin: Rosin is a solventless extract, like kief and hash. Cannabis is pressed together with heat and pressure to extract a rosin resin.
You can easily make this concentrate with a hair straightener and parchment paper. However, most marketable rosins are made with a mechanical or hydraulic press to apply tremendous pressure.
Charas: This cannabis concentrates in various hashish made by slowly hand-rolling the cannabis flowers and part of the plant stem. In India, the god Shiva is known for his fondness for cannabis, and people who worship him smoke charas as part of their religious practice.
In Nepal, a famous Nepalese hash has attracted the special attention of many people who would travel to Nepal to try this concentrate.
There’s a great variety of concentrates extracted by solvents. In the following, we’ll review butane hash oil (BHO) and only compile the names of the others.
Butane Hash Oil (BHO):
Butane hash oil (BHO), also referred to as hydrocarbon extracts, uses butane, as the name implies, as a chemical solvent. This concentrate is extracted by forcing butane through the plant’s flowers.
Then, the solvent butane is purged from the trichomes by heating, resulting in the crystallization of a wax substance. The solvent butane allows for a closed-loop process that repeatedly extracts the essential components from the marijuana plant.
In addition, hydrocarbon extracts are widely used among experts because they allow for better preservation of the original cannabinoids and terpenes than other harsher methods that could ruin the plant’s chemical composition. Butane hash oil extracts can vary significantly in potency.
Other Solvent-Based Extracts: Other marijuana extracts include:
Propane Hash Oil (PHO)
Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)
How to Use Cannabis Concentrates
Heat the extract, inhale it with a dab rig, or infuse it in a pre-roll or flower. As mentioned earlier, solvents are entirely removed from the final extracts if the preparation process i
s done correctly.
So, you won’t be inhaling butane or CO2, but you’ll be inhaling high levels of cannabinoids and terpenes. Marijuana concentrates are consumed similarly to flowers; special tools are needed.
Marijuana concentrates are THC-rich marijuana products that can be dabbed on, vaporized, or eaten. Let’s take a closer look at these consumption methods:
Dabbing, or more colloquially “doing dabs,” is a new way of vaping concentrates that needs a unique water pipe called a “dab rig,” a torch, a heating element (nail), and a dab tool. Dabs are small extracts vaped with a vaporizer, a dab rig, or smoked via a pipe.
One of the most sought-after dabs methods is using a dab rig. In simple words, dab rigs are glass water pipes designed specifically for consuming concentrates. They’re very similar to bongs, but instead of a bowl for holding the buds, dab rigs have a nail, sometimes called a banger, on which the dabs are placed. Heat the nail with the butane torch for 30-60 seconds before adding the dab.
When the dab reaches the hot nail, it is vaporized and inhaled through the rig’s mouthpiece. Dabbing rigs usually produce very dense, flavorful vapour and are a good choice for those who don’t mind spending a little extra time enjoying higher-quality smoke. Dabbing marijuana concentrates is not recommended for those who have no prior experience with cannabis.
Dab Pens, Vaping, & Other Methods
Another common way to consume concentrates is to use dab pens (also called wax pens). These pen-shaped, handheld vaporizers are made exclusively for marijuana concentrates.
You may consider them as portable dabbing devices that can fire off a dab in a matter of seconds. Although portable dab pens are much easier to use, many believe these devices produce less aromatic and smooth vapour than dabbing rigs.
Consumers can also vape out extracts with many traditional vaporizers, but it’s crucial to ensure that they are suitable for extracts. Consuming extracts in vapes designed solely for vaping dried flowers would damage the device and possibly cause the pen to break.
Last but not least, you can also smoke extracts with the help of some devices like bongs, pipes, or even joints. Adding extracts is a clever way to spike the potency of your joint and give it an extra kick.
However, you must put the extracts on a bed of flowers beforehand. Otherwise, you could suck the dab right through the stem (or bowl) and perhaps end up with oily residue in your mouth, and it’s the last thing you want.
The following is a compilation of the FAQS about marijuana concentrates.
What Are Potential Risks & Side Effects of Concentrates?
In recent years, marijuana concentrates have gained prominence as an alternative to marijuana in its natural form. People who carelessly ingest marijuana in this form may be unaware of the potential risks (dangers) of consuming such a high dose. In addition, marijuana concentrates can produce disturbing and intense side effects in some users.
In the case of concentrate-infused edibles– e.g., gummies, brownies, chocolate bars, and so on– the effects don’t kick in until about 45 minutes after ingestion, as the body must first absorb the active ingredients (THC) through digestion. Some consumers may dare to take even more than the recommended amount in disbelief of the drug. The user’s ignorance can thus lead to dizziness, palpitations, and paranoia.
The side effects of cannabis concentrate can range from harmless to highly severe. Since these extracts contain a high concentration of THC and other active ingredients produced in marijuana plants, the amount required to feel/cause side effects can be negligible.
Where Can I Get My Concentrates
Concentrates come in many consistencies and textures, and they are sold by every dispensary and have many brands. Some marijuana extracts (such as wax and shatter) are made with chemical solvents and complex lab equipment.
As the extraction process typically involves using solvents, some residual solvents may still be present in the final cannabis product. There is also evidence of health problems caused by new chemical formulations, especially when the extracts are heated at high temperatures.
Marijuana concentrates offered by licensed retailers are strictly regulated and tested to assess quality: e.g., pesticides and residual solvents. Marijuana concentrates from illegal producers are not inspected at all, so you don’t know how much residual solvent or other potentially hazardous chemicals might be found in the extracts they make using amateur production techniques.
Moreover, the production of marijuana extracts can be a dangerous procedure. We strongly recommend you play it safe and buy your extracts from a licensed retailer in your area.
How Can I Judge the Potency?
Make sure you read the labels carefully. There are various marijuana concentrates that differ in their THC content and method of consumption, as mentioned
earlier. You’ll have an unforgettable experience if you:
Use a concentrate with a higher THC dose than you are used to
Use a method of consumption that is unsuitable for a particular concentrate.
Read the label and pay close attention to the concentrations of THC and CBD in the extract. For newcomers to marijuana extracts, it is necessary to read up on the different forms of cannabis extracts or ask a friend or a relative who knows about them; this way, you can determine which type is better.
A person’s reaction to cannabis can be very different and vary from time to time.
How to Best Consume Concentrates
If you are new to extracts, do not do dabs. Dabbing is a complicated and risky way to vape marijuana concentrates that’s not recommended for inexperienced individuals.
If you want to dab, you should know how to set up a dab rig properly, heat the nail, how much dab to put on the nail, and how to inhale the vapours. You need to know how to clean the dab rig.
Also, the effects of dabbing can come on quickly and be more intense than smoking cannabis flowers. If you want to dab, you should start with extracts with lower THC content. It would be best if you dabbed with a trusted friend or family member familiar enough with the method the first few times.
How Quickly Do Concentrates’ Effects Kick In
Marijuana concentrates can contain high amounts of THC, i.e., up to 99%. Simply put, high percentage extracts can quickly result in severe intoxication. They can also increase the risk of over-intoxication, with symptoms such as severe anxiety, vomiting, nausea, and paranoia (symptoms of psychosis).
If you vape, take a puff and wait at least five minutes to see what happens before taking the next one. When you dab, try a small amount– the size of a grain of rice– and wait at least 10 minutes before dabbing again. If you’re a newcomer, avoid potent marijuana concentrates.
If you’re using concentrate-infused edibles (or capsules), start with less than 2.5 mg of THC and wait more than four hours before taking more. If you have taken too much THC and don’t feel well, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Are Cannabis Concentrates Addictive
Daily (or near-daily) consumption of high-potency marijuana concentrates – like wax, budder, and shatter – can increase your tolerance to THC. This increased tolerance means that less potent cannabis products will not have as much effect on you.
It takes more cannabis to achieve the same high as extracts. Using potent concentrate products can also cause dependence, which means frequent cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Gradually, you may become addicted to cannabis – also called cannabis use disorder (CUD).
However, you can reduce the associated risks by using less potent cannabis products or consuming smaller amounts of extracts and less frequently. Limit the use of high-THC cannabis products.
How Can I Properly Store Cannabis Concentrates?
Marijuana extracts are sensitive to heat and can decompose relatively quickly. Therefore, you should store them with caution. There are different marijuana concentrates and methods to preserve them. It is vital that you ensure that they are appropriately labelled, stored in childproof containers and resealed after use, and protected from direct sunlight and heat.
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