Today cannabis can be found in many variations from concentrates like weed vapes and capsules, to extracts like budder and shatter.
Marijuana concentrates are products made from the cannabis plant that have been processed to remove the excess parts of the plant and impurities and only keep the most desirable compounds of the plant like the cannabinoids and the terpenes. When compared to natural cannabis flower, concentrates are much more potent and have a greater concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes when compared ounce for ounce.
Cannabis concentrates can be experiences in many ways. These concentrates come in a variety of textures and can be consumed using several different methods. The look and feel of different concentrates doesn’t necessarily determine the level of quality, as tweaking the process even slightly can produce a different look and feel.
The benefit of using cannabis concentrates is the rapid onset time and the ability to produce a high that is more potent that the cannabis flower it comes from. These concentrates have a high bioavailability meaning your body absorbs the THC at a higher rate and the effects that are felt are almost immediate. When concentrates are consumed the effects usually last between 1-3 hours.
Concentrates come in many forms, and this includes the most desirable part of something. For example grape juice concentrate has the smell and taste of the grape but without the excess fluid, peel, or pulp. The same is true for cannabis plants, where the aromas, flavours and other desirable substances can be retained while removing the leaves, stems and other unwanted material.
Cannabis extracts are made from a specific type of concentrate that uses solvents to draw out the desired substances of the cannabis plant.
Marijuana is made up of complex compounds and chemical substances that be used to create a multitude of cannabis products. Each of these compounds can affect the smell, look, flavour, texture, as well as the psychoactive effects of the end product. Trichomes are known to house these compounds. A cannabis concentrate refers to any product that is created by accumulating the trichomes from the plant.
Trichomes look like small frosty crystals that cover the entire surface of the cannabis plant. These trichomes contain all of the cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc) as well as the terpenes which produce the different cannabis cultivars (or strains) their unique aroma and physical effects.
Cannabis concentrates are diverse and are used for a wide variety of products. You can fine tune your experience by knowing the ideal combination of cannabinoids and terpenes that appeals to your taste and that provides the most benefit.
As the saying goes, all extracts are concentrates but not all concentrates are extracts. While the terms are sometimes loosely interchanges, the main difference between concentrates and extracts is the process in which the trichomes are collected.
A majority of extracts are created by using solvents like alcohol, CO2, butane, etc. Using the solvent method is essentially washing the trichomes off the cannabis plant. Concentrates use a solvent-less technique and are produced by applying pressure, or the combination of pressure and heat to remove and gather the trichomes.
All concentrates and extracts start with the cannabis plant material. This includes the flower buds, the leaves and the stems. The cannabinoid and terpene profiles can all be altered by the input levels of the starting materials. Additionally, the quality and grade of the input material can also affect the potency and flavour of its resulting concentrates.
Once the cannabinoids have been removed from the plant material, the resulting solution can take on a variety of forms. These forms come in a variety of textures and consistencies, but these characteristics are not necessarily an indicator of the quality, taste, or the psychoactive effect that it will have on the individual.
Concentrates carry many names like badder, rosin, live resin, shatter, wax and hash and the names directly correspond to a concentrates appearance. Simply put, these terms tell us about the look and feel of the concentrate. For example, a concentrate with the name “Nug Run Blue Dream Shatter” tells us three things:
- The strain of the cannabis is called “Blue Dream”
- “Nug run” tells us that the input material used to make this concentrate was dried flower
- The extract has a shatter like consistency and texture.
Shatter, in colder temperatures, is described as a glass-like and brittle texture. If stored in a warmer climate shatter is known to carry a taffy like consistency. Shatter usually is a golden yellow or amber colour and is made using solvent like CO2, butane or hexane. It is known to be one of the most versatile of textures. Budder and crumble often start out as as shatter. Shatter should be consumed using a dab rig.
Budder tends to be much oilier and softer in texture. The consistency is always compared to butter or even cake batter. Budder is easy to handle and is pretty malleable. The colour tends to always be a yellowish or bright orange. Budders texture comes from agitating the terpene rich shatter to create a more creamy consistency. To achieve this texture technicians whip the shatter at a low and even temperature to introduce and redistribute ai molecules. This process determines the density and texture of the budder.
Rosin appears to be more translucent than any of the other concentrates and resembles oils and shatters. Rosin is created using a solvent-less technique, by applying heat and pressure. In recent years rosin has become a staple for the medical marijuana community largely due to the fast that there are not external solvents used that can interfere with the patients treatment.
Hash has been around the longest and is created by separating the trichomes from the input materials. The separated trichomes are then pressed together to produce hash. Hash tends to have the lowest potency of the concentrates.
There are two types of main extortion methods – physical separation and liquid solvent extraction.
Physical separation is a process where the trichome glands are removed from the cannabis input material like sifting or pressing. When separated using a dry sift method the cannabis is often shaken through a series of screens to ensure only the trichomes make it into the final product. Rosin is created using a combination of heat and pressure to squeeze the desired compounds out of the plant.
Liquid solvent extractions follow the same basic workflow: a liquid solvent is used to separate the trichomes from the input material. The solution is then refined until nothing but the desired compounds remain.
Because these solvents are so volatile proper training and equipment must be used to ensure the safe and optimal results.
Concentrates are safe, but they are very potent. To ensure safe consumption of these cannabis concentrates proper equipment must be used. Proper equipment must also be used to properly activate the concentrated cannabinoids and terpenes. If you plan on consuming cannabis concentrates on a regular basis, you should plan to invest in proper equipment.
Dabbing is the most popular way to consume cannabis concentrates. When dabbing it is recommended that you focus on the temperature setting. A lower temperature will allow you to fully experience the favour of the terpenes. Concentrates like rosin retain a lot of the terpenes during the extraction process, using high heat while dabbing will burn off any of those retained flavours. We recommend investing in an electric nail. This will allow you to set the desired temperature and you can rest assured that you wont burn the rosin or the terpenes. To give you an idea, try not to exceed 155 degrees celsius. Anything above will cause deterioration and burning of the terpene flavours. If you are looking to fully explore the psychoactive potential of your budder, you can heat up your rig all the way up to 315 degrees celsius.
Pre-filled vaporizers are another great alternative to consuming concentrates. The benefit of using a cannabis concentrate vapes is that it is discreet and portable. The most common vape you will find is a pre-filled vape cartridge that attaches to a battery. This cartridge contains a heating element that is excavated when attached to the battery, thus heating the concentrate.Standard vape pens are operated by pressing a button or, in the case of a buttonless pen, simply taking a drag from the mouthpiece of the cartridge. These pre-filled cartridges are disposable and cannot be refilled after use, but be sure to save the battery!
There are also hand held vaporizers available on the market today. These are mainly for the use of cannabis oils. These vaporizers need to be manually refilled with the concentrate before each use. Unlike the dab rig, this method does not require any additional equipment, but gives you the ability to take your high on the go.
Ensure that your cannabis concentrates are properly stored. That means you should have it in an airtight and lightproof container and stored away in a cool place. This will prevent the concentrates from losing its initial consistency, potency, and flavour. Always remember that heat is the concentrates worst enemy. Heat causes the cannabinoids and terpenes to activate, which is only ideal when the shatter is consumed and not when it’s stored. We recommend investing in a silicon storage container. These containers work very well with all types of cannabis concentrates.