What are cannabis concentrates? Broadly speaking, a concentrate is anything that is made up of compounds extracted from marijuana, usually either THC or CBD.
There are many different methods of extraction and each one results in a different product. The starting material can also influence what specific product is produced. Concentrates are appealing to those who are looking for a stronger effect or high. It is also desirable for those who are looking for efficiency with their consumption, as a little bit of concentration can go a long way. While there is some high science behind the different process, all concentrates have one thing in common: they are more powerful than "ordinary" marijuana. This guide will focus on explaining the different types of cannabis concentrates and some of the ways that they are more commonly used.
One of the concentrates that cannabis users are likely to have come across in the past is kief. Kief is one of the most basic types of cannabis concentrates. It's made of the dried resin glands, or trichomes. Trichome crystals are where THC, CBD, and different terpenes are produced and stored. Kief is light green to golden to brownish in color and appears as a sandy or very fine grain powder. While not everyone has smoked kief by itself or dusted a bowl with it, anyone who has ever used any kind of marijuana has imbibed kief, as it can be found naturally on the marijuana plant and flower.
Kief is usually harvested from grinders, many of which have a special compartment designed solely to collect it. It is frequently used as a topper for a bowl, adding an extra little kick to the buzz. Kief can also be collected and then pressed into a solid, hash-like tablet for easier storage, transport, and use. Some might argue that kief is not a concentrate in the strictest sense because it has not had any process applied to it, but pure kief is extracted from buds, and is the basis for a great number of more highly processed concentrates.
Hash is possibly the oldest cannabis concentrate in human history. Hash consists of kief and oils from the marijuana plant that have been condensed into a tight, dense substance. It is the one type of processed concentrate that can be made without chemical solvents or complicated machinery or technology. There is some ambiguity in the word hash, and it can be a byword for almost any type of concentrate. The oldest type of hash, and one still popular in India and the Caribbean islands, is called finger hash. This is obtained by vigorously rubbing plant material between the hands until a layer of kief and oils has built up enough to be scrapped off. This material is then added to a ball, from which pieces can be broken off for consumption.
Another method for making hash involves dropping quantities of bud and plant material into super cold ice water. This shocks the trichomes and causes them to fall off of the plant. The trichomes are then filtered out of the water and dried out. The result is known as ice hash or bubble hash.
Hash is notable for the number of different ways that it can be consumed as well as the types and varieties it comes in. Hash can be added to a bowl or rolled into a cigarette, done with heated knives, as well as any way that pot is traditionally consumed.
Oils are produced by applying solvents to hash, kief, or plant material to extract the THC. The solvents are then evaporated off and the remaining substance is a concentrated, thick, sticky oil with an exceptionally high THC content. There are several different types of oil, and several different methods of extracting oil. As medical and recreational weed have gained more acceptance there has been more research and investment into different ways to extract oil. In fact, this process has become so thoroughly involved that oils have their own category at the Cannabis Cup. In the strictest technical sense, the rest of the products on this list are different types of oils. However oils can differ based on the plant material, extraction process, and purging processed used in its production. These different qualities have taken on their own names and are gaining widespread acknowledgement as distinct products.
Oils are frequently sold in syringes to be used in vaporizers. There is also a growing market for disposable cartridges of oil that can be attached to the same sort of battery commonly used for nicotine vaping. Oils can also be used in edibles or smeared on cigarette or joint papers to give you an extra kick.
Budder has shockingly little to do with famous chef Paula Dean... Budder is obtained when air is whipped into oil during the final stages of the extraction process. The product looks very similar to its namesake, butter, and is gooey and sticky. It has a much different look from other oils because of its preparation process, which causes the molecules of the product to crystalize. As a result the product is opaque rather than having the transparent sheen of oils. Many people who prefer budder feel that the consistency and texture of it, as well as the airy nature, make it easier to handle in certain applications, like dabbing, than runnier or more firm oils.
Budder can be used the same way that you would use oils. There has been some debate regarding the most efficient or best use. A great many people recommend knife hits, but there are also specially designed devices meant to be used for budder specifically. Moreover, it can also be dripped on to a bowl or layered between ground buds in a pipe. Almost everyone recommends not letting the budder directly touch fire, as the high heat burns off some THC and can be very wasteful.
Shatter is a type of oil that dries into a hard, semi-transparent to transparent substance that looks like honey or amber. It has also said to resemble glass, and can break into pieces if dropped, thus the name shatter. Shatter is translucent because its molecules were not disturbed during the purging process, where solvents are removed from the final product. This lack of agitation means the molecules do not crystalize and so form into sweet, wonderful shatter.
There are a number of myths regarding what makes good and bad shatter, with many arguing that translucency is the best indicator of quality. Science has refuted this, however, which is why you should rely on testing to determine what is actually in your concentrate. Many shatters can reach 80% THC concentration or more, compared with around 30% for the strongest strains of marijuana. As a result, these substances can be quite powerful, so make sure you've got snacks and a full Netflix queue before trying them!
Wax is a concentrate that is formed by agitating oil but to a lesser extent than budder. It is thick and gloopy, and, unlike actual wax, is very sticky. It is opaque and can range in color from vivid green to brown to golden. Wax is frequently used as a bowl topper by those who are looking for a more powerful effect. Be careful when handling wax though, as it is so sticky that it is easy to get some on your hands and to spread it all over your clothes and house. Wax can also be incorporated into edibles and used any way that you might use oil or budder.
One of the most popular methods of consuming wax is a method known as dabbing. Dabbing involves heating a glass pin or nail with a torch and then applying the wax to it with a device hooked up to a pipe or bong. The heat vaporizes the wax, the vapors are then cooled and inhaled, producing an incredibly powerful high. Wax is generally preferred to shatter for dabbing because its more amorphous form makes it easier to get ready for use.
As you can see, there are a tremendous number of different cannabis concentrate products made from extracting THC or CBD from marijuana. The number of these materials continues to grow as new extraction methods are discovered, refined, and perfected. For example there are now companies using heat and pressure to extract oil, so that there is no residual solvent left in the final product. Still others have created a method using CO2. There is no way to tell what the future will hold when it comes to new and better extraction and purging processes. More people find relief and enjoyment in cannabis and in particular its concentrated forms.
No matter which cannabis concentrate you choose, you can be sure that it will be much more powerful than marijuana plant material. Use responsibly!