DIFFERENT TYPES OF CONCENTRATES
Welcome to our complete guide to Cannabis concentrates. Cannabis concentrates are products that contain a higher concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes than raw flowers. Originating from ancient China and India, concentrates have been very popular for thousands of years. The technology for making concentrates has recently taken a big step forward, and these substances are currently experiencing a cultural renaissance. Learn all about the purest form of Cannabis concentrates, such as different types of concentrates, making, and consumption processes.
Principles of Concentrates
To better understand the types of concentrate, we must have some basic notions about the psychoactive elements of Cannabis since concentrates separate them from the rest of the plant.
Cannabinoids are chemical composites that act on the endocannabinoid system of the body and the human brain. Scientists have managed to isolate 113 different cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. The most significant cannabinoids are THC, the dominant force responsible for the famous Cannabis oil, and CBD, which is highly responsible for many of the health benefits of marijuana. Its cannabinoid composition largely determines the profile of a given cannabis plant.
Terpenes are organic compounds that are found naturally in insects and plants. They produce a strong odor, which probably helps protect plants by driving off herbivores and attracting predators from herbivores. More than 120 terpenes have been found in Cannabis. These terpenes give the different varieties of Cannabis their characteristic flavor and enhance their psychoactive and medicinal effects. That’s why an ideal concentrated form should isolate and preserve the cannabinoids and terpenes of a plant.
Trichomes produce cannabinoids and terpenes of the cannabis plant. These are that white, crystalline “fluff” found on the surface of the plant’s buds. They are also what makes Cannabis concentrates sticky to the touch. The word “trichome” comes from Greek and means “hair growth.” In Cannabis, trichomes appear to play a defensive role, helping the plant to protect itself from the elements and insects. Trichomes appear crystalline, but when handled, they release resin and become sticky. They are most abundant in the calyx of the cannabis plant.
Cannabis plants have two different types of trichomes: glandular and non-glandular. The Glandular trichomes mainly produce cannabinoids and terpenes. They are subdivided into three types: bulbous, sessile capitate, and pedunculate capitate. Bulbous trichomes are the smallest. The flower is 10-30 microns in size and spread across the plant’s entire surface. Sessile capitate trichomes are next in size, although a microscope is still required to view them; They are generally found on the underside of sugar leaves and are fan-shaped. The pedunculated capitate trichomes are the ones that interest us the most. They are very abundant in cannabis flowers. With a size of between 50 and 100 micrometers, you can easily see them with the naked eye.
Different Types of Concentrates: (with solvent or without solvent)
The main difference between concentrates is whether they are extracts or not. Hash is an example of a popular concentrate that is not an extract. The extracts are concentrates that use a solvent to separate the desired product from the cannabis plant. The extracts are subdivided according to the solvent used and the consistency of the final product. Some popular extracts are budder, wax, and shatter.
Concentrated cannabis constitutes a broad category of various products. Its preparation and sometimes ingestion will depend on the type of concentrate you choose. The first decision you will have to make is whether you will opt for a concentrate made with or without a solvent.
Major Types of Cannabis Concentrates (Solventless)
Solvent-free concentrates are precisely what their name says: concentrates produced without the use of solvents, solely by heat and pressure. In other words, they are not excerpts. A slightly puzzling detail is that in the world of cannabis concentrates, unlike in chemistry class, water is not considered a solvent. Therefore, concentrates in which water is used are not considered cannabis extracts.
The simplest type of solventless extract is kief. Kief is the accumulation of trichomes separated from the cannabis flower. Trichomes detach very quickly, so kief can be produced by chance when the flower rubs against the side of any container that is used to store or handle it. To take the benefits of this process, you may want to purchase a kief grinder with a container to waste any shed trichomes.
Kief can also be intentionally harvested by gently shaking the cannabis flowers over a fine sieve and then scraping the kief. Before doing this, it is advisable to put the flowers in the freezer for a few hours to loosen the trichomes. If you can afford it, a rotating drum pollinator is an easy way to automate this process.
You can also get kief using the blender method:
- Put the cannabis flowers in the bowl of a blender and cover them with water and ice.
- Mix properly and let it sit for half an hour.
- Through a silk filter, pour the mixture into a glass jar.
In this way, You will separate the water and kief from the rest of the plant material. At this point, strain the water through a coffee filter to separate the kief. Once this is done, drain the filter, spread the kief well, and let it dry.
The hashish is kief that has been compressed, which further increases their density and, therefore, the trichomes’ power. Hash oil extraction is a classic and highly prized concentration around the world. It is still the most popular way of consuming Cannabis in Europe because, in North America, they still prefer to smoke flowers.
An effortless way to make a hash is with the shoe method. Wrap the kief tightly in cellophane and put it in a plastic bag. The bag should be airtight and free of air bubbles. Put it on the heel of the shoe and walk on it. The heat and pressure will do the job in about 15 minutes, but you may want to leave it on longer to get more focus.
Another technique is to use a pollen press to convert the kief into ice water hash. This technique only requires a bit of force and allows you to make your hash tablets cheaply.
The charas is a form of concentrate, which is like hashish. The main difference is that it is made from fresh cuttings, whereas hashish is made from dried flowers.
Charas is very popular in the Indian subcontinent and is usually sold in balls or rods. It is smoked with a chillum, a kind of pipe that is very typical among Hindu monks. The charas is revered by numerous Hindu sects who consider Shiva, the supreme god, and the dried flower one of their attributes. When done by professional hands, the charas can be smooth and shiny, resembling a glass marble.
The charas is obtained manually. First, wash your hands with fragrance-free soap. Next, grab some fresh buds of your favorite variety and slowly massage them between your fingers. You will need to exert enough pressure to extract the resin but without losing it. Once you’ve cleaned the buds, set them aside and keep rubbing your hands together until the resin forms a ball or stick. That is the charas.
- Bubble Hash
One excellent method that is gaining popularity is the one used to make “bubble hash.” This technique uses water in the concentration process, but since it is not considered a solvent, the bubble hash is not a raw extract.
To make bubble hash, you must place the cannabis flowers in a bucket full of water and ice, shake them, and strain them through various filters. You can also make this ice water hash with a washing machine. Here you will find more detailed instructions. This form of concentrate is prized for its high quality and purity, and low potential for contamination.
The term “bubble” from the “bubble hash” refers to a widely used indicator to measure different forms of hashish. Good quality hashish is supposed to melt and bubble when smoked, indicating that it is composed of pure trichomes. If hashish burns when exposed to heat, it is a sign that it contains plant material without trichomes.
- Rosin Hash
The rosin hash is quickly becoming another favorite. In this case, the resin is extracted directly from the raw flowers. It is said that a product very similar to BHO is obtained, but It need not use the controversial butane.
To make rosin, you will need a hair straightener and parchment paper. Wrap the bud in the parchment paper and turn on the plates. When they reach 160ºC, place the bud inside and squeeze. You should use oven mitts or a towel to protect your hands. After a few seconds, drop the plates and open the parchment paper. Be aware that high temperatures and higher pressure will cause terpenes and cannabinoids to vaporize. In this case, you can use vaporizer cartridges. Unwrap the parchment paper, and you will see that its interior is lined with sticky drops of amber rosin hash. If you have difficulty separating it from the paper, put it in the freezer for a few hours, and it will come off quickly. You can use the rest of the bud to make a cannabutter.
Types of Concentrates with Solvents
Before entering the world of concentrates made with solvents, we must know what a solvent is. You may remember from your chemistry classes that a solvent is a liquid that dissolves a solid, producing a liquid solution. In the world of Cannabis, the most common types of solvents are alcohol, butane, propane, and CO₂. As already mentioned, water is not considered a solvent. Solvent-based concentrates are called extracts, although they are also known as butane hash oils.
Cannabis extracts are usually classified according to their consistency (wax, shatter, budder), but this is not linked to specific hydrocarbon extractions. A similar extraction method with the same starting material can produce several different consistencies, depending on how the final product dries and condenses. As we will see, the extraction method and starting material are more important in determining the extract’s quality and character.
As its name suggests ( smash ), shatter has a hard, glass-like consistency. It is usually transparent, but contrary to popular belief, this transparency is not an indicator of its purity. The shatter with a soft, almost runny consistency is called sap, and the one that stretches like a chewy candy is called pull-and-snap.
To shatter, follow one of the extraction processes above and avoid any unnecessary movement to preserve the extract’s glassy appearance.
Wax is a solvent-based extraction in which all soft and opaque extracts are grouped. The key difference between wax and shatter often has very little to do with its composition and a lot to do with how the extract has been agitated during the extraction process. A higher degree of agitation will result in a more uneven molecular density throughout the extract, preventing light from passing through.
Follow one of the solvent-based extraction methods above to make wax, but shake or shake the extract at some point during production. See the sections on honeycomb and budder for more detailed instructions.
The crumble or honeycomb is a subtype of wax with a brittle and brittle texture. Like shatter and sap, these waxes’ hardness varies depending on humidity, temperature, and terpene content.
To crumble, follow the wax-making instructions but allow it to purge longer at a lower temperature. It will conserve more terpenes, leading to a better flavor.
Budder is a wax with a creamy, buttery texture. It is considered an ideal extract for newbies because it is easier to consume and tolerant than shatter.
Budder can be made from shatter by whisking it on a hot plate. The budder’s trick is to gently but vigorously beat it over a long time while still warm.
Keep in mind that concentrate on consistency is more of an art than a science, and it may take several batches to get the consistency you’re looking for. Even if it is not a perfect consistency, the concentrate will be just as powerful and will work just as well.
- Live Resin
Live resin is an avant-garde extraction method with exciting advantages for consumers for recreational and therapeutic purposes. This resin is produced with one of the extraction methods described above, often BHO, but with cryogenic flowers as the starting material. It results in a much richer terpenoid profile and a more humid end product. This higher concentration of terpenes not only results in a deeper flavor it also translates into a greater variety of health benefits.
The drawback of live resin is that it requires sophisticated laboratory equipment to carry out freezing and liquid nitrogen stored at -196 ° C. It excludes home production of live resin. Given the extra complications of the extraction process, live resin is often more expensive than other extracts. That said, if the consumption of a concentrate rich in terpenes is a priority for you, you will not find anything better.
PHO is similar to BHO, but it is made with propane, “Propane Hash Oil” (propane oil). Making PHO also has a risk of combustion, but the risk of contamination in PHO is lower than in BHO. PHO is usually cheaper than BHO.
- CO₂ Oil
If you’ve ever used a pen vaporizer, you’ve probably consumed CO₂ oil. Carbon dioxide oil is taking the world of industrial hash oil production by storm: it has many advantages over other extraction methods, such as a contaminant-free extraction process, high productivity, and most importantly, the opportunity to separate cannabinoids. And different terpenes during the extraction process. CO₂ extraction uses supercritical CO₂ calibrated at different temperatures and pressures to isolate the exact combination of cannabinoids and terpenes that the extractor is looking for.
What are the drawbacks? The main drawback of CO₂ extraction is that it requires costly machinery and a lot of laboratory experience, which means that this extraction method is out of most homebrews’ reach.
For more detailed information, see our section below on CO₂ extraction.
Making Process of Different Types of Concentrates with Solvents
There are several methods to extract more than 100 cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds of Cannabis. Using various chemical solvents such as butane, CO₂, propane, or alcohol, concentrates of various strengths and purities can be obtained. Most of these methods require some specific knowledge and laboratory equipment. Highly flammable solvent-based extracts, such as butane or alcohol, can lead to dangerous situations that require certain safety measures. Here we discuss the most common extraction methods.
- BUTANE EXTRACTION
BHO is one of the most popular extraction methods due to its great versatility and power. With it, you can prepare shatter, wax, budder, and honeycomb. BHO is mighty and can reach concentrations of up to 90%.
Chemical solvents like BHO is made by putting active compound like cannabis flowers in a container with some kind of mesh or filter at one end, through which the buds cannot pass. Butane is then introduced into the container, which passes through the mesh, carrying cannabinoids and terpenes. Butane is an apolar hydrocarbon, so it is ideal for picking up apolar cannabinoids and terpenes, leaving behind polar molecules such as chlorophyll. After filtration, the solution is placed in a vacuum oven to allow the butane to evaporate through a process known as purging.
A negative aspect of BHO is the possibility of butane traces remaining in the final product. We don’t know how dangerous it will be to breathe in butane gas, but two additives used to dilute it, neopentane and hexane, are known to be carcinogens. Generally, professionally mined BHO has a shallow residual butane level.
Inhaling vegetable cuticle wax is another danger of BHO. All plants are covered in a thin layer of cuticle wax, which, for example, makes peppers look shiny. This wax safely burns when marijuana is smoked, but scientists believe it forms deposits called granulomas in the user’s lungs when BHO is vaporized. Some BHO manufacturers remove this wax through processes such as dewaxing or winterizing. The dangers of granulomas are largely unknown. That said, many scientists believe that the high temperatures used in dabbing are enough to kill this wax before it reaches the lungs.
Another danger of BHO is its methods of extraction. As your Bic lighter demonstrates, butane is highly flammable, and some homemade BHO makers have blown up their kitchens. BHO extraction is a dangerous process best left to the experts.
The last danger of BHO is its potency. After consuming this concentrated cannabis extract, some people experience an effect similar to that of LSD. Others have hallucinations or are scared. With BHO, it is advisable to start with a low dose and increase it.
The downsides of BHO are largely outweighed when sourced from a respected professional. We discourage you from trying this extraction method at home, although its benefits may outweigh the risks if you find a high-quality BHO.
- ALCOHOL EXTRACTIONS
In alcohol extractions, the cannabis flower is immersed in alcohol, which filters out cannabinoids and terpenes. The main difficulty with these solvent-based extractions is that the alcohol molecules are polar, which can cause them to dissolve water-soluble molecules such as chlorophyll. The chlorophyll will make the extract taste grassy, which is a major drawback for many dabbers.
There are steps to avoid this. First, decide whether to use isopropyl alcohol or ethanol for the extraction. We recommend ethanol because it is not toxic and has no contaminants.
To reduce the risk of plant material dissolving and increase the availability of desired molecules, decarboxylate the herb before starting (but do not grind it). You can do this by placing the marijuana in an ovenproof container and heating it to 106-120 ° C for 30-60 minutes. Then put the ethanol and the bud, separately, in the freezer. Extraction with alcohol at low temperatures increases the chances of extracting terpenes and cannabinoids rather than chlorophyll and other plant materials.
When the material has reached a temperature of -17ºC, take it out of the freezer. After that, cover the herb with 5-8cm of ethanol. Stir carefully to make sure all surfaces are well covered. Let it sit for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, then strain the plant material, leaving only the alcohol. It is important not to let the cannabis flowers soak for too long, as this will cause the unwanted plant material to dissolve in the ethanol. Dry the remains of plant material and use it in another extraction or to make cannabutter.
The time has come to purge the ethanol. Do this with professional filters, with the help of 25-40 micron mesh, or with a simple coffee filter. Put the filtered material in a Pyrex tray and cover it with a bit of water. Heat the tray to 158-176ºF and allow the solvent to bubble. When the larger bubbles disappear, filter them again and repeat the entire process. But this time, wait until the tiny bubbles stop coming out. You may want to repeat the whole process a third time. When you have filtered the water from the last extraction, you will have your extract ready.
As you may have gleaned from the instructions, this process can be done safely at home. But remember that ethanol is a highly flammable liquid that must be stored in an airtight container and handled with care. It’s an art to create extracts with alcohol, and you have to time it accurately. It may take some extra trials before you get it right.
- CO₂ EXTRACTION
CO₂ extraction is a new technology that is fast becoming one of the most popular methods for the commercial production of cannabis extracts—extraction with CO₂ results in a clean and quality product without any BHO and PHO contamination risks. This type of concentrate also kills any mold or bacteria from the raw material.
CO₂ extraction requires expensive tools and laboratory training and is unlikely to be carried out at home. The common form of CO₂ extraction is called supercritical extraction. It involves manipulating the CO₂ so that it enters a supercritical state where it has the characteristics of a liquid and a gas at the same time. Subcritical CO₂ extraction occurs when the CO₂ stays below 31 ° C and remains in liquid form. Some producers claim that this temperature profile helps preserve terpenes.
Supercritical CO2 extraction is used in many industries. For example, to decaffeinate coffee and isolate essential oils for perfume making. CO₂ has some beneficial properties that make it excellent as a solvent for making cannabis extracts: it is very plenty in nature, it is one of the safest apolar compounds, it goes into a supercritical state without exceeding 32 ° C, so it preserves the cannabinoid profile of Cannabis, and its solubility changes with pressure, allowing a wide variety of desirable molecules to be extracted from the plant.
During the cannabis extraction process, the gaseous CO₂ is pressurized and cooled in a chamber at -57 ° C to turn it into a liquid. When overheated, with proper pressure control, it enters a supercritical state. Once it reaches this state, it is pumped through the smoking flower, opening its trichomes and capturing their valuable content. The only solution is then pumped into a third chamber, where it is subjected to various temperatures and pressures to fractionate the various cannabinoids and terpenes into their different solubilities. Finally, CO₂ is pumped into a fourth chamber, where it is returned to its gaseous state and recycled in a process called “closed-loop extraction.”
The main disadvantage of supercritical CO₂ extraction is that this closed-loop extraction system can destroy terpenes apart from its cost and professional nature. Some manufacturers carry out subcritical and supercritical CO₂ extractions. It supposedly conserves terpenes while maintaining the supercritical process’s same power and efficiency.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FLOWERS AND CANNABIS CONCENTRATES
As we have already mentioned, the flower or bud of Cannabis is the plant’s raw plant material. The concentrates are the trichomes separated and condensed with heat, pressure, and, sometimes, a solvent.
One of the main differences between cannabis flowers and concentrates is their potency. Concentrates are always going to win in this regard since they only contain psychoactive compounds. A high-grade shatter or rosin can range from 50% to 75% THC. Likewise, CBD extracts can be almost pure CBD or a mixture of CBD and THC. Thanks to concentrates, recreational consumers can get a ton of high with a single dab or a single inhalation of their vaporizer.
The concentrate production process often destroys the most delicate cannabinoids and terpenes. Therefore, the cannabis flower tends to have a richer aromatic profile. The extraction techniques are the ones that best preserve the full cannabinoid and terpenoid profiles. Rosin also tends to preserve flavor well.
HOW CONCENTRATES ARE STORED
As with raw flowers, you must store your concentrates properly to preserve their quality. How you store concentrates will be determined by how long you want to keep them.
- PARCHMENT PAPER
An excellent short-term storage option is simply wrapping the concentrate in parchment paper and putting it in a cool, dry, dark place. Although it is not airtight, this system works quite well, so your concentrates may lose moisture and harden over time.
If you see that the remains of your concentrate have stuck to the parchment paper, put them in the freezer for 2 or 3 hours until they come off.
- SILICONE CONTAINER
A silicone container is ideal for storing any concentration that you will consume in less than a week. You just have to place the concentrate wrapped in parchment paper inside the silicone container. With this type of short-term storage, it is also important that you keep your concentrates in a cool, dark place.
- GLASS CONTAINER
Glass containers are great for any situation where you need to store a concentrate for more than a week. Take the concentrate wrapped in parchment paper, as before, and store it in an airtight glass jar. Put the jar in a dry, cool, & dark place. It will allow you to preserve the moisture, consistency, and composition of the concentrate.
If the concentrate is too sticky to wrap in the parchment paper, get a wide-rimmed glass jar and store the concentrate directly in it.
Some people might consider freezing their concentrates. Not a bad idea if you want to store your concentrate for the long term, but it could damage the moisture level and quality. If you decide to freeze the concentrate, wrap it in parchment paper, and put it in an airtight plastic bag and a glass jar. Thaw it entirely before consuming it. Alcohol-based tinctures should be refrigerated.
HOW CANNABIS CONCENTRATES ARE CONSUMED
The moment of truth has come: it is time to consume the concentrated products. As you will see, there are many ways to consume concentrates as there are ways to consume cannabis flowers and probably many more. Let’s start with the most common consumption method: with a bong or a pipe.
- BOWL / PIPE / JOINT
Many consumers like to add hash balls, extracts, or kief to their joints. It is sometimes called “twaxing.” Some people smoke concentrates with a bong, with or without bud. Others make “moonrocks” by soaking a cannabis bud in oil and coating it with kief. You should not crush these moon rocks. They break into small pieces that are smoked.
You can also smoke the forms of concentrates with a special concentrate pipe or “hash pipe.” Despite their name, these water pipes are also used with solventless extracts like BHO. With a hash pipe, you need is a filter and a lighter.
Although they are similar to traditional pipes, hash pipes are usually a bit more heat resistant, as they must reach higher temperatures to vaporize concentrates. They can be made of various materials, like wood, metal, glass, acrylic, or soapstone.
Traditional hashish pipes from the Middle East and India are often carved with elaborate motifs. Due to their low price, hash pipes are a good compromise between twaxing and dabbing, allowing you to enjoy the flavors and effects of active compounds without the added cost and hassle of using a vaporizer or rig. for dabs.
Cannabis tinctures are alcohol infused with marijuana concentrate. Tinctures are very popular for medicinal cannabis use because they are discreet and allow for exact dosing. They contribute to medical efficiency. They lose in fun, sociability, and flavor, so they are not for everyone.
To make a tincture, decarboxylate the herb, wrap it in cheesecloth, and put it in a jar with your preferred alcohol. Let it sit for several weeks, shaking from time to time. When it’s done, remove the cheesecloth and cannabis flowers and enjoy your tincture.
If you already have your tincture, you will need an amber glass dropper bottle. Tinctures can be consumed in many ways: adding them to food or placing a few drops under the tongue. This area contains important blood vessels under a thin layer of skin, and by exposing them to cannabinoids and terpenes, immediate action is achieved.
In addition to dabbing, vaping, and smoking, cannabis concentrates can be used to make edibles. To do this, heat the concentrate with butter or coconut oil and use the resulting mixture to prepare your favorite dish.
Remember that less solid concentrates, like budder or wax, mix better with fat and are more evenly distributed in food. Adding a concentrate to your food is a great way to add a special touch to your favorite dishes. The lower side is that you won’t enjoy the aromatic profile of the concentrate.
Although concentrate lovers might look at you strangely when you mix your BHO with butter, using cannabis extracts to make edibles is very common. But remember to pay special attention to the doses since the extracts are much more potent than the flowers.
Another method is to sprinkle kief in your tea or coffee. The kief is so fine that the drink’s heat will release all the cannabinoids you need—an excellent way to put something extra to your drink every morning.
Another popular way of consuming cannabis products is vaporization, which involves heating a substance (be it flowers or concentrate) to a temperature where its compounds begin to boil and “vaporize.” In this way, the consumer avoids combustion that exposes his body to harmful chemicals.
Traditionally, vaporizers were large tabletop devices that had to be constantly plugged into a power source while in use. Although these vaporizers are still available, they are rapidly being replaced by portable “pen vaporizers.” These devices are typically charged via a USB port and offer a discreet way to enjoy concentrates.
When they appeared on the market, vaporizers were very expensive. But thanks to new technologies, many portable models are now quite affordable. Initially, portable vaporizers could only be used with solvent-extracted concentrates such as BHO and CO₂, but today many models can be used with various concentrates, including bubble hash.
One of the most popular types of concentrates is Dabbing. It’s consists of placing cannabis concentrate on a hot surface where it is vaporized and then inhaled. Dabbing produces a strong and fast effect, although varying temperatures can control the quality and intensity.
Dabbing is done with a dab rig. This rig should have some necessary elements: first, a glass or metal nail, heated and applied to the concentrate. You also need a way to heat the nail. You can achieve this with a torch lighter or by purchasing an electronic nail, which heats up automatically.
Also, you need a hookah. The glass “bowl,” which would have contained several types of cannabis flowers in a previous life, is replaced by a dabbing accessory. This accessory includes a dome. There are also “domeless” rigs, and they have a piece that combines the functions of the dome and the nail.
Lastly, a dabber is needed. A glass, ceramic, or metal tool is used to collect concentrate.
Heat the nail with the torch or electronically. Grab some concentrate with the dabber and hold the dabber inside the dome on the concentrate side. Apply the hot clove to the concentrate. You can see a white vapor cloud coming out of the concentrate and collecting inside the dome if you do it right. Inhale and enjoy the dab.
The world of concentrates is giant and can be confusing. Still, it’s also exciting – it’s a unique rule of thumb to experience the ingredients in Cannabis, combining ancient history with modern gadgets. As with any activity, it is always worth staying informed. We hope this guide helps you move in that direction.