Cannabis Concentrates 101
It might surprise you just how many products you’ll find cannabis concentrates in, especially if you’ve never heard of them. From medicated creams to vape cartridges, cannabis concentrates are revolutionizing the way we consume cannabis.
More potent, with fewer impurities than natural cannabis flowers, concentrates are produced and consumed in a variety of ways. We’re here to walk you through the diverse and fascinating world of cannabis concentrates.
What Are Cannabis Concentrates?
Concentrates might sound like a fancy new term, but the reality is we’ve been doing it for a long time with other substances. All concentrate means is taking the most desirable part of a substance.
Orange juice concentrate, for example, keeps the taste and smell of the fruit but removes all the peel, pulp, and other grim bits. This is just as true for cannabis concentrates. The leaves and stems are removed, while the effects, flavor, and smells remain.
In more scientific terms, a cannabis concentrate refers to products created by the collection of trichomes. Trichomes are a desirable compound found in tiny, sparkling structures on cannabis plants. They’re one of many cannabis compounds.
All these compounds add up to create the various strains of cannabis and their different smells, tastes, and psychoactive effects. Trichomes are all over the surface of cannabis plants, but especially on the flower buds. They contain all the cannabinoids and terpenes associated with the positive effects of the plant.
As we mentioned in the introduction, cannabis concentrates offer a far more potent and faster high, with a wider variety of consumption methods than the raw plant. The ideal dose varies from product to product depending on consumption method as well as personal tolerance.
One of the biggest benefits of concentrates is the diversity of consumption methods. It allows users to select the method that best suits the experience they’re after.
Difference Between Cannabis Concentrates and Cannabis Extracts
Lots of people confuse cannabis concentrates and cannabis extracts. It’s an easy mistake to make as the two are so closely related. By this we mean, not all concentrates are extracts, but all extracts are concentrates.
Extracts are a particular type of concentrate. It’s the trichome extraction method that is the key here. Liquid solvents wash the trichomes from the plant’s surface.
Whereas concentrates may gather trichomes in a variety of different ways, which we’ll dive into in a minute.
The most common examples of popular cannabis extracts would include CO2-extracted cannabis wax, Rick Simpson Oil, and Butane Hash Oil. These extracts come in different textures which may give different cannabis experiences to one another.
Different Extraction Methods
We’ve mentioned liquid solvent extraction above, but there are other common extraction methods.
Besides liquid solvent extraction, one of the most common methods is physical separation. The trichomes are removed from the cannabis plant via a physical action, such as pressing or shaking.
The most popular physical extraction method is using a rosin press. A rosin press is a clever machine that uses a targeted combination of heat and pressure to squeeze the compounds from the plant material.
Different Types of Cannabis Concentrates
Getting your head around the terminology of cannabis concentrates can be difficult. The names alone can sound straight out of a sci-fi movie a lot of the time. As with all new things though, you’ll get your head around it with time and a little bit of educational help from yours truly.
Believe it or not, the confusing names are actually supposed to be helpful. Manufacturers use keywords and phrases to help customers identify particular characteristics of concentrates. Often in chronological order, the words in the product name usually refer to:
Strain of plant and input material
The strain should be obvious enough. They’re usually well-known strains you’ll recognize if you’ve consumed cannabis previously.
It will also refer to what’s known as the ‘input material’ or starting material. By this we mean the physical plant material, so whether it’s buds, leaves, stems, or so on.
It might seem unimportant, but where the trichomes come from can make a difference to the concentrate. Specifically, in terms of potency and quality. So it’s well worth looking out for to get a quality concentrate.
Processing refers to the method by which the trichomes were collected. As we went over above, there’s a variety of different ways to do this. For example through rosin press or solvents.
Each process will affect the potency of the end product, but it will also change the texture and consistency. Texture isn’t an indication of taste or potency, much of it comes down to individual tastes.
We’ll cover the common textures found on the cannabis concentrates market currently.
Shatter is a brittle, almost glass-like texture. Though it can often have a consistency that is a bit like taffy just before it snaps after being pulled. It’s usually somewhere between amber to yellow in color.
It’s also one of the most versatile textures. We say this because many other textures start out as shatter.
It’s created using a range of solvent extraction methods. Popular methods include CO2, butane hash oil, propane hash oil, and ethanol hash oil to name a few. For the consumption method, shatter is vaporized using a dab rig.
As the name might suggest, the texture of wax is similar to beeswax. It’s extracted using a solvent, most often butane hash oil.
For consumption methods, there’s plenty of options with wax. You can add it to regular cannabis plant material before smoking it for a more potent high. You can consume it on its own by dabbing.
Crumble starts out as shatter. So it’s extracted via solvents as we mentioned above.
Shatter is whipped and then purged in a vacuum oven at a very low temperature. This is to dry the concentrate to create the texture while retaining the cannabinoid potency.
The name is a dead giveaway to the texture here… it crumbles. It’s almost honeycomb-like in its consistency, and not far off in color as it’s generally a matte yellow.
Live resin is a very unique cannabis concentrate and this is all because of the extraction method.
To extract live resin, the fresh plant is frozen. This preserves the flavor, fragrance, and cannabinoids perfectly. It also means that there’s no drying or curing required, which can lead to damage.
This method makes for an excellent concentrate that retains much of the qualities of the raw plant, but with much higher potency. It’s becoming a very popular cannabis concentrate because of this reason.
You can consume live resin by mixing it with your plant material, dabbing, or with a dab pen vaporizer.
Budder is also known as badder. Like crumble, it starts out as shatter, so it’s extracted via solvents.
The shatter extract is taken and whipped under a steady, low temperature. This introduces air molecules which creates a creamy, oilier texture. The texture is somewhat similar to butter, though it will vary depending on how many air molecules are distributed into the extract.
Budder is bright, varying from orange to yellow in coloring. Its texture allows for a variety of consumption methods. For example, you can spread it on blunts or use a dab rig.
If you’re not getting the theme of obvious names here, pretty much all the concentrate texture names hint at the texture. So it will come as no surprise that crystalline is a crystallized concentrate. You’ll most often see THCa and CBD crystalline concentrate.
It’s transparent or semi-transparent and resembles sparkling sugar or salt. The crystals themselves vary in size depending on the extraction method.
There are multiple, similar methods of extraction. A chemical solid is mixed with a liquid to create an initial solution. Impurities are removed here through boiling. The extract is then mixed with a different solvent to form pure crystals of the original chemical solid.
You can dab crystalline or ingest it orally. Be warned though, it’s incredibly potent compared to other concentrates. So even those with a high tolerance should use sparingly, to begin with.
How Do You Use Concentrates?
We’ve talked a lot above about various consumption methods for different concentrates. But we realize if you’re new to concentrates, you may have no clue what we were on about. So we’ll cover the different ways you can use concentrates now.
Many concentrates can simply be added to your regular smoking habits to add some potency. Sprinkle it on a bowl, smear it on a blunt or add it to a joint. There’s no wrong or right way to add cannabis concentrate to your smoke.
You should always start small and increase for the best experience. We’ve said it a million times already, but the potency of some concentrates really is off the charts. So even those with a high tolerance will feel the effects.
Many concentrates, because of their texture, aren’t great for smoking though. Fortunately, there’s a variety of other methods to pick from.
Dabbing has fast become one of the most popular methods to consume cannabis concentrates. All you need is a dab rig.
Dab rigs are similar to a bong in that they filter concentrate vapor through water. The glass pipe connects to a nail or banger, which is in place of the traditional bowl you’d find on a bong.
All you do is heat the nail or banger with a torch, place a dab of your chosen concentrate in it and inhale the vapor. The nail itself is most often made from glass, ceramic, or titanium.
And just like a bong, the effects from the concentrate are much quicker. You also get more control over how much and how quickly you consume.
Vaporizers, or vapes, have been all the rage on the cannabis market for some time now. You can use oil concentrates in them quite easily. Handheld vaporizers are great for on the go as you need way less equipment than a dab rig!
You can also get pre-filled vape pens. By this, we mean a pre-filled cartridge that attaches to a vape pen. The cartridges aren’t refillable, but they are easy enough to come by on the market.
For all the foodies out there, concentrates are great for cooking edibles. What you make will depend entirely on the type of concentrate you’re using.
You’ll need to keep in mind, many concentrates will have kept much of the flavor and aroma of cannabis. Live resin would be a good example of this. This is fine for those that love the taste and smell, but it’s not for everyone.
For those wanting something a little more subtle, it’s often easiest to add concentrates to a high-fat, oil substance for the best results.
Where Can You Buy Cannabis Concentrates?
As with all cannabis laws in America, the legality of cannabis concentrates is complicated thanks to the various contrasts between federal and state laws.
We all know that federally speaking, the use of cannabis over 0.3% in THC content is illegal in the United States. So CBD cannabis concentrates with a less than 0.3% THC content are legal.
We also all know that many states have legalized the medicinal and recreational use of cannabis.
There are 33 states that have legalized the medicinal use of cannabis. In some of these states, you may be able to use cannabis concentrates if these are available in pharmacies or dispensaries in your state.
There are 15 states, plus D.C, that have legalized marijuana recreationally. This said some states have laws banning high strength concentrates, so always make sure to research your state laws before purchasing.
Explore with Origins
We sell a range of high-quality cannabis concentrates. They’re all available to browse on our website, just find the closest dispensary near you and our team would be delighted to help if you’ve got any further questions about concentrates or any other product types.