Cannabis concentrates are an incredible way to extract medicinal compounds from cannabis plant material. Once separated, these concentrates can be used for various things such as smoking, cooking and tinctures. Read below for more information on the basics of cannabis concentrates on helping you decide whether they are right for you.
Cannabis Concentrates in Canada
When we talk about “concentrates,” what we really mean is cannabinoid concentration or the amount of THC and other cannabinoids present in the plant material used to make them.
Some examples of cannabis concentrates are shatter, wax, butter, crumble, honeycomb and oils. Hash (or hashish) is the original concentrate, but it is solventless. Another popular type of concentrates is BHO, also known as Butane Hash Oil.
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In the past, CBD has been in a separate class of cannabis concentrates. To change the CBD-focused market, producers made some small changes to the current cannabinoid definition. The recent classification change has allowed more THC-based products to be labelled as “concentrates” where THC and CBD content is over 0.3%. These types of products will be called “CBD concentrates” or “THC-rich tinctures.”
Technically speaking, “concentrates” can also include any process that increases cannabinoid concentration in the material. Concentration includes “fractioning” cannabinoid-rich plant material to isolate cannabinoids like THC and CBD as well as concentrating them via distillation. With concentrates, it is not just about how much THC or other cannabinoids are present – it is also about the quality of the experience.
Concentrates are superior to flowers because they deliver more intense flavour and better effects when compared to flower consumption.
The general range of cannabinoid concentrations for most concentrates ranges from 20% to 90%.
Cannabis users enjoy using concentrates because they are an extremely efficient, effective and versatile way of medicating. Since concentrates contain such high amounts of THC and other cannabinoids, they have the ability to deliver a more powerful experience than cannabis flowers. These strong effects can be very beneficial for medicinal patients who require super-strong doses or patients who suffer from appetite loss, along with a wide variety of other uses.
The Importance of Terpenes
Along with cannabinoids like THC and CBD, many forms of cannabis concentrates also contain terpenes which are aromatic molecules found in raw cannabis. This includes tasty treats like hash oil and the essential oils found in concentrates like shatter and honeycomb wax.
It is important to note that different terpene profiles lend themselves to different medical applications. For example, strains high in caryophyllene, humulene and pinene tend to have potent sedative effects while other terpenes found in cannabis such as limonene and myrcene work synergistically with THC and CBD to create a balanced “entourage effect.”
- The following methods consume cannabis concentrates;
- Smoking them (smoking)
- Inhaling the cannabis’ vapour (vaping)
- Dabbing Concentrates; a form of vaporization that involves using a hot nail to apply high temperatures directly onto the cannabis flower or concentrate.
- Tinctures (infusing alcohol with cannabinoids, then drinking it or using it topically)
- Cooking with the concentrate (cannabutter, canna-oil)
- Using a sublingual spray.
How are Cannabis concentrates made?
There are a few different ways you can make cannabis concentrates. The method you will want to choose will depend on how much time and patience you have and the quality of the product you are looking for.
First, we will go over the basic methods of making cannabis concentrates.
Cannabis seeds and/or plant material is soaked in a solvent like beer or grain alcohol for anywhere between 12 hours to 2 weeks. Afterwards, it is filtered out and decarboxylated (decarbing). This decarbing process often takes place in an oven for 12-48 hours at 120-200 degrees Fahrenheit. Once decarbed, the cannabis material is pressed or filtered out of the liquid. Sometimes this process is done twice, and after both runs, the material is pressed together for hash oil.
The solvent used to soak your cannabis material may be water, alcohol or a combination of both. The most common way to make concentrates like honeycomb wax and BHO (Butane Hash Oil) is by soaking it in butane (or other solvents like propane) and then purging off the solvent via pressure or vacuum. This process is hazardous if done improperly! There are many stories of people getting hurt or even killed by improperly venting their butane-filled glassware while making BHO.
There are many other methods of making cannabis concentrates, such as ethanol extraction, carbon dioxide extraction, submersion in alcohol, etc. Thus, there are endless ways to make cannabis concentrates with varying degrees of risk.
You should research the methods you intend to use before attempting them. If you have never made any marijuana concentrate before, it is strongly recommended that you always start small by using a method called “dry sift” or “pre-drying,” which will require you to filter out any plant material or seeds left behind in the solvent once the extractions have been completed.