A Beginner's Guide to Cannabis Concentrates and their Consumption
A Beginner's Guide to Cannabis Concentrates and their Consumption
The world of cannabis can be a confusing one with its own set of jargon, products, and wonderful things. While you may fail to understand the difference between kief and extracts, or wonder what shatter and crumble is, this cannabis concentrate guide is here to solve all your doubts.
Before we begin, let's understand a few basic things about cannabis. We know that cannabis is a plant, and like so, it has different parts. We are concerned with the cannabinoids and terpenes which essentially lend their "high" ness, flavour.
The Cannabinoid, namely THC and CBD, are our main players which help us run to the finishing line. Scientists have managed to recognize 113 cannabinoids and counting, but we are mostly concerned with THC and CBD. THC is the magic component that gives you calm, intoxicated high while CBD is responsible for the many wonderful benefits.
Terpenes, on the other hand, are a class of organic compounds that lends cannabis strain its flavour and aromas. Moving on, we have another part of the plant to introduce you to- The Trichomes.
Trichomes are white crystalline “fuzz” found on the surface of the plant’s buds. They are where all the cannabinoids and terpenes are found and produced. Known to defend the plant against bugs, insects, and unknown dangers, Trichomes are essentially present in every plant.
You can say that they are the MVP of the cannabis plant!
So far, you know the three main components of a cannabis plant. Let's cut the small talk and dive into what cannabis concentrates are.
What are cannabis concentrates?
Cannabis Concentrates is a more processed version of the cannabis plant where only the desirable components make their way to the end result. Concentrates contain the cannabinoids and terpenes, removing any plant materials like stem, leaves, and other unwanted materials. As we are well equipped with what Trichomes are, Cannabis concentrates definition is that they are essentially an accumulation of trichomes from the plant.
Since they are more processed and concentrated, they have a more potent hit and instant effect when compared to their flower counterpart. This is one of the reasons why cannabis concentrates are a favourite among ardent smokers and cannabis consumers. Moreover, there is not just one way to consume cannabis, you can smoke, turn it into edibles, or sublingually use a cannabis concentrate. We will be looking at this in detail later on in the article.
Now, many people scratch their head understanding the difference between concentrates and extracts. Let's clear that up too!
Difference between concentrates and extracts
Concentrates and Extracts are words that are used interchangeably in the cannabis world. But true aficionados know the underlying difference between the two. So the next time you're smoking with your homies, drop some knowledge bombs at them!
Both concentrates and extracts are extracted from the trichomes, the haven for cannabinoids and terpenes. However, they both differ in the way they are extracted. Extracts are a type of concentrate made using solvents like CO2, alcohol, etc. On the other hand, concentrates may be made with the help of mechanical or physical means to remove and gather trichomes. For eg; Rosin, dry sift and kief.
Before we proceed further with our guide, there are many types of consistencies and textures of concentrates which are then used to curate a name for a specific strain concentrate. Before you get all confused and tangled memorizing the names, let's look at the consistency and texture of different cannabis plants.
Cannabis Concentrates - Textures & Consistency
Each texture and consistency have their own name, which will help you demystify the long names of concentrates and extracts.
Let's get on with it!
Shatter has a hard, glass-like texture with a slight shade of golden. Contrary to popular belief, a transparent shatter does not indicate its purity. These are divided into two type - Sap and Pull-and-sap. If it has soft, fluid flexibility, it is sap. On the other hand, if it is stretchy like toffee, it is called pull-and-sap.
- Budder Or Badder
These are less potent than shatter, though they are made using the same process. They have a soft, buttery, dough-like consistency which makes it easier to spread it out. From light yellow to bright orange colour, they can be used in joints, bongs, or to just simply dab.
Its name gives away its consistency. Also known as a brittle version of budder, crumble concentrates have a shade of plain yellow, as distinguished from the glossy yellow. However, they tend to easily lose their moisture, so store it in a cool, dry, airtight container.
Sugar is a type of concentrate which has a consistency similar to wet, lush sugar. The grains are clumped together, though not very bindingly. The colours may vary from light yellow to deep amber.
The sauce is a more wet and sticky version of sugar. It has a high viscosity along with crystalline structure. The colour of sauce can range from deep amber to bright mustard.
They are usually found as a single, crystallized compound varying in density and size. You can get them as small rocks or in powdered form, as per your preference.
Types of Cannabis Concentrates
There are multiple types of cannabis concentrates, depending on where they originate, what process is used to acquire them, the type of solvent, and much more. To make the matter more clear, let's divide the types of cannabis into Non-solvent based, and solvent-based concentrates.
NOTE: Keep in mind that in the cannabis world, water is not considered a solvent.
Non-solvent based cannabis concentrates:
Kief is simply the easiest and the most common type of cannabis concentrate. They are basically a collection of terpenes which have been separated from the flowers. You may, unintentionally produce Kief whenever your cannabis rubs against any object. To tap on this benefit of Kief, you may want to get yourself an herb grinder with a kief catcher. This way you can sprinkle them on your joint and get seriously baked.
Originated from north India to Europe and Arabian Peninsula, Hashish is the most popular and known form of cannabis concentrate. They are not very different from Kief. In fact, a compressed Kief, with the right amount of heat and pressure results in Hash. They are more preferred as the end result is more potent, and desirable since the unwanted plant materials have been banished away.
A popular form of cannabis in India, where they considered Lord Shiva to be an avid user of it, Charas is usually made into a ball or long, thin sticks.
The only difference between Charas and hash is that charas is made from fresh buds and flowers whereas Hash is made from dried flowers.
You can make them easily with a hand-rolling process, however, when made professionally, it comes out as a beautiful shiny rock.
Bubble Hash is another form of Hash that is gaining popularity all over the world owing to its high level of quality and purity with low levels of unwanted plant material. Water is used in the extraction process of this type of hash, but since water isn't considered a solvent, they are categorized as non-solvent based cannabis concentrates.
Rosin hash is made by extracting the resin from the buds of the cannabis plant. All you have to do is place the buds in a parchment paper, and press the paper with a hair straightener. The resultant is sticky drops of amber-coloured rosin hash.
You can use the remaining bud to make cannabutter.
| Also Read: Cannabis-Infused Butter Recipe: How To Make Cannabutter? |
Solvent-based cannabis concentrates
We already know shatter, crumble, and budder. Let's have a look at the rest of them.
Wax, is a soft, wax-like, amber coloured cannabis extract which is made with a great degree of agitation during the extraction process. Crumble is a form of wax which was allowed to purge longer at a lower heat. Wax is usually used with dabbing, as the consistency is perfect to get a clean hit. Addressing the budder vs wax questions, budder has a buttery consistency whereas wax is more like honey, sticky and dark amber colour.
Live Resin is applauded for its varied medicinal benefits and is also liked by recreational users. Often produced with BHO, live resin uses frozen flowers as a starting material. They are said to be rich in terpenes, resulting in a more flavoursome extract.
BHO, short for Butane Hash oil is a type of extract used to make wax, shatter, crumble and many more. It is not safe to try to make this at home as it involves butane, which is flammable.
Yeah, you guessed it right! PHO is Propane Hash oil, a little cheaper than BHO. Though it also possesses a risk, it is slightly less combustible than BHO. Either way, neither BHO nor PHO is considered safe for your DIY projects.
Co2 is the safest and efficient method of extracting cannabis. It allows separating terpenes and cannabinoids while going through the contaminant-free extraction process that results in high yields. They are very commonly consumed using oil vape pens.
The CO₂ extraction method is expensive and required a functioning laboratory to make it successful. You shouldn't try this at home.
Cannabis Concentrates Consumption Methods:
Cannabis concentrates owe their popularity to the flexibility they allow when it comes to consuming them. Many people like the effect of trichomes but do not want to smoke them while many others like to dab it and enjoy the complete potency of the cannabis. The consumption method largely depends on the tool that you have and the texture of the cannabis concentrate. For example, a powdery form like kief would be better suited with a more stable foundation like flowers, whereas shatter or crumble can be used to smoke using a dab rig.
Let's look at the various ways in which we can consume cannabis concentrate:
In a bowl/joint/pipe
Cannabis Tinctures like kief and hash can be used with ground flowers in your joint, pipe, or bowl. Also known as T-waxing, it involves garnishing your flowers or buds with a powdery form of cannabis concentrate to get that extra hit. Some ardent smokers go an extra way and make "moon rocks" by taking the joint, rolling it in oil, and then covering it with kief.
You can use similar methods to use cannabis concentrate in a chillum or a smoking pipe or while using a bong. If you're an avid user, go for the specialized hash pipes curated in frivolous designs to give you the complete packaged deal!
Dabbing is the most popular way to consume cannabis concentrates and extracts. It is a bong-like apparatus involving a mouthpiece, a nail (made of titanium or quartz), a water chamber, and a torch. The "Dab" or extract is placed on the heated nail, and the clouds of smoke formed are inhaled. Even though it is a popular way of smoking, if you're just beginning with extracts, take it slow as dabbing is quite potent. Start with smaller amounts and work your way through it.
| Also Read: Smoking Dabs: What Is Dabbing & How To Do It |
Vapes are another new paraphernalia in the market that is becoming everyone's favourite. Their portability, easiness to handle, battery life, and size are what attracts the audience, and we are all swept away with how much a tiny device can do.
Two types of vapes are used to smoke cannabis concentrate, namely, Pre-filled vape pen, and a handheld vape pen.
The pre-filled vape pen, as the name suggests, comes with a pre-filled cartridge attached to the battery. You can choose your preferred substance to go in the pre-filled cartridge, but you cannot refill it. Once consumed, you have to go and get a new pre-filled cartridge.
The other type of vapes involves the option of refilling a chamber and allows you to consume any cannabis concentrate. Once consumed, you can just go ahead and refill the cartridge.
This is probably the most fun way to consume cannabis extract and concentrate. The most common way is to bake a brownie or a cookie with a generous amount of kief and let the high take over your senses. You can use the concentrate in your beverages, food, or anything that you like.
Just keep in mind that consuming cannabis through an edible takes its own sweet time to show their effect. If you want an instant hit, smoke em!
These are made by infusing cannabis with alcohol. Tinctures are mostly consumed by people looking to reap benefits from the medicinal properties of the plant because of accurate dosing and discrete methods. But if that's your deal, go for it.
| Also Read: Cannabis Tincture: Everything You Need To Know About Them |
Cannabis Concentrate Extraction Methods:
No matter what type of cannabis extract it is, there are only two methods of separating the desired from the undesired. That being said, these methods may be modified to match to the cannabis extract, but at the root, they are the same.
The trichomes glands are separated from the cannabis plant by physically shaking or pressing until it falls. The cannabis is shaken through a series of the screen designed with varied sizes to ensure only trichomes head make their way to the end product. Similarly, Rosin is created using a targeted combination of heat and pressure to squeeze the desired compounds out of the plant.
Solvent extraction starts with separating the active compounds from the trichome gland using a liquid solvent. It is then further refined to ensure that only the desirable components of the plants remain. Pressure and temperature are accordingly altered, to achieve the optimal result. Depending on the solvent selected, the resulting extract is put into a vacuum oven to ensure complete solvent removal before consumption.
How to store your cannabis concentrates?
This is a very short term way to store your cannabis. You can wrap them in the parchment paper and store in a cool, dry place. However, they are susceptible to moisture and environment and may harden or soften up over time.
Silicone containers are a better alternative than parchment paper but are not suitable for very long-term storage. You can use them for a week or so. Use a parchment paper to wrap your stash and then store it in the container. Make sure to place it in a cool, dry and dark place.
They are the best way to store your cannabis extracts and concentrates. Follow the same process of folding the concentrates in a parchment paper and storing them in the airtight jar. In case of sticky concentrates, you can use a glass jar with a wide rim and store the concentrate directly without the parchment paper.
If you're planning to freeze the concentrate, wrap it in a parchment paper, place it in an airtight plastics storage bag, and then put it in the container. Before using, make sure you completely let it defrost before consuming. On the other hand, make sure to store the alcohol tinctures in the fridge.
You are all geared up to call yourself a master of cannabis concentrates. In case you've some questions or doubts bubbling in your head, feel free to leave them in the comments below, and I'll address them.
Until next time, Ciao.