Cannabis concentrates are rapidly increasing in popularity, and rightfully so. They offer many benefits you won’t find with flower, and can be far more enjoyable. However, concentrates can be intimidating to newcomers. Today, we are going to explain what they are, the different types, and then share how they’re made, and how to consume them. Lastly, we will show you where you can find some of the best concentrate in California.
What Are Concentrates?
Cannabis concentrates are extracted from the cannabis flower, pulling the exact terpene profile and cannabinoid ratio from the strain. It is a concentrated version of flower, and is far more potent and pure. The extraction process eliminates a lot of the plant matter that does more harm than good, and thus some consider it a cleaner form of consumption. We will get into more of the details of concentrates in a minute, but first let’s take you through how concentrates originated.
History of concentrates
While concentrates have recently skyrocketed in popularity, they are not all that new. They have been around since the 1940’s, but there is no telling what that concentrate was like compared to what we make now.
During World War 2, cannabis concentrates were used along with drugs such as LSD to interrogate prisoners up into the 60’s.
In the 1970s, cannabis concentrate was covered in the book Cannabis Alchemy: The Art of Modern Hashmaking. The writer described extracting cannabis concentrate with pure alcohol and activated charcoal, producing a translucent, amber oil. This is where the term “honey oil” was coined.
The extraction process was refined by Michael Starks. In his book Marijuana Chemistry: Genetics Processing and Potency, he experimented with other solvents besides alcohol. He used chloroform, ethanol, petroleum ether, isapropanol, and more. The apparatuses and tools used would vary throughout his experiments as well.
The closed loop extraction system
In the 1990s, the first detailed guide on extracting BHO was released, revolutionizing the cannabis concentrate industry Unbeknownst at the time, this was an open loop extraction system. Open loop systems were incredibly susceptible to fires and explosions, due to the presence of vapors and pressure mingling in an open loop.
This was very dangerous, and accidents caused by open loop systems are part of the reason cannabis concentrates have developed a poor reputation. This fueled the finding of the closed loop system, which refined the process and contained all the flammable solvents, creating a “closed loop” and much safer process.
Budder, a very popular consistency of concentrate, was founded in the mid 2000’s. Around the same time, the dab rig was birthed, which we will cover later on. In 2010, cannabis concentrates made their first appearance at the High Times Cannabis Cup. Since then, extraction processes have evolved in terms of efficiency and quality. Concentrates are becoming more and more pure, with safer and cleaner extracts than ever. Now, cannabis concentrates dominate over 30% of cannabis sales, with this number expected to rise.
The difference between flower and concentrate
While flower and concentrate come from the same place and share many similarities, they are also very different. Some of their differences include potency, appearance/aroma, and consumption methods.
Concentrate is FAR more potent than flower, and this is reflected in the price of concentrate. For premium, lab tested concentrate, you can expect to spend between $30-60 a gram. Compare that to the $10 you pay for a gram of flower!
Distillate, an increasingly popular extract, can reach THC content of 90%, with live resin and other types coming in still high, around 60-80%. For reference, top shelf flower will test between 20-30% THC.
Appearance and aroma
It goes without saying that cannabis concentrates look a little strange to those unaware what they are. The texture differs, along with the look, since one is a bud and one is a concentrate. On top of that, they have different smells. While cannabis concentrates can smell incredible, they don’t have the same pungent aroma that a fresh jar of flower would. They have a more mild, and often sweeter aroma.
The ways you consume cannabis concentrates will differ from the methods you consume flower. Sure, you can top bowls or roll twax joints, but concentrate has its own consumption methods. Whereas flower can be rolled up, put in a bowl, or vaporized, there is really only 1 or 2 ways people consume concentrate. The most common are dabbing or vaping, which we will cover later on.
Types of concentrates
Since the 1940s when we began documenting cannabis concentrates, the industry has evolved. Now, there are so many types of concentrates that newcomers can be overwhelmed by the selection. You can essentially break concentrates into two different groups, based on how they are extracted: solvent based or solventless.
Solvent based extracts
Solvent based extracts use a solvent, such as alcohol, ethanol, or butanee. These used to be unsafe, and were likely impure due to improper purging of residual solvents. Now, there are very strict testing requirements for extractions, and what you find in a licensed dispensary will have been purged of any residual solvents, leaving you with a clean extract. Some of the most popular solvent based extract are BHO, live resin, CO2, and distillate.
Solventless are extracted without using a solvent. These can be extracted a number of ways, through pressure, temperature, agitation, water, or a combination of these. Solvent-less extracts are generally more pure, but tend to be less popular due to the potency potency of solvent based extracts. rosin, dry sift, ice water hash are all very popular.
Consistencies of concentrates
You can also characterize concentrates by the consistencies you find them in. These range from solid to liquid, and soft to hard texture. The most popular consistencies are:
- Pull n snap
How to consume cannabis concentrates
As we briefly mentioned earlier, you generally consume concentrates in one of three ways: topping, dabbing, or vaping.
Topping your bowl with concentrate
Place concentrate in a bowl with flower, and when you heat, it will bubble and spread over the bowl, mixing with your flower and creating a more potent experience. This is not the best method, especially if you are trying to enjoy the purity of your concentrate.
A similar consumption method is smoking moonrocks. Moonrocks are a concoction of flower, concentrate, and kief. These are more of a fun, once and a while thing as opposed to a consistent method of consumption. However, they have recently skyrocketed in popularity.
How to dab
Dabbing is the most popular method of consuming cannabis concentrates. The process involves a dab rig, which is similar to a bong in terms of function and appearance. However, whereas you light a bowl directly with a flame, you will preheat a “nail” on the dab rig with a torch or electric nail (e-nail). This nail is essentially a collection dish for your concentrate.
Another instrument you will need is the dab tool, which is essentially just a way to transfer your concentrate into the nail. Scoop up some concentrate, and heat your nail. Once heated to the ideal temperature (315-450 degrees Fahrenheit for a low temp dab), you will “dab” your concentrate into the nail and inhale like you would a bong.
You can then use a cap to cover the nail, and finish your dab off. This method is not for novice smokers, and if you are taking your first dab you should start slow to get used to the intensity. A good starting point is to take a dab half the size of a grain of rice, or smaller. Remember how much more potent concentrate is than flower.
Concentrate vape pens
An increasingly popular way to consume cannabis concentrate is with vape pens, which are filled with distillate or live resin sauce. These disposable vape cartridges are discreet, and are almost indistinguishable from an e-cig. They don’t put off much odor, and are very convenient for on the go.
Not only are they an active tokers best friend, they are strong as well. These can reach ranges of 80-90% THC content, and pack a serious punch. At the same time, they are incredibly flavorful, and smooth. The ability to take small puffs through the day makes these a viable option for microdosing.
Are cannabis concentrates safe?
The general thought is, concentrates are a more pure form of marijuana, and thus omit many of the harmful chemicals you ingest when smoking plant matter. The consumption method is thought to be “healthier” as well, eliminating butane and combustion from the equation.
It is important to consider your concentrate first. Remember that this is just a concentrated version of the flower, and if this contains pesticides or diseases, you will be ingesting a more concentrated form of those pesticides or diseases. Very bad. If you are in a state that has laws, you can feel safe buying from a licensed store.
Short term studies have shown that concentrates are healthier on our lungs and bodies in general, but long term research is lacking altogether. Here are a few more tips to consume concentrate safely:
- Source high quality concentrate
- Exercise extreme caution when using a dab rig
- Do not extract from your own home
- Store your concentrate properly
- Mind your dosage
Where can I find premium cannabis concentrate?
Here at Elyon Cannabis, we produce high quality sauce and cartridges sourced from premium organic flower. If you are in California, inquire about our products at your favorite dispensary. Or, check out the map on our site and find the closest Elyon retailer near you! Here are some of the concentrates we produce:
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