What Are Cannabis Concentrates?

June 1, 2021

What Are Cannabis Concentrates? 

Cannabis concentrates are products created by distilling down the most desirable parts of the cannabis plant. They retain all of the cannabinoids and terpenes that produce a strain’s scents, taste, and effects. 

These compounds are held in the plant’s trichomes — the tiny, sparkly structures that coat the surface of quality cannabis flower. Concentrates are processed to condense the trichomes and discard excess plant material. 

 

What Are the Benefits of Cannabis Concentrates? 

 

Concentrates offer variety

Cannabis concentrates come in many forms and textures. They can also be consumed using different methods and tools. Concentrates can complement and boost other cannabis products or be used on their own. 

Concentrates are more potent

Due to the high concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes, concentrates deliver a stronger experience from less product. This is true whether you have a THC-dominant or CBD-dominant strain, or anything in between. 

Concentrates are refined

Using a high-quality concentrate ensures you’ll have a pure product. The essential ingredients of the cannabis strain are separated from the plant matter, producing a clean, smooth inhale. 

 

How Are Cannabis Concentrates Made? 

Concentrates are made either with or without the addition of solvents. This determines the method used to extract the vital compounds from the cannabis buds. 

Some methods of extraction remove everything except for one cannabinoid (like THC or CBD). Other techniques leave the full spectrum of compounds in the end product. 

 

Solvent-based extraction

Solvent-based extraction methods are more commonly used for large volumes on a commercial scale. The steps are usually: 

  1. A liquid solvent, such as ethanol, butane, carbon dioxide, or propane is used to separate the cannabinoids and terpenes from the trichome gland of the cannabis plant. 
  2. The solution is refined again and again until the substance contains only the desired active compounds. 
  3. Extractors often use closed-loop extraction systems. These allow them to control temperature, pressure, and other elements for optimal results while staying safe. 
  4. The concentrate is then purged to evaporate any remaining traces of solvent before it’s packaged for sale. This meticulous system ensures all legal concentrates are safe to consume. 

Here are the most common types of solvent-based extraction: 

 

Hydrocarbon extracts

Often referred to as butane hash oil, or BHO, hydrocarbon extracts are made using pressurized chemical solvents such as butane or propane. The solvent is added to fresh, frozen, or cured flower to preserve the unique profile of compounds exceptionally well. 

Hydrocarbon extracts are often made into shatter, crumble, budder, wax, sauce, or live resin — terms used to describe different textures of concentrate. A THC-rich hydrocarbon extract will contain, on average, between 70% and 90% cannabinoids in total. 

 

CO2 oil

Carbon dioxide (CO2) extracts apply the solvent under extreme pressure and temperature to break away the compounds from the cannabis plant.

CO2 is non-combustible and renowned for being safe. CO2 extracts are usually sold in vape cartridges or applicators used to refill cartridges. However, the same substance can also be made into wax, shatter, crumble, or budder. 

 

Solventless extraction

Some concentrates are made without the use of chemical solvents. These solventless extractions are not to be confused with “solvent-free,” the term used to describe a concentrate that has been distilled until no solvent remains. 

Solventless extractions are created using mechanical or physical means such as shaking, pressing, filtering, or heating. The precious trichomes are manually removed from the cannabis plant. 

Solventless extraction methods can be more time-consuming and labor-intensive than solvent-based extractions, but some enthusiasts prefer this unadulterated and handmade approach to concentrates. Solventless extraction is also easier to perform at home, as the tools are easy to obtain for personal use and you don’t need a closed-loop extraction system. 

These are the most popular products made through solventless extraction: 

 

Dry sift

When an extractor uses a series of finely woven screens to separate the trichomes from the flower, they collect what’s known as dry sift. The technician agitates the flower over the surface of the fine mesh and only the smallest particles make it through. 

Kief is simply an unrefined version of dry sift, where the same trichome dust is collected by just shaking the flower or collecting what’s in the chamber of your grinder. 

 

Ice water hash

Another way of extracting concentrate without solvents is by agitating cannabis buds in ice water and filtering them through a series of fine mesh bags. This is often done using specially-made washing machines. 

What makes it through the filters is collected and dried. It’s then pressed into a brick or ball, producing a concentrate called ice water hash or bubble hash. Most “hash” is made using this method. 

 

Rosin

To create “live” rosin, extractors expose parts of the cannabis plant to high heat and pressure. This pushes out the resinous sap from the buds, separating the trichomes from the rest of the plant. 

Rosin can easily be made at home while taking safety precautions. Simply use a heat source, such as an iron, and some parchment paper to collect the rosin on. 

 

How Do People Use Concentrates? 

While they’re incredibly versatile, here are the most common ways to use concentrates: 

 

Dabbing

Using a dab rig involves gently heating a nail with a torch then applying the concentrate directly to the hot nail, releasing a potent vapor for inhaling. Concentrates can also be vaporized using beginner-friendly e-nails. Shatter, wax and rosin are the most common concentrates used for dabbing. 

 

Smoking

Another popular way to use concentrates is by combining them with flower. Sprinkling dry sift to a bong bowl will increase the intensity of your experience. Adding a line of hash to the length of your joint, or wrapping wax around the outside, will also provide extra flavor. 

 

Vaporizer Cartridges

Pre-filled, all-in-one vape pens have gained popularity, as they provide the user an easy, safe, and discreet way to replicate the effects of a dab rig. The concentrate in most vape pens can be released by simply pressing a button and inhaling the vapor. 

 

Dab Pens

Dab pens bridge the gap between dab rigs and vape pens. You manually fill the chamber of a dab pen with your own choice of concentrate. You then attach the chamber to a battery, meaning you can vape your concentrates anywhere without the hassle of having to carefully heat them with an open flame. 

 

Finding Concentrates in Michigan

The legal recreational weed market in Detroit offers a huge selection of concentrates to buy. With dispensaries in Battle Creek, Hamtramck, and Berkley, you can easily order online or drop into one of our Quality Roots stores today.