Popularity and demand for concentrates have increased dramatically with the legalization of marijuana in several states. This exponential growth in consumer interest has refined concentrate extraction methods to innovative heights, which is why so many new and exciting forms of concentrates are emerging. Concentrates are a great option for seasoned cannabis consumers looking to increase the intensity of their high, as well as flavor connoisseurs seeking to taste the most exquisite terpene profiles. Medical marijuana patients in need of relief also turn to concentrates for a direct, economical and fast-acting solution to their ailments.
What is a Concentrate?
Concentrated cannabis has been used to treat various symptoms and ailments for quite some time. The first known uses of concentrated cannabis can be dated back to 10,000 B.C. in the Steppe Mountains of China. Most concentrates today are produced using modern technologies and extraction methods that are much more potent than just the cannabis flower used alone.
Concentrates are organized into two categories: solvent based and solventless. Solvent based cannabis concentrates call for a solvent, such as CO2, butane or alcohol, in order to extract the THC and other valuable cannabinoids and terpenes. If a concentrate utilizes a solvent to be created it can also be referred to as an extract. Other concentrates require no solvent and these are referred to solventless concentrates.
While different types of cannabis concentrates might seem to run together, they are each quite distinctive. There are numerous types of concentrates and extracts and new ones being developed all the time. According to HighTimes.com, ColoradoCannabisTours.com and PotGuide.com, kief, hash, rosin, tinctures, oils, shatter, wax, distillate and crystalline are the most commonly consumed concentrates and are discussed in detail below.
Kief is the simplest and most traditional type of concentrate available because anyone can extract their own kief. To collect kief, use a three-chamber grinder to finely chop cannabis flower for a joint or to pack a bowl. The screen in the bottom level will collect the trichomes after each grinding but it may take a few weeks to get a decent amount to consume.
Kief is very fine in texture and often takes on a light brown or tan coloring and mimics the flavor of the flower it came from. It can be used on top of a bowl or consumed on its own. This form of cannabis is more potent because the majority of cannabinoids and terpenes are found in trichomes.
Arabic for grass, “Hashish,” or “Hash,” is the product created when marijuana flowers are filtered through a screen, also known as “dry sifting,” and processed with heat and pressure. Dry sifting is a process used to separate the resin glands, called trichomes, from other plant matter. The extracted trichomes, with a powdery appearance, are commonly known as kief. Most take the process a step further and add heat and compression to the kief to form blocks of hashish. There are different types of hash like finger hash and bubble hash and most hash is highly potent.
For the longest time, kief and hash were the only forms of THC concentrate that did not require solvents for extraction. Then, rosin came along and is debatably the easiest and safest way to make dabbable concentrates at home with a hair straightener or t-shirt press.
Rosin is a sticky substance created when heat and compression meet a bud of cannabis flower. Rosin is made by using the entire cannabis bud, unlike hash which is made by using the trichomes only.
Tinctures are made using decarboxylated cannabis and are placed in a jar with a high proof alcohol like Everclear. The mixture is then stored for several weeks, strained and consumed. It remains a liquid, but will be green in color and is spiked with all the good stuff that has been leached out of the plant into the alcohol.
There are several different types of cannabis oils but the most commonly consumed oils are CO2 extracted oil, BHO extracted oil and Rick Simpson Oil. The consistency of CO2 oils tends to be less thick than other forms of cannabis concentrates. As a result, most CO2 oil is loaded into vape pens for easy use on the go. BHO extracted oil, or Butane Hash Oil, is one of the most common forms of concentrated THC oil. BHO is known for both high terpene and cannabinoid contents. Rick Simpson Oil is a very popular and highly potent decarboxylated concentrate extract that is consumed orally. This particular form is often used for medicinal purposes, as made famous by Rick Simpson who cured (or at least controlled) his cancer with this popular oil.
Shatter is a solid substance, which resembles a honey-colored glass shard. When shatter is tapped with a dab tool, it breaks into pieces or “shatters.” Shatter is one of the most recognized concentrates, is easy to manipulate and is far less messy than other varieties of concentrates or extracts. Shatter ranges in color from light to dark amber and is high with terpene content, resulting in superior aroma and flavor.
As the name suggests, wax concentrates resemble the texture of candle wax. Wax concentrates are made by blasting plant material with a solvent using a closed-loop extraction system. Then the material is heated at low temperatures and whipped vigorously to remove all residual solvent. Wax is generally drier and more crumbly than its counterpart budder.
Distillates are newer concentrate products that are a refined, or distilled, version of a cannabis extract. After extraction, the distillate is run through a purification process several times. This process is repeated over and over again to create pure cannabinoids without residual solvents or plant matter. The result is a liquid, clarified distillate, much like honey in color and consistency. Cannabis distillates typically come pre-filled in THC cartridges or in syringes for easy dosing.
Crystalline is a solid extract that has been through many processes and filters during production to destroy plant matter remaining within the extract while preserving THC and removing any leftover solvents. The remnants are clear crystals that contain 99 percent THC.
As you can see, THC can be concentrated into several different forms because there are many extraction methods. The best THC concentrate for you will depend on what you are looking for. If you want the highest THC percentage, distillates are your best bet. If you are not into smoking or inhaling cannabis, you are better off with tinctures. Fans of terpenes will want to try high-quality BHO or CO2 extracts. If you are into high terpenes and cannabinoids without the solvents, rosin is the way to go.