The cannabis concentrates market is booming, and for good reason. These products are stronger, more potent, and easier to dose than traditional flower or edibles. But what are they exactly? What do they look like? And how can you use them? We’ll answer these questions and more.

What are cannabis concentrates and extracts?

large piece of cannabis wax on a yellow background close-up, resin dab on scrape stick.Cannabis concentrates are, as their name suggests, concentrated forms of the plant that usually take on a liquid form. They’re extracted from the cannabis flower, or bud, and typically have a higher THC content than regular leafy marijuana.

The purpose of extracting concentrates is to preserve the cannabinoids and terpenes, which give the concentrate its potency, flavor, and smell.

By removing the chemical compounds from plant material, we create a smaller quantity of gooey substances, which we call marijuana concentrates. These have high THC levels in comparison to other cannabis products; typically 50-90% THC as opposed to 10-25%.

What are cannabinoids and terpenes?

Cannabinoids are the most abundant chemical compounds in cannabis concentrates. THC is the cannabinoid that gives users the euphoric experience associated with marijuana use. CBD is a cannabinoid that many people use for its calming and restorative properties.

Terpenes provide concentrates with unique flavors, aroma, and effects. By themselves, terpenes can produce psychoactive reactions stronger than THC alone.

How do concentrates differ from other types of products from the cannabis plant?

Macro detail of cannabis concentrate live resin (extracted from medical marijuana) with a dabbing toolOther cannabis products typically pale in comparison to concentrate forms because of their increased potency, variety of available options, and the fact that smoking is not required.

The latter is the most significant difference for many people – the lack of smoke allows them to get high anywhere at any time without putting their lungs at risk from harmful chemicals.

This is especially helpful for medical marijuana patients who might have conditions that don’t allow them to smoke or who simply don’t want to engage in the smoking lifestyle.

golden drops of cannabis wax macro closeup.Why are concentrates so popular?

For years, people have used concentrated cannabis extracts to cook and bake “edibles.” However, recently these extracts have become more popular as a standalone consumption method because they are so accessible and convenient.

One of the reasons for the popularity of concentrated forms of cannabis is the expansion in legalized marijuana across various states in America. If cannabis were illegal, the refining and development of extraction processes would not have been possible.

The many types of cannabis extract product

There are two types of extraction methods: Solvent-based and solventless. Here’s what each one produces.

Solvent-Based Extraction

The process of solvent-based extraction uses hydrocarbons or solvents to pull out cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant. Examples of solvent-based extracts are:

  • A piece of cannabis oil concentrate aka shatter isolated against white backgroundLive resin – By using frozen plant matter, we are able to draw out the cannabis and preserve the terpenes in a manner that is similar to living plants. The extract usually has a shiny or glossy appearance and ranges in color from golden to amber.
  • WAX – Wax has a soft, gooey consistency and is very sticky to the touch. These amber-colored and toned textures come in varying consistencies, from hard or soft blobs of concentrate oil to buttery ribbons of extract.
  • Oil – Even though it is typically derived from CO2 extraction, its texture is more like honey. Furthermore, terpenes (which create smells like oranges and lemon ices) help preserve the purity of flavor and aroma. Oils are most often used in vape cartridges and disposable vaporizers.
  • Shatter – This type of concentrate can sometimes be amber in color. It is made by extracting BHO hydrocarbons and tends to be hard and sticky like candy. Many experts believe that shatter is the purest form of cannabis concentrate.

Solventless extracts

Solventless extracts are made without any chemical substances. The process of extraction is done with heat, filtration, and/or pressure. The most frequent types are:

  • Budder – Also referred to as batter, badder, or cake batter – this is a hash oil that’s been altered with heat to give it its unique texture. The creamy consistency makes it ideal for dabbing.
  • Rosin – By applying heat and pressure to the cannabis flower, this extraction process creates a deep yellow product similar in color to honey. The consistency is thick, and much of the plant’s flavor profile is preserved.

Cannabis concentrate can be consumed in various ways

The most popular way people consume cannabis concentrates is by vaping. Vaping not only gets rid of the harmful chemicals and carcinogens found in marijuana smoke, it also allows users to better control how much THC they’re consuming.

Vaping is not a proper method of concentrate consumption among those who are familiar with concentrates. Dabbing is much more popular among these knowledgeable people.

Dabbing is the process of heating concentrates in a quartz or titanium tube and inhaling the vapor that is released.

To dab, you need an oil rig or electric nail. An oil rig is similar to a bong, but it has special attachments for concentrates instead of flowers. Electric nails operate similarly to the downstem in a bong too but use electricity rather than fire to heat the materials.

A third, popular vaping choice is a direct-draw vaporizer. This has attachments for cannabis concentrates on top of an e-cigarette battery and typically comes with various mouthpieces. With this type of device, the user has control over the temperature to heat the product.

Tips for using cannabis concentrates responsibly

The following tips might be helpful if you are new to the world of concentrates:

Start with a low concentrate dose, gradually increasing the amount you use until you find a level that is both enjoyable and comfortable.

Try different methods until you find one that works for you. You have many options, as mentioned before.

Not sure what you need? No problem! The experts at Helping Hands Cannabis Boulder Dispensary are more than happy to help.

1021 Pearl St.
Boulder, CO 80302
Open 10am – 8pm, daily

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