The dynamic legal cannabis industry has generated renewed interest in how weed is consumed among both recreational and medical users. The days of being limited to only one option to consume marijuana by smoking a joint, pipe, or bong are long gone.
Cannabis concentrates have completely changed the market landscape as new products are consistently being added to the mix. From concentrates used for dabbing and vaping, to concentrates used in edibles and tinctures, let’s take a deeper look at the various forms of cannabis concentrates, why this form of cannabis might be right for you, and what to know when buying it at a dispensary.
What Is a Cannabis Concentrate?
The chemicals compounds in cannabis plants are what produces the desired effects when people use marijuana. These chemical compounds are known as either cannabinoids or terpenes. Cannabinoids like THC, CBD, and CBN are the primarily properties that give the familiar marijuana ‘high’ effect. For example, THC provides the psychological euphoria associated with weed. On the other hand, terpenes mainly give cannabis plants their distinct qualities, such as aroma or the flavor they produce when used, but terpenes can also have medicinal benefits as well.
How Are Cannabis Concentrates Made?
In order to make cannabis concentrates, the cannabinoids and terpenes are extracted from the plant and concentrated to create a purer form of the chemical compounds. This isn’t a brand new idea, as Cannabis extracts in a more archaic form have been around since around the 1940s. However, the procedures to harvest and extract the desired chemicals and make concentrates have greatly evolved.
Cannabinoids and terpenes are produced by the trichomes of the cannabis plant, which are tiny, almost hair-like growths that extend out from the bud, stalk or other areas of the plant. When manufacturers extract the compounds used to make concentrates, they use various extraction methods, yielding different forms of concentrates for different cannabis products.
Extraction can be done mechanically, or using a solventless method. Examples of mechanically extracted concentrates include kief, charish, and hashish, some of which have been around for many years. Some for a solvent method, using heat and pressure of ice water. The more modern solvent-extracted concentrates are greater in number because different solvents combined with certain methods offer varied results. Here are a few solvent-extracted concentrate examples:
- Dry Ice Hash
- BHO Hash Oil or Wax
- CO2 Extract
What Are the Different Types of Concentrate Products?
The beauty of having cannabis in a concentrated form is that it can be used to develop a broad range of cannabis products. You essentially have everything the cannabis plant is known for condensed into a concentrated amount of material. This allows manufacturers to infuse cannabis into more modern, diverse and simple-to-use products that cater to different consumer wants and needs.
Types of Cannabis Concentrate Products
Tinctures – Cannabis tinctures are alcohol-based products made by diluting or immersing either concentrate or parts of the flower in an alcohol. Tinctures can be found in products designed to be consumed as drops under the tongue or in a glass of water. However, tinctures can also be marketed as a consumable beverage, much like a beer, or marketed as a product to use making your own edibles at home.
Oils – Cannabis oils are often used for medicinal purposes, such as treatment of chronic pain or epilepsy. Cannabis oils are found in various types, for example in a tube with a roller at the end for direct skin application. Some oils are designed to use and smoke in vape pens or vaporizers, and there are even cannabis oils that are specifically designed for massages.
Edibles – Just as it sounds, concentrates marketed as edibles are edible food products manufactured to include THC and CBD. The list of edibles you will find containing concentrates is pretty diverse depending on where you shop. You may find sweet treats like concentrate-infused lollipops, candy, and cookies, but you may come across other unique items like coffee, breads, and pretzels or other snacks.
Rosin or Similar Concentrates – Rosin and other solventless concentrates are most often used for dabbing, which is the process of heating and vaporizing the concentrate, then inhaling the vapors. Dabbing can be done with dabbing rigs, simple pipes and other equipment.
How Is Using Concentrates Different Than Consuming the Plant of Flower?
Depending on the type of concentrate used and how it is consumed, it can be very different from smoking the plant or flower as you normally expect. Most people say the effects of concentrated products are much different than traditional smoking methods, and the cannabinoid and terpene levels have a lot to do with the overall effects on the body and mind. Using concentrated products allows your body to absorb the cannabis properties through the digestion tract, skin or bloodstream by taking drops under the tongue.
Benefits of Cannabis Concentrate
- Offers fun alternatives for recreational users looking to experience new cannabis products
- Allows users to reap the desirable effects of using cannabis with smaller amounts
- May produce a clearer, more potent high than traditional smoking
- Creates the possibility for medicinal marijuana users to medicate discreetly without associated stigma
- Can offer a faster deliverance of the desirable effects than smoking
- Delivers the desirable cannabinoids and terpenes without the extra ingredients
- Allows marijuana use without smoke, which can be problematic for those with respiratory issues
- Consumable concentrates do not leave you, your home, or your clothes smelling like marijuana
Potential Downsides to Cannabis Concentrate
- Quality of the concentrate is easily compromised if not made by a reputable and experienced manufacturer
- Some concentrates can be as much as three or four times as strong as regular marijuana, making it more likely to cause ill effects with too much consumption
- Low-quality concentrates made by DIY manufacturers may contain trace amounts of toxins found in solvents used in the extraction process
What Should You Look for When Buying Concentrate?
Choosing a cannabis concentrate shouldn’t be a challenge. there are tons of products that have their own benefits, advantages and draws for both recreational and medicinal users. Some cannabis users enjoy the process of experimenting with different forms of concentrate, whether it’s trying infused tinctures for the first time, T-waxing while you smoke, or dabbing with a dab rig. If you prefer to go straight for something you’re sure you’ll enjoy, there are a few things you can do, including:
- Discuss concentrates with users who are more familiar with the various products, including your dispensary staff
- Get to know the pros and cons of each concentrate product before you buy it and don’t be afraid to ask questions when you’re curious
- Look at why you want to use a cannabis-concentrate product, and buy products that serve your specific purpose
The world of concentrated cannabis products continues to grow and evolve, and with little experience, the choices can be a little overwhelming. But understanding the perks of each product, how it is used, and what it has to offer will get you started.