WHAT ARE CONCENTRATES AND EXTRACTS?
Concentrates come in many forms and include the most desirable parts of something. For example, orange juice concentrate has the smell and taste of the orange fruit, but without the excess fluid, peel or pulp. The same is true for the cannabis plant: the aromas, flavors, and other desirable substances can be retained while removing the leaves, stems, and other unwanted materials.
Extracts are a specific type of concentrate that use solvents to draw out the desired substances of a plant, seed or fruit. For example, vanilla extract is produced by using alcohol as a solvent to pull out the desired flavor component, vanillin, from vanilla bean pods.
The cannabis plant has complex compounds, or chemical substances, that can be used in a multitude of products. These compounds affect the look, smell, flavor, and texture, as well as physiological or psychoactive effects (if any) of cannabis products. The most desirable cannabis compounds are found throughout the cannabis plant in small, sparkling structures called trichomes. A cannabis concentrate refers to any product created by the accumulation of the trichomes from the plant.
These frosty appendages coat the entire surface of the plant, especially the flower buds. Trichomes contain all the cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc.) and terpenes that give different cannabis cultivars, or strains, their unique aromas and physical effects.
Compared to cannabis in raw plant form, cannabis concentrates offer a more potent high, quicker onset of action, and a wider range of consumption methods. Depending on your consumption preferences and tolerance level, the ideal dose can vary widely from person to person and even product to product.
Cannabis concentrates are diverse and used in a wide range of products. With a selection of options, you can fine-tune your cannabis experience and find the ideal combination of cannabinoids and terpenes that appeals to your taste and provides the most benefit.
Is there a difference between a concentrate and an extract?All extracts are concentrates, but not all concentrates are extracts. While those terms are used interchangeably, the primary difference between a concentrate and an extract is how trichomes are collected. Extracts are a type of concentrate created using solvents (alcohol, carbon dioxide, etc.) that essentially wash the trichomes off the cannabis plant. Concentrates made without the use of solvents are produced using mechanical or physical means to remove and gather trichomes.
Butane Hash Oil (BHO), Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) and CO2 wax are examples of extracts; each of these comes in varying textures such as shatter, badder, budder, and crumble. Different extracts and the varying textures may yield different experiences from one product to another.
Rosin, dry sift and kief are examples of concentrates that are made without using solvents.
HOW TO TALK ABOUT CONCENTRATES
“Reduced Fat Homogenized Ultra-Pasteurized Milk” is also known as “2% milk,” but that may sound baffling until you’re familiar with the product and its name. Once you familiarize yourself with the terminology used with concentrates, the more comfortable you’ll feel when reviewing descriptions and labels. The product names can seem complex. For example, a product named “Hardcore OG Nug Run Shatter” may sound confusing. What do each of these words mean?
Producers and manufacturers use specific words and phrases to help you identify key characteristics and qualities of cannabis concentrates. Certain terms may be used on labels and descriptions on concentrate products to identify:
Process Type - Cannabis concentrates are products created by the accumulation of trichomes (the gland that makes the cannabinoids and terpenes). There are a variety of ways to separate the trichomes from the starting material. Each of these processes needs its own specific materials and/or physical actions, or methods, in order to produce a concentrate.
Consistencies - Once the cannabinoids and terpenes have been removed from the plant material, the resulting solution can take a variety of forms. These forms allow patients and consumers to pick and choose their preferred texture of the concentrate product; they aren’t necessarily an indicator of how the concentrate will taste or affect an individual.
SMOKING METHODS- A cannabis concentrate can be consumed in a variety of ways, from sprinkling it on a bowl or adding it to a joint for added potency, to vaporizing them using a dab rig or portable vape pen. The ideal method for consumption depends on the type and texture of the selected concentrate as well as the personal habits of the person consuming. When deciding which method will work best, first consider the tools you have at your disposal and the texture of the concentrate. Extracts like shatter and badder are malleable and easy to use in a dab rig, while powdery concentrates, such as kief and crumble, can be easily enjoyed by adding them to a more stable foundation like flower. Here are some of the most common methods for smoking or vaporizing concentrates.
Topping Your Flower- Adding powdered kief to your bowl, or wrapping wax around a joint, are the most cost-effective methods to using cannabis concentrates. These methods don’t require any of the expensive tools necessary for taking dabs, while still increasing the potency of your smoke and adding extra flavor from the concentrate.
Dabbing - The most popular way to consume cannabis concentrates is by vaporizing the concentrate using a “dab rig.” This method consists of heating a “nail” (made from either glass, ceramic, or titanium) and then applying the concentrate directly onto the hot surface, instantly turning it into a vapor for consumption. While there are many inexpensive ways of turning any water pipe into a dab rig, below is a list of items you’ll need for a dab rig:
HOW DO YOU MAKE DIFFERENT TEXTURES?
Different textures are the result of deliberate steps taken before or after the initial extraction process.
Shatter - Shatter is one of the most versatile textures. In fact, many other textures, such as budder and crumble, start off as shatter. Shatter is known for its resemblance to brittle glass, which shatters on contact, but can also have a “snap and pull” consistency that gives it elastic-like properties. Shatter can be created using a variety of solvent extraction methods, the most popular of which include BHO, PHO, EHO, and CO2.
Crystalline - Crystalline is a transparent or semi-transparent cannabis concentrate that may resemble coarse decorative sparkling sugar or kosher salt. Multiple methods can be used to produce crystalline, but they all follow the same basic principles of crystallization.
An example of crystallization is making rock candy. Rock candy is a flavored confection that’s produced when sugar (a chemical solid) is slowly added to boiling water (a liquid). The resulting solution cools a bit, then flavor and color is added. A prepared stick is lowered into the solution. Over time, crystals form and grow on the prepared stick, eventually yielding the desired product.
Crystallization is a process where a chemical solid is mixed with a liquid to create an initial solution. Any impurities are removed from the initial solution, and the extract is then mixed with another solvent under a different set of conditions to start the formation of pure crystals.
Distillate - Distillates are made by exposing a winterized and decarboxylated extract to heat and vacuum, which promotes the separation of cannabinoids based on their different boiling points.
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