In part 1 we learned about the difference types of concentrates. Now, in part 2, we will go over how those concentrate types are determined through textures, materials, and processing. The interesting thing about marijuana concentrates is that the effects, potency and flavors are not indicated by the look and feel. However, you can use those attributes to help find your preference. Let's start by talking about some of those characteristics.
The concentrates texture oftentimes comes straight from what it looks like: shattered glass, cake batter and butter. Seeing the concentrates and learning the textures one can see where they got their names.
Here are the most common textures when describing cannabis concentrates.
Crumble is usually a matte yellow color similar to badder and budder but that is more brittle. Hence, the name crumble.
Crystalline is a single, diamond-like compound of either THCA or CBD that varies in shape and size. It can take the form of a powder or be as dense as a small rock.
Budder or Badder: A soft and oily concentrate, this texture has a cake batter or butter consistency. Also, like butter it can easily spread so this concentrate is perfect for dabs or to add to a blunt or joint.
Sauce is a thicker, sticker version of sugar, but has more of a crystalline appearance. Unlike sugar, there is more variance in its color ranging from a yellow mustard you'd find on a hot dog to a deep, dark amber.
Sugar: Also yellow and amber in color, the sugar texture is wet and sappy. It gets its name because it can often look like sticky brown sugar.
Shatter has a glass-like texture with yellow or amber color. It is brittle and sometimes translucent making it look like shattered glass.
Oil: Just like the texture states this concentrate is an oil-like liquid that is too thick to be a tincture but to fluid to be a solid, much like a honey or syrup consistency when made correctly. Oil is most commonly used to vape.
Common Extraction Methods
There are really two types of extraction: physical and liquid. Meaning cannabis extraction can be done with or without solvents (liquid) using temperature, filters, pressure or just screens and elbow grease.
- Hydrocarbon Extraction is the most popular extraction method. It uses a hydrocarbon gas including butane, propane, and isobutane among others as the solvent to strip cannabinoids from the plant materials once ignited. Hydrocarbon extraction is a popular form of extraction because it is results in a clean extract, is relatively inexpensive and effective.
- High pressure
- Low temperature
- Closed loop system
- Dry Sift/Dry Sieve is an extraction method that doesn't use a stripping agent. It's a non-solvent extraction method that has been used for centuries. A metal screen or combination of various sieves and a little muscle is all that is used to split the trichomes from the plant. The finer the mesh; the purer the product.
- CO2 Extraction, also known as super-critical fluid extraction (SFE) heat compresses carbon dioxide (CO2) to a critical point of 90 degrees Fahrenheit to produce a pure, high terpene extraction. Most people who use this method appreciate that it is a truly a green solvent that is inexpensive end doesn't harm the plant versus a butane or other agent. Once extracted it is safely released into the air of recycled by machine. CO2 extraction is also used in making perfumes and essential oils.
- Alcohol Extraction commonly uses ethanol or isopropyl to create oils or concentrates from the cannabis plant. Alcohol "washes" the dry plant material and is then separated using filters before evaporating off of the plant material in the next extraction step. The cannabis is further processed without the alcohol to complete the process. This process is best for distillate and full spectrum oils for edibles.
- Low temperature solvent and recovery
In part one we went over well-known, commonly used cannabis extracts. Now, in part two we will dive a little deeper into some other forms of cannabis extracts that don't need a solvent at all.
Kief: With THC content ranging from 20-60 percent, kief (sometimes spelled keef) is one of the simplest forms of cannabis concentrates and often more potent than just cannabis flower. Kief is composed of the crystal-like structures that cover the outside of the flower called trichomes, which hold the majority of the cannabinoids. When kief is greener it usually means there is more plant material present and needs to be sifted further. A light tan color is a higher quality kief. Kief can be used in many ways: add it to your coffee, use it as a tea, sprinkle on your blunt/joint, or make it into butter.
Hash (hashish): OK, this probably should have been included in Part 1 as cannabis hash has been used for centuries with different types of extraction methods. Hash is essentially created when the trichome heads, which contain the aromatic terpenes and the cannabinoids, are separated from the plant material and collected. There are many methods used to do this. Leafly created a video showing two of the methods, below.
Concentrate Smoking MethodsThere are different ways to consuming cannabis concentrate and it depends on which concentrate you choose and its texture. Is it an oil? Highly malleable? Powdery? Below are the most popular ways to consume concentrates.
- Vaporizer: Vape pens are on the rise in popularity due to being so discreet, portable, and easy to use. They come in two types: pre-filled vape pens and handheld vaporizers. Pre-filled vape pens contain the battery, heating element, and cartridge in one pen. The cartridge is heated by pushing a button or simply inhaling, in some cases. Once the cartridge is empty it is simply thrown away and replaced with a new cartridge. The battery, however can be used multiple times or some are simply disposable after use. A good example of this is a Pax Era.
A handheld vaporizer is similar in that it is discreet and portable, and doesn't require multiple tools like a dab rig. The difference lies in the fact that you manually load concentrate into a chamber that contains a coil. This coil is also heated by the push of a button, vaporizing the concentrate. The vaporizer is reusable and you won't be buying multiple cartridges. You get to choose which concentrates you use with this pen.
- Dabbing: The most popular consumption method includes using a dab rig to inhale the vaporized concentrate. This is done by using a "nail" made of a variety of materials such as glass, ceramic, quartz, or titanium and heating it. Once hot, the concentrate is applied to the hot surface of the nail which then vaporizes the product for consumption.
Concentrates will vary in potency so start with using a very small amount and then work your way up to larger portions. Though the amount may not look like a lot there is a reason they call these concentrates - they pack a ton of THC. Most cannabis concentrates vary from 50-90% THC in a gram. However, CBD extracts are also available for more of a calming effect than psychoactive.
Dab rigs can take on a variety of shapes and sizes but you'll essentially use the same tools:
- Your concentrate of choice - wax, shatter, budder, badder, live resin, etc.
- Nail - Make sure this fits your water pipe's gauge. There are also electronic nails (e-nails) that are far more expensive but remove the need to have a dome and torch. It electronically heats up and you can control the temperature.
- Water pipe- you can turn most water pipes in to a dab rig using dabbing attachments.
- Dome - A glass globe that traps the vapor for inhalation
- Torch - A propane-fueled torch will heat your nail the most efficiently, but a regular crème brûlée style torch will do the trick as well.
- Dabber - The tool used to gather and apply the dab of concentrate
- Add it to your flower: Add some extra potency or flavor to your smoke session by topping off your bowl with some kief or drizzling some wax or oil on your blunt or joint. No dab tools required!