Concentrates have been around for centuries with the creation of hashish in the Middle East. The slow and steady legalization of marijuana in various states has given way for innovations in the extraction process and even innovations in the methods of smoking concentrates. The ever-changing landscape of the cannabis world has left a fair amount of confusion in regards to how these new products are consumed. While there are “wrong ways” to consume concentrates, there is no shortage of options for smoking them. The key is finding the right technique to fit your specific needs.
Why smoke concentrates
You may remember from previous posts about concentrates that all of the “good stuff”, meaning the cannabinoids and terpenes live in the trichomes of the cannabis plant. The purpose of making concentrates is to extract the resin inside the trichomes from the rest of the plant matter. There are many reasons that people prefer to smoke concentrates.
- Concentrates are more potent
Dried flower can range anywhere from 10%-30% THC, where concentrates can range from 50%-99% THC. The enhanced potency makes for a much more efficient cannabis experience. While smoking or vaporizing dried flower is enough for a large percentage of the population, many people need higher concentrations of cannabinoids to receive necessary benefits.
- Inhalation without combustion
While it is possible to “smoke” concentrates, it’s not the traditional way to consume them. Concentrates are typically vaporized which reduces the carcinogens being inhaled. This is important for those who want the effects of smoking cannabis without having to inhale smoke. This also speaks to the convenience of concentrates.
- Concentrates have different flavor
Plant matter is a large part of the stereotypical “weed” flavor. Since concentrates are free from the plant material and are vaporized, the terpene profile is much more pronounced. Smoking cannabis produces a carbon heavy flavor where concentrates are more sweet or fruity depending on the strain.
How to smoke concentrates
As previously mentioned, there are numerous ways to enjoy concentrates making them accessible to different people with different needs. Here are the main ways that concentrates can be enjoyed.
While concentrates aren’t usually smoked, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible. Hash is the original concentrate and has been smoked for centuries. Hash and kief can be added to a pipe on top of a bowl of dried flower to boost potency. People will also use concentrates to enhance joints by adding kief or oil. Many consider caviar a kind of concentrate. Caviar is dried flower that has been soaked in oil and rolled in kief. It is smoked as a bowl topper or on its own because of its plant matter content.
Dabbing is what most people think of when they think of concentrates. A dab can be done by using a dab rig that consists of a nail or a banger and a device that works like a bong. A nail is a flat dish and a banger is like a bowl. These are where the concentrates are placed when taking a dab. They are heated by a torch or an electric mechanism called an electric nail. When the oil touches the hot surface, it vaporizes and is inhaled through the rig. A dab can also be done with something called a dab straw also known as a “nectar collector” . It is a glass straw that is heated on one end and dipped into the concentrate while being inhaled on the other end like a drinking straw. While this method has gained popularity, some are put off by the glass and torch. The e-nail heats a titanium or ceramic dish to a set temperature. It is a more expensive option, but is a worthwhile investment for those looking to dab with a rig without using a torch.
- Vaping and dab pens
Vaping has received a negative stigma in recent months with the illegal use of black market vape products and scary additives. It’s important to know what is in the products we are putting into our lungs. There are pens that consist of a battery and a pre-filled cartridge. These cartridges can have pure oil in them, but they can also have flavors and other additives in them. It’s important to talk to your budtender about the specific products on the shelf. There are also dab pens that have a heating element that you load concentrate into directly. These work similar to a dab rig, but on a much smaller scale. The heating element will get hot enough to vaporize the concentrate, but it will be a much smaller amount being consumed.
Notes about consuming concentrates
Concentrates have a more pure and smooth flavor than smoking dried flower. There is a higher concentration of THC, but there is also a high concentration of terpenes which is where the flavor comes from. Terpenes burn off at lower temperatures than THC so there is a sweet spot where you get a full bodied flavor and a decent amount of THC in your dab. If the dab is too hot it will actually combust the oil creating smoke. This can cause damage to the lungs and will make for an unpleasant experience. Low temperature dabs are between 315-450 degrees and will be the most flavorful. Medium temperature dabs are between 450-600 degrees and are the most popular. Anything above 600 degrees will char the oils and cause excessive coughing and the high could be unpleasant.
If you are new to the world of concentrates, please, take it slow. Once cannabis is consumed, there isn’t much you can do to undo it. Concentrates are far more potent than regular cannabis and though a dab is just one hit, it can be like smoking a joint or two in one hit. We recommend taking a small and low temperature dab to start.
Each person will react differently to a strain. Some people cough more with certain strains than others. Some people will even sneeze after taking a dab. This has to do with the body reacting to some terpenes. It's kind of like when people sneeze when smelling black pepper. Try a different strain and see how that one goes.