What are Cannabis Concentrates?
Let us start with the obvious. Like the namesake, it is concentrated cannabis material involving some processing steps resulting in a potent accumulation that contains high THC levels. A potent accumulation is a fancy way of saying “a fat dab” if you catch my drift.
While cannabis tests for THC levels can vary depending on the strain, concentrates typically yield approximately 80% or higher, where dry plant matter usually caps at a maximum of 30%. Whether you are a seasoned stoner or new to concentrate country, you won’t need a lot to get you there. This means more time to do fun activities as concentrates are one of the most efficient ways to consume THC.
Cannabis Concentrates take many forms; let us take a deeper dive into some of the more popular options available.
Shatter or BHO
Shatter is a transparent, glass-like concentrate – its name comes from the texture and appearance, which at times can crack and “shatter” if bent. I won’t go into the nuances of how it’s made, as there are many ways and that’s not what we’re here for. What’s important is the process involves using a solvent, such as butane or CO2, to extract THC from the plant material. Butane extracts (BHO) can yield different textures of cannabis concentrates, but shatter is the most commonly known. You may see some variations described as wax, budder, and sometimes diamonds. The distinguishable difference being purely cosmetic in most cases. Different plant materials may yield different textures and processing type plays a role as well.
Should I try this at home?
Shatter/BHO is extremely dangerous to make at home by untrained individuals, so we do not recommend dabbling in this process unless you are trying to set your home on fire (all jokes aside, don’t try making this one at home).
This type of concentrate is most commonly dabbed. This process involves heating a titanium or quartz surface with a blow torch and “dabbing” the concentrate onto that surface, which results in flash vaporization of the product that you then inhale and enjoy. Do not let that fool you into a false sense of comfort. Dabs do pack a punch. A small dab could leave you feeling the effects of one larger joint, depending on potency and tolerance level. Some say that dabbing at the right temperature can be less harsh on your lungs. This is because the process is closer to vaping than smoking.
There is good and bad BHO. It comes in different colors and flavors. Terpenes largely affect the taste and even the consistency of these concentrates. Higher quality BHO brands will indicate the dominant terpene profile on the packaging to give you an idea of what you are consuming. Terpenes also affect the high experience. This allows you to fully customize your high.
Shatter and BHO is typically one of the more affordable options for cannabis concentrates, averaging typically in the $25-$40 per gram price point. However, you are consuming solvents with these concentrates, as some traces of BHO may still be in the final product. Therefore it is important to purchase shatter from reputable sources. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and do your own research when purchasing. Your eyes alone cannot quantify quality.
Rosin is what I like to refer to as the golden goose of cannabis concentrates. She is Shatter’s cooler, younger, hotter cousin and she’s here to let everyone know how much better she is. Unlike Shatter, Rosin is pure, solvent-less, and tastes great. Rosin is made by pressing plant matter or hash using low heat and pressure to remove the trichomes from the plant matter. Rosin is well known for its quality and is often considered one of the cleanest ways of consuming cannabis.
Cannabis concentrates produced without adding solvents have gained popularity in the last few years, as solvents can be harmful if consumed in excess. Rosin can get quite pricy. You pay for the purity you’re consuming, and due to the lack of solvents to stretch the product, you naturally will be paying more for pure, solvent-less cannabis concentrates. Typically these will run you anywhere from $70 up to $140 per gram, depending on the source. The lack of solvents also typically results in a better-tasting product, which Rosin lovers tend to find the most enjoyable to dab. Although, not all rosins are created equal, and cost does not guarantee quality.
This You Can Try at Home!
This type of cannabis concentrate is much more user-friendly to attempt to produce yourself (also, less likely to set your home ablaze). A lot of amateur Hash/Rosin makers post videos on Youtube and Instagram to chronicle the process and show you how to replicate it at home. There are even some very “rustic” methods, including using a hair straightener to press flower in parchment paper. This would not yield the purest dab, but it’s always interesting to watch stoner ingenuity in my opinion.
Rosin can be dabbed, vaporized out of cartridges, but can also be rolled into joints and blunts, or added to bowls, making it one of the most versatile of concentrates because it doesn’t necessarily require a ton of special equipment to start. Most like to keep Rosin refrigerated or in a dark cool space, as heat and direct light can alter the terpenes.
Cannabis Concentrates do not get any more clear and to the point than good ol’ Distillate. It contains pretty much entirely THC at a very high concentration. Basically, take all the frills away from cannabis, and what you’re left with is distillate.
This cannabis concentrate tends to be extremely affordable, especially when purchased in bulk. It lacks taste or aroma. This makes Distillate an excellent choice and most commonly used in cannabis cooking and baking. It can provide concentrated amounts of THC without altering the taste of whatever you are adding it to. This is also a great option for consumption free of allergens depending on the carrier oil.
You can also vape distillate although some consumers find that the high levels of THC erode their tolerance. Distillate can be purchased in 510 cartridges, making it convenient for discreet, on-the-go use. Distillate is also helpful for those wishing to consume CBD and THC in specific doses.
The manufacturing of Distillate should not be done at home, as it is often dangerous and illegal in many places. It is best to purchase from reputable sources.
There are far more types of cannabis concentrates than the ones listed above. The bottom line? Cannabis concentrates come in many forms so you’re bound to find something you like that works best for you. Make sure you know what you’re buying, and from whom, but that is a good general rule of thumb to have anyways. Have fun dabbling in concentrates (pun intended)!