At first glance, cannabis concentrates may seem intimidating. With so many different options, it’s understandable that your head might spin. Fortunately, cannabis extracts aren’t as daunting as they may seem. All it takes is a little bit of guidance to get started with concentrates, so read on to learn the basics about cannabis extracts and everything you need to know to enjoy them.
The Basics Of Cannabis Extracts
Extracts, also called cannabis concentrates, are potent oils and waxes pulled out of the cannabis plant, often by using a solvent, although there are some solventless methods as well. They contain high amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes, the compounds that make cannabis work. This elevated potency boasts a powerful experience that flower can’t quite compare. You can expect heightened intoxicating and psychoactive effects when trying cannabis concentrates.
Cannabis extracts are ideal if you have a high tolerance and need a bit more for the effects to kick in. If you need serious relief and need something stronger than your standard cannabis flower, concentrates are great for that too.
Different Types Of Cannabis Extracts
New types of concentrates are making their way to dispensary shelves all the time. Here’s a look at some common extracts you might encounter at Phenotopia.
Full Spectrum Oil
Full spectrum oil (FSO), also known as Rick Simpson Oil or RSO, is a liquid extract that contains all the compounds found in the source plant. That means cannabinoids like Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), Cannabidiol (CBD), and terpenes like myrcene, beta-caryophyllene and limonene. Most commonly, you’ll find full-spectrum cannabis oil in syringes. It’s often used as medicine when chemo or other drugs/therapies make it hard to sleep or gives one a loss of appetite. It has many other medicinal properties and uses as well. This concentrate stands out from others on this list because it doesn’t require any heat. Just a tiny amount, about the size of a grain of cooked quinoa or rice, is enough to feel its effects. FSO/RSO has its own storied history and its own unique protocol for consuming, so this one requires a bit more homework before embarking on this journey.
Butane Hash Oil
BHO, for short, butane hash oil, is the source extract for many cannabis concentrates. Extracts like wax, shatter, and badder all come from BHO.
Also known as ice water hash, bubble hash is produced without a solvent and is the oldest form of cannabis concentrate. It’s more potent than flower but generally less potent than other types of cannabis extract. It’s also a key ingredient in rosin production, a solventless extract renowned for its terpene-rich flavor and potency.
As the name suggests, Crumble is a type of concentrate that falls to pieces easily. Its crumbly form lends itself to sprinkling on top of a bowl pack or in a joint, just as well as for use with a dab rig or vaporizer. It is often produced by hydrocarbon extraction and gets its unique consistency from post-processing techniques used by the manufacturer.
Sauce is an extract with a sticky, liquid consistency and a high amount of terpenes. It can sometimes be found with diamonds of THCA in it. Sometimes called terp sauce, these extracts are best if you appreciate the variety of flavors cannabis strains offer. They are also quite potent relative to flower, of course, so high tolerance consumers will enjoy them as well.
Sugar, also called sugar wax, is a potent cannabis extract with a granular appearance resembling sugar. It’s not, however, the infused sugar used in cannabis edibles. It’s instead its own extract, typically consumed with a dab rig or vaporizer. Its consistency also suits it to being added to cannabis flower in a bowl, joint or bong pack.
Rosin, also known as hash rosin, is a solventless cannabis extract produced from bubble hash. It’s known for closely resembling the compound profile of the plant from which it was made, so it may be the right choice for you if you like comparing different strains to one another. Rosin may also come as “live rosin,” which means it was made with freshly harvested or fresh frozen cannabis plants that contain peak levels of cannabinoids and terpenes. Being solventless, nothing touches rosin but ice, water, & heated pressure plates.
Diamonds are crystallized THCA that typically form in terp sauce. Sometimes you may find sauce with diamonds still in it, but it’s not uncommon to see them for sale on their own. These diamonds are virtually pure THCA, so take it slow if you’re trying them for the first time. The lack of terpenes and other cannabinoids means diamonds provide a distinct experience that may not suit every consumer’s preferences.
Temple balls are made from bubble hash when heated and pressed to burst the trichomes, the plant’s resin glands that hold most cannabinoids and terpenes collected in the ice-water extraction process. These spherical concentrates are similar to bubble hash in that they’re more potent than flower but not quite as potent as rosin and other extracts. This makes temple balls a good middle ground if you want more potency but don’t want the most potent cannabis extract on the market either. They’re also a fun product to try — how often do you get to try a ball of trichomes?
Kief, also known as dry sift, refers to the pure and clean collection of loose cannabis trichomes, which are collected by being sifted from cannabis flowers or buds with a mesh screen or sieve. It is great as a bowl topper and to use for homemade infused joints.
Shatter is produced using a combination of cannabis plant matter and solvents. The OG of dab oils, Shatter, is making a comeback and is an affordable option for dabbers and those who like to infuse their joints. The appearance of shatter is typically translucent, its coloring can range from bright, honey-like amber to a darker shade, almost brown-like molasses. Specifically, shatter that’s higher in THC will result in a product that has more of a sap texture. Products with a higher level of THCA will be much more brittle.
How Are Weed Extracts Made?
As there are many types of cannabis extracts, it may not surprise you to learn there’s more than one extraction method used to create them. While every manufacturer has their own approach to the process, the following are broad overviews of the many techniques most commonly used today.
This extraction method employs butane, propane and other hydrocarbons in the extraction process. These solvents are celebrated for the low heat process and low boiling points. This makes them easy to remove from the extract during processing without damaging cannabinoids and terpenes. Hydrocarbon solvent creates extracts with considerable terpenes, preserving the smells and flavors associated with the strain used to create the concentrate.
Ethanol extraction is an efficient method to pull a maximum amount of compounds from the plant. Typically using chilled ethanol, manufacturers like this solvent-based extraction because it leaves no compound behind. But it truly pulls everything, requiring extra processing to remove lipids, chlorophyll and other compounds not wanted in the final cannabis extract.
Supercritical CO2 Extraction
In supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction, manufacturers use temperature and pressure to force the carbon dioxide into a “supercritical” phase, where it behaves like a gas and liquid simultaneously. The solvent is then pumped through the cannabis plant material to pull cannabinoids and terpenes. This technique is preferred because CO2 solvent is clean, efficient, environmentally friendly and safe relative to hydrocarbon and ethanol extraction.
Ice Water Extraction
Ice water extraction uses chilled water instead of a solvent like butane or ethanol, which places it in the solventless extraction methods category. Cannabis buds are combined with this near-freezing water, which makes the trichomes brittle and easy to break off the plant material. The trichomes are then sifted out of the water and collected to produce concentrates and extracts.
Pressure (rosin pressing)
Cold Press Method
Press at 160°F/71°C – 190°F/87°C for 1 – 5 minutes. Produces a thick, batter-like consistency with excellent terpene preservation, cold press is known to produce lower yields.
Hot Press Method
Press at 190°F/87°C – 220°F/104°C for 45 seconds – 3 minutes. Typically produces oily or shatter-like consistency product. Excellent terpene preservation at 220°F or below, often with higher yields than the cold press method. Finding the right temperature and time for pressing your flower or hash into rosin is as much art as science.
The Benefits of Cannabis Concentrates
There are many reasons why you might want to try cannabis extracts. These concentrated products offer as wide a range of benefits as they do types of extracts. Consider these cannabis products if you are one of the following types of consumers:
- Great for high tolerance: If you’re a frequent consumer who needs a bit more potency than what flower provides, concentrates should do the trick. Depending on the cannabis extract you choose, it may range from 50% THC content to more than 90% THC content.
- Consumers living with chronic pain: If you’re managing serious pain, high THC may be your best option. Concentrates can deliver potent and fast-acting pain relief in a way flower can’t, making them a good choice if you’re a medical cannabis patient with chronic pain flare-ups or other conditions that respond best to higher amounts of THC.
- Cannabis connoisseurs: Concentrate production is very much an art. If you appreciate the finer points of all things cannabis, extracts are a whole new way to enjoy your favorite strains.
- If you like variety: Cannabis concentrates come in many shapes, colors and textures. If you want to keep your sessions exciting, plenty of extracts are out there to help you mix things up. There’s never a dull moment when it comes to extracts.
Every consumer is unique, with their own circumstances and preferences. Whichever type of consumer you consider yourself, there’s a good reason to give cannabis extracts a try.
How To Use Cannabis Extracts
How you use cannabis extracts depends on the type you choose and how you like to consume them. Here’s an overview of some of the most common ways to consume extracts and the types of extracts typically used with each.
- Dab rigs: The traditional method of consuming extracts like wax, these glass pipes include a “nail” or “banger” that’s heated with a blow torch until it’s red hot. Then once cooled to the desired temperature, you place a small amount of concentrate onto the nail, and it’s ready to inhale through the mouthpiece.
- Dab pens and vaporizers: Dab pens and vaporizers bring electronics into the mix so that you can skip the blowtorch. Many handle dabs like crumble, budder and badders. However, check the device owner’s manual first — not every vaporizer is compatible with every type of cannabis concentrate. Each model has its own features, from precise temperature control to session tracking.
- Desktop vaporizers & E-rigs: Desktop vaporizers are powerful units that plug into the wall to produce a significant amount of vapor and offer precise temperature control. The type of extract you can use with a desktop vaporizer will depend on the device you select, so consult the device’s manual before loading extract into it.
- Consume with flower: Any extracts can be added to a bowl pack or joint to give your flower an extra kick. You can sprinkle a bit of crumble on top of your flower, for example, or twirl wax around a rolled blunt or joint.
- Create infused edibles: Some extracts like FSO can even be used to create infused edible products, like infusing butter for baking mint chocolate brownies or baking lemon cookies. Cannabis oil is usually best, but other extracts may work for making edibles, too — it all depends on your recipe and how you want the final product to turn out.
If you’re unsure how to consume a certain type of cannabis extract, ask the budtender you’re working with when shopping at the dispensary. They should be able to explain the optimal method for each type of concentrate so you can consume it confidently.
How To Choose High-Quality Cannabis Extracts
As always, it’s essential to be an informed consumer and ensure you’re getting the best quality product available. Consider the following tips when buying extracts to guarantee you go home with something special.
- Know the brand reputation: Haven’t heard of the brand you’re considering? Look them up. What kind of reputation do they have in the industry? Are they experienced? Is their production facility up to current standards? These questions are important because trust starts with the manufacturer.
- Read consumer reviews: If you still aren’t sure about the brand or the specific product, check out customer reviews. You can visit sites like Leafly or Weedmaps to find user-generated reviews, or you can run a search on Reddit, where many consumers come together to discuss their experiences.
- Buy from a licensed dispensary: Always purchase cannabis extracts or any other cannabis product from a licensed dispensary like Phenotopia. We are required to follow regulations that guarantee product quality and safety. Purchasing from an unlicensed source means possibly getting ripped off and risking your health and wellness.
- Try it out for yourself: Once you’ve checked the above boxes, all that’s left to do is try the product yourself. If you don’t like it, you can always try another one. If you do, it may be a regular part of your cannabis routine. The best way to find your next favorite product is trial and error, so don’t be shy!
Exploring Cannabis Extracts With Phenotopia
Ready to try cannabis extracts for yourself? Stop by a Phenotopia dispensary near you to check out all the available cannabis extracts we have in stock. Our team of expert budtenders will be on hand to walk you through the details of any product.
When you shop with Phenotopia, you’ll always know exactly what you’re getting. So stop in today and see what sets us apart from the rest!