Only The Good Stuff: The Wide World Of Cannabis Concentrates
July was concentrate month here at Lightshade and in honor of it we’ve been exploring the often-misunderstood world of oils and concentrates, not to mention running some great specials as well. In our last blog, we took a deep dive into oil cartridges, but now let’s take a look at the other side of the cannabis extraction equation, concentrates.
Let’s Talk About Marijuana Concentrates
How It’s Made: Solvent-based and Solventless Extraction
Marijuana concentrates can come in many different forms. Ultimately, your end product will depend on the extraction method used to create your concentrate. It wasn’t long ago when there were not many options on the market for these products, but in recent years new developments in technology and advancements in extraction processes has made this genre one of the most varied and exciting forms of consumption.
The two most common types of extraction are solvent-based and solventless extraction. In layman’s terms, solvent-based involves using chemical and organic solvents to dissolve the trichomes of the marijuana plant to separate the plant material from the cannabinoids and terpenes, leaving you with highly concentrated product. Some of the most popular solvent-based methods include butane, propane, ethanol, and CO2. CO2 is particularly popular as it doesn’t require any addition of chemicals throughout the process, which typically results in the purest and safest products. However, it is also by far the most expensive and complex method, so only the most cutting-edge manufacturers are able to utilize CO2 extraction.
Solventless extraction methods do not utilize any chemical or organic solvents, except water, in the extraction process and are strictly mechanical in nature. Many consumers prefer solventless concentrates for this reason as there is no chance of intaking any undesired residual solvents, although this isn’t a huge concern if you’re purchasing concentrates from trusted and reliable manufacturers. Solventless extraction implements different combinations of applying water, heat, and pressure to achieve the final products, the specific methods of which depend on the concentrate you are looking to achieve. Common forms of solventless extracts include kief, hash, and rosin.
The Many Faces Of THC Concentrates
Some of the most popular concentrate products include wax, shatter, budder, live resin, sauce, and diamond. Each of these have their own unique characteristics and effects, allowing consumers to find the perfect product for their individual needs. It’s important to note that concentrates typically have extremely high THC concentrations (hence the name), sometimes achieving levels upwards of 99%. This makes them better suited for more experienced consumers and are not recommended for beginners, without instruction. Just like with any new form of cannabis consumption, start low and go slow, if you are new to a product or a consumption method.
So let’s take a look at some of these forms and what makes them unique:
Wax is a solvent-based concentrate that is typically created through Butane extraction. Wax gets its name from its physical appearance, which is often compared to ear-wax. We know, not the most appetizing of images, but wax is an incredibly popular form of concentrate. Wax is fairly versatile as you can consume the product with a bong, vaporizer or dab rig. Wax is highly potent and can be felt almost immediately when consumed, so make sure to plan ahead when enjoying this product.
Shatter is created in a very similar manner to wax, most often utilizing solvent-based Butane extraction. Shatter is considered one of the more visually appealing concentrates available with its honey-like, translucent coloring. When cooled, shatter has a glass-like consistency, giving it the ability to break apart, which is where it gets its namesake. Like it’s cousin wax, shatter can be consumed through dabs and vaporizers, or even placed in a joint hit for an extra intense hit. Dabbing shatter also produces very potent effects, so start off small and go from there, even if you’re a more experienced consumer.
Also a part of the wax/shatter family, budder is created through either CO2 or butane extraction. Consumers prefer budder mainly for its user-friendly consistency. Not quite a solid and not quite a liquid, budder is a creamy, pliable concentrate that can be scooped and dosed with great accuracy for a consistent and reliable consumption experience. This consistency is achieved by utilizing different temperatures and purging processes during extraction. Like shatter and wax, dabbing and vaporizers are the most common ways to consume budder.
Live resin also utilizes the same solvent-based extraction methods that wax, shatter, and budder use, but instead of extracting from dried or cured buds like these aforementioned concentrates, live resin uses cryogenically frozen plants. Freezing live plants preserves the oils, cannabinoids, and terpenes that are typically lost with other extraction methods. As a result, the aromas and flavors of live resins are much more noticeable and intense, which is the biggest reason live resin fans choose this product. Live resin is typically on the higher end of the price spectrum for concentrates as the extraction process is more expensive, however, many users consider the rich flavor profiles well worth the cost.
Like live resin, terp sauce is all about the flavor and effect spectrum. Terp sauces utilize THC distillates, which are essentially concentrates that are distilled further to achieve even higher concentration levels of THC. Distillates do not contain any odor, flavor, or strain-specific attributes as the distillation process removes every compound other than THC. Enter terp sauce. Terp sauce is created with terpenes that have been extracted from flower and reintroduced into distillates, allowing for highly customized flavor and effects that span the entire cannabis line up. Unfortunately, terp sauce tends to be similar to live resin in the higher cost category, due to the extra steps involved in its creation.
Fairly new to the concentrate universe, many experienced consumers consider weed diamonds, or THCa diamonds, to be the holy grail of concentrates. These diamonds pack a punch and are the strongest form of concentrate available, often reaching between 99%-100% potency. On it’s simplest level, these diamonds are made by extracting the non-psychoactive THCa compound from the cannabis plant, then isolating and concentrating it to create the “diamond” crystal. Because TCHa is not psychoactive in nature, combustion is required to turn the THCa into THC, most frequently by dabbing the crystals. THCa diamonds also contain no terpenes, which is the reason many manufactures choose to add terp sauce drizzles or coating to the diamonds. The result is a high flavored, super intense dabbing experience that is not for the inexperienced consumer, or the faint of heart.
At Lightshade, we carry the full range of concentrate options, so no matter what your preferred product is, we’ll have you covered. Our knowledgeable budtenders are well versed in all aspects of cannabis concentrates and are happy to guide you toward the right purchase. Stop by today to see why the Lightshade difference is night and day.