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Your Guide to Cannabis Concentrates

When you have enjoyed a fair share of rolled marijuana, nibbled on edibles and used the standard CBD products, like lotions and capsules, you might start to wonder, “What’s next?” The answer, without a doubt, is concentrates. 

Concentrates are cannabis products created to contain only the active ingredients of cannabis, so to speak, while removing the excess plant materials and impurities. When you use concentrates, you are enjoying a greater proportion of cannabinoids and terpenes. 

If you have been around your local dispensary a time or two, you have probably seen and perhaps even partaken in concentrates. However, if you still aren’t sure what concentrates are or how to use them on your own, here’s a handy guide.

Concentrates come in dozens of forms, but almost all of them take on a golden-honey hue, which is why concentrates are often given nicknames like butter, earwax, sap and honey oil. Concentrates are made through various complex processes of extraction and refinement. Different types of concentrates are made in different ways; different parts of the cannabis plant, the method of extraction and the consistency of the concentrate all affect the final product’s quality and use. 

Here are some of the more common types of concentrates you are likely to find at your local dispensary like Mission Cannabis Club or Weedmaps:

Parts of the Plant

  • Trim run. Made from the stems, leaves and discarded baby nugs, trim run tends to be an inexpensive concentrate that offers a decent high and a peppery flavor.

  • Nug run. A much higher-quality concentrate than a trim run, a nug run is made from marijuana buds and flowers, which contain the most cannabinoids and terpenes. This concentrate tends to be extremely potent and flavorful, but it tends to be pricey, too.

Extraction Process

  • Butane hash oil (BHO). Butane pulls out cannabinoids and terpenes to make an exceedingly THC-rich concentrate. Working with butane can be dangerous as well as toxic, so it is always best to buy this concentrate rather than make it yourself.

  • Propane hash oil (PHO). PHO is like BHO, but a bit better. Propane is a bit safer and easier to work with than butane, and PHO whips into an exceedingly smooth, buttery concentrate.

  • CO2. Extracting cannabinoids and terpenes with CO2 is exceedingly clean, but because it requires specialized equipment, the resulting concentrate also tends to be exceedingly expensive. Typically, only the best, high-end manufacturers truck with CO2 concentrates.

  • Dry sift. Kief or hashish is the powder-like substance left at the bottom of your grinder — and it is so beloved that it is produced and sold as a concentrate. When buds and other plant material are rubbed over a fine mesh, it creates a dry sift concentrate identical to kief.

  • Full melt. A derivative of hash, full melt is largely appreciated as the most potent, cleanest and overall best concentrate on the market — but it is difficult to make and even more difficult to find for sale. 

Consistency

  • Shatter. Shatter looks and feels like glass; it is transparent, and it easily, well, shatters. Shatter is most often produced through BHO or PHO, and its quality can be difficult to discern. Plus, shatter is difficult to use because its high evaporation point makes it impossible to smoke; you need a butane torch or nail rig to vaporize the concentrate. Generally, shatter should be reserved only for the most experienced stoners.

  • Crumble. Made through baking at a low temperature for a long time, crumble is softer than shatter but still quite delicate and will fall apart when handled. This is highly potent and carries flavor, but is much easier to use — it works well with vaporizers and dab rigs.

  • Wax. With the consistency of honey, wax is one of the most widely available concentrates, so it is where many concentrate newbies start. You can use wax in a vaporizer or dab rig, but you should be exceedingly careful with dosage because it can be incredibly potent. You should expect wax to be about four times more expensive than bud.

  • Sap. Sap is solid at cooler temperatures but becomes runny when it gets warm, making it frustrating to work with. Still, sap is potent and also easy to find and obtain.

  • Pull-and-snap. If you want to be able to handle a concentrate with your hands, you need pull-and-snap, which feels exactly like taffy. Perhaps the easiest concentrate to work with, pull-and-snap is separated by twisting off the right amount and flattening it into a vape or dab rig — no mess, no stress.

  • Budder. Budder looks more like unbaked cookie dough than butter, but it is one of the purest, most potent concentrates you can get, with more than 90 percent THC. Because of its potency and its difficulty to make — it requires vigorous whipping during extraction — budder boasts an especially high price tag.

  • Rick Simpson Oil (RSO). RSO a small pellet that can be placed under the tongue for fast, easy absorption. Because RSO is absurdly high in THC, it is often reserved for medical use.

As is always the case when you delve into a new type of drug, you should start low and go slow when it comes to dosage. As your body acclimates to the higher potency of concentrates, you will start to appreciate just how powerful these cannabis products can be.

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