What techniques are used to make
If you’re looking to experience the power of cannabinoids at their absolute maximum, concentrates are the way to go.
We often come back to this topic, as we know high-quality cannabis concentrate can be very hard to find.
While more and more consumers decide to venture into the world of concentrates, the production method is still a bit of a mystery for most cannabis users.
For those of you who want to know more about concentrates and how they are made, this article is a perfect place to start as we dive a little deeper into the science behind it all.
What are concentrates?
Before we start talking about how a concentrate is made, let’s cover the basics.
An easy way to explain what concentrates are is to focus on how they differ from traditional dry cannabis flowers (more commonly known as buds).
Both dry flowers and concentrates come from the cannabis plant and can be purchased in dispensaries or delivered right to you by a cannabis delivery service.
So what are the differences between the two? Well, for starters, the process varies greatly. The process of creating concentrates can be quite complex and involves removing all the plant material. As a result, only the most powerful and wanted active ingredients are left.
Therefore, it’s safe to say only the creme-de-la-creme of the cannabinoid world will find their way into a high-quality concentrate.
Another important difference is a significantly smaller amount of concentrate is needed to feel the effects, compared to that of dry flowers. That is because concentrates (as the name suggests) will have a much higher concentration of cannabinoids than traditional cannabis flowers.
It’s possible to find sauce, shatter, crumble, budder, rosin, and live resin (all concentrates) with 70% to 90% THC content. This is astronomically high if you compare it to the THC content of regular flowers, which can range from 10% to 40%.
What is the difference between different types of concentrates?
With plenty of cannabis concentrates available on the market, you might be wondering – is there any difference between them?
While all concentrates are characterized by a high percentage of active cannabinoids, the main difference between them is the consistency.
For example, shatter is characterized by a consistency comparable to that of a thin, nearly see-through lollipop, which you could easily snap and break into several smaller pieces.
Wax is softer than shatter and has a hardened honey consistency. Crumble on the other hand, is somewhere in the middle – it’s harder than wax, but soft enough for it to crumble.
There’s also budder and badder. Budder’s texture will be creamy and smooth. Badder is more fluid and has a resemblance and texture similar to that of cake batter.
How to extract cannabinoids from the cannabis plant?
To make any cannabis product that is not a dry flower, the active ingredients must first be extracted from the plant matter.
Depending on what results you want to achieve, you will usually use slightly different parts of the plant. For example, if you want to extract CBD, you can use hemp flowers, stems and leaves.
If you want to make concentrates, you will focus on marijuana flowers with a high THC content.
And suppose you want to produce some Live Resin. You will then need to use the freshest cannabis plants available. The plant matter will then have to be deep-frozen right after harvesting. This technique helps preserve most of the active ingredients, including terpenes responsible for the wonderful smells and taste of cannabis.
Remember that the concentrates you buy at dispensaries are produced using specialized and expensive equipment. Therefore, only experts with technical knowledge should use such equipment, as its use by inexperienced people in non-industrial settings can be very dangerous.
Different types of cannabis extraction methods
There is more than one way to extract active ingredients from cannabis.
Here are the most popular techniques used by large scale producers.
Hydrocarbon Extraction Method (BHO)
This method of extraction is the most commonly used to create cannabis concentrates.
For this technique to work, you need a hydrocarbon solvent. The most commonly used solvent is Butane, but other solvents (such as propane) can also be used.
The process is pretty simple. First, Butane is poured over the raw plant material, slowly removing cannabinoids and other active ingredients.
When the washing over process is completed, all that is left is a liquid consisting of a mix of the plant ingredients and the solvent itself. So before the end product can be made, Butane (or any other solvent that was used) needs to be removed entirely first. This is done through various steps and techniques.
The significant benefit of this method is that it has been tried and tested for a long period of time with great results. Additionally, it’s relatively cheap. However, it can be very dangerous when the process is run by unskilled people or on inadequate equipment.
It’s important to remember that the solvents used during this extraction process are not safe for human consumption. For this very reason, you should always stay away from these kinds of products if they come from an unknown source. On top of that, Butane is highly flammable, so using it in an inadequately designed space can result in an explosion. So do not try this at home!
CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) Extraction Method
Did you know that CO2 is an ingredient that can be put into the “supercritical” state?
This means that by using temperature and pressure, we can make CO2 express the qualities of both a liquid and a gas. Pretty dope, right? It sounds like a superhero quality, if you ask us!
When put into this supercritical state, CO2 can be used to penetrate the cannabis plant and extract all the beneficial compounds.
The equipment used for this type of extraction consists of chambers and pumps. CO2 and the plant matter are mixed in one of the chambers, and after specific reactions occur, the producers will end up with a mix of CO2 and oil containing all the extracted ingredients.
This method is considered to be quick, effective and safe when done by professionals. And just like in the case of the Hydrocarbon extraction method, do not try this at home!
Steam Distillation Method
The steam distillation method is the old school way of extracting various ingredients and is often used in the perfume industry to extract essential oils.
While it can be used for cannabis extraction, the cannabis industry tends to stay away from it. There are two reasons for this. First of all, when using the steam distillation technique, more raw plant material needs to be used. Second of all, producers have way less control over the whole process. This means that even if the highest quality cannabis is used, the end result might still be a low-quality product.
The machine used for steam distillation is very simple. The raw plant material is put into a large glass container which is connected to another smaller container filled with boiling water.
Once the steam (released from the boiling water) makes contact with the plant material, a vapor is released containing various active ingredients.
This vapor is captured, and then separated into oil and water. The oil can then be used to make various cannabis products, including concentrates.
Ethanol extraction method
It is also possible to extract cannabis ingredients using alcohol (ethanol).
This method is considered to be relatively cheap and straightforward.
In this case, the raw plant material is soaked in ethanol and then removed. The remaining liquid is a mix of ethanol and the active ingredients from the cannabis plants. Ethanol is then completely removed from the final product.
If warm or hot ethanol is used, the process is similar to the Butane extraction method, with the extra step of ethanol being poured over the plant material multiple times.
How are other ingredients removed after extraction?
When producers use any of the extraction methods discussed above, they might want to continue the process to remove other ingredients they don’t want.
What cannabinoids are present in the end result, and in what amounts, depends not only on the type of cannabis strain used and the quality of the grow but also on the various pressure and filtration methods that are applied.
Usually, in order to remove more ingredients, the product needs to go through various stages of filtration and boiling, and often multiple times.
Are there any other differences?
Some types of concentrates require extra steps or slightly different techniques. Here are some examples.
Live Resin concentrates are considered to be of the highest quality and are incredibly aromatic and flavoursome. This is because the process of deep-freezing the cannabis before moving to any extraction methods allows for all the flavours to be trapped and transferred. It is also a very expensive technique and is the reason why Live Resin is often referred to as the caviar of the concentres’ world. You can learn more about it here.
Hashish, on the other hand, is a product that has been around for a very long time and is traditionally made by pressing kief into discs (or balls) of condensed marijuana. Bubble hash is made similarly, but with an additional step of placing the flowers in a bag and giving them an ice water bath.
And when it comes to the RSO (Rick Simpson Oil) we have a whole article about that right here.
Knowing how cannabis products are made is pretty cool. It allows for more appreciation of the process, the producers, and the end product.
The basic info we went through in this article is enough to help you understand the way in which your favorite concentrate is made.
And if you are into concentrates and dabbing, make sure to give RSO or Live resin a try. They really provide a unique and strong cannabis experience.
If, on the other hand, you have never tried cannabis products before, we recommend you start with dry flowers or oils, as concentrates might hit you a bit too hard.
And remember, if you’re not sure which product to go for, get in touch. We are here to help.