The fair majority of marijuana users—whether they are new or experienced—have heard the term “concentrates” and may even prefer these particular textures as their primary consumption method. But for people unfamiliar with them, concentrates might seem intimidating when compared to “traditional” marijuana.
Concentrates are available in many different varieties and textures and are high in both flavor and cannabinoids, leading to a satisfying high from even the smallest of quantities. But we find that even the most well-seasoned cannabis enthusiast might be hazy on how these products are actually made.
In essence, making concentrates involves separating the trichome head from the plant itself, which creates a product with a THC potency anywhere between 75-90% with 3-25% terpenes. To put that in perspective, standard cannabis ranges anywhere from 10-20% THC depending on the particular strain and quality.
The various concentrate textures are due to the individual extraction method used in their creation, which will either be solvent-based or solvent-less. Let’s break down a few of the common methods used in extraction:
Note to reader: Please do not attempt these methods at home. Most solvent-based extraction requires pressure-tested equipment, proper ventilation, and training to be performed safely!
Solvent-based extraction can rely on a number of different solvents, including alcohol, chloroform, or carbon dioxide, but the most popular is hydrocarbon. While this may sound intimidating, solvent-based extraction can result in some of the cleanest and most flavorful products available.
The most common process used for solvent-based extraction is known as BHO, or Butane Hash Oil. BHO is actually an umbrella term used for a few different product textures, including wax, shatter, honeycomb, and oil. The different quality and consistencies in these products are the result of variable factors within the production process, such as the quality of the starting material, the type of solvent used, and other factors like temperature, timing, and additional extractions.
In general, the solvent-based extraction process requires a few steps:
- Material is placed tightly into a stainless tube.
- Solvent is run over the material and then collected.
- Residual solvent is then purged from the oil through evaporation. Various different techniques are then used to achieve the desired end texture.
The main benefit of a solvent-based concentrate is the ability to target molecules in the trichome head. With the appropriate variables adjusted, producers can create incredibly pure concentrates with most undesirable material removed. While solvent-based concentrates are very popular, there are other processes that yield strong potency that are also safe to do at home.
Unlike the solvent-based methods described above, solvent-less extraction doesn’t require the use of solvents in the production process. Typically, this process involves water in the form of ice, heat, pressure, and a fine screen or sieve. Some of the most common textures produced through this method include hash, kief, and rosin. The processes used to produce these concentrates are quite simple and much safer than solvent-based extraction.
Bubble hash can be made by separating the trichomes from the plant using ice water. Once separated, the trichomes are filtered, dried, and then put through a sieve. Each strain is unique and the size of the trichome head will lead to the best-tasting products being collected at different levels in the filtering process.
Rosin is produced through a simple process using a heat source, pressure, and parchment paper. Marijuana is folded between the paper and heat and pressure are applied, releasing the resin from the bud. Your hair straightener will work just fine! Professionals like to take the best bubble hash and further filter it during this process to yield a cleaner and higher-quality product known as hash rosin.
Kief is produced through the simplest process, requiring only a three-chamber grinder which will isolate the kief from the bud in the bottom chamber. This is usually a very dry trichome head which separates easily and is perfect for adding to a joint or bowl for an extra kick.
The examples of concentrates above aren’t comprehensive, and that’s the wonderful thing about the cannabis industry, which is constantly refining processes through technology, science, experimentation, and a passion for the product.
The best way to get consistent, quality concentrates is to source a trusted cannabis brand at your local dispensary. The professionals are masters in concentrate production so all you need to worry about is enjoying the experience of fine concentrates made from the best material.