No matter where you’re at in your cannabis journey – the very beginning, somewhere in the middle, or well on your way to expert-level exploration – there’s always something new to discover.
With so many different ways to consume cannabis, plus new product options debuting every day, there is something for everyone of age (read: +21).
But even though having so many choices is one of the many benefits of a cannabis-enhanced lifestyle, it can also be one of the biggest challenges. Keeping up with all the different forms of cannabis is no small task, even for the dedicated enthusiast.
But here at Canna Provisions, we have you covered. We’re mapping out everything you need to know about the world of cannabis, and today, we’re breaking down cannabis concentrates. In this guide to cannabis concentrates, we’ll be talking about what they are, how they’re made, and why finding a great THC concentrate might just be your best discovery yet.
What are Cannabis Concentrates?
Within the cannabis flower, there is a broad range of chemical substances known as cannabinoids and terpenes. These substances are what give each strain its unique characteristics. Depending on the strain’s specific balance of cannabinoids and terpenes, you can look forward to a distinct experience involving various flavors, aromas, and effects.
A cannabis concentrate is an extraction of the trichomes of the cannabis plant (where the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other beneficial compounds are concentrated). Excess plant material is discarded, along with anything else considered unnecessary.
The result is an incredibly concentrated product that can serve as an amplified version of the strain in its original form. The final product has a far greater proportion of cannabinoids and terpenes when compared to raw flower, hence the name “cannabis concentrate.”
Concentrates vs. extracts
You’ll often see the terms “cannabis extract” and “cannabis concentrate” used interchangeably, but that’s not exactly accurate. An extract is a type of concentrate, specifically made using a solvent-based process. So, all extracts are concentrates, but not all concentrates can be considered extracts.
How are Cannabis Concentrates Made?
At its simplest level, a concentrate is made with the trichomes of the cannabis plant. But as it turns out, how those trichomes are extracted makes a significant difference in the end product.
A manufacturer may opt for a specific extraction method for several reasons, including the desired final product. All of the methods can generally be organized into two main types: solvent extraction and solvent-free extraction.
- Solvent extraction, also known as a liquid solvent or solvent-based extraction, uses a chemical solvent to separate the cannabis compounds from the plant matter. Then, the resulting solution has to go through several refining processes to remove the solvent(s) and any other unwanted elements.
- Solvent-free extraction, or non-solvent extraction/physical separation, does not require a chemical solvent. Instead, the trichome heads are physically removed from the cannabis plant through pressing, shaking, or another method. The exact approach to obtaining the trichomes depends on the intended final result.
Many consumers prefer one of the other, based on personal factors and opinions.
Types of Cannabis Concentrates
Generally, concentrates fall into one of two broad categories: full-spectrum and isolates.
- A full-spectrum concentrate contains the full range of cannabinoids and terpenes within a given plant. Many consumers believe in a theory known as the “entourage effect,” which suggests that the combination of these active chemicals produces a synergistic effect and improved benefits as a whole.
- An isolate is a highly purified form of cannabis, which aims to isolate a single compound to a potency level as close to 100% as possible.
Within these two basic groups, there are numerous types of concentrates. Often named according to their textures or extraction methods, cannabis concentrate types come in an impressive variety of forms.
Here are just some of the many forms of marijuana concentrates you can find at your local dispensary:
Shatter was one of the earliest forms of concentrate, and it remains among the most popular today. Named for its delicate, glass-like consistency, shatter is a thin sheet of extract that easily breaks into many small pieces. High-quality shatter tends to be amber or clear in color, with darker shades usually associated with the presence of leftover impurities.
A thick, whipped consistency resembling butter is the key characteristic of this concentrate type. Soft but solid, budder is one of the easiest forms of concentrate to work with, as well as one of the most versatile.
Crumble is simply a more brittle version of budder, taking on a crumbly consistency that might remind you of a honeycomb. Rather than the matte finish of traditional budder, crumble is usually glossy and full of shine.
This thick, sticky liquid concentrate comes in a spectrum of shades from bright mustard yellow to deep amber. With a more uniform structure than its closely related concentrate cousin (“sugar”), sauce has a somewhat crystalline consistency.
A single cannabinoid in a solid, sugar-like form, crystalline can look like a fine powder or a small, dense rock. These crystals are considered the purest cannabis concentrate in existence and usually consist of either THCA, CBD, or CBDA.
Usually high in THC, wax has a thick texture that’s exactly the consistency you’d expect: waxy. The exact appearance of this firm, gel-like concentrate can vary, as can its cannabinoid content. Like shatter, wax is a widely popular option among cannabis consumers.
As a gold standard of potency, flavor, and purity, rosin is a highly prized concentrate made without the use of a solvent. Because of this, you can expect rosin to be much more flavorful than other types of concentrates. For consumers that like to dab (more on that below), rosin is often their concentrate of choice.
You can usually find CO2 oils in pre-filled vape pens and cartridges. The concentrated oils are extracted in a process that involves CO2 gas, taking place at a lower temperature and allowing the preservation of flavors and natural terpenes. Similar to rosin, CO2 oil is a favorite for flavor-loving consumers.
Free from terpenes, waxes, flavonoids, or other natural compounds, distillate is an extremely concentrated product that contains a specific cannabinoid. Usually, it’s a high-THC concentrate, though there are other cannabinoids available as well. The complex process used to create distillate extracts, separates, and purifies the oil until everything but the cannabinoid has been removed.
How to Enjoy Concentrates
One of the most frequent questions our guides receive is, “how do you use concentrated wax?” (or shatter, sugar, budder, and so on – you fill in the blank).
Although many people think that cannabis concentrates are reserved for experienced consumers who know how to dab, you might be surprised to learn just how versatile they actually are. There are options for all experience levels and preferences, so you can take your pick:
Dabbing is a classic way to consume cannabis concentrates, using a piece of equipment known as a “dab rig” and a heat source. The dab rig heats up a small serving of extract, which flash vaporizes it and transforms it into an inhalable, cannabinoid-rich vapor.
Ideal for the new concentrate consumer, topping flower (or “bowl topping”) involves adding a small amount of shatter, budder, or wax on top of a bowl that has been packed with cannabis flower. You can also layer the concentrate and cannabis flower, or place a sprinkling inside your joint before it’s rolled.
Pairing cannabis concentrates with a vaporizer has emerged as one of the most popular methods, simply because it is extremely convenient, easy, and discreet. You can find many pre-filled cartridges made with concentrated cannabis oil, or you can choose to fill your own. Like dabbing, vaping heats the concentrate until it converts into a light, fluffy vapor.
Benefits of Marijuana Concentrates
For fans of concentrates, the list of advantages is long. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference, but many consumers agree that concentrates can offer many benefits, including:
- An alternative to smoking: For some consumers, smoking cannabis just isn’t the right fit. Whether you’re avoiding smoking for medical reasons or it simply isn’t your cup of tea, consuming concentrates can be an amazing alternative. You’ll still have access to terpenes, cannabinoids, and all their plant-based properties, but in a smoke-free form.
- Discretion: Depending on how you choose to enjoy your concentrate of choice, passersby might not even know that you’re consuming cannabis. There are many individuals that value discretion as a top priority, and being able to skip the smoke and smell often associated with cannabis is seen as a big benefit.
- Flavor: Once plant materials are removed, the natural aroma and flavor of your favorite strain can really shine. If flavor is one of your favorite parts of enjoying cannabis, then concentrates could be a great match.
Tips for Finding the Best Cannabis Concentrates for You
You’re almost ready to make the leap into concentrates… but first, here are a few tips to help you shop like a pro.
Learn how to interpret concentrate product descriptions and labels.
At first glance, the product label for a concentrate can be confusing. However, once you know how to break it down into its key components, it becomes much easier to read.
For example, you might see a concentrate labeled as “Crumble | Wedding Mints | 1G | Sanctuary Medicinals; Indica; THC: 79.1%.” Here’s what that means:
- This concentrate is a badder
- The strain used to make this product is Wedding Mints
- There is a total of 1 gram of product
- The brand behind this concentrate is Sanctuary Medicinals
- It is made with a Indica strain
- The THC concentration level is 79.1%
Understand that not all concentrates are created equally.
Like any cannabis product, a concentrate can range from top-quality to seriously subpar. There are many factors that affect the quality of a concentrate, including the plant material used (known as input material), the integrity of the extraction process, and more.
This makes it extremely important that you only purchase marijuana concentrates from licensed dispensaries and brands. Beyond affecting the enjoyment factor of your experience, a poorly-made product can even put you at risk for unpleasant side effects.
Do your research.
With this guide in hand, you’re already off to a solid start. Learning more about concentrates is the most effective way to set yourself up for success (or at the very least, a first-time experience that doesn’t disappoint).
This doesn’t mean that you need to devote hours to perusing the internet for every detail you can find. Instead, just take some time to build a basic foundation (done, once you finish reading this), and use that information to consider your own preferences. Knowing the types of concentrates available for sale, as well as some core characteristics of each, can make it much easier to shop.
Beyond that, don’t hesitate to ask for help. The dispensary staff is there to support customers and patients, so don’t feel as if your questions are unwelcome – and if they are, it’s time to find a new dispensary.
Best of all: A Canna Provisions guide can match your goals and preferences to some suggested products, simplifying the process considerably.
Cannabis Concentrates: FAQs
Is THC concentrate safe?
There are many questions surrounding the safety of THC concentrates, both dealing with the methods of consumption and the concentrates themselves. But with the proper products, equipment, and knowledge, you can enjoy THC concentrate with confidence.
Here’s what you should know about staying safe with cannabis concentrates:
- Use common sense and safety precautions when consuming concentrates. One of the many ways to enjoy a marijuana concentrate is via dabbing. Dabbing involves the use of a heat source, just like cooking up your morning omelet, so being careful is key – but being fearful isn’t necessary. Make sure that you’ve taken the time to learn how to dab properly, and invest in correctly-made equipment, and all should be well.
What is the average percentage of cannabinoids for concentrate products?
The average percentage of cannabinoids in a concentrate varies widely, based on the type of concentrate and other factors. For example, a lightly-processed concentrate such as hash might contain anywhere from 20 to 60% THC, whereas a premium distillate might run upwards of 90%.
And while a beginner-level consumer might assume that the higher the percentage, the better, that’s not necessarily the case. Every individual has their own ideal cannabis experience, so the “perfect percentage” is never going to be one-size-fits-all. There are plenty of people who enjoy low-potency and micro-dosing, while others opt for high-potency products.
Browse a Variety of Cannabis Concentrates for Sale at Canna Provisions
From dabbing to vaping and every way in between, there’s an option for just about any adult consumer who’s interested in giving concentrates a try. If you’re new to the world of cannabis concentrates, here’s the bottom line: these products offer up a potent punch of terpenes and cannabinoids, capturing what many consumers believe are the best qualities of the cannabis experience.
At Canna Provisions dispensaries in Lee and Holyoke, you’ll find an exceptionally curated collection of cannabis concentrates. We carry concentrates from the best brands in the business, so you can shop locally without sacrificing quality. Plus, our experienced guides are outfitted with all the knowledge you need to make an informed and confident purchase. Canna Provisions is your source for unmatched quality and service, whether you’re shopping for concentrates or one of the many other forms of cannabis.
Learn more about how to enjoy concentrates in a way that enhances your cannabis journey when you visit the Canna Provisions dispensaries today!
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