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A Basic Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis Concentrates

Dipping your toes into the world of cannabis concentrates for the first time can be overwhelming and confusing: first, there are many types of concentrates now legally available across Canada, and second, you need to learn a whole new set of lingo and cannabis terms. We want to help by providing you with the ultimate beginner’s guide to concentrates, and the consumption of them.

WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?

Cannabis concentrates refer to cannabis flower which has undergone an extraction process. By doing this, you remove the plant matter and other impurities, and are left with the best part of the bud: the THC, CBD, and terpenes. The end-product will either resemble honey, wax, butter, or hard candy; it will be much more potent than dried flower; and concentrates can be consumed a few ways.

Pressed cannabis concentrate (Rosin)

TYPES OF EXTRACTION

The good part of your bud can be extracted one of two ways: either with solvents, or with out.

With solvents:
The solvents can include butane, propane, or alcohol, and they’re used to strip away the unwanted compounds (anything that isn’t THC, CBD, or terpenes). Once the cannabis flower is exposed to the solvents repeatedly, the solvent chemicals are boiled off, and you’re left with an oil. The solvent practice is declining in popularity, due to the dangers of handling the solvents, the risk of explosions, as well as evidence that this process can leave behind unwanted impurities in your product (chlorophyll, or the solvents themselves).

Example of "shatter" cannabis concentrate

Without solvents:
Ice water, also referred to as ‘cold water extraction,’ works by exposing the cannabis plant directly to freezing cold water, thus making the trichomes very brittle. The cold water is also agitated to help separation. The cannabinoids and terpenes are fat-soluble, allowing the extract to be easily separated from the water. The end-product is usually a type of bubble hash or kief.

Co2 extracted cannabis concentrate (THC diamonds and terpene sauce)

You can also use the power of heat and pressure (at the proper amounts) to separate the trichomes. On a small scale, it could look like a bud being squeezed with a hair straightener. The heat and pressure push out the trichomes in a thick, honey-like liquid, or ‘rosin.’ But they do have machines for it, so rather than goo-ing up your hair straightener, you can purchase a small counter-top ‘rosin press’ to get your desired extract.

HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR CONCENTRATE

Many concentrates and extracts receive their name from their method of extraction. For example, C02 oil and butane hash oil. Others receive their names from their consistency, after extraction: budder (looks like peanut butter); wax (looks like soft candle wax…or ear wax); and shatter (could be mistaken for hard candy). You have a lot to choose from.

A good way to judge is the consumption methods available to you:

  • The less viscous oils can be a tasty addition to your rolling paper for your joint.
  • The harder shatters and the thicker wax and budder are great if you have higher temperatures like you would for a dab nail, or a vape pen.
  • Vape pens can handle most types of concentrates.
  • Or maybe you have a great bong, but no dab nail or rig for it; then may we suggest sprinkling some wax atop your bong bowl?

CONSUMPTION METHODS

  • Dabs: can be done on a ‘dab rig,’ or a bong with a dab adapter: First, you heat a nail, then place your dollop of concentrate on the nail, and pull as you would on a bong. Shop our bangin Bottle rigs here!
  • Vapes: Volcanoes, vape pens, and all the vaporisers in between.
  • Joints: we recommend only using oil on your papers or sprinkling drier concentrates in with your stash. Harder concentrates require higher temps than a joint can provide, so you might waste it.
  • Bong bowls: apply the same rule as above.


Just remember that when trying any type of cannabis product for the first time to take it slow and take it easy. If you are a beginner with concentrates, we recommend starting with basic shatter, as it has a lower price point, and delivers a ton of terpenes and flavour.

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Written by, Bernadette Gallagher, @Beeswriting

2 comments

  • The Smoking Quartz

    Replying to The Lettuce Lady: Its hard to tell and there may be some truth to that. I would personally ask somebody who is familiar with cannabis extractions. From what we have seen and researched its really hard to tell right now how pure your shatter is. It used to be how clear it is or if it was that nice golden/bronze colour but that doesn’t seem to be what people are saying anymore. Apparently the 2 colours that you do want to avoid in concentrates are black and green, as it hasn’t been refined enough or there may be the presence of chlorophyll. Colour differences may be to do with older material, more developed trichomes, excessive heat at purging process or perhaps left to dry a little too long. Shatter does loose a lot of its flavour (terpenes) from the extraction process anyway but i have found in my personal opinion to have enjoyed the more clear golden types of shatter. Hope this helps.


  • The Lettuce Lady

    I’ve noticed a huge difference in flavour when it comes to shatter- essentially, the darker brown it is, to me, the fouler-tasting it is. When I asked why some varieties were opaque and some clear, I was told it just ‘depends on the strain’…but I’m not convinced. Could you shine some light on this??


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