A vast amount of information is now available about cannabis –its history, composition, applications and health benefits. Sometimes, the more we learn about marijuana, the more we realize we don’t know. It’s not uncommon for long-time consumers to find themselves in a social setting with savvy cannasseurs and feel like they’re the only ones in the room who don’t speak the language – especially when the conversation turns to a topic as complex as cannabis concentrates.
If you’ve ever found yourself feeling lost when your companions start throwing around terms like shatter and badder and crumble and kief – have no fear. We’ve put together a simple guide of everything you need to know about cannabis concentrates – or at least enough to keep up in your social circles.
What are Cannabis Concentrates?
The magic of cannabis comes from the small, sparkling structures known as trichomes that cover the plant’s buds, flowers and leaves. The trichomes produce and hold the cannabinoids (like THC and CBD) and terpenes that give different strains their unique aromas and effects.
Concentrates are products intentionally made to preserve high levels of these cannabinoids and terpenes. The history of cannabis concentrates goes as far back as 10,000 BC in the Steppe Mountains of China. Twelve thousand years of staying power can be attributed to their purity, potency and portability.
- Purity – Concentrates are created by extracting the most desirable parts of the plant (a.k.a. cannabinoids and terpenes). The process discards anything else like leaves, stems and other impurities, resulting in a pure final product.
- Potency – Just like the name suggests, cannabis concentrates have a greater concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes ounce for ounce than natural cannabis flower. It’s not uncommon to find concentrates that contain 80%+ THC. Due to this potency, users feel the effects within moments and their experience can last for several hours.
- Portability – Because they’re produced in so many different formats, some types of concentrates – like extracts – are easier to enjoy on the go than flower. Vape cartridges and batteries make it easy to carry your cannabis discreetly and enjoy it when you’re out and about.
Types of Cannabis Concentrates
You may hear the terms “extract” and “concentrate” used interchangeably. There is actually a difference. Extracts are a type of concentrate – so all extracts are concentrates, but not all concentrates are extracts.
The difference lies in the processing method. Concentrates can be produced through solvent or non-solvent methods. If a solvent is used to draw the trichomes from the plant, the resulting product is an extract. If mechanical or physical means – such as water, pressure or heat – are used, the result is a concentrate, but not an extract.
There are a dozen or so different types of cannabis concentrates that vary in visual appearance, texture and consistency. Some of the most common terms you’ll here are:
- Wax is among the most common concentrates. It’s shiny, sticky and crumbly, and is commonly consumed by “dabbing.”
- Shatter can have a brittle, glass-like or a snap-and-pull consistency (like taffy candy). These concentrates are high in terpenes, giving them a strong aromatic profile, and can range from a golden yellow to dark amber color.
- Budder and badder are softer and glossy, like a stick of butter. They’re easy to handle and can be spread on blunts or joints.
- Crumble is a more brittle version of budder or badder. Like its name suggests, crumble has a crumbly, honeycomb consistency with a matte yellow color.
- Sugar refers to any concentrate that is similar to wet, sappy sugar. Colors range from bright yellow to deep amber, and the overall texture isn’t uniform.
- Sauce looks stickier and is thicker than sugar. It’s similar in color but the overall composition is more uniform and the crystalline structure is prominent.
- Crystalline is a transparent or semi-transparent crystallized compound that resembles crystalized sugar. It tops the list as the purest concentrate, with some products coming it at 99.9% pure THCA.
- Kief is a powdery substance that lives on cannabis flower and is the most basic THC concentrate. While it’s technically considered a concentrate, it is unprocessed. If you grind your flower, you’re likely familiar with kief. It’s the fine layer of goodness you find at the bottom of your grinder.
- Hash is pressed kief or compressed resin made by condensing THC-rich trichomes with high temperature and pressure. It is the oldest method of creating concentrated marijuana.
- Rosin is a solid form of cannabis wax. It’s made with the entire cannabis bud, unlike hash which uses just the trichomes.
- Distillate is made by passing the cannabis extract through a purification process several times, resulting in a clarified distillate with a honey-like consistency.
Aside from the names, consistency and color, what really distinguishes one type of concentrate from another is the means used the create it. If you really want to be more knowledgeable than your cannabis-loving friends, check out this complete guide to cannabis concentrates where you can learn all about the various extraction methods for these different products.
Enjoying Marijuana Concentrates with Friends
While it’s often overlooked, cannabis is a great medicine to support social wellness, which is a vital component of our total health. Feeling relaxed and uplifted goes a long way in helping you get the most from social situations.
Cannabis concentrates can be a great choice for social cannabis use. They’re potent. They work fast. And they can be used in various ways. The recommended consumption method depends on the type and texture of the concentrate, as well as your personal preferences.
One preferred way to enjoy cannabis concentrates is dabbing, a flash vaporization method in which oils are applied to a hot surface and inhaled, typically using a dab rig like the Peak Smart Rig from PuffCo. You can attempt to make your own dab rig using a water pipe, nail, dome and a torch, but an improper setup can lead to less than desirable results.
If you don’t have a dab setup, or need a more transportable method for social gatherings, consider topping your bowl with powdered kief or wrapping wax around a joint. These methods are easy, cost-effective and increase the potency of your flower, while adding an extra boost of flavor.
Vaping is the most discreet and portable way to enjoy your concentrates. Whether you choose a vape pen or handheld vaporizer, it’s an easy way to use cannabis socially and share with your friends.
Things to Know Before You Share Your Cannabis
Even though cannabis concentrates can be a fun addition to social situations, their potency may not be ideal for some users. It’s a good idea to counsel first-time concentrate users about the typical experience. Refer to product labels to see how many milligrams of cannabinoids a certain concentrate contains so that you and your friends can accurately dose.
It’s important to be aware of the laws governing the use of cannabis, concentrates and vaping in public. After all, the goal is to increase your health and happiness, not wind up in a legal mess.