Concentrates, they’re everywhere these days and in more shapes, flavors, and textures than there are stars in the sky, at least it seems that way. These juicy yet powerful products have become increasingly abundant since the legalization of marijuana. It should go without saying that concentrates are quickly becoming one of the most popular consumption methods in the industry. Generally speaking, concentrates have a smoother and more pure flavor and fewer carcinogens than traditional dried flower. With so many strains, textures, devices, flavors, and extraction methods as there are in today’s cannabis industry, picking the perfect concentrate to fit your needs can, at times, seem like an impossible feet. Fortunately, the world of the sweet, juicy cannabis concentrates is far less complicated than meets the eye. A well selected concentrate has the power to transform the cannabis experience for the better.
What are Concentrates?
When you look at the basics of what concentrates are made of, they’re all about the same. Cannabis oil is the resin that lives inside the trichomes of the cannabis plant. The trichomes are the crystals that live on the surface of the bud. Everything else on the plant isn’t needed to receive any psychoactive effects. So the purpose of extraction, or making concentrates is to isolate all of that good stuff inside the trichomes while leaving behind the plant matter.
There are a few different extraction methods used in the process.
- Hydrocarbon Extraction is the most common for its versatility and accuracy. It uses butane and propane to produce clean and flavorful concentrates such as wax, shatter, and live resin. Before these types of concentrates can hit the shelves, they are required to go in for testing to ensure that the residual solvents have been purged to safe levels.
- CO2 or Supercritical CO2 produces a pure and flavorful concentrate. Many prefer CO2 extracts because Supercritical CO2 acts like a solvent without any of the residue. CO2 oil is a popular choice for making distillate and for filling cartridges. The consistency is often similar to honey.
- Solventless concentrates are, obviously the most pure as there are absolutely no chemicals used to extract the resin. Some of these methods have been used for thousands of years. Dry sift hash is made by pressing kief. Rosin is one of the more modern versions of solventless extraction. It is made by pressing cannabis between two heated plates. These are the only types of concentrates that are safe to make at home.
When deciding on a concentrate, it is important to consider the different textures and consistencies. More often than not, the consistency, or type of concentrate will tell you how it was extracted and purged.
- Wax is usually hydrocarbon extracted oil that has been whipped on a heated surface. It usually has a reasonably high terpene profile and is easy to work with. The heated aeration is how the residual butane or propane is purged.
- Shatter, like wax is usually made from hydrocarbon oil that has been poured onto a sheet and baked in a vacuum oven at a low temperature for at least 24 hours. This is what gives it its flat, glass-like consistency as well as how the residual solvents are purged. If it is too cold, it will live up to its name and shatter. We recommend heating up a tool to make it easier to work with.
- Live Resin is the most flavorful concentrate on the market. It is made from freshly harvested cannabis that is flash frozen and then extracted. This process preserves the plant’s full terpene profile. Live Resin usually has a mixture of crystals, which is the THC, and liquid which are the terpenes. Live resin can be more expensive, but trust us, it’s worth it. Though not all concentrates that are made this way will be “Live Resin”, they should have the term “Live” in the name to indicate that it was extracted from a freshly harvested and frozen plant.
- Distillate is made from distilled CO2 oil. It is initially an odorless and tasteless concentrate. Some companies will collect the naturally occurring terpenes and reintroduce them, while others will add different flavors such as blue raspberry and grape. Its consistency and versatility make it the most common concentrates for cartridges. Distillate has also become popular among edible makers since it doesn’t have flavor until flavor is reintroduced.
How to Pick Out Concentrates
Much like picking out a strain of flower, the process of picking out a concentrate is best done with your eyes closed. Wondering what are terpene? Terpenes are the aromatics and the flavor of the cannabis plant, but they do more than make it taste and smell delicious. These essential oils modulate the effects of THC. They’re why sativas are uplifting and indicas are sedative. The way a strain smells will tell you quite a bit about what the experience of smoking it will feel like. The best part about picking out concentrates is that the smell, much like the flavor will be much stronger than that of dried flower. Sativa dominant strains will smell bright like citrus and tropical flowers. Indica dominant strains will often smell much more earthy, like a forest or lavender. When picking out a concentrate, it’s important to take your time. Concentrates are far more potent than dried flower, so the wrong strain could lead to a bad time. Carefully smell the concentrates that you’re interested in and take a second to notice how the smell feels to you. If there are notes that you dislike, or you aren’t enticed to go back for another sniff, then that means that your body isn’t into it. On the other hand, if you smell a concentrate and you feel a spark of joy and you can’t help but go back for more smells of the sweet sweet nectar, that’s a sign that you have found the strain for you! Now this advice unfortunately does not apply to cartridges since they are usually sealed. It never hurts to ask your budtender if they have a jar of the same strain to smell. If they do not, your Clovr budtender will be able to describe the strain to help you make the best decision to fit your needs.