Consuming Cannabis Concentrates: Tips, Tricks & Techniques
Cannabis concentrates are quickly gaining traction for medical cannabis patients due to the punch they pack, the many varieties of concentrates, and because they represent the most potent and medicinal parts of the plant.
Cannabis concentrates are the extracted parts of the plant that provide the effect, including cannabinoids like THC and terpenes. Many people like cannabis concentrates because they do not have the plant matter that comes with the cannabinoids and terpenes, making it a smoother experience for some.
At Compassionate Clinics of America, we believe in providing our patients who have gotten their medical cannabis certification with as much information on cannabis, the various products available, and how to consume them, to ensure they get the most from cannabis medicine. Here we’ll break down the different types of cannabis concentrates and provide tips on how to consume them.
What Types of Cannabis Concentrates Exist?
Here we will break down the different forms of cannabis concentrates. Cannabis extraction is a very technical process with technologies developing every day. Therefore, we will refrain from commenting on how these products are made, as processors are coming up with new techniques that enhance the extraction process on the regular.
Shatter is a glass-like extraction that is usually amber in color. It looks a lot like thin, hard-candy, and will either come in “sheets” (a uniform piece) or in smaller pieces.
Wax is a thicker, waxy substance that may be granular in texture. It is generally golden or opaque in color.
Live resin is sticky, with a consistency between saucy and waxy. Live resin is often known for its terpene concentration as it is extracted usually through solvents after freezing the plant.
Live rosin is similar to live resin in that the goal is to preserve terpenes, but instead of using solvents, live rosin comes as a result of using heat and pressure.
Hash is one of the more commonly known cannabis concentrates. Hash is created by pressing or rubbing together the resin glands (trichomes) of a cannabis plant to form a brick, a slab, or rolled pieces.
Bubble hash is like pressed hash with the exception that this method uses ice water to pull the sticky trichomes or resin glands from the plant. This will result in a bunch of loose, bubbling trichomes that looks a bit like brown sugar.
Distillate is like live rosin or live resin, but further refined to isolate one particular cannabinoid such as THC. Distillate is a honey-like oil that typically takes out other parts of the plant to focus on one cannabinoid.
Also known as terp sauce, THC sauce, or diamonds, is focused on combining a strain’s (cultivar) expressed terpenes and its cannabinoids. Sauce may also contain crystalline bits of THCa (the precursor to THC), which is why they’re often referred to as diamonds.
Budder, Badder, and/or Batter
Budder, badder, and batter all similar types of concentrates, all with a high potency, but each contain small differences. Budder has a whipped, smooth consistency, yet it may not be rich in aroma because of the extra heat used that may burn off the terpenes. Batter and badder are similar to budder, but the consistency may be a bit more saucy and less smooth.
Cannabis crumble is a dry form of cannabis concentrates that looks like sugar, taking on a more powdery form.
How are Concentrates Typically Consumed?
There are many ways to consume concentrates, with the best way coming down to the preference of the medical cannabis patient. Here are just a few ways that cannabis concentrates can be consumed:
If the consumer is looking for a fast-acting concentrate, dabbing is a great way to achieve that. Dabbing is a method of vaporizing the concentrate using a glass, ceramic, titanium, or quartz nail that looks similar to a bowl of a bong. The nail is heated to the desired temperature usually with a torch and the concentrate is dropped onto the hot surface, instantly vaporizing the product to be inhaled through the mouthpiece. If using a torch isn’t a patient’s style, e-nails are on the market now to help with the heating process.
Many prefer to vape their concentrates because it is a discreet, mess-free, portable way to consume products. Vapes are typically comprised of a pre-filled cartridge with a concentrate product and a battery. The battery activates a heating coil that warms up the concentrate to vaporizing temperature. The user takes a drag from the mouthpiece to consume, usually activated by pressing a button. Concentrate vaporizers come in all-in-one (disposable) format, or users can buy a detachable battery in which they can screw in pre-filled cartridges. Dab pens are similar to vaporizers, but instead of a cartridge containing the concentrate, the user can add their own concentrate to a chamber that the coils from the battery will heat.
It’s not as common to find edibles made from concentrate products on the market, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Edibles that contain concentrates are either made by infusing the foods with the concentrate or spraying the food with a liquid distillate. Concentrate edibles, like edibles made from decarboxylated flower, will have a slower onset time, and will pack a more potent punch, which is the “start low and go slow” rule applies with concentrates edibles.
Many people will use the dryer concentrates like crumble to top off their flower, meaning that they’ll add some of the concentrate to a flower joint or a bowl of flower to be consumed through a pipe or bong. Some also may use the more solid or waxier concentrates to create a “snake like” piece that can be wrapped around a joint. The onset of concentrates when they’re inhaled is as immediate as flower, but will pack a bit more heat in terms of potency.
A Note on Heat & Temperature
One of the most important parts of using cannabis concentrates is ensuring that they are heated enough to vaporize, but not heated so much that the terpenes burn off and render the product devoid of flavor and the nuanced effects of terpenes.
A general rule of thumb is that 545-570°F (285-298°C) is the temperature range where the concentrate will vaporize, yet flavor, potency, and essence will remain intact without scorching or combusting the terpenes, however, different users will have their different preferences. Many cannabis accessories stores will sell digital temperatures to be able to assess the heat of the device in which concentrates are being consumed.
Be Safe with Concentrates
Cannabis concentrates are extremely potent, with “a little dab will do ya” being a good general rule of thumb when trying concentrates for the first time. We encourage our patients at Compassionate Clinics of America to learn more about concentrates and try a few different types and techniques to see what works best for their desired medical outcomes.
Looking for a medical cannabis certification? Compassionate Clinics of America is a supportive team of physicians and Patient Care Specialists who are there to help you explore whether cannabis medicine is for you. We serve patients in Illinois, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma. Stay tuned to our blog as we continue to release more educational information to help patients maximize their cannabis medicine experience.