Cannabis concentrates come in many forms. They’ve been around for a long time but over the past few years, thanks to the Internet and the recent wave of cannabis legalization, they have rapidly gained in popularity.
Concentrates, and especially dabbing, are the new big thing in stoner circles. As the name suggests, they are concentrated THC and CBD extracts from cannabis flowers. The extracts can also contain other cannabinoids and terpenes.
Today, with new technologies and methods, cannabis concentrates are easier to make than ever before, however some of the old techniques are still in use today, such as hand rolled hash.
Concentrates are packed with several times the cannabinoids found in dried flowers; the potency of concentrates can reach up to 90%, which is why many people, even seasoned weed users, have bad experiences when they first try them.
When consumed carefully and in moderation, concentrates can be safely used by both medical and recreational users.
In this article, we’re going to explore different types of cannabis concentrates, their potency, how to use them, and I’ll give you a few tips on how to easily make cannabis concentrates at home.
What are cannabis concentrates?
Concentrates are processed cannabis products made by separating trichomes and resin from the flowers in order to extract the maximum amount of cannabinoids and terpenes without any of the unnecessary plant material.
Trichomes are super important when it comes to pot’s potency as they are where the cannabinoids and terpenes are stored. Trichomes are little, white hairlike outgrowths on the surface of the plant, and can be seen with the naked eye.
And as you can guess, more trichomes means more cannabinoids and a higher potency product.
Small amounts of concentrates contain substantially more cannabinoids and terpenes than dried flowers. Most flowers contain around 20% THC, while most concentrates have up to 80-90%.
Concentrates can be found in many cannabis products, from edibles to oils and tinctures, and can also be consumed in their purest form by using additional equipment such as dab rigs and vaporizers.
Once you inhale concentrates, the effects hit you almost immediately and last about 1-3 hours.
Different types of cannabis concentrates
There are many different types of concentrates on the market – the types vary depending on the methods of extraction, the chemicals used for the extraction, and the part of the plant used.
Let’s go over each of these to better understand this burning topic.
The oldest and most well known cannabis concentrate, hash spread from the northern parts of India, to the Arabian peninsula and Europe. Today, people in every corner of the world enjoy this form of cannabis.
Essentially, the term hash refers to substances that are made by separating trichomes from the plant material and then forming the resin into a coherent mass.
There are several types of hash and ways to make it:
- Bubble hash—made by separating the trichomes using ice cold water;
- Lebanese hash—made by drying flowers and rubbing them on a piece of fabric and then pressing the material into slabs;
- Afghani Royal (aka Royal Border) Hash— made by putting flowers into water or tea to separate the resin, which is afterwards pressed into slabs;
- Charas Hash—made by the well-known hand rolling method;
- Super Nepalese Hash—also handmade; and,
- Moroccan Slate Hash—made by dry-sifting.
How to use hash
The two most popular ways to use hash are smoking and eating.
Consuming hash through edibles is recommended if you are trying to avoid smoking. Baking hash brownies is always the classic choice and is very easy to do.
Smoking is the traditional and probably the easiest way to enjoy hashish. One way is to roll it just like a joint, but mixed with a bit of tobacco. Another method is to heat up two butter knives, place the piece of hash between them, and inhale the smoke.
Hash can also be smoked with a bong or in a pipe. I personally like to treat myself whenever I have hashish, so I smoke it in a hookah.
How to make hash at home?
It’s actually quite easy to make hash at home. It might not be as good as Moroccan or Lebanese, but it can be perfect for an occasional treat.
To start making it, just put a few buds between your palms and roll them around.
By doing this, you’ll separate trichomes from the buds and the trichomes will stick to your hands. After a few minutes, you’ll notice a thin, dark, clay-like layer on your palms.
Then, gently remove that layer with a hard-edged object and sprinkle your joint with the crumbs of hash.
Kief is the simplest form of cannabis concentrate.
If you’ve been using cannabis for some time, you’re already familiar with it – kief is that powdery material that collects at the bottom of your grinder. And when you roll a joint and notice the crystal coating that sticks to your fingers…yeah, that’s kief, too.
Kief is super-potent since it’s essentially trichomes that have separated from other plant material, although it’s rarely pure, most of the time it will have a bit of plant particles mixed in.
And as you’ve probably figured out at this point, hash is made from kief.
How to use kief?
Kief is easy to play around with. It’s simple to make and there’s so much you can do with it.
If you have a grinder with a kief catcher, you can use the collected kief to get super high.
One suggestion is to add some oil to the outside of a joint and then roll the whole joint in kief. It will make it stronger and burn slower. You can also use kief by simply sprinkling it in a joint or by making a mix of kief and weed to pack into a bowl.
One of the coolest ways to use your kief is to make moon rocks. Although they can be a bit expensive to buy, you can actually make them yourself at home.
To make your moon rocks, just dip a nug into some cannabis oil, and then roll it in kief.
There’s one important thing you should remember about moon rocks—don’t grind them. If you put a moon rock in a grinder, the oil will stick to the grinder, the kief will fall off and you’ll lose the potency.
Instead, just break the nug gently with your fingers into smaller pieces. Sprinkle it in your joint and enjoy getting super high.
Rosin, or weed wax, is a resin in solid form and is made by applying pressure and heat to buds.
It’s usually made using an industrial press but you can easily make it at home with a hair straightener.
How to make rosin at home?
In addition to the hair straightener, you’ll need two pieces of parchment paper, and something to protect yourself from the heat (such as heat-proof gloves).
Preheat the hair straightener, place the parchment paper on both plates, place the bud of weed on one, and then press the plates together.
Press for 5 to 10 seconds, depending on the temperature of the straightener, until you hear a sizzle.
After the heat-and-press process, you’ll get a translucent yellowish mass ready to use.
Remove the paper and gently unfold it. Use something thin and sharp to separate the sticky mass from the paper.
How to use rosin?
The most popular method to consume rosin nowadays is by twaxing— adding some rosin in your joint, or even adding it to the outside.
The most visually appealing way to do this is to make a snake-like shape out of the concentrate you made, and just wrap it around the joint.
You can also use rosin by mixing it with regular dried flowers in a pipe or in a bong.
Just remember that rosin is more potent than weed, so take it easy.
Hash oil is extracted by using alcohol to wash away the trichomes from the buds and then heating the liquid until all alcohol evaporates, leaving only the plant extract. The oil can be smoked or used in edibles. This sort of extraction is also the original way of producing cannabis oil.
Dabs or shatter are probably the purest form of cannabis concentrates.
Shatter is made by using a solvent, most commonly butane, to extract the purest form of THC. The process is called butane hash oil or BHO extraction. This type of extraction is not safe for DIY projects; there have been serious injuries caused by people trying this at home. And the solvents need to be completely removed from the concentrates before consuming.
Shatter looks like a colored piece of glass with a consistency like hard candy. It’s really potent—it can be up to 80% THC, but it’s not especially rich in flavor.
Shatter is hard to work with since it’s in a solid state. There are several ways to use the final product, from dab rigs to vapes and bongs.
Another concentrate which is made through BHO extraction, sugar wax looks just like it sounds—shiny, sticky and crumbly.
Cannabis strains that contain terpenes which are particularly prone to retaining water are better for making sugar wax. Sometimes if you are trying to make a shatter, it can turn into wax because of the terpene content.
Since the process of making sugar wax also involves butane it’s not safe make at home.
Budder is something between shatter and wax, but it’s made using the same technique (butane hash oil—BHO extraction).
The first difference is in the purity: budder has fewer cannabinoids but is richer in terpenes. Also, budder is not as solid as shatter, rather it’s more wax-like, so it’s much easier to use.
To use budder, put it in a bong or pipe, add it to a joint or blunt… Chose any of these techniques and you can’t go wrong.
The process of extracting is very similar to other wax varieties, with one important difference—the temperature of purging.
After the initial solvent extraction, the rest of the product is left on low heat so the solvent can evaporate gradually. This is the best way to keep the full flavor of the concentrate.
Crumble is easy to handle: just scoop it and pack a bowl or put it in a bong. It works fine for every type of dabbing. However, crumble easily loses its moisture, so it’ll turn into dust-like crumbles. It’s important to keep your concentrate in a sealed container, in a cool place.
This is the latest method of cannabis concentrate extraction. Freshly harvested buds are frozen, and then the resin, along with terpenes, oils and cannabinoids, are extracted from the flowers.
This method of extraction is complicated, requires laboratory equipment and is not something you can do at home, so it’s better to look for live resin at your local dispensary.
This type of oil uses carbon dioxide for extracting the resin. The end product is a pure, liquid concentrate that’s usually used in vaporizers and vaping pens.
CO2 extraction leaves more terpenes in the concentrate, which means more flavour and added medical benefits. However, some in the cannabis community are concerned about the safety of the additives found in some vape oils.
Word of warning
Always keep in mind that concentrates are incredibly potent. Just a small amount of cannabis concentrate contains more THC and other substances than regular buds.
So, if you haven’t tried them before, be extra cautious the first time around.
Just take one hit first, and see how it feels. It’s better to take small hits gradually than to get too high, too quickly and feel horrible afterwards.