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Cannabis Concentrates 101

January 7th, 2022

Overview

Onset: immediate    |    Duration: 1 - 3 hours

Cannabis concentrates are a potent form of cannabis derived by extracting cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant material. Concentrates come in various forms and are typically consumed via vaporization (sometimes called dabbing).

Cannabis plant material is processed into concentrated resin either with the use of solvents like butane and ethanol, or without solvents using only water, pressure, and temperature. We cover the differences between solvent-based and solventless extraction more in depth here.

One key difference between the two methods is that concentrates made via solventless extraction tend to retain more terpenes and cannabinoids from the original plant, providing a full spectrum experience and allowing for the Entourage Effect. The Entourage Effect is a phenomenon whereby minor cannabinoids and cannabis plant terpenes enhance your experience of THC and can elevate the effects. 

Because of this effect it's important to keep in mind that the highest absolute THC percentage may not always result in the most potent experience. Don't overlook cannabis products with seemingly lower THC percentages but with the added benefits of terpenes and minor cannabinoids.

Choosing a concentrate

Concentrates are available in a variety of textures, price points, and potencies. Selecting your preferred type of concentrate will come down to personal preference. Some of the key differentiators between concentrate varieties are: extraction method, terpene and cannabinoid content, cost, texture, and THC potency. 

 

Best concentrate for new users: bubble hash. Best concentrate for power users: live hash rosin.

 

  About

Solventless?

Texture Price point
Crumble Waxy, crumbly concentrate with a wide variety of uses No Grainy, waxy $
Shatter Solid, glass-like pieces of potent extract No Glassy, waxy $
Sugar Chunky and waxy, some full spectrum effects No Grainy, creamy $
Bubble hash Crumbly, versatile hash extract Yes Grainy, waxy $$
Sauce Rich oil with high terpene content No Saucy, chunky $$
Sauce + diamonds Combination of terpene-rich oil and potent THC crystals No Saucy, glassy $$
Diamonds Extremely potent THC-A crystals, very little terpene content No Solid, glassy $$$
Live resin badder Creamy, potent, and full of terpenes No Creamy, waxy $$$
Live resin sauce Terpene-rich saucy resin extracted from fresh frozen cannabis plants No Fluid, saucy $$$
Live hash rosin Extracted from fresh frozen plant material without the use of solvents. Potent & full spectrum. Yes Creamy, saucy $$$

 

Methods of consumption

Concentrates are a highly potent form of concentrate, so remember to start low and go slow - when in doubt, begin with a very small amount and slowly increase your dose from there to achieve the experience required. If you have questions about how much to use, you can always consult a pharmacist at your cannabis pharmacy. 

Vaporization (a.k.a. “dabbing”)

Concentrate vaporizers are designed to efficiently vaporize and extract the best of your concentrate without combustion, resulting in a smooth, pleasant, and flavorful experience. 

Vaporizing concentrates, sometimes referred to as dabbing, differs from vaporizing dried cannabis flower primarily in that concentrates are vaporized at a higher temperature. Nearly all cannabis concentrates can be consumed using hardware specifically designed for concentrates, such as concentrate-specific vaporizers. 

High end vaporizers give users multiple temperature and heating rate options to select your preferred experience. Lower temperatures will generally provide more flavor and less vapor; higher temperatures, the reverse. Simpler tools will heat your concentrate at a preset rate and temperature.

Some other helpful tools for dabbing concentrates include dab tools and hot knives. Dab tools are like small spoons, used to transfer concentrate from its storage container to the consumption device. A hot knife is an electric dab tool with a heated tip, making it easier to carve up and dose out smaller sections of solid or waxy concentrates like diamonds and shatter.

Dabbing can be intimidating for beginners since it requires new hardware, and concentrates can be tricky to dose accurately when they are more saucy or fluid in texture. We recommend patients new to concentrates try bubble hash — this form of concentrate is grainy and waxy, not saucy or slippery, making it easier to handle. Bubble hash can be vaporized using a dry herb vaporizer which you may already own, so you don't need to purchase concentrate-specific hardware.

For patients familiar with concentrates who are looking to cultivate the most elevated experience, high end hardware combined with a solventless, terp-heavy, aromatic concentrate like a live hash rosin is sure to delight the senses and provide a potent experience.

DIY-ing

Cannabis concentrates offer potency and versatility, appealing to users exploring culinary applications.  Remember that concentrates, like cannabis flower, must undergo decarboxylation in order to activate the cannabinoids before consumption.

Whether infusing oils, butter, or integrating concentrates into recipes, decarbing ensures the desired effects in homemade cannabis-infused treats. Learn more about cooking with cannabis in this blog post where we walk through the process of infusing edibles at home.

Looking for recipes? Check out our Cooking with Cannabis recipe booklet here.

Storage

In order to preserve the freshness and texture of your concentrates, it's important to limit oxygen, light, and heat exposure.

WholesomeCo takes care of two of those three concerns - our concentrates are packaged in Pop-vac jars which create an airtight vacuum seal, keeping your concentrates fresh, saucy, and aromatic. All that's left to do is keep your concentrate cool. 

All concentrates will fare best when kept refrigerated. Refrigeration helps to preserve the texture and aroma of your concentrate, and is especially important for solventless concentrates. 

More resources

Solvent-based vs. solventless concentrates

Overview of cannabis terpenes

The Entourage Effect explained

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