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Concentrates 101

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The most common forms of cannabis are concentrates, edibles and flower.  A little understanding of each will go a long way in helping you figure out what will work for you.

I’ve been visiting dispensaries for several years now and frankly, it’s taken me a while to get over my intimidation about concentrates.  So I thought it might help to give you a quick layman’s rundown on these different concentrates.

Let’s start with Kief.  If you have a grinder (and you should) you know it comes in 3 parts.  Your weed goes in the top grind it down, then open up the middle and voila grinded weed.  If you let that weed sit there it will filter through a fine screen into the bottom where you will see a yellow powder – that’s kief.  This contains terpenes and cannabinoids that give you the various effects of your strains.  Although it’s used to make hash, you can sprinkle it on your cannabis for a more potent effect – be careful with your sprinkle as it’s pretty potent and if sharing, caution your friends.(Aside from the fact that I usually have really good pot – this is one of the reasons people think I have exceptionally good pot!)

Then there is hash, which is made by compressing the plants resin. If your patient and gather enough kief you can then put it in a kief press (available at most head shops).  This is probably the easiest way to make hash yourself but if you’re buying at least now you know what it is before purchasing.  It’s basically a wad of kief.

BHO or Butane is where it gets “sticky” for me.  This concentrate is used in dabbing and vapes and as an east coaster, I’m simply not around a lot of dabbing. BHO is an extremely potent concentrate in which Cannabinoids are drawn out of the plant through butane extraction, creating two forms, shatter and wax (or crumble). Shatter is basically thc melted thin and brought back to room temp and tends to have a consistency ranging from sticky sap to a very stable, hard resin. It’s color is anywhere from dark brown to translucent. Wax, is a form of hash minimal plant matter. There is bubble bag hash/ wax , honeycomb or crumble (crumble is essentially honeycomb that didn't come in a nice rock).  Last thing, make sure you have the right tool to handle it or it will get everything sticky as hell.

Live Resin is produced like BHO, only it uses fresh cannabis, as opposed to dried and cured cannabis, that is flash frozen immediately after the harvest and kept at freezing temperatures through the entire extraction process. Although live resin is a form of BHO, it focuses on maintaining a strong and pure flavor.  Because its THC content can be as high as 80%, it is a popular remedy for chronic pain.  

Let’s talk about CO 2 oil.  If you’ve ever owned a vape pen you know it has a cartridge that contains an amber looking oil – this is CO2 oil. This is made by botanical extractors who use pressure and carbon dioxide to separate plant material. This is one of the most effective ways of reducing cannabis to its essential compounds. The most popular way to consume this amber oil is with a portable vape pen.  I’ll spare you the rest of the scientific details but at least now you know the name of what you’re consuming!

Until recently, Rick Simpson or Phoenix Tears was definitely one that had escaped my attention. In 2003 a man named Rick Simpson treated his skin cancer using a homemade remedy made from cannabis. By soaking the cannabis in pure naphtha or isopropyl alcohol, the therapeutic compounds are drawn out of the plant, leaving behind a tar-like liquid after the solvent fully evaporates. Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) can be orally administered or applied directly to the skin. Ask your budtender questions because RSO’s vary greatly on their levels of THC and CBD.

Last but not least, we have tinctures.  Up until its prohibition in 1937, tinctures were the most common form of medicinal cannabis in the US. A tincture is a liquid concentrate procured through alcohol extraction, which pulls out the plant’s beneficial cannabinoids. A few drops under the tongue usually does the trick, but patients can safely apply more as needed. Tinctures, which are now available in a variety of flavors, are a great way to medicate without having to smoke.

I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted!  I could go on but I think this Reader's Digest version is enough information for today.  Here's a full article that might help!

So now you can go into a dispensary and at least know what you are looking at and the budtenders should be able to answer any questions you have on any of the above.  If they can’t – leave and go to another dispensary!  Happy Consuming!


Thank you to Jeff W for our cover blog photo


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