Cannabis Concentrates and Extracts: A Quick Overview
WHAT ARE CANNABIS CONCENTRATES IN GENERAL?This may seem like a silly question, but why not define what we're talking about before we dive into the details. The technical process of extracting the active ingredients, such as THC or CBD for example, from the cannabis plant is often more or less the same with the different types of concentrates. Most of the time, temperatures play an important role, which means that the plant material is often exposed to low or high temperatures, in order to collect as many trichomes or glands as possible.There is a wide variety of concentrates due to the different types of carrier substances and the different extraction methods used. The carrier substance chosen, as well as the specific method, gives the cannabis extract a certain texture, flavor, potency and appearance.
BRIEF DIGRESSION: TRICHOMESIt makes sense to talk about trichomes in the context of extract production. It is a good idea to buy a good magnifying glass on the internet, so you can observe the growth and development of trichomes on your buds. The small magnifying glasses that jewelers use to examine the quality of diamonds work well.
Let's get back to trichomes, which come in three different basic types:
1. Bulbous trichomesThese are the smallest of the trichomes, only 25-30 microns in height. The stem and the head are formed by only 1 to 4 cells. When the plants approach full maturity, they usually form a tiny bubble with some resin inside.
2. Trichomes ?cystolithsThese trichomes are present in much higher quantities than the bulbous trichomes. It seems that these trichomes do not really have a stem, as if they were placed directly on the plant. The gland is usually composed of 8 to 16 cells, which gives this kind of trichome a total diameter of about 25-100 microns.
3. Stemmed trichomesThese trichomes are also known as glandular trichomes and are perfect for any type of extract or concentrate production. They are the largest, with a size of 150-500 microns and are responsible for the production of the majority of cannabinoids. The production of extracts usually works due to the fact that the heads of the captive stem trichomes can easily be separated from the stem. The reason behind this is a layer of cells separating the head and stem of a trichome. This cell layer breaks easily and the trichome heads are recovered in a carrier substance.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF CONCENTRATES AND EXTRACTS
1. BHO (Butane Hash Oil)Butane Hash Oil or BHO is the generic term for things like shatter, wax/budder, crumble and pull-and-snap, things we'll come back to later. What looks delicious and powerful is usually delicious and powerful! Consumers called "dabbers" commonly use BHO to get the desired effect, without having to smoke large amounts of weed. The organic compound butane (C4H10) is used to extract terpenes, CBD and THC from plant material. Butane is extremely flammable, which requires some expertise to be able to produce BHO. But the hurdles are made to be overcome. And THC levels of over 80% should be motivation enough.
2. Bubble HashThis is the most common way for amateur growers to produce delicious, high quality hash. It is possible to buy all kinds of kits on the internet, all of which work on the principle of exposing the buds and cuttings to very cold water, with ice cubes or crushed ice. The very low temperatures help to extract the trichomes from the plant material. By filtering the cannabinoid-filled liquid into different bags with different sized screens, homemade hash can be produced. Ice-water hash is also a good alternative to cannabutter when large amounts of post-harvest prunings need to be processed.
3. Fresh Frozen Hash (Live Resin)Fresh Frozen Hash or Live Resin is a growing phenomenon among hash producers. It can be another option with some advantages compared to the classic water and ice method. This method is popular because it can produce comparable amounts of hash with the same amount of plant material, but of a much higher quality. The flavours are much closer to the original flavours of the plant material, as only freshly harvested plants are used in the case of live resin. By only cooling the flowers to about 4°C, without freezing them, ice crystals do not form in the plant cells. And without ice crystals that could explode the cell walls, resulting in the release of large amounts of chlorophyll in the finished product, a much purer quality and better taste can be observed. Here is a link to a blog post with more information on live resin.
4. Kief (or dry filtering)The extraction method to produce kief is quite simple and works mechanically, without any solvent or carrier substance. This is the reason why most herb mills have a separate compartment at the bottom. By passing the dry plant material through different sized screens, the trichomes are mechanically forced to separate from the heads or prunings. Having some natural "angel dust" in your stash to spice up a joint from time to time is certainly nice.
5. Wax (or Budder)Wax is a wonder to smoke. The name comes from the fact that these extracts have a soft and waxy consistency. Butane is forced through the plant material, which results in the extraction of a large part of the essential oils and active ingredients. After evaporating the residual butane, a very potent wax is obtained, with THC levels sometimes exceeding 90%. Smokers and patients who have problems with high THC tolerance due to frequent consumption only need to smoke very small amounts of wax to get the desired effects.
6. ShatterThis type of Butane Hash Oil uses the same extraction method as that used to produce wax or budder. The major difference is the consistency of the finished product in a stable, glass-like form. It can be broken into small pieces, just like glass. Shatter is produced by applying higher temperatures at the end of the BHO process, which causes more moisture to be removed from the wax, resulting in a highly potent shatter.
7. CO2 Oil (often CBD Oil).