One of the more nuanced methods of medical marijuana consumption is the use of concentrates. Though concentrates may not be the most commonly known form of cannabis products for newer patients, these highly concentrated cannabis extractions have been around since the very early days of cannabis consumption. Though using concentrates may be intimidating because of the variety of textures and different hardware necessary for use, they can also be very beneficial because of their very high potency.
What are Concentrates?
Concentrates are a highly potent cannabis compound that is most popularly used for vaporization and dabbing. These extracts can be made using solvents, like as butane, CO2, ethanol, or propane to strip away the compounds from the cannabis plant. This leaves behind a potent, cannabinoid-rich resin, which can be modified using different heats and pressures. The final concentrate product can come out in a variety of textures and consistencies, and that is what determines the overarching name it is given. When referring to various types of concentrates, the name almost always refers to the consistency of the end-product. There are some advantages and disadvantages to different forms of concentrate, but often it comes down to personal preference. Below are some of the most commonly seen concentrates.
A smooth and creamy concentrate, budder is like a lighter and fluffier wax, with a consistency similar to peanut butter or soft butter (you see where the name comes from). It is a result of having slightly more moisture in the oil before extraction.
Similar to the Liquid Live Resin cartridges you may see on the Keystone Shops menu, live resin is the result of the flower being flash-frozen immediately after it is harvested, and then extracted. Live resin consistencies can range from sticky and sugary to fine and saucy. Live resins are often popular for their strong flavor profile that comes from high terpene retention.
This is a slightly grainy and shimmery concentrate. Sugar has a full flavor spectrum that makes it very popular with patients. However, sugar can be slightly damp and stickier than other forms of concentrate (depending on the batch). The almost-sappy consistency can make it somewhat more difficult to work with for patients newer to concentrates
Sometimes referred to as “terp sap,” sauce is a potent mixture of cannabis derived terpenes and THC distillate. Sauce is the dampest form of concentrates, with a mostly sappy consistency that can be grainy and chunky as well. Because it’s so wet and sticky, it is probably the trickiest concentrate to work with.
Wax (Crumble, Blonde Wax)
Wax is often used as an umbrella term for concentrates. However, wax is the crystallized oils that form a solid, earwax-like solid. Because they are a little bit dryer, they can be easier to use and broken apart with your fingers. Some waxes are considered crumbles, because of their brittle consistency that crumbles when it’s touched.
This concentrate has an amber-glass translucent appearance, due to the cannabis molecules being undisturbed while extracted. Shatter is glass-like and should break apart when dropped or hit. Because it is solid in form, it’s often found to be the easiest for new concentrate users to work with.
Pull n Snap
A shatter that falls between glassy and sap may be considered a pull-n-snap. This is a more malleable version of shatter that, as its name implies, snaps when pulled, also making it a little bit easier to work with.
THCa rich diamonds are currently considered some of the most potent concentrates on the market. Diamonds regularly test at over 95% potency and are considered pure isolates. There are little to no terpenes left behind, resulting in clear, compact crystals. Though the diamonds themselves have a crystal-like form, they can sometimes be covered in a layer of sticky liquids and sauce.
Because concentrates need to be first melted, then transformed into a gaseous state, they require their own form of consumption hardware, called a concentrate vaporizer. These concentrate vaporizers are the same concept as flower vaporizers, however, the goal with concentrates is to melt the solid product into a gaseous state for inhalation. Keystone Shops sells starter concentrate vaporizers, and we have also featured blog posts about different concentrate vaporizers and methods, including nectar collectors and electronic smart rigs.
As mentioned before, concentrates come in a variety of forms, and these textures come from the varied methods of pressure and heat that are used during the extraction process. The textures and consistencies that concentrates come are mostly indicative of their extraction process, but as far as patient choice, preference is really built on the flavors and ease of use that come with these different textures. It’s important to remember that though concentrates may look a little intimidating or overwhelming, they all come from the cannabis plants that we know and love, they’re just processed differently.
Concentrates are some of the most potent medical marijuana products and therefore, may not be the right choice for patients new to medical marijuana. Experienced users and those with chronic pain or intractable symptoms may find relief from these higher potency products. Users will need to consume less and redose less often when switching to concentrates from a different consumption method. With concentrates, ESPECIALLY if you are new to concentrates, start low and-I cannot emphasize this enough-go slow.