Along with cannabis flower and pre-rolled joints, it’s now legal to purchase and produce cannabis extracts and concentrates in Canada. If you’ve considered making your own, you should know that production using chemical solvents (like butane, ethanol, propane, etc) is extremely dangerous – not to mention illegal – to attempt at home. However, you can purchase extracts from licensed retailers in your province and use safe methods of extraction to make your own products at home, too! (More about that at the end of this article)
What are cannabis extracts?
Cannabis extracts (sometimes called cannabis concentrates) are products that are made when the chemical components that make up marijuana bud are pulled from the leaves and flower of the plant, leaving behind highly concentrated products that can be used in a variety of ways.
When extracts are produced from cannabis plants, cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, CBG, and CBN are removed from the plant. Other chemical components of the plant, such as terpenes and flavonoids, are also extracted. This leaves behind a highly concentrated mass of product that, depending on its extraction process, can become a number of popular products, used by consumers in vapes, edibles, or even under the tongue.
What types of products are made from cannabis extracts?
There are 5 common types of cannabis extracts/concentrates.
Remember your childhood field trip to the maple syrup farm? You may have dripped fresh, sticky maple syrup into the snow to freeze it, making hard, orangey-yellow candy. That’s similar to how shatter looks. Shatter is exceptionally high in THC, and, as its name implies, it shatters when you scrape or break it to use it. Typically, a small piece of shatter is broken onto a hot surface, and the user inhales the smoke that is produced. While regular marijuana contains approximately 20% THC, shatter is 60% THC, so the high can be much more intense. You may also get high much quicker.
Cannabis wax has a thick, sticky, waxy consistency, and it basically just has very concentrated THC. Cannabis wax can contain more than 90% THC, making it exceptionally potent. Wax is often inhaled through a dab rig; a small bong-like apparatus that’s used to heat the wax. The vapour the heating process creates is then inhaled. Consumers tend to like wax for it’s superior flavour and high THC content. A little wax goes a long way and delivers very intense psychoactive experiences. It’s a favourite among experienced cannabis users!
While crumble is technically a form of cannabis wax, it has its own unique texture. Crumble, or honeycomb, is a form of concentrated cannabis extract that breaks apart easily and may resemble a honeycomb, with its many holes and crevices. People usually find crumble is a bit harder to work with than wax or other forms of extracts, but it’s still loved for its crumbly texture allowing it to be sprinkled into joints, or over bud in bowls or pipes. The addition of a little crumble will increase the intensity of the high you’ll experience.
Budder, as its name implies, has a buttery texture and an amber hue. Budder is a favourite among those who prefer concentrated cannabis products, namely because of it’s consistency. It is easy to work with and can easily be added to a dab rig or oil pen. Like crumble, it’s also easly added to a joint or blunt. At approximately 80% THC, budder is highly concentrated, and can give a fast, intense high.
Cannabis tinctures are another form of extract that leaves the chemical compounds of cannabis suspended in alcohol. Tinctures can be easily taken by dropping them under the tongue and waiting about 30 seconds before swallowing them. This allows some of the THC to enter the body via the salivary glands and is said to be one of the safest ways to use THC since the concentrate is very powerful.
How are different extracts made?
All extracts are made using various chemicals and heating elements to draw out the cannabinoids and other beneficial compounds. The solvents used to make the products are typically butane, alcohol, ethanol and other harmful chemicals. The process involves saturating the leaves or bud in chemicals, then slowly burning off the chemicals using very high temperatures. This allows the chemicals to burn off and the cannabinoids to remain as a thick, concentrated mass.
Can I make my own extracts at home?
Because the chemical solvents used in the extraction process are quite poisonous, it’s always best not to try to extract THC yourself at home using these methods.
Safe Extraction at Home
There are a few safe methods of extracting THC from home. We’ll briefly explain four methods.
- Dry Sift
Often known as kief, dry sift is a cannabis concentrate created by dry sifting plant material through a number of screens. Dry sift is water and chemical free, You may already be making some amount of dry sift if you’re grinding your own flower. Further, if you’re trimming your plants, you can collect what falls and process it through various screens to capture the kief and save it – it will be very potent!
- Hand Rolling
An ancient method of extracting hash, you can simply roll cannabis between your palms. The cannabis must be fresh, but after a while, your hands will become sticky. Eventually, you’ll accumulate enough of this sticky hash to scrape off your hands. Continue rolling until you can collect the amount of hash you want. It’s a slow process, but it works!
- Bubble Hash Method
This newer method gives you an easy way to make hash simply using a bucket, some screens, and ice water. The ice water causes the sticky rosin on the leaves and flowers of your cannabis plant to harden, making it easier for the screens to capture. Then, as the product is stirred, the hash breaks off the leaves and is left in the screens, ready to be harvested and used.
- Pressure and Heat
This popular method uses two flat, hot surfaces and wax paper. Simply place your leaves or flower between the wax paper and press the hot surfaces to attempt to flatten the bud. A hair straightener works well for this. The sticky rosin will begin to bubble out of the plant and collect at the edges where you’ll be able to easily capture it. If you’ve got a good quality bud, this method will produce exceptionally good-tasting concentrate!
A Few Things to Remember About Cannabis Extracts and Concentrates
- Cannabis concentrates can be extremely potent. If you’re not an experienced cannabis user, you may want to begin by trying more main-stream methods of smoking or vaping cannabis.
- You shouldn’t try to use solvents at home to extract THC. Solvents need to be properly handled and in order to sufficiently burn away the solvents, you need to cook at exceptionally high temperatures. This can be very dangerous, and should not be attempted outside of a proper laboratory with trained scientists.
- If you decide to make your own extracts or concentrates, use a non-solvent method.
- To keep your concentrates fresh, store them in air-tight containers in a cool place, and always store them out of the reach of children.
- The high you experience with concentrates can come quickly and be exceptionally potent! Go slowly and give yourself time to react to the product.
We hope this overview has given you great insight into how to use and even make your own concentrates at home! Looking for flower? Weed Me has a variety of the most popular strains, guaranteed to be at least 20% potency.