Solvent-based and solventless marijuana concentrates are products that have been created from the cannabis plant and are much more potent than just flower alone.
What is a solvent based extract or solventless cannabis concentrate?
Well, some concentrates call for a solvent, such as CO2, butane or alcohol, in order to extract the THC and other valuable cannabinoids and terpenes.
If a concentrate utilizes a solvent to be created it is referred to as an extract. Other concentrates require no solvent and these are referred to solventless concentrates.
All extracts are concentrates but not all concentrates are extracts. While different types of cannabis concentrates might seem to run together, they are each quite distinctive.
There are numerous types of concentrates and extracts and new ones being developed all the time.
Kief, hash, rosin, tinctures, oils, shatter, pull and snap, wax, budder or badder, crumble, honeycomb, distillate and crystalline are the concentrates we will focus on.
Kief is the most basic of the THC concentrates. It is a powder-like substance that lives on cannabis flowers. If you own a grinder with a small reservoir at the bottom, known as a kief catcher, you are probably familiar with kief.
Hash is, basically, pressed kief or compressed resin. There is finger hash, bubble hash, dry sift. To make hash, THC rich trichomes are separated from the cannabis plant and condensed with high temperature and pressure. It is highly potent.
Rosin is a sticky substance created when heat and compression meet a bud of cannabis flower. Unlike hash which is made with just trichomes, rosin is made with the entire cannabis bud. Rosin can be made commercially but is also able to be safely and easily produced at home with a hair straightener or t-shirt press.
Shatter is a solid substance, which resembles a honey-colored glass shard. When tapped with a dab tool, it breaks into pieces or “shatters,” get it?
Shatter is one of the most recognized concentrates, is easy to manipulate and is far less messy than other varieties of concentrates or extracts.
Pull and Snap
Pull and snap looks very similar to shatter but has an almost taffy-like consistency. Instead of shattering into pieces, pull and snap can be…pulled and snapped.
As a piece of this concentrate is pulled, it reaches a breaking point then snaps off the whole. It, too, is honey colored.
As the name suggests, wax concentrates resemble the texture of candle wax. Depending on the overall consistency it can be known as budder, badder, crumble or honeycomb.
Budder or Badder wax is the more viscous wax, which is gooey and can almost be stirred.
Crumble and Honeycomb wax have the same consistency but can be in different forms. Crumble is typically used to describe wax that is already broken up, or crumbled. Honeycomb is used to describe wax that is still mostly intact but is filled with holes like, you guessed it, a honeycomb.
Distillate is a refined, or distilled, version of a cannabis extract. After extraction, the distillate is run through a purification process several times. The result is a liquid, clarified distillate, much like honey in color and consistency.
Crystalline is a solid extract that has been through many processes and filters in order to destroy the plant matter remaining in the extract, preserve the THC and remove any leftover solvents. The remnants are clear crystals that boast 99% THC.
Supercritical fluid extraction of SFE is the preferred process for CO2 Oil extractions. What is Supercritical Fluid Extraction? During this process, components are separated using Carbon Dioxide or CO2.
The word supercritical plays in because in chemistry, “supercritical” means “any substance at a temperature and pressure above its critical point, where distinct liquid and gas phases do not exist.” In this supercritical state, the product is able to be broken down and separated.
Only then is it able to pass over cannabis plant matter and dissolve the membrane of trichomes and separate substances. CO2 extraction is capable of extracting THCA, CBD, CBG and THCV to name a few. CO2 extractions can also separate terpenes and other vital compounds in cannabis.
The enriched CO2 solvent is then passed into another tank, a pressurized separation vessel, and changing pressures and temperatures are used to complete the process of separation. Remaining CO2 is restabilized into a gas and as we said above, often reused.
Even the FDA recognized Supercritical CO2 extractions as safe for industrial extractions – not in cannabis of course, but for other botanical products and such.
Distillation is used in the alcohol industry to remove methanol and ethanol used in alcohol production. It is the process used to separate compounds by utilizing their unique boiling points.
It is used to purify cannabis oils by heating cannabinoids to their boiling point. The resulting cannabinoid-rich vapor is condensed and collected – while residual solvents, chlorophyll and other unwanted plant matter are left behind.
This does remove most if not all of the terpenes in cannabis oil, however, as the temperatures are too high for the terpenes to survive the process.
With that said, manufacturers are now playing with the re-introduction or terpenes to the oil after the process. The distillation method can be repeated multiple times in order to produce the purest product possible.
Rick Simpson Oil
RSO is easy peasy to make at home on your own and is not too much different than making cannabutter or other cannabis oils.
Simpson’s recommendation is to use indica strains exclusively, but a patient can use whichever strain they prefer
Shatter, Budder, Badder, and Crumble
Shatter is known for its brittle, glass-like texture. It can also have a snap-and-pull consistency. (Imagine taffy candy being pulled really tight before snapping). Shatters usually have a golden yellow to bright amber color throughout.
Budder and Badder are oilier and softer in texture. (Think of a stick of butter or cake batter.) They’re malleable, easy to handle and have a sun yellow to bright orange coloring. The butter-like consistency allows the extract to be easily used as a spread on blunts or joints, or to be dabbed using a dab rig.
Crumble is a brittle version of budder or badder. As the name suggests, it has a crumbly-like honeycomb consistency. The color tends to be similar to budder or badder, but instead of having a glossy texture, they tend to have a matted shade of yellow.
Sugar, Sauce, and Crystalline
Sugar is a term used for any concentrate that has a similar consistency to wet, sappy sugar. They’re not uniform in nature and typically have colors ranging from a bright yellow to a deep amber.
Sauce is thicker, more viscous in texture and looks stickier. The color of sauce can range from deep amber to bright mustard. Sauce is similar to sugar in both its consistency and color, but has a more uniform and prominent crystalline structure.
Crystalline is a single, crystallized compound. Just as the name implies, THCa and CBD crystalline are white crystals that can vary in density and size from small rocks to powder.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN EXTRACTION TYPES?
Concentrates are made one of two ways: physically separating the trichome from the plant or using liquid solvents.
During the physical separation process, trichome glands are removed from the cannabis starting material using a physical action, like shaking or pressing. Think of the trichome glands as fruit on a citrus tree: physical separation is similar to the shaking of a citrus tree to remove the fruit.
When creating dry sift, for example, cannabis is shaken through a series of screens in specific sizes to ensure only the trichome heads make it through to the final product. Rosin is created using a targeted combination of heat and pressure to squeeze the desired compounds out of the plant. The key concept of physical separation is that a direct physical action results in the expression of trichomes.
Liquid Solvent Extraction
All solvent extractions use the same basic workflow: a liquid solvent is used to separate the active compounds from the trichome gland to yield a solution. This solution must be further refined until nothing but the desired compounds remain.
Due to the volatility of these solvents, technicians typically use closed-loop extraction systems, which allow them to safely control elements like temperature and pressure in order to achieve the optimal result. Depending on the solvent selected, the resulting extract is put into a vacuum oven to ensure complete solvent removal prior to consumption.
A cannabis concentrate can be consumed in a variety of ways, from sprinkling it on a bowl or adding it to a joint for added potency, to vaporizing them using a dab rig or portable vape pen. The ideal method for consumption depends on the type and texture of the selected concentrate as well as the personal habits of the person consuming. When deciding which method will work best, first consider the tools you have at your disposal and the texture of the concentrate. Extracts like shatter and badder are malleable and easy to use in a dab rig, while powdery concentrates, such as kief and crumble, can be easily enjoyed by adding them to a more stable foundation like flower. Here are some of the most common methods for smoking or vaporizing concentrates.
Topping Your Flower
Adding powdered kief to your bowl, or wrapping wax around a joint, are the most cost-effective methods to using cannabis concentrates. These methods don’t require any of the expensive tools necessary for taking dabs, while still increasing the potency of your smoke and adding extra flavor from the concentrate.
The most popular way to consume cannabis concentrates is by vaporizing the concentrate using a “dab rig.” This method consists of heating a “nail” (made from either glass, ceramic, or titanium) and then applying the concentrate directly onto the hot surface, instantly turning it into a vapor for consumption. While there are many inexpensive ways of turning any water pipe into a dab rig, below is a list of items you’ll need for a dab rig:
HOW DO YOU MAKE DIFFERENT TEXTURES?
Different textures are the result of deliberate steps taken before or after the initial extraction process.
Shatter is one of the most versatile textures. In fact, many other textures, such as budder and crumble, start off as shatter. Shatter is known for its resemblance to brittle glass, which shatters on contact, but can also have a “snap and pull” consistency that gives it elastic-like properties. Shatter can be created using a variety of solvent extraction methods, the most popular of which include BHO, PHO, EHO, and CO2.
These textures are the result of agitating terpene-rich shatter into a more creamy consistency. To achieve this frosting-like texture, technicians whip the shatter under low and even temperatures to introduce and redistribute air molecules. The volume of these air molecules determines the density of the resulting texture.
Crumble is shatter that has been whipped, like badder and budder, and then purged in a vacuum oven at low temperatures to “dry” the concentrate while retaining its cannabinoid and terpene content.
Crystalline is a transparent or semi-transparent cannabis concentrate that may resemble coarse decorative sparkling sugar or kosher salt. Multiple methods can be used to produce crystalline, but they all follow the same basic principles of crystallization.
An example of crystallization is making rock candy. Rock candy is a flavored confection that’s produced when sugar (a chemical solid) is slowly added to boiling water (a liquid). The resulting solution cools a bit, then flavor and color is added. A prepared stick is lowered into the solution. Over time, crystals form and grow on the prepared stick, eventually yielding the desired product.
Crystallization is a process where a chemical solid is mixed with a liquid to create an initial solution. Any impurities are removed from the initial solution, and the extract is then mixed with another solvent under a different set of conditions to start the formation of pure crystals.
Distillates are made by exposing a winterized and decarboxylated extract to heat and vacuum, which promotes the separation of cannabinoids based on their different boiling points.