A Beginner’s Guide to Marijuana Concentrates

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As you explore the different medicines available at a local MMJ dispensary, you will surely find that there are more options than you ever dreamed of—including many that aren’t meant to be smoked, but rather are implemented in other ways. This is actually one of the biggest canards in the ongoing cultural discussion of medical marijuana; many assume that this is all about smoking, but in truth hashes and concentrates are increasingly popular—and not without reason.

Concentrates 101

When we refer to hashes and concentrates, we are not using the terms interchangeably, but we are referencing a set of related MMJ products—a set that might also include different butters, oils, waxes, and more. Really, it all comes down to the cannabinoid extraction process. Concentrates are any products that are made using a solvent—which could be alcohol, butane, or simply water—to eliminate all plant matter and extract the resin glands from the plant matter. Cannabis plant matter is mixed with the solvent, then strained and purged to get the plant matter (and the solvent itself) out of the finished product.

Different Kinds of Concentrates

Concentrates come in different forms, all with their own characteristics; as for which one is the best one, it’s largely a matter of picking the product that fits your needs the best. Some options include:

    • Cannabis butter or oil. Cannabis products made through a butter or oil extraction are considered to be particularly safe and natural. This extraction process conserves the cannabis and can radically change the patient’s experience. Usually, these products are baked or cooked into different foods, not consumed straight. When consumed in this way, these products become up to four times more potent than smoked cannabis—the THC’s psychedelic effects becoming more pronounced.

 

    •  Budder. Budder, meanwhile, is something a little different. This term refers to cannabis products made in a butane hash oil extraction, wherein the oil is whipped to give it a more stable consistency. It tends to be yellow in color and it has a sort of crumbly texture.

 

    •  Wax. Also known as hash oil, is the product of a butane hash oil extraction. This is usually a product that results from a failed budder extraction process; compared to cannabis budder, it’s stickier and not as closely formed.

 

    •  Iso Hash. Iso hash is made in an isopropyl alcohol extraction. This is a popular “DIY” method among growers, simply because alcohol makes for such a cheap solvent. The downside is that the flavor tends to be pretty bad, or at least not as enticing as other methodologies. The quality of iso hashes can vary; clear yellow products are usually better, while black and gummy ones should be avoided.

 

    •  Bubble hash. Probably an altogether better form of hash is bubble hash, which is made in an ice water extraction. This is a very clean form of concentrate, as all that’s really happening is that parts of the plant matter are being washed away. Good bubble hash should have a grainy but stable texture.


 
Ingesting Concentrates Orally

There are different ways to ingest concentrates, and the safest is always going to be orally. Note, once more, that oral consumption increases the potency by quite a bit, compared with other methods (including smoking and vaporizing cannabis), so it can be a more effective option for some patients but also a less practical one: It’s surely not something you’d want to try an hour or two before you had to go into work, for example.
Note also that most of these products taste less than stellar on their own—they are meant to be used in baking and cooking—so it’s worthwhile to gather some good recipes. There is likely someone at the dispensary who can point you in the right direction. Finally, it’s important to remember that you need to bake or cook your concentrate products at no higher than 350 degrees Fahrenheit—any hotter than that and the cannabinoids will vaporize, essentially wasting your weed!

Vaporizing Your Concentrates (And Other Methods)

An alternative option for medicating: All forms of hash and concentrate can be vaporized. Obtaining and using a vaporizer is considered by many to be the preferable way to “smoke” cannabis, but be warned that there is ongoing research into the effects of the cannabis residue on the lungs, and a possible link to lung cancer.
Finally, hashes can simply be smoked, the same way you would “flower” marijuana. The method that you use is a matter of preference, and, as always, our biggest recommendation is to be open to trying some different options until you determine the product and the method that’s right for you! You can check out what cannabis concentrates are available in your area on AllBud.