Differences Between Cannabis Concentrates, Oils, and Extracts?

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Cannabis concentrates, oils, and differ. They differ in purpose, preparation, and practice. New users should know what the difference means, and veteran users often move from one to the other. The differences vary significantly, but each format increases cannabis potency.  

These products are by-products of different processes that effectively rescue the cannabinoids packed into the plant’s trichomes. Overall, these formats remove the ineffective parts of the cannabis plant to activate and intensify the desired cannabinoid count and trichome effects for recreational or medical use.

Cannabis concentrates

Cannabis “concentrates” is a broad term that includes bud, crumble, live resin, shatter, and other forms. The processes transform the 10% to 25%+ THC into products with 80%+ THC. That power requires knowledge of your product, how producers made it, and what dosage affects the change you want.

Providers produce concentrates with or without solvents. They use butane, ethanol, carbon dioxide, or other solvents to dissolve and flush away the cannabis plant’s woody and fibrous material. The solvent methods deliver high potency results, but they risk transmitting the toxins found in some solvents.

Other producers pursue solventless methods combining heat and pressure to squeeze the cannabinoids and terpenes from the flower. Because these processes avoid solvents, you have a safer outcome.

You can perform these processes yourself, but they take some experience with success and failure, proving expensive and risky. 

  • Butane process

An Open-loop butane process puts harvested and dried cannabis in a container with butane. The butane will blast the waste material from the cannabis, but the butane can create an explosion triggered by a spark or flame.

A Closed-loop approach reduces the risk of explosion by trapping all the flammable solvents within commercial extraction equipment. These processors also recycle the excess and processed butane to protect the processor and environment.

  • Vacuum purging

Special commercial-grade vacuums evaporate the remaining butane from the processing cannabis product. As a safeguard, vacuum purging removes any trace of the butane or related gases. It lowers the atmospheric pressure in the closed-loop “oven,” optimizing butane evaporation.

  • Carbon dioxide process

Producers expose cannabis to carbon dioxide at high temperatures and pressure. Because carbon dioxide is natural gas, it presents no risk in consumption or use. However, it takes some training and equipment to create and apply the right temperature and time ratio.

  • Dry process

Solventless processes include dry sift, dry sieve, and ice water hash. To dry sift or sieve, you comb broken cannabis flower, flakes, and debris over a series of screens to produce a fine kief. Ice water or bubble processes place the cannabis into a series of mesh bags. Placed in ice water, they create a fluid that goes through a sequence of filters.

Most people find these processes difficult and time-consuming when cannabis dispensaries sell the by-products. Of course, many people find themselves in states where cannabis remains illegal. However, this focus does not cover making a personal stash.

Cannabis oil 

Cannabis concentrates include cannabis oils. Cannabis oil is not squeezed or pressed from cannabis flowers. Instead, it infuses oils. Cannabinoids like THC and CBD resist water. They are hydrophobic (or water-fearing). However, they are compatible with natural oils. So, people will infuse all sorts of oils with cannabis.

Because cannabis oil offers convenient and discrete administration, consumers value it for pleasure and medical therapy. CBD oil, for instance, is unrestricted and widely available as a therapy for anxiety, chronic pain, depression, sleeping disorders, spasticity, and multiple other physical and mental conditions. Most of that popular oil comes from hemp with negligible THC content. Other providers focus on developing oils infused with high-potency THC cannabis strains.

Most people administer CBD oils under the tongue. Using an eyedropper encourages accurate dosing. Placing the oil under the tongue ensures immediate effects as the oral tissues and glands process the oil quickly.

Cannabis can infuse a variety of natural or essential oils useful for cooking and serving food and beverages. It can perk up a salad dressing, brownie recipe, soup, gravy, or other recipes. You can put a few drops in your coffee, tea, or other drinks.

Cannabis extracts 

Cannabis extracts are concentrates differentiated by the way the producer collects the trichomes. Extracts include badder, crumble, shatter, and sugar wax.

  • Badder, butter, or budder results from the previously described methods for extraction. It has a gummy texture colored by the cannabis strain used. The budder is used in dab devices or added to joints, pipes, or bongs to enhance the experience.

However, users also add it to dairy butter, 7 grams of decarboxylated cannabis, or a cup of butter or margarine. The resulting cannabutter adds to recipes, spreads on biscuits, or tops mashed potatoes.

  • Cannabis crumble has the texture of crushed wax or honeycomb. This texture comes from the high temperatures used to extract the material. Even a tiny piece is very potent, so users must be careful when dabbing, vaping, or smoking.

  • Cannabis shatter results from a longer purging process. It may have the texture of broken glass or peanut brittle. If it is high in THC, it will be more malleable. The pieces of shatter store easily, and, when broken, they can provide fuel for dabbing, vaping, and smoking.

  • Sugar wax has a shiny and sticky texture. It remains high in the terpenes that heighten flavor and aroma. Consumers use it for dapping, vaping, and smoking cannabis.

Other extracts include hash, kief, rosin, and live resin, and many have names influenced by slang in different cities and regions.

Your takeaway? 

Cannabis extracts take some expertise. Some processes present a proven physical danger. Some solvents threaten your health with toxic chemicals. And, the procedures are more or less complicated, especially for inexperienced users.

Cannabis extracts contain maximized potency. However, there is no clear metric for dosing. Considering the power, customers must moderate their usage. Adding only a drop or a bit of extract to a joint, bowl, or dab can provoke a threatening body and brain experience.