Concentrates, oils, and extracts made from the cannabis plant offer a variety of additional benefits and effects that you may not experience when smoking cannabis flowers alone.Concentrates, oils, and extracts are a great choice when it comes to simple dosing, better flavors, and cleaner effects from THC or CBD. Here’s a quick rundown on the difference between cannabis concentrates, oils and extracts as well as a few ways to use them safely.
What are cannabis concentrates?
Cannabis concentrates are essentially highly potent and concentrated forms of THC. They are usually made from cannabis flowers though some concentrates are made using the whole plant. “Concentrate” is an umbrella term for many different kinds of concentrated cannabis including shatter, wax, budder, rosin, live resin, and distillate. Each product is made by concentrating the THC in cannabis plants and flowers through extraction, pressure and heat, or chemical solvents. Some concentrates are made with simple mechanical techniques like grinding flowers. In a standard three-chamber grinder, you can separate cannabis flowers from their THC-rich trichome heads and be left with a concentrated form of cannabis called kief.
What are cannabis oils?
Cannabis oils are also cannabis concentrates. They are made by extracting the THC (or CBD or other cannabinoids) from the cannabis plant using a solvent extraction like BHO or CO2. Some cannabis oils are then distilled and sold as vape cartridges. These extracts are highly variable and exist at every price-point and consistency, containing about 70-90% cannabinoids on average. Most oils contain a concentrated form of THC or CBD as well as other natural terpenes and resins found in full-spectrum cannabis flowers. You can buy them at most dispensaries in the form of tinctures, capsules, vape cartridges, and dabbable oils.
What are cannabis extracts?
Cannabis extracts are also cannabis concentrates. Cannabis extracts are extracted from cannabis plants and flowers. They are refined to only contain an isolated cannabinoid like THC or CBD and no other plant materials, terpenes, or cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are first extracted from cannabis plants and then refined into smokable or vapable products. With extracts, hundreds of different consistencies and textures are possible based on starting materials and cannabinoid content. Cannabis extracts are made with both solvent and solventless extraction methods. Extracts include products like hash, dry sift, and bubble hash.
How are cannabis concentrates oils and extracts different from cannabis flowers?
Concentrates extracts and oils are much more concentrated than cannabis flowers alone. Cannabis flowers contain an average of 20-25% THC. However, concentrates extracts and oils contain anywhere from 70-95% THC. Further, some concentrates contain added terpenes which improve the flavors, odors, and potency of effects in cannabis products in a phenomenon known as the entourage effect. Concentrates, extracts, and oils are also much easier to dose than flowers that contain the full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes. The final result is a product that feels cleaner, is easier to dose consistently and offers better flavors.
How to use cannabis concentrates
- Find the right product - There are many different forms of concentrated cannabis out there including shatter, budder, live resin, rosin, hash oil, kief, ice hash, distillate, edibles, tinctures, capsules, vape cartridges, and dabbable oils. Each product contains concentrated forms of cannabis that will affect you in different ways based on how it’s introduced to your body. If you’re unsure, start with a vape cartridge.
- Start with a low dose - As with any cannabis product, start low and go slow. You don’t want to introduce too much of a concentrate extract or oil into your body until you know how your body processes it. Always consult your doctor before beginning any health and wellness routine, including medicating with cannabis products. A good rule of thumb is to start with a half dose according to package instructions and work your way up.
- Wait 15 minutes - If you choose a product like edibles made from cannabis oil, you’ll want to wait up to an hour before taking more. If you’re dabbing or vaping cannabis concentrates, start with a couple of puffs from your vape or one small dab. If your symptoms still feel wonky after 15 minutes, smoke more.
- Increase your dose slowly until your symptoms feel manageable - Once you find a good dose for your symptoms, you’re good to go. You can rely on this dose until you build a tolerance or until your symptoms go away.