Cannabis concentrates are ancient products which have been used for centuries in many different regions of the world. They’re known for their efficacy which is due to the high percentage of cannabinoids and terpenes—much higher than the ones naturally found in cannabis inflorescences. Let’s see the main features of this product and what are the most popular kinds among the ones with or without solvents. Cannabis naturally contains in its flowers both cannabinoids and terpenes: concentrates are created when these substances are extracted from the flower and mixed together to form a single product. All around the world, there are thousands of enthusiasts who love this class of marijuana-based products also known as “extracts”. The market is obviously very rich and it offers many kinds of concentrates, which have very different characteristics from one another. We’re talking intensity, way of consumption, texture but also taste and aroma… at the same time you also have the chance of choosing between naturally extracted concentrates (mainly with a mechanical procedure) and concentrates extracted using solvents.
The concentration principle
Cannabis concentrates are cannabinoids and terpenes agglomerates. The base procedure to obtain them is by separating trichomes from the rest of the plant, namely those small resinous crystals which cover the inflorescences. If carefully observed with a lens, they look like tiny mushrooms: in reality they are small bulges rich in THC and other cannabinoids, which are located on the flower’s surface. They are responsible for the tacky and resinous part of cannabis, the one which sticks to your fingers when you touch a cannabis flower. Once it is isolated from the rest of the plant, harvested and treated, this substance is the basic element of concentrates.
Solvent-free concentrates are obviously made without any chemical intermediary (water is not considered a solvent since it can be naturally found in the plant and is totally harmless), but they’re mechanically harvested and/or collected through the warming of the flower. These products are rightly considered more pure and healthy than the ones made using solvents.
Concentrates with solvents
A solvent is a liquid in which a solid dissolves to form a solution. Concentrates made using solvents are then called extracts. Solvents used with this purpose are usually butane, alcohol, propane and more rarely CO2: concentrates with very different concentration rates can be made depending on the solvent used. In most cases the chemical compound added for the extraction procedure is then removed with special “purging” and cleaning operations.
Kinds of cannabis concentrates
As we’ve already said, there are many different kinds of concentrates (both solvent-free and extracts): here are the most popular ones which you will find on the market.
Hashish is absolutely THE cannabis concentrate, and many other processed and re-elaborated kinds are derived from it. If it is produced using the traditional method, then it can be considered solvent-free: as a matter of fact, it is obtained through the mechanical removal of trichomes (we analysed this procedure in detail in this article).
Charas and Kief
Charas is also obtained using a procedure similar to hashish’s, using the fingers to rub the plant’s edges together, and gathering the tacky resin. Kief, on the other hand, is obtained through dry sifting (we talked about chief and its relation with hashish in this article). These products obviously contain some extra vegetal material since they’re made through artisanal methods, but they surely are the highest quality concentrates.
Full melts are more elaborated products considered highly efficient which are created using cold water to separate trichomes from scraps after being mechanically sifted.
BHO is a common extract made using solvents: it’s an oil obtained through butane extraction and then re-elaborated as wax, shutter or in other solidities for different ways of consumption.
Live resin is a special extraction method which gives excellent results when it comes to terpenes concentration: it is very similar to the one used for BHO production but it starts with freezes flowers.
This method, instead, uses heat and mechanical pressure to collect resin: it’s very easy and it can be done at home using a hot hair plier. Obviously, the more professional the procedure, the better the product in terms of purity and concentration.