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What are Cannabis Concentrates and How Do You Consume Them?

Image showing three different forms of cannabis concentrates for consumption

Cannabis popularity and use continues to spread. People are starting to learn about all of the different cannabis-based products and how they’re used. This includes cannabis concentrates. Many people are familiar with flower, vapes, and even edibles, but they may not know much about concentrates. Today we’ll take a look at cannabis concentrates including what they are, and how you use them safely and enjoyably. 

The world of cannabis concentrates is quite diverse. They come in different textures and you can consume them in a variety of ways. 

What are Concentrates?

Cannabis concentrates are created by distilling down desirable parts of the cannabis plant. This means they include all the cannabinoids and terpenes of the cannabis flower without the bulk of the plant material itself. Essentially, you’re getting a higher quantity of cannabinoids and terpenes from concentrates in an ounce-to-ounce comparison to the cannabis flower.

These terpenes and cannabinoids are what’s responsible for the unique effects, smell, and flavor experienced with cannabis use. These components are found throughout the plant in frost-like appendages known as trichomes. The highest concentration of trichomes are most noticeable on the buds of the cannabis flowers. Concentrating this down allows users to experience cannabis in another way.

Is There a Difference Between a Concentrate and an Extract?

Cannabis concentrates and cannabis extracts are actually two different products. Concentrates are described above, whereas extracts are specific concentrates that are made using solvents. This means that all extracts are concentrates, but not all concentrates are extracts. 

For example, to create vanilla extract alcohol is used as a solvent to pull the flavor from vanilla bean pods. The same can be done for cannabis. In fact, that is how Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is created. However, other solvents are used as well. For example, supercritical CO2 (a fluid state of carbon dioxide) is used for cannabis wax extracts, while butane is used for Butane Hash Oil (BHO). 

Concentrates that are made without the help of solvents are instead created using either physical or mechanical means. Trichomes are removed and gathered to create concentrates such as dry sift, kief, and rosin

Because concentrates and extracts have such a wide variety of textures it can be difficult to tell them apart just by looking at them. Thankfully, dispensaries make it easy to identify which is which with clearly marked packaging. 

How to Consume Cannabis Concentrates

There are a variety of ways to consume cannabis extracts and concentrates. To decide which method will work best for you, it’s important to first think about what you wish to accomplish during and after your experience. 

Inhalants

Pre-filled vape pens are a quick, easy way to use cannabis concentrates or extracts. These all-in-one pens consist of a pre-filled cartridge and a battery. The battery activates the heating element. This heats the concentrate into a vapor to be inhaled. The pre-filled cartridges cannot be refilled but depending on the type of pen you may be able to reuse the batteries.

You can also use a refillable version called a dab pen. These tend to provide a more customizable experience because you can fill it with any type of cannabis concentrate. You get to enjoy the customizability and portability all in one device. 

Vaporizers

Most people who use concentrates vaporize them using a dab rig. Heat is applied to the nail, which is a dab rig equivalent to the bowl for a bong. The concentrate is then directly applied onto the heated surface. It instantly vaporizes into a vapor that can be inhaled. Typically, dab rigs are glass, and the nail is usually either ceramic, glass, quartz, or titanium. Traditional dab rigs are heated with a torch. However, e-nails that are more user-friendly have now hit the market. 

Dabs

Dabbing is when you heat a concentrate or extract to a temperature high enough that it vaporizes. This creates a very potent vapor that is inhaled by the user. It’s the most common way to partake in concentrated cannabis and is the primary reason that many concentrates and extracts are referred to as “dabs.” 

Bowls

Adding powdered kief concentrate to your bowl can help increase the strength of smokables in an easy way without the need for extra tools. The concentrate adds both flavor and potency. 

Edibles

Many people are now using edibles made from cannabis concentrates or extracts. There are store-bought options, or you can opt to make your own at home. Edibles are an easy way for consumers to use concentrates without the cost of any extra equipment. Depending on the dose, they give a potent, long-lasting high similar to dabs. 

The primary difference between inhalable concentrates and edibles is the time it takes before you experience your high. When inhaled, you’ll experience a near-instant effect. Whereas edibles may take two or more hours to provide the same effect. 

Topicals

Concentrates are also available in topical options, which provide the same relief but in a targeted way and without the commonly associated high feeling of using cannabis. 

So Many Cannabis Concentrates, But Where Do You Buy Them?

Before you dive into using concentrates, it’s a good idea to learn how to decode the names. Often times the plant material that was used to make the concentrate or extract is listed first, followed by the strain of cannabis plant, and something about the texture. 

Input materials include the cannabis flower buds, leaves, stems, or some combination of these. Different input materials create different cannabinoid and terpene profiles. Quality also plays a significant role in both the flavor and potency of the concentrate. 

Different strains of cannabis plants hold different properties. Speak with someone at your dispensary who’s experienced in what strains tend to have what effects in order to get the product best suited for your wants or needs. 

The texture description might be the most confusing part of the name. Simply put, this part of the product name describes the appearance and texture of the concentrate. It’s not necessarily a descriptor of how it tastes or the effects it will have. Here are some of the texture descriptions you’ll see on concentrates:

Buying Cannabis Concentrates

You can purchase cannabis concentrates and extracts from licensed dispensaries. Let them know how you want to use it and what you’re hoping to achieve, and they can help you select the right concentrate for your wants and needs.