Cannabis concentrates continue to gain in popularity in the US. In fact, concentrate sales increased by 40% in 2020 in both the medical and recreational markets. New technology has helped make dabbing easier and safer to use with the creation of innovative products such as portable vape pens, E-nails and DabTabs. The lockdowns and self-quarantines imposed during the pandemic were a factor in driving consumers to purchase higher potency concentrates.
Industry experts view the sharp increase in concentrate consumption as a natural progression as users become more sophisticated. They start with flower and then move on to concentrates which are more potent, portable, discreet and deliver a more intense flavor. However, some of the media are still misrepresenting concentrates by comparing them to hard drugs such as crack cocaine. In this article I will list several misconceptions about concentrates which are damaging for the entire industry and dispel them with accurate information.
Misconception #1: Ingesting Concentrates Is Not Safe
The first misconception is that the use of blow-torches and extremely hot nails makes dabbing dangerous. As long as the user follows the instructions when using dabbing equipment, it is no more dangerous than using a stove. If you want to avoid the use of such equipment, concentrates can be easily added to your flower in a pipe. They are also excellent to use in edibles.
Reasons To Use Concentrates Over Flower in Edibles
- Easier to integrate them into mixtures with dry ingredients
- Easier to measure the dosage
- More convenient and easier to use on a smaller scale
- Contains higher potency of cannabinoids and wider range of terpenes
- Leaves a less pungent, herbal flavor
The Extraction Process
The extraction process for concentrates involves the removal of the cannabinoids and terpenes present in the sticky glands known as trichomes. The use of solvents is one method employed to extract the oil and resin from the trichomes. However, there are some consumers that prefer not to inhale butane, propane and hexane. In response, many concentrate manufacturers are using other extraction methods.
Here are 4 other extraction methods. 3 are solventless and 1 is a safer type of solvent:
Supercritical CO2 Oil Extraction
Supercritical CO2 oil extraction is non-toxic, environmentally-friendly, cleaner and safer than solvent extraction. The process uses controlled temperature and pressure to extract the cannabis material, requiring specialized equipment. It leaves less residue than solvents which means that the resulting cannabis oils, waxes and rosins have the highest levels of purity. It is currently considered the “gold standard” of cannabis extraction methods.
The use of ethanol as a concentrate extraction method is gaining in popularity. Ethanol has been classified as “generally safe” by the FDA and is often used as a food preservative. It is safer, more efficient and more effective than other more volatile solvents such as butane, propane and hexane. The THC is extracted by soaking the cannabis plant in ethanol. The product then undergoes a refining processes that removes even more unwanted compounds with an end result of one of the purest and best tasting concentrates on the market.
Cold Water Extraction
With water extraction, the cannabis plant is submerged in freezing water. It is then stirred, causing the trichomes to separate and fall off the plant. The trichomes are then passed through a series of screens with the finished product at 50% to 70% THC levels.
Pressurized Hot Water Extraction
The latest technology on the horizon is the use of pressurized hot water which is being explored by researchers in South Africa. They have identified water temperatures of 302°F-320°F as optimal conditions for the extraction of higher levels of CBD, CBD and CBG. It is more environmentally-friendly and safer for the employees, but it remains to be seen if it is a commercially viable method. Stay tuned!
Misconception #2: Cannabis Concentrates Have Stronger Psychotropic Effects Than The Equivalent in Flower
It doesn’t matter whether you consume comparable amounts of concentrates or flower. Your endocannabinoid system will process them in the same way. The difference between the two is that it takes a small amount of concentrate to provide the same effects as a large amount of flower. Potency for concentrates falls between 45-99% while it is 10-30% for flower. Make sure you understand the dosing before you try concentrates. You should also understand how to read a cannabis product label to dose safely.
Misconception #3: Concentrates Should Only Be Used Recreationally
This is absolutely incorrect. As long as medical patients use concentrates responsibly by starting with a low dose and increasing it gradually, this delivery method provides effective symptom relief in the quickest and most efficient manner.
Misconception #4: Using Concentrates Will Make You High For Days
While it is not unusual for new concentrate users to ingest too big a dose, causing an overwhelmingly potent experience, it will not last for days. Always start low and gradually increase the dosage. You can always take CBD to counteract the effects of THC.
You Can Trust The Regulated Market
There are strict regulations on the use of solvents; how they are used, how much solvent remains in the finished product and the information that appears on the packaging and label. Only trained professionals, under safe and sterile conditions in laboratories, are allowed to handle the chemicals used to extract concentrates. Any concentrate product available for purchase at a licensed cannabis dispensary should be as safe to consume as any other product on the shelf.
A Final Note
Be sure to do your homework when it comes to understanding a specific product or a consumption method to ensure your safety and a positive experience. Familiarizing yourself with the tools and the dosing is an important part of the process.
leafly.com, Shattering 4 Misconceptions About Cannabis Concentrates, Patrick Bennett, June 21, 2019
benzinga.com, Debunking Myths About Cannabis Concentrates, The French Toast, June 10, 2020
mjbizdaily.com, Sales of Concentrates Up 40%
jcyounger.com, 5 Most Common Cannabis Extraction Methods in 2020, J C Younger, Feb. 11, 2020
yodabbadabba.com, How To Make High-Potency Edibles Using Cannabis Concentrates
thegrowthop.com, Four Myths About Cannabis Concentrates, Maria Loreto, June 30, 2019
cannatechtoday.com, Pressurized Hot Water Extraction: Is It The Future of Cannabis Concentrates? March 26, 2020