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What are Cannabis Concentrates: A Guide to Extraction Techniques
You have probably heard about dabs, and someone vaguely explained how concentrates are made, but you're still a little fuzzy on the specifics? Think of cannabis concentrates as an isolation or separation of the beneficial cannabis compounds from the plant – the goal being a pure, therapeutic combination of cannabinoids and terpenes. In laymans terms, this means your final product is 90-100% THC, whereas cannabis flower is more like 15-20% THC. This concentration of beneficial compounds allows the user to consume a far smaller volume to achieve the same effects. EG would like to explain the different extraction techniques we use to make cannabis concentrates.
Cannabis concentrates can be divided into two main categories: solvent and solventless extractions. A solvent is a substance that dissolves a solid, resulting in a liquid solution. When we talk about cannabis concentrates, EG's most popular solvents are butane and alcohol. Although water is technically a solvent, ice-water extractions are typically classified a non-solvent extractions in the cannabis world. Solventless extractions do not introduce any foreign substances (except for water).
Many people refer to concentrates by their consistency, i.e. shatter, budder or wax. However, the consistency of a concentrate alone does not indicate which extraction technique was used. The same extraction method can deliver a variety of final-product consistencies. The method of extraction and the starting material is far more important than the concentrate's final consistency, as there are several variables that manipulate the consistency; some are in control of the extraction artist, while others are not.
The reason for this distinction is that extcraction pratices dictate the healthiness of the concentrate, while the consistency is largely preference-based from a consumer standpoint. For instance, many people debate shatter vs. budder; but shatter can be converted to budder by simply whipping the concentrate on a hot plate. Furthermore, you can derive a buddery consistency from BHO extraction. It's the solvent (if any) and starting material that matters. Starting material can range from dry trim to cured buds to fresh frozen whole plants. It's your responsibility as a thoughtful consumer to inquire from your budtender about the starting material and extraction process used in your favorite concentrate. Always ask for EG concentrates.
solvent based dabs
Solvent based extractions typically produce concentrates that are known as oil. EG concentrates will be free of plant matter (also known as contaminate). These oils will melt and vaporize to nothing – meaning very minimal residue will remain on the nail if dabbed, for instance. The consistency of solvent-based cannabis concentrates varies greatly based on a few factors: strain of cannabis, grow conditions, curing environment, extraction technique, solvent used, purging process and equipment used all play a role in the final product.
Butane Hash Oil (BHO)
types of bho dabs
Cannabis concentrate derived from a butane-based extraction is referred to as Butane Hash Oil or BHO for short. BHO is by far the most popular concentrate of late as a result of its potency and varying consistencies; shatter, budder, sap, snap n' pull, and sugar can all be derived from butane extraction. Although dangerous to make at home, EG has sophisticated machinery and is made in a commercial production facility to be safe and effective. EG is the one of the most reputable extractors in Oklahoma. We understand how to properly purge each run to avoid unpleasant aftertaste or harsh residual butane.
Perhaps the best analogy for how it works is an espresso machine: as the water passes through the puck of ground coffee beans it strips them of their oils (which contain the caffeine, flavor, and aroma) into a filtered, highly concentrated solution. For cannabis, the extractor places plant material in a column with a filtration screen at the end, and as the butane passes through the column it strips the plant material of its cannabinoids and terpenes.
The solution containing both butane and beneficial cannabis compounds is then placed in a vacuum oven in order to evaporate, or purge, the BHO of its butane and any other foreign contaminants. Our products are clean and free from any trace amounts of butane in the oil produced by these extractions, ask your Budtender for EG Extracts when purchasing and rest with ease that all of our products have been lab-tested for BHO & PPM. Make sure your oil is properly purged!
Concentrates can also be created by soaking ground cannabis in alcohol (either isopropyl or Everclear). A short soak is all that is needed to isolate the cannabinoids and terpenes from the starting material. A longer soak will also dissolve undesired plant materials like chlorophylls and waxes. Alcohol based concentrates are safe to make at home and are safe to consume, assuming the solution has been filtered and purged. Purging, or evaporating, the alcohol requires precise temperature control and patience. This type of concentrate, also known as Rick Simpson Oil, is typically consumed orally or via tincture. This type of concentrate is generally purchased for medical application due to its potent cancer fighting properties.
solventless cannabis dab types
Solventless extractions are considered to be the most enjoyable, highest quality, and most unadulterated form of cannabis extracts. Even better, all the solventless extraction techniques are performed in our lab. With the exception of rosin tech, the goal of solventless extracts is pure glandular trichome head isolation, as the heads contain the coveted cannabinoids and terpenes. For all those reasons, solventless extracts are many patients recommended and preferred concentrate despite the extra steps needed to press it into dabs. Pure isolated trichome heads in either the dry sift or ice water hash form is known as full melt. The term full melt is used to describe the highest grade of solventless extractions that melt fully, leaving behind little to no residual residue, indicating very little plant matter in the product.
Ice Water Hash
EG Ice water extraction process incorporates ice and water to break the brittle trichome heads off of the plant material. Our agitation is performed by hand. The solution containing the water and trichomes is then filtered through what is known as a sieve stack, or a series of filtration screens of varying microns. The purpose of the screens is to remove any contaminate (plant material) and to isolate the glandular trichome heads.
The final step in the ice water extraction process is to break down the hash into smaller pieces using a microplane or metal strainer so it can properly dry. Once the ice water hash is free of moisture, we place the hash in an air-tight glass jars to cure; the longer the better. Like dry sift, there are varying grades of ice water hash. Quality ice water extractions also take on the consistency of beach sand and can be pressed into dab-able sheets. Cannabis extracts produced using this technique have a variety of names; bubble hash, ice-o-lator hash, full melt, solventless wax, ice wax, etc.
The newest trend in cannabis concentrate production is referred to as the ‘rosin press’ or ‘solventless hash oil’ (SHO). This process utilizes heat and pressure to extract the essential oils from the flower or hash.
The consistency, yield, and flavor profile of rosin will vary based on strain and the specific amount of heat and pressure utilized; but as a general rule of thumb, lower temperatures and higher pressures result in the least adulterated, most terpene-rich extracts. At EG we only use industrial rosin presses. The rosin tech typically produces a glassy, stable oil that takes on a shattery consistency; but like most concentrates, you can find it in a variety of consistencies.