Welcome to our complete guide to marijuana concentrates and the extraction methods used.
- Types of Concentrates
- Extraction Methods
Through your dabbing days, you’ll probably come across many names that refer to the product that is dabbed, but we are going to focus on the umbrella term: concentrates. This typically refers to “stuff” that is made from extracting trichomes from plant matter. Concentrates come in all shapes and sizes, if you will, and are made using a number of extraction techniques.
TYPES OF CANNABIS CONCENTRATES
First off, it’s important to know that concentrates can have a number of consistencies, ranging from oily to glass-like. Though they are sometimes smoked differently and can have different levels of purity, the main difference is the extraction method used to make the product.
Usually the product of butane extraction and most often comes from a failed butter/shatter extract. Wax concentrates are often wax-like (not formed) and sticky. These concentrates can sometimes be found with a softer consistency, almost like watery peanut butter.
An extremely potent concentrate popularly consumed by dabbing or vaporizing. Marijuana oil is commonly extracted using the butane method and, unlike wax and shatter, is the same consistency of most other oil products.
Shatter is achieved through skillful purging of the butane and plant matter, often employing the use of a vacuum. This product is clear, often with a yellow or orange hue. Shatter is very malleable, almost like taffy.
Bubble/Ice Wax/Full Melt
This is one of the safest and cleanest concentrates due to the ice water extraction method. The trichomes are simply washed off of the plant with ice cold water (rather than using chemicals to absorb the trichomes). The product has a stable, grainy texture that looks a lot like beach sand.
EXTRACTION METHODS AND THE RESULTS
There are a number of different extraction methods, and the end result is usually a bit different. As far as which method to use, it usually comes down to the preference of the extractor and what they enjoy smoking.
Water + Ice: Ice Wax, Bubble, Full Melt
Ice Wax is a full melt concentrate that gets its name from the extraction method used. Ice Wax, Bubble, and Full Melt commonly refer to a type of concentrate that melts completely and leaves little to no ash. If it doesn’t melt 100% to liquid, it’s not a full melt.
This type of concentrate comes in many grades, ranging from light beige to golden to dark black. The purity of the product is easily determined by its color; light colors are the purest, while dark colored concentrates usually contain plant matter and contaminants. Lower-grade Full Melts are soft, moist, and have the consistency of silly putty, while the “good stuff” looks and feels like beach sand and is usually made from sativas since indicas don’t usually melt completely.
Ice Wax is extracted using screens and ice-cold water, making a much purer product. The extraction process is tricky and tedious, making this a relatively rare product. When heated, this concentrate may bubble slightly due to small amounts of water that tend to get trapped when the oil glands burst.
Acetone, alcohol-based: Honey Oil, Black Gold, etc.
These are made by soaking plant matter in acetone for a certain amount of time. The longer the plant matter soaks, the darker the extract will be. As with Bubble, the purity is determined by the color; lightest being the most pure. Waxy Oils should look like wax, but should be hard as rock when touched. When heated, this product should turn completely to oil. Beware of liquid or strong fume smells in this product, as they are caused by leftover chemicals that were not evaporated during the extraction process.
Butane: Goo, Earwax, Honey Oil, Shatter, etc.
Most commonly known as BHO, this is made using a complicated process that involves passing butane over plant material. When done correctly, the resulting product will be light-colored with a consistency similar to earwax. On occasion, the result will be as hard as glass, a concentrate known as shatter. These concentrates will turn to a clear or yellowish amber marijuana oil when heat is applied. The butane process, unlike the water and ice method, is non-organic. However, the end result is extremely pure and potent while the smell and taste are left completely intact, leaving out useless plant matter and chemicals.
Dry Ice: Gold Dust, Moon Rocks, etc.
To make this concentrate, dry ice is shaken with plant material and the trichomes are allowed to fall through screens. Due to the dramatically cold temperatures, the trichomes are very cleanly separated from plant matter, and the product is usually rather pure. The final product is a gold flake or powder, and will sometimes melt in warm environments.
This concentrate is made using a process that is just like the butane process, except CO2 is used. The CO2 extraction process is desirable because the chemical is much colder and safer than butane. The final product should be extremely sweet-tasting and completely hard at room temperature. CO2 products will also be full melt and very potent.
Concentrates can also be extracted from plant matter using heat and pressure alone. This is done on the professional level using rosin press machines, but you can achieve a similar effect at home using hair straighteners instead. Visit our dedicated resource article to learn more about how to make rosin dabs.