A runny, translucent oil devoid of the waxes or undesirable compounds from the original plant. Distillate is desirable due to its potency and versatility. It can be used to dab, vaporize, and mix in as an ingredient in edibles, topicals, and other products. Distillate concentrates are achieved through an extensive distillation process that separates compounds from cannabis plant matter.
What is distillate?
Distillate is a cannabis extract in which the final product has been systematically stripped of all materials and compounds except one specific cannabinoid.
Distillate is the base ingredient of most edibles and vape cartridges, and typically lacks any flavor, taste, or aroma. It’s a potent cannabis oil that can be used on its own or infused in other cannabis products or goods. The most common forms of distillate on the market are THC oil and cannabidiol (CBD) oil. The name of the oil indicates the most prominent cannabinoid. In the case of CBD oil, CBD would be the most prominent cannabinoid. The name distillate refers to the cannabis purification process that removes and separates the cannabinoids, such as THC or CBD, into unique products.
Distillate is extremely potent, though it lacks the terpenes, or naturally occurring flavors and aromas, of the cannabis plant. One benefit of having the natural terpenes removed is being able to have complete control over the final product’s taste and smell. A drawback of removing terpenes is that without them, the final product may lack the therapeutic benefits commonly attributed to the entourage effect. Adding terpenes to distillate later in the process is possible, and many manufacturers do this, though it’s been theorized that any medicinal advantages are reduced by their initial removal.
Does distillate get you high?
Whether distillate gets you high depends on the precise cannabinoid you’re consuming. The main benefit is that by removing virtually everything except for the desired cannabinoid, the final product is incredibly potent. For that reason, if you’re consuming a THC distillate, you will probably get very high, as the resulting oil will be almost pure THC content. On the other hand, if you’re consuming a CBD distillate, you will tap into the therapeutic benefits of CBD but, because CBD doesn’t produce intoxicating effects, you will not get high.
Is distillate the same as oil?
Distillate is one of the most commonly made types of cannabis oil, often coveted by consumers for its potency. And because it has been stripped of virtually everything other than cannabinoids it is extremely versatile, capable of being consumed on its own or as the base of numerous other cannabis products.
While all distillates are oils, not all cannabis oils are distillates. A cannabis oil is only a distillate if all other materials and compounds, including terpenes, have been systematically stripped and removed. There are many other types of marijuana oils on the market that have not undergone that process.
How is THC Distillate Made?
Want to know how to make THC distillate? Distilling THC requires expensive and advanced equipment and is best performed in a controlled, professional laboratory setting.
Due to the high startup cost and difficulty involved, it is generally a more safe and economical choice to leave this one to the professionals.
The process involves several levels of extraction and purification to yield a product that is highly-refined, pure, and potent. Continue Reading Below
Step 1: Crude Extraction
The first step towards creating THC distillate is to separate the resinous trichomes from the bulk of the cannabis plant material. This extraction of crude material can be accomplished using either physical or chemical methods.
- Sieving is the process of physically separating trichomes by sifting the dried and cured plant matter over a fine mesh screen. This is one of the traditional methods for extracting resin to make hash. The benefit of this method is that it is chemical free, but it requires more physical labor and causes more impurities from the plant matter to enter the crude product that must be removed in the next stage of refinement.
- Butane can be used as a chemical-based solvent to extract cannabis oil. The resulting product is known as butane hash oil, or BHO. Using makeshift tools and attempting this method at home is not recommended, as it has resulted in a number of mishaps involving personal injury and property damage. It’s best to only source high-quality, lab-tested BHO from a licensed dispensary. Commercial extractors use a closed-loop system with a variety of safety measures to mitigate the risk of igniting the highly flammable solvent.Plant material is ground and soaked in butane, then added to a holding tank and pressurized to extract the resinous cannabinoids. The butane is collected in a recovery tank to be recycled later.
- Supercritical CO2 extraction has become the preferred method for professional distillers due to its versatility. When heated and compressed into a supercritical state, carbon dioxide(CO2) retains some of the properties of both gases and liquids. Its gaseous properties allow it to reach into all the small spaces of the ground plant matter while its liquid properties act as a solvent to extract the raw cannabinoids. Supercritical CO2 is considered a cleaner alternative to butane and other chemical methods because there is no residual solvent—residual carbon dioxide evaporates as a gas at room temperature. It also acts as a sanitizing agent, killing bacteria and mold and prolonging shelf life.
Step 2: Winterization
The process of winterization serves to further purify the cannabis concentrate by separating the cannabinoids and terpenes from the remaining plant matter. Winterization removes impurities including:
The concentrate is mixed with ethanol and kept at extremely low temperatures(anywhere between -20°C and -60°C) for up to 24 hours.
The solvent combined with the cold temperature causes the impurities to separate from the cannabinoid extract.Continue Reading Below
Once these waxes and other plant byproducts are removed, the extract is filtered and sent through a rotary evaporator to remove the residual ethanol.
Step 3: Decarboxylation
At this stage of the refinement process, the extracted cannabis compounds must be converted to active cannabinoids in order to interact effectively with the human body.
Decarboxylation is the process of removing carboxylic acid from the acidic precursors to cannabinoids, including THCA, CBDA, CBNA, and so on.
When THCA is exposed to the proper amount of heat over time, it converts to the active cannabinoid THC, which produces strong psychoactive effects.Continue Reading Below
To activate the THC, the cannabis concentrate is decarboxylated at around 225°F(107°C) for up to 40 minutes.
Step 4: Distillation
The final step in creating THC distillate is to isolate specific cannabinoids and terpenes from the rest of the extract. Each cannabinoid has its own unique boiling point and molecular weight.
Using vacuum pressure and heat, distillers can isolate the individual compounds and distill them at up to 99% purity.
In its raw form, THC distillate is tasteless and odorless. Makers of THC distillate may combine THC with other cannabinoids and strain-specific terpenes to enhance the flavor profile and bring about more balanced effects.