If you’ve been using cannabis concentrates, you will know that there are scores of different types available out there. I would even hazard to say that there are as many types as there are people (or companies) making them.
What are Marijuana Concentrates?
Marijuana concentrates, or butane hash oils (BHOs) are solvent-based cannabis extracts. Often appearing as an oil or a solid waxy substance, these masses of concentrates are known to hold extraordinarily high levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), ranging anywhere from 40%-90%. The effects of these concentrates are more psychologically and physically intense than traditional marijuana buds.
Similar to that orange juice concentrate in the back of your freezer, cannabis concentrates are the product of distilling down the most desirable parts of the plant. They contain all the cannabinoids and terpenes of cannabis flowers and none of the excess plant material. Ounce for ounce, marijuana concentrates have a far greater proportion of cannabinoids and terpenes than raw cannabis flowers.
Cannabinoids and terpenes are responsible for the effects, aroma, and flavors you might experience with any cannabis product. They are found throughout the cannabis plant in small, sparkling structures called trichomes. A cannabis concentrate is simply a condensed accumulation of these trichomes. Grab any high-quality cannabis flower and you can see them for yourself. These frosty appendages coat the entire surface of the plant, but they’re particularly noticeable on the flower buds.
Concentrates let you experience the best parts of cannabis in a multitude of ways and they come in a variety of textures that can be consumed using several different methods. Depending on the final form they take, cannabis concentrates and extracts can be consumed on their own, sprinkled in a joint to increase the potency, or precisely incorporated in a batch of edibles.
14 Different Types of Cannabis Concentrates & Extracts
The classification we’ll be looking at here relies on three different factors:
- Method of extraction – how were the active ingredients ‘pulled out’. This can be with either CO2, butane, or without any additives (using just heat and pressure).
- Part of the plant used – the whole cannabis plant can be used when making concentrates. However, the best parts are often the buds (flowers), which contain resin glands. Some types of cannabis concentrates will use exclusively them and will, therefore, be differently named.
- The consistency of the concentrate – your concentrate can be either very liquid or as solid as they come – or anything in between the two. The two most obvious examples would be your run-of-the-mill cannabis oils and shatter (which has a glass-like consistency).
Now that you have an inkling as to why there are so many types of weed concentrates on the market, let’s dive into the specifics of each one of them.
Common Forms of Extracts
- Hash oil or honey oil: a gooey liquid
- Wax or budder: a soft solid with a texture similar to lip balm
- Shatter: a hard, often amber-colored solid
Above: a piece of cannabis oil concentrate, commonly known as “shatter”
Methods of Ingestion
One method of ingestion that has been gaining popularity is electronic cigarettes (e-cigs). The battery in the e-cig or vaporizer is used to heat the wax or oil in a cartridge. This is a concern because e-cigs are smokeless and practically odor free, making them ideal for hiding and concealing.
A more extreme method of ingestion involves a water pipe, more commonly known as a “rig.” This ingestion method is dangerous because it involves a blowtorch and extremely hot nail that could very easily cause serious harm to the user.
A Marijuana concentrate that closely resembles honey is called wax. Even if you’re not a concentrate buff, you’ve probably seen it before – wax is easy to come by and it’s one of the most popular dabs in use. BHO and PHO are both a type of wax (although there are other types as well).
Marijuana wax — also known as weed wax, Butane Hash Oil (BHO), and honey oil — is one of the most popular (and potent) forms of marijuana concentrates today. Used for both recreational and medicinal purposes, cannabis wax is made by heating the plant’s materials with butane (or another solvent) and extracting the THC. The finished product has a gooey wax consistency that contains a THC content of 30%, but many wax concentrates have over 90% THC. That’s the equivalent to 15 to 20 joints!
Wax Marijuana concentrates have a very high content of THC and other cannabinoids (much higher than regular buds or trim runs) and need to be handled carefully. If you’re not used to vaporizing something so potent, the best advice I can give you is to start slow. Because wax is very runny, it’s difficult to handle without proper tools. The most common way of using waxes is with the help of either a dab rig or a personal vaporizer. Generally, waxes are around 4X more expensive than the buds they were extracted from.
How is wax created?
Wax is a type of butane hash oil (BHO). Butane gas is used as a solvent to extract the major cannabinoids and terpenes from buds and trimmings. Butane is highly flammable and unstable, and the possibility of butane explosions make DIY extraction dangerous.
Commercial cannabis extraction facilities use closed-loop equipment to safely extract cannabis oil. Wax is made by packing marijuana buds and trimmings into tubes and then flooding them in butane. The butane separates the resin (the desirable part of the plant) from the raw plant material. After several steps of heating, condensation, and vacuum purging, the result is a sticky cannabis concentrate that cools and hardens into a waxy substance.
How do you use wax?
Dab rigs can make it easier to use wax while enabling the user to activate the cannabinoids and terpenes properly. That being said, there are numerous ways to smoke wax.
Dab rigs and oil rigs
Consumers most commonly smoke wax using a dab rig or an oil rig because these allow the smoker to experience the effects almost immediately. Rigs are similar to bongs but have been designed specifically with wax or concentrate use in mind.
Wax requires significantly higher temperatures than regular flower to combust. To dab wax, a small blowtorch is used to heat the small surface known as a nail to the desired temperature. When the dab nail is ready, a glob of wax can be scooped up with the dab tool and spread around the nail.
Heat-stable materials such as quartz or titanium are used to make the nail and the dab tool, or dabber. Wax vaporizes on the hot nail surface while the user inhales that vapor through the mouthpiece.
Some smokers also opt to use a carb cap. The cap regulates airflow and vaporizes the wax at a much lower temperature. When you’re ready to inhale, lift the carb cap and inhale the vapor from the rig.
Dab rigs are also available in electronic formats, making it easier to control and regulate the temperature.
Wax vape pens
Vaping wax is comparable to vaping flower. While vaping requires higher temperatures than should be used for flower, experts recommend avoiding overheating. Hotter temperatures tend to produce vapors that taste a little harsh, while lower temperatures deliver gentle clouds of vapor with purer, smoother flavors.
To vape wax, drop a small dollop of wax into the vaporizer’s heating chamber or onto the heating coils. From there, turn on the vaporizer, heat to the desired temperature, and inhale the vapor produced inside the device.
Wax is versatile enough to be ingested in other ways, too. You can roll a little glob of wax into a joint, spliff, or blunt, causinging the joint to burn slower and packing it with a more potent punch. This is known as a twax joint, and it is popular among those who want to try an old-school smoking experience with a more intense high.
You can also smoke weed wax by:
- Using a nectar collector, or portable dab rig
- Combining it with flower in a bowl
- Using a knife dab
How is wax different from other concentrates?
The marijuana concentrate family is extensive and includes shatter, wax, resin, rosin, sugar, sauce, hash, and oil. All concentrates are extracts that have been processed to concentrate the plant’s potency, delivering a more intense experience than straight-up dried marijuana buds.
What differentiates marijuana concentrates are the texture and viscosity of the product. Marijuana wax is opaque and malleable, while shatter is glossy, brittle, and translucent. However, the potency, aroma, and flavor profiles of waxes can be identical to shatter or oil. The consistency of wax isn’t necessarily an indicator of flavor or THC levels.
Variations in post-extraction processing lead to these different consistencies. Wax is formed by whipping. Aggressive whipping leads to crumble, and a short whip lends itself to a creamy budder. Wax boasts a clear advantage over other concentrates: it’s easy to use, rendering dosing and smoking easy for novices
What are the benefits of cannabis wax?
The most obvious benefit of cannabis wax is its enhanced potency. When made correctly, wax will not have any butane residue and is an incredibly potent substance. It can also be used for relieving a wide array of health issues, including chronic pain, anxiety and depression.
With that said, wax is so potent that it can cause negative side effects include hallucinations, unconsciousness and extreme paranoia. Also, as previously mentioned, it can be very dangerous to make wax at home. Butane vapors can quickly fill a room – and all it takes is a single spark to ignite. On top of that, if you’re working in a poorly ventilated area, it’s possible to die from inhaling too much butane.