Cannabis 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!
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.
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.
Waxes are organic compounds that characteristically consist of long alkyl chains. Synthetic waxes are long-chain hydrocarbons (alkanes or paraffins) that lack substituted functional groups. Natural waxes may contain unsubstituted hydrocarbons, such as higher alkanes, but may also include various types of substituted long chain compounds, such as fatty acids, primary and secondary long chain alcohols, ketones and aldehydes. They may also contain esters of fatty acids and long chain alcohols.
What is Wax?
Marijuana wax is a concentrated preparation of cannabis essential oil. While some cannabis extracts feature honey or glass-like consistency, wax features a texture almost akin to a flakey clay. Opaque and easy to manipulate, a high-quality wax is soft and features an amber coloration.
Wax is also among the most potent cannabis extracts and features superior flavor when compared to many other essential oil preparations, including glass-like shatter. Though, shatter may feature a greater cannabinoid potency overall.
Wax is potent, with THC levels ranging from 60 to 80 percent THC. Compared to the amount of THC in a single joint, this percentage is colossal. As you might expect, the high from cannabis wax is also much stronger.
Wax is smoked using a specialized water pipe called a dab rig or an oil rig. To smoke cannabis wax, a dollop of wax is loaded into a metal wand-like tool, which is aptly referred to as a “dab tool” or “dab wand”.
This small glob of wax is placed onto a heated hot plate, which is referred to as a nail. Of course, this nail is quite different from one that you would use when building a house. Instead, a dab nail is often made out of heat-safe titanium, quartz, or ceramic and it is used in place of a traditional flower bowl when smoking extracts.
How Wax is Made?
Marijuana wax is mainly made up of two ingredients: cannabis and alcohol. Different alcohols require distinct methods to extract the oils from the marijuana and are associated with different risks. The two most common methods of production are BHO/Butane Hash Oil and Isopropyl.
Marijuana wax has a DIY feel to it because it is entirely possible to make it at home using solvent-based extraction techniques. However, we don’t recommend attempting the process because if you don’t know what you’re doing, there can be serious consequences (some of which we outline in the ‘Dangers’ section below).
If you do wish to proceed in making cannabis wax however, the first step is to take your marijuana buds and pack them into a tube or pipe. Then, you force your butane (or another solvent) over the plant material. This fluid bonds with the psychoactive THC in the buds and pulls the compound from the plant.
Next, you allow the butane to evaporate until there is nothing left but an oily, potent substance – your richly concentrated cannabis wax.
As the butane leaves most of the plant’s compounds behind, what you’re left with is an immensely powerful, heavy-hitting concentrate. It provides a high unlike any joint or bowl you’ve ever hit in your life. Also, depending on the specific conditions (temperature, humidity, etc) of the extraction process, you can create a variety of cannabis wax textures, including things like shatter, budder, and crumble.
Method 1- BHO/Butane Hash Oil (Most Common)
The dried cannabis is stuffed into an open-ended tube where one end is covered by a filter (most commonly a coffee filter) and the other end is closed. Butane is injected into the tube and causes the oils to extract from the plant. The combination is drained into a container and heated at extreme temperatures until the wax is produced.
Method 2 – Isopropyl
When using isopropyl alcohol, the cannabis is first soaked in the alcohol for a period of time before being drained into a container. The liquid from the soaked mixture is then heated at an extremely high temperature until most of the alcohol evaporates and wax is produced.
The concern with the production of marijuana wax is that many individuals are attempting to make it at home. Due to the high temperatures needed to combine marijuana with butane and isopropyl alcohol solutions, there is an extremely high risk of accidental fire which can lead to property damage, personal injury or death. The increased popularity of making the marijuana wax at home has led many states to propose strict laws to regulate the growing problem.
What Are The Health Risks Associated with Marijuana Wax?
It is common to use low-quality alcohol to make the process faster and cheaper leading to serious side effects and extreme harm to the consumer. Recent studies have linked the use of marijuana wax to irreversible brain damage. In one case, after ingesting the substance a young high school student was left unconscious and awoke with 75% of his cognitive abilities damaged. (cite reference) The high potency of the wax has proven to increase the risk of an accidental overdose. In addition, the hallucinogenic effects of the drug have been linked to paranoia, psychosis, and hallucinations which can last for days.
Since wax is directly derived from cannabis, it poses similar health risks such as:
● Impaired judgment
● Poor concentration
● Short-term memory loss
● Impaired motor skills
● Suppression of the immune system
● Personality and mood changes
● Reduced sexual capacity
● Sensory distortion
The high potency of THC highly increases the risk of:
● Severe withdrawal symptoms
● Severe psychological symptoms
Butane causes serious side effects because not all of the butane is always burned off in the process of creating the wax. The butane left in the substance poses various health risks including:
● Permanent damage to the brain and central nervous system
● Increased heart rate
● Loss of consciousness
What are the Dangers of Dependency?
As with any substance, the potency of THC and the euphoria experienced can lead to dependency and abuse in search of the “next big high”. Due to its odorless and discrete nature, it is becoming increasingly popular among high school students and young adults. Though there are numerous risks associated with this trend, the biggest concern may be that individuals are quickly getting swept up into the drug culture. The wax has the potential to act as a gateway drug to harder substances that can produce an even bigger high. If you or someone you know is at risk for abusing marijuana wax or any other substance, Casa Palmera can help find the program that best supports the individual who is struggling with substance addiction.
How to Use Marijuana Wax
There are a number of ways to enjoy cannabis wax, but it must be prepared in certain ways if one itends to consumed the wax in a vape or a joint. Cannabis wax is extremely sticky, which is what sometimes makes it hard to handle. Popular ways to consume this concentrate are to sprinkle a little on top of the cannabis in a joint, adding an extra boost, along with adding the wax to a vape or even a gravity bong. The three most common ways to use cannabis wax are as follows:
Dabbing is probably the most common way to consume cannabis wax concentrate. Sometimes, “a dab” is used synonymously with “taking a hit of cannabis wax”. A dab rig is required to dab cannabis wax, which heats the concentrate to pretty insane temperatures with the use of a dab nail.
These specialized nails can be made from titanium, glass, ceramic, or another other especially durable and conductive material. Using a blowtorch, the nail is heated, a dab of cannabis wax is touched with the nail, which then immediately causes it to vaporize and become consumable. The consumer then inhales, much like they would with a bong. The high, however, is far harder-hitting than that of a bong.
A well-suited vape pen made with a ceramic or quartz heating chamber and titanium coils allows enthusiasts to enjoy marijuana wax without the need for smoke inhalation. Be sure to invest in a high-quality model, for this will help to retain the potency and quality of your cannabis wax.
Sprinkling It on a Joint
The final popular method of consuming wax concentrate is sprinkling a little while you’re rolling up a joint or packing a bowl. Honestly, though, crumble wax might be the better option for such a consumption method, but if you only have wax on hand, it can also work. Avoid resin and budder at all costs, however, for it is far too sticky and will probably be all over your hands instead of in the roll.
What Are the Benefits of Marijuana Wax?
Enhanced potency is probably the most obvious benefit of choosing cannabis wax. High-quality wax will possess little to no butane, and an immense quantity of THC. Additionally, because dabbing with a rig turns the substance into a vapor, this method may potentially reduce smoking-linked lung damage. The onset of the high from a dab is almost immediate, which makes it an ideal candidate for chronic pain relief and more.
And if you’re concerned about potential hallucinogenic effects or other adverse side effects of marijuana wax, you can try something called CBD wax. This substance is made from cannabidiol extract, which is a non-intoxicating cannabis compound that’s shown to be very effective in tackling things like chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and a host of other ailments.