Cannabis concentrates have two main advantages: they get you higher, faster; and they allow you to consume cannabis more discreetly than smoking. Concentrates include vape oils, which consumers can vaporize through a pen with little to no odor, and waxes, which can pack the punch of a joint in a hit or two. Using concentrates can be as simple as taking a puff off a pen, or as complicated as using a dab rig and torch. A dab rig looks very similar to a bong, but where bongs have a glass bowl, dab rigs have a metal or quartz piece called a nail.
What is Kief (Dry Sieve)?
Kief is the purest, most natural concentrate – it uses the dry sift extraction method, and is made of the powdered trichomes that fall off dried, ground cannabis flowers. Some grinders, which are tools for breaking up cannabis flowers before you smoke them, have a collection container for kief. This allows you to create your own concentrate as you grind your own plants. When you press kief, you create hash. These concentrates require no solvents to produce, which is a good thing; but they’re not as strong as concentrates made from solvent extraction.
What are Butane Extractions? Wax, Honeycomb and Crumble?
Hydrocarbon solvents such as butane remove the maximum amount of cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant, which is what renders concentrates so strong. Butane-extracted concentrates produce butane hash oil, also known as BHO, which cools into the commonly known wax (the concentrate is sticky and holds together) and shatter (the concentrate is thinner and breaks apart like shards of glass). However, because hydrocarbons are byproducts of the petroleum industry and are highly flammable, using them to extract cannabinoids is very dangerous. It can also be dangerous to your health to consume them if all the solvent hasn’t fully evaporated.
What are CO2 Extractions?
Although most manufacturers attempt to remove all traces of butane from their concentrates, cannabis users who prefer not to consume products treated with chemical solvents may choose CO2-extracted concentrates instead. This method uses carbon dioxide gas to produce a toxin- and solvent-free extract. CO2 concentrates are more expensive to produce, so you may pay more for them.
What are Moonrocks?
New kinds of concentrates are constantly hitting dispensary and shop shelves; alongside the old-fashioned, alcohol-extracted tinctures, you can find products such as caviar, which consists of buds rolled in hash oil rolled in kief. (They’re also known as Moon Rocks, and you probably shouldn’t expect to go anywhere or do anything after you smoke them.)
What is Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)?
Specialized concentrates may help treat specific diseases. The cannabis oil recommended for children with epileptic seizures comes from high-CBD, low-THC strains such as Charlotte’s Web. Thick, black Rick Simpson Oil, an indica concentrate, is used to help treat skin and other cancers. Rather than smoking them, patients use these very expensive concentrates orally, topically, or in suppository form.
What is dabbing?
One of the most popular forms of consuming concentrates is called dabbing, because you apply a dab of concentrate to a red-hot surface and inhale the vapor. People most commonly dab wax, shatter, and other concentrates using a tool called a dab rig. Rigs are often made of glass and look like bongs, but instead of a bowl to hold burning plant matter, dab rigs have a piece called a nail. When heated with a blowtorch, the nail becomes red hot, and the consumer uses a glass or metal stick called a dab tool to touch the concentrate to the nail. Using a torch can seem scary at first, and dabs are best enjoyed with the rig on a stable surface. Tools such as silicone dab pens can make the process slightly more portable, though they still require the use of a torch. If using a torch makes you uncomfortable, look into self-heating e-nails.
What are Distillates?
Cannabis concentrates comprise a constantly changing product category. Recently, cannabis distillate, a clear, odorless concentrate with as much as 99% THC, has been introduced to the market. The ability to inject isolated terpenes into distillate allows manufacturers to produce highly customized concentrates. Distillates (and other cannabis concentrates) are also used to produce very strong edibles.
Go slow and keep it low
As with edibles, go very slowly when using concentrates, especially if you don’t have a high tolerance to smoked cannabis. Do your first dab -- it should be very small, no bigger than a grain of rice -- and wait 15 or 20 minutes before doing another -- you’re likely to find you don’t need another. However, if your tolerance is high, the efficiency of concentrates can help you save money if you’re used to smoking buds. Treat concentrates like the very potent substances they are, and enjoy mindful use.