Concentrates 101: The Basics

 
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In a previous article, we explained that there are many ways to consume cannabis products beyond smoking dried flower. One of these methods is concentrates, one of the most popular and economical means of using cannabis for medical purposes. Why are concentrates so popular?  Because you get more of the things you love from cannabis in much less product. Concentrates have potent amounts of THC, CBD, terpenes, and flavanoids, all of which give cannabis its medical benefits. 

Hashish: The Beginning

The oldest and most traditional form of cannabis concentrates is Hashish (also known as Hash). The first documented use of early concentrates such as Hash can be found in eastern Asia dating back to 10,000 B.C. The process for creating it is relatively simple and can be replicated in the comfort of your own home. It starts with a by-product of marijuana known as Keif, the result of shaking or agitating dried flower and collecting the resin glands, called trichomes, from the plant matter. Today most people use a three-part grinder to collect Keif. Once a decent amount of Keif has been collected, heat and pressure are used to compress it into a small block of dark activated trichomes filled with THC and terpenes. Hashish can be smoked by itself or broken up and sprinkled on top of cannabis before smoking.   

Solvent Extracted Concentrates

There are two major categories of concentrates. One uses chemical solvents to separate the resins from the cannabis plants, and these are called Solvent Extracted Concentrates. There are four main types of extraction solvents used: Butane, Carbon Dioxide, Propane, and Alcohol. Because solvents are used, this method requires a method called purging to remove the solvents for the final product. There are many methods of doing this, but vacuum purging is the most popular. There are still residual amounts of solvent left behind, in very low part per million. Because of this, some consumers consider solvent-extracted concentrates to be less healthy, but there is little scientific evidence that the amounts of solvent left behind can cause long term health issues. 

Non-solvent Extracted Concentrates

Non-solvent based extraction methods come in tow categories.  One uses pressure and heat to extract the resin, or they are produced by freezing live flower to sub-zero temperatures and then agitating the flower to remove the resin glands. Because it is a more natural process, the quality of the plant matter itself is essential to making a concentrate people will love. Since no chemicals are used and there are no residual solvents, these concentrates are considered healthier and just as potent for those that want a more pure cannabis experience. 

Consuming concentrates is perfect for medical marijuana users, because they are more efficient, provide faster relief, pack a more flavorful punch, and are also more economical from a cost perspective. If you have stuck to flower in the past, ask your budtender the next time you are at the Green Hope RX dispensary if concentrates might be right for you.