In these past years, there has been a rising demand for concentrated cannabis products. These unique substances are rich in cannabinoids and compounds that have proven to have profound medicinal benefits. However there has been much debate over their use due to some of the methods required to produce and process them.
There are many ways to produce cannabis concentrates. Some methods incorprate simple equipment and ingredients while others incorporate more sophisticated equipment that is similar to lab and medical grade practices.
The end result is either a pasty, crumbly, or gooey substance that can contain very high amouts of the cannabis plants’ medicinal and psychoactive compounds. These extracts can be either smoked, vaporized, or added to edibles and tinctures depending on the consistancy and needs of the patient. The texture, taste, and effects are not only determined by the quality of plant matter and strains being used, but also by the metheds used to process them.
Here is a list of a few common types of cannabis concentrates and a little info on the ways they are produced.
The dry powdery resin heads of the cannabis plant. This is produced using a system of simple sieves to separate the substance from the plant. With skill, patience, and practice it is possible to produce a very fine and pure product that contains very little to no residual plant matter inside of it.
-Ice water hash:
This is similar to making kief, however this common method incorporates the additional use of ice and water along with filter bags to aide in the removal of undesired plant material. This process creates a pasty resinous substance that can be anywhere from a crumbly powder texture to a gooey putty. Many ice-water hash makers have spent hours developeing their own techniques and have honed their skills to achieve the perfect consistancy. Because of the simplicty, ingrediants, and end results of these long time tried and true methods. Both dry sift and ice water extracts have proven to be very positive choices with patients who have sensitivity to other methods of extraction.
This is produced by saturating the plant material in alcohol to dissolve the compounds into the liquid. The mixture is filtered of plant meterial, then set aside to evaporate. It sometimes incorporates the use of low heat or air circulation to speed up the process. This produces a highly concentrated oil that can be very safe for patients who are concered over any potential health risks associated with the use of petrolium based solvents. The use of food grade drinkable alcohol further allows for a very efficient extraction with a lower concern for health risks. However due to the fact that alcohol also tends to extract undesireable compounds and materials that can darken the oil and offset the overall potency, this method of extraction often becomes one that many hash makers tend to shy away from. Others who continue to choose this method have since incorporated new techniques and ideas such as sub-zero temperatures that have yielded amazingly pure results.
-B.H.O (Butane Hash Oil):
Plant material is packed into a cylinder, then saturated with the flammable solvent to strip the compounds from the plant. Many of the desired compounds in cannabis are non-polar, meaning they mostly do not mix with water, butane and other non-polar solvents do an amazing job at extracting the cannabis compounds while leaving behind many undesireable materials behind. The resulting mixute is then allowed to boil off, leaving behind a yellowish, sometimes golden oil that is extreamly potent. This method has gained major popularity due to its ability to produce extreamly pure and effective cannabis oil. However there are factors involved that are needed to produce a safe product. The use of butane or any other flammable solvent has been the topic of much debate due to the dangers of explosion and potential negative effects on the environment. In addition to that, there has been concern over issues with the solvent itself. Butane and other petrolium based solvets sometimes contain oderants, residual contaminats, and heavy metals that are present because of the manufacturing process. These contaminants can potetially make their way into the cannabis oil if not addressed. Professionals who practice this method quite often employ various methods to ensure that they are producing a safe product. Equipment such as closed loop systems to reduce the dangers of explosion and vacuum chambers to help clean the final product have indeed made this an effective process. There are also several companies that are looking into new and better refined solvents that can reduce and even eliminate any of the concerns associated with this method of extraction.
Supercritical Carbon Dioxide:
This method is gaining popularity due to its ability to produce extracts using a more sophisticated technology that is similar to pharmacutical grade production of medicine. Carbon Dioxide, the naturally occuring substance that plants take in for photosynthesis, and the same gas added to soda to make it fizzy, is brought to relativly high pressures within a cylinder. This process converts the co2 to a state in which it is niether gas nor liquid. This “supercritical” co2 seperates the compounds from the plant material. The extracted compounds are then seperated upon returning to normal conditions, thus producing a cannais oil that is both high in purity and potency. It is also virtually free of the contaminents and impurities that would be associated with other forms of solvet-based extraction. This method requires specialized equipment and proper training which is why it is typically done by professionals. As of now there are many companies who have decided on this method and have thus continued to break new grounds with this technology.
There are also several companies who are dedicated to processing cannabis concentrates that have already been extracted. These companies specialize in refining the extract by removing all undesired substances thus creating an oil that contains only the necessary medicinal compounds.
Weather it is done using simple methods, or complex technologies. The process of extracting cannabis concentrates is an emerginng and evolving science. As producers continue to learn more about the complexity of compounds that make this plant such a powerful medicine. New methods and technologies will surely arise. Even now there are many companies and specialists working hard to develop new methods and others who have brought about new takes on old techniques. Some aspects that will always remain will be the use of quality plant material that is free of excessive fertilizers, pesticides, mold, and pathogens. Another will be the insistance of food / medical grade materials and high purity solvents to ensure the clenliness of the final product, as well as sample testing to help control quality and consistency.
For patients who prefer the use of cannabis concentrates as their choice of medicine. Do not be afriad of asking questions and insiting on quality products that are made by people whose first priority is the safety and well being of the patients consuming it.
Remember. The more we know about our concentrates, the more we can utilize and enjoy them, knowing they are effective, potent, and above all safe.1 comment