If you’re an old-school cannabis user, you’re probably used to grinding your marijuana and rolling a joint or blunt. But in today’s world, many cannabis consumers prefer dabbing because of its quick and powerful psychoactive effects.
Dabbing involves heating a cannabis extract until it vaporizes, releasing an extremely potent vapour for you to inhale. It is arguably the most popular method of consuming concentrated marijuana, which explains why cannabis extracts are sometimes called “dabs.” Cannabis extracts tend to have high levels of THC, making them particularly potent. A few tokes can knock you for six.
There are various types of cannabis extracts, which differ in terms of external appearance, physical traits, and their process of extraction. To get you started, here’s a low-down on the best cannabis extracts according to budtenders.
The Basics of Cannabis Extracts
Before looking at some of the best cannabis extracts, let’s look at some of their basics.
Just like that orange juice in your freezer, cannabis extracts are the final product after distilling down the most desired compounds in the cannabis plant material. They contain the cannabinoids and terpenes of marijuana flowers but none of the surplus plant matter. They also contain a far higher proportion of natural terpenes and cannabinoids than raw weed flowers.
The natural terpenes and cannabinoids are responsible for the aroma, flavour, and effects associated with cannabis products. They come in the form of small, striking structures known as trichomes. Thus, a cannabis extract is a condensed buildup of these trichomes.
To create a cannabis extract, the cannabis plant matter is blasted or washed with a solvent that bonds to and pulls out the primary compounds, CBD and THC. The solvent is then heated until it evaporates, leaving behind an extremely potent cannabis derivative. They are also significantly more refined, forming a cleaner product for consumption.
Small variations in the production process, including the type of solvent used or the heat temperatures, result in final products that look somewhat different.
The solvents used for extraction include:
- Carbon dioxide
One of the great attractions of dabs is that they provide options for stoners at both ends of the market spectrum. For instance, cannabis users who don’t like the smell, flavour, or euphoric high associated with smoking cannabis strains can turn to extracts instead.
And veteran consumers who want something more potent in terms of flavour and euphoria will be pleased with the variety of dabs that fit the bill.
Best Cannabis Extracts
Between the varying potency levels, different price points, and consumption methods, there’s plenty to ponder about for those looking to buy cannabis extracts. That said, here are some of the best cannabis extracts available on the market:
Live resin is one of the latest extracts on the market. It is quickly gaining popularity among dabbers and vapers because of its rich terpene and cannabinoids profile. Budtenders say that it is one of the best extracts on the market.
After harvest, a cannabis plant is subjected to many processes that may cause a devastating impact on its natural terpenes and aroma. For example, the curing process that cannabis buds go through after harvest may lead to the disintegration of up to 60 percent of their natural terpene profile. But live resin goes through a somewhat shorter process, which is why it is more potent than other cannabis extracts.
How It’s Made
Live resin sets itself apart from other types of cannabis extracts because it is produced from fresh-frozen plant matter. After harvest, the cannabis plants are frozen at once. This means that they don’t go through the drying, curing, and trimming stages of harvesting.
After freezing, a solvent is passed through the plant material. The final product is then flushed out of the solvent at a considerably lower temperature than when other dabs are produced.
Freezing the cannabis flower right away after harvest helps to preserve its terpene profile, natural flavour, and aroma during the extraction phase and in the finished product. This is what makes live resin have a higher terpene concentration compared to other extracts. Ultimately, its high potency makes for an enjoyable vaping or dabbing experience.
Most cannabis users prefer to vape or dab live resin. It smells and tastes just like marijuana. You may apply the live resin to a dab pen or dab rig or use it with a concentrate vaporizer. Either way, you’ll be amazed by the flavour and potency of each toke.
In contrast, smoking live resin from a joint or a bowl will see many of the terpenes destroyed by the high heat.
Hash is a cannabis extract produced from the trichomes of the cannabis plant. It is a popular type of cannabis extract and even triumphs over weed in popularity in some areas. This extract has been in existence for thousands of years, unlike most cannabis extracts that have only been around for the last few decades.
Hash is available in different types, including:
- Bubble Hash, also called Ice Water Hash
- Dry Sift Hash, also called Dry Sieve Hash
The hash extract comes in the form of a ball or brick of compressed kief particles and is usually dark green or brown. As a solventless extract, hash neither uses solvents nor chemicals. Instead, the trichome removal is done through physical manipulation and temperature adjustments.
Hash is a popular option among beginners because it’s mild compared to other dabs. For example, while some extracts boast up to 90 percent THC, hash potency can span from 40-80 percent. Of course, this is still a higher potency than cannabis flower, which ranges from 15-25 percent. But it won’t overwhelm beginners when consumed in the correct doses.
You can smoke hash either on its own or combined with weed or tobacco. You can roll it into a joint or pack it into a pipe or bong.
For dabbers, some forms of hash are ideal for dabbing. For example, full-melt hashes crumble perfectly when you light them and can melt entirely in a nail, leaving a slight residue.
If you desire an even stronger and smoother hit, you can use hash with particular types of vaporizers.
Shatter is a fragile cannabis extract. It derives its name from its glass-like consistency and tends to shatter or break like glass if dropped. Typically, it has the appearance of hardened tree sap in a honey-like hue.
The overall production process of this extract is similar to that of other cannabis concentrates. A pressurized solvent is passed over the plant material to extract the sought-after cannabinoids and terpenes. The plant material may be anything from marijuana flower buds to shake or trim.
Butane is the most commonly used solvent to extract shatter. Other solvents, including ethanol and liquefied petroleum gases, can also be used.
The appearance of shatter typically speaks volumes about its quality. For well-extracted, pure shatter, the appearance will be honey-like or golden. But less pure extracts will don a more brownish colour.
From a taste perspective, brighter, more lucent shatters boast a cleaner taste. On the other hand, darker, brownish looks denote the presence of more impurities.
For weed consumers hoping to consume large doses of THC, shatter fits the bill. It contains an astounding 80 percent THC content. This means that it causes a pronounced high that kicks in incredibly fast. A single hit of potent shatter is stronger than smoking a whole joint. Users may experience immediate intoxication, sedation, and relaxation.
Shatter needs decarboxylation. This refers to the activation of its compounds via heat to elicit the wanted effects. Thus, you can consume this type of extract through vaporization with an e-rig, dab rig, vaporizer, or vape pen. All these methods heat up the potent cannabinoids so they can be absorbed into the body immediately.
Also known as “budder,” cannabis wax is perhaps the most accessible cannabis extract. Its affordability makes it an attractive choice for the occasional consumer. It derives its name from its gooey and wax-like consistency.
Wax is produced through a process called extraction. Butane is used as the extraction solvent. Here, the key cannabinoids are extracted from the plant material. They are then allowed to crystallize and harden into a solid mass. The final wax can be either sticky and crumbly or solid and rigid. A golden-amber colour is often a sign of high-quality wax.
Among the variety of cannabis extracts, wax does a great job of preserving the natural terpenes even after the extraction process. Thus, it has a more defined taste compared to other concentrates.
Similar to shatter, wax is incredibly potent due to its high THC levels. If you’re looking to experience a powerful high with unmatched flavour, wax extract is your go-to option. It features a THC potency range of 60-80 percent. If you’re new to the world of cannabis, approach wax extract with caution.
Wax requires higher temperatures to decarboxylate than cannabis flower. As such, you will need to heat the dab nail to a high temperature before spreading the wax around the nail. You can either smoke cannabis wax by dabbing or vaping.
To vape wax, pack a small amount of wax inside the vaporizer’s heating chamber. Then switch on the vaporizer and set the desired temperature. Next, breathe in the produced vapour.
Wax does not shatter easily into pieces like shatter and is more rigid than oil. Thus, it is user-friendly when dabbing. In other words, it offers the perfect middle ground between shatter and oil.
As a relatively late entrant into the world of cannabis extracts, distillates derived their name from their characteristic potency. They are a form of cannabis extract that has been painstakingly refined through a molecular distillation process. This is the same process as distilling alcohol.
The final product is devoid of any unwanted compounds or plant matter. What is left behind is only a pure form of a single specific cannabinoid. Distillates have an aqueous consistency. This makes them quite difficult to handle compared to shatter or wax. And in regard to cost, distillates are pricier than their shatter or wax counterparts.
Distillates are the most potent of all cannabis extracts. This is because the final products have less organic material than other concentrates. While shatter and wax have a THC range of 40-80 percent, distillate extracts boast as high as 99 percent THC content. Therefore, if you’re looking for the most potent way to consume THC, distillates are your best choice.
Taste and Aroma
Distillate extracts don’t have any flavour or aroma. This is because of the meticulous refining process that doesn’t leave space for terpenes. For users who enjoy the aromatic experience of cannabis, distillates may not be the most favourable cannabis extract for them.
Some concentrate producers actually introduce terpenes to their distillates after the refinement process. The reason is to introduce tasty flavours and scents. However, it remains unclear whether these additive terpenes offer the same feelings of wellness as the naturally occurring terpenes in cannabis.
Because of their versatility, there are various ways to consume THC distillates. Available methods include:
- Adding to your bowl or joint for smoking
- Sublingual administration
The Bottom Line
Cannabis extracts are more potent than regular flower. Whether you prefer the ease of dabbing wax or the potency of shatter or THC distillates, you can expect a stronger punch in your dabbing or vaping sessions. And of course, the psychoactive highs from consuming cannabis extracts will be stronger than those from smoking flower.
Besides their potency, most cannabis enthusiasts love dabs because they don’t release as much smoke or scent as smoking a blunt or joint. That said, the best way to find your ideal cannabis extract is to try them and see what works for you. While at it, remember to always buy your extracts from reputable retailers and trusted brands.
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