This blog post is a knowledge dump on concentrates because many aren’t familiar with different types of concentrates and how to consume them and what makes them so great.
We know that CBD and THC are naturally occurring within the cannabis plant. You can make a CBD distillate or you can make a THC distillate, though you could make a case for them being called Isolates. The way it is normally made is by using very, very cold ethanol and vacuum processing. In chemistry, different chemicals have different boiling points where they change from liquids to gasses and back again. CBD and THC are no different. CBD has a slightly lower boiling point than does THC, so through fractional distillation these can be isolated. I personally have made THC distillate of over 95% purity many times. I have mixed this with different things in trying them, and they lack “punch”, but this is what you see when you see these CBD tinctures on the gas station counter. They will have staggeringly high amounts of CBD in them, but some don’t find the effects to be what they were looking for. You generally consume distillate in either an edible or through a vape cartridge.
Butane Hash Oil uses Food Grade Butane instead of using ethanol as the hydrocarbon in the extraction. This is chemically close to the Distillate mentioned above, though tending to be not quite as strong, does have more of the “spectrum” of the plant (more on that later). This is also referred to as “dab” and is consumed through a “dab rig” or a vape pen and youtube has plenty of videos on that process. There are different types of “blasting” as the extraction process is known. There is “open loop” and “closed loop”. The open loop process is quick and messy but effective. The downside of that process is that there are more parts per million of butane left in the resulting product. Closed loop systems are cleaner, more efficient and result a better product, but they are under high pressure (these are the stainless steel tanks and hoses that you may have seen in videos). My state requires you to have a blast-proof room and wiring in order to work with this process.
Rosin is great stuff in that it is clean (no hydrocarbons used), full spectrum (more on that later), 100% all natural and you can make it using something as small as a hair straightener! All it requires is heat and pressure to make, and of course you can find videos on youtube that explain it all. The oils of the plant will ooze out with the application of heat and pressure and you can collect that on something like a piece of parchment paper. It is not quite as strong as BHO or distillate overall, but the terpenes in the full spectrum more than make up for what is lacking in the THC department (personal observation). The downside to this is that Rosin is heavy in plant lipids (fats), so it is not suitable for use with dab rigs or vape pens, but is usable with a nectar collector.
I keep making mention of the word “spectrum”, what is that all about? What I am referring to there is the “terpenes” of the plant. Terpenes are what make lemons sour and what it is in onions that make you cry and why pine trees smell the way they do. In cannabis there are a lot of these terpenes in various amounts, and that is why cannabis strains smell different and have different effects (including the CBD strains). They are, in effect, the fingerprint of the cannabis plant. They, more than anything, is what make different cannabis strains different. THC is THC, but these terpenes act as a modifier for the THC and can amplify certain things and minimize others. The terpenes make indicas indicas and sativas sativas. They make you hungry or thirsty or make you want to hang out on the couch or full of energy. They make your mind buzz with ideas or mellow out. A “full spectrum” means that you get all of those terpenes in the amounts that they were available in the original plant. A partial spectrum means that they lost some somewhere along the manufacturing process (inherent in certain types of systems). Distillate in its purest form has no terpenes – it’s nearly pure THC. BHO has some of them, but some get lost in the manufacturing process. Rosin has them all, along with the pesky fats that limit how you can consume it.