Marijuana explained: What are concentrates and how are they used?
August 23, 2016
Some of the products local recreational marijuana stores get a lot of questions about are concentrates. Concentrates, commonly called hash, are exactly that — a concentrated substance created from marijuana flowers that provides a more immediate, more intense effect for THC consumers.
"Some people say it's better for their health or lungs because they feel like they don't need to smoke as much to get the same effect," said Zach York, processing supervisor at Alpenglow Botanicals in Breckenridge. "Flavor is probably another factor — concentrates can be pretty flavorful."
Concentrates come in different forms, based on what solvent is used to create them. Classic hash, or bubble hash, is produced using a water solvent. It's is a tar-like, black substance of varying consistency from the rock hard, pressed form to powder form, which is gummy and sticky.
"It's popular because it's easier to consume than the other ones," York said, referring to other styles of hash. "Just put it into a glass piece and light it up."
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Another variety of concentrate is butane hash, which is created by running liquid butane through a tightly packed tube of buds. As the liquid comes out, it evaporates away and then the butane is further purged using heat, York said. This process results in different consistencies of butane hash.
The first, called shatter, has a concrete, rock-hard density. Shatter is clearer looking with some translucence to it, and it's popular for its visual appearance and flavor, York said. A second form of butane hash is liquid butane hash oil, which is mainly used for vaporizing out of portable vaporizing pens. Wax, or butter, is another style.
"Fitting to the name, it has a really waxy consistency and will get all over your fingers," York said. "It looks like a little chunk of butter and it comes right off and you can spread it on anything."
Butane hash is consumed through a process called dabbing. A quartz or titanium piece called a nail fits into a classic water pipe, or bong, in place of the flower bowl that's normally there. Using a small torch, the nail is heated, and then the wax is touched onto the nail using a dabbing tool. As the hash wax comes in contact with the nail, it immediately sublimates and is inhaled through the water pipe.
Companies have also developed e-nails, York said, which plug into the wall. The e-nail contains a small power box converter that attaches to the nail and heats it, eliminating the need for a torch.
Other kinds of hash
Other, less common, types of concentrates are extracted using carbon dioxide or isopropyl alcohol as a solvent. This results in a black liquid that's generally not quite as flavorful as the bubble or butane varieties, but there are exceptions, York said.
"It's not as prominent," he said. "There's not a ton of knowledge about or people making those varieties."