For years, I lived in a state where cannabis was not legal for any purpose and eventually moved to California, where medical marijuana has been legal since the passing of Proposition 215 in 1996. It wasn’t until a few years after I moved to CA that dispensaries started appearing in my area. One thing I noticed was that clubs mostly had cannabis flowers, edibles, and maybe some lotions or tinctures. It took a few years, but around 2009, concentrates started appearing more and more – in various forms and textures, containing higher concentrations of THC and other cannabinoids found in cannabis.
The first concentrate I encountered was traditional hash – this is basically the kief, or trichomes, from the cannabis flower, collected and then compressed to form a brick. This is best when vaped or smoked in a bowl on top of flowers or by itself. I personally love to make a “salad” bowl with layers of different flowers, other hash, and kief on top – especially as a great way to relax and get myself to sleep!
Similar in potency and effect is another type called Bubble Hash. Bubble hash is made by extracting the resin glands from the flower by placing it in a special “Bubble bag” in buckets of ice cold water. This is usually agitated for some time, the bags are extracted, and the screens on the bag are scraped for the end product. This type of hash is also similar to Full Melt Hash, although full melt utilizes other solvents (like butane, CO2, etc.). Although it is difficult to use bubble hash or full melt hash while dabbing, some have perfected methods that end up with a great quality hash that dabs well.
Speaking of dabbing, there is also the old school style Hash Oil, which has been enjoyed for centuries around the world. This is made by usually soaking the flowers in some kind of solvent (ie: acetone) and then let heating it with low heat to evaporate the solvent, leaving behind the resin glands of the bud that create an oil.
These types of concentrates are what most people are used to attaining for the last several decades, but in recent years, with the explosion of the “dabbing” movement, other types of concentrates are appearing. You may have heard the terms “shatter”, “wax”, or “budder” before and they describe the different consistencies and methods.
Most of these types of concentrate fall under the “BHO” category. BHO stands for Butane Honey Oil or Butane Hash Oil (depending on your preference) and utilizes butane as the main solvent to extract the resin glands. Some of these concentrates use CO2 instead, which is great if you’re looking for a concentrate without any lingering solvents, which is an issue with some BHO. I have also seen some people make wax with nitrogen as a solvent – the end result being very nice!
The most common type found in dispensaries now is wax, which can have other names as well. Wax is created by whipping the hash oil in the process of purging. The THC content is very high and very similar to regular hash oil.
Shatter is another great concentrate that is one of the best to use for smoking or vaping. It is a highly refined version of BHO and the process to make it is extensive – including many extra steps such as using a pressure vacuum to remove additional impurities. Shatter gets its name from the texture of the finished product, as it “shatters” when you snap off a piece. This form of concentrate may be one of the most potent.
As the desire for cannabis legalization spreads across the country and more and more people are gaining access to cannabis and its concentrates, we may see more types of concentrates or wax appear. One good thing to remember is that as time goes on, knowledge and quality increases. Hopefully when cannabis is 100% legal, we will have a fantastic assortment of high quality concentrates to choose from!