My Journey with Dab Pen Concentrates: A Personal Guide
As I embarked on my journey into the world of marijuana concentrates, I discovered a myriad of different consistencies and types, as well as numerous extraction techniques. Throughout my dabbing days, I encountered various names for the products I dabbed, but in this guide, I will focus on the umbrella term: concentrates. These are the “stuff” created by extracting trichomes from plant matter. Concentrates come in all shapes and sizes and are made using a variety of extraction techniques. In this article, I’ll share with you the different types of concentrates and their key characteristics.
Exploring Cannabis Concentrates
So, what are the different types of concentrates? It’s essential to understand that concentrates can have various consistencies, ranging from oily to glass-like. Although they might be smoked differently and have different purity levels, the main difference between the different types of wax dabs lies in the extraction method used to create the product.
During my dabbing journey, I discovered that shatter is created through careful purging of butane and plant matter, often using a vacuum. This concentrate is clear and usually has a yellow or orange hue. I found shatter to be very malleable, almost like taffy.
I also came across an extremely potent concentrate called marijuana oil, which is commonly consumed by dabbing or vaporizing. The oil is typically extracted using the butane method and, unlike wax and shatter, has the same consistency as most other oil products.
Wax is usually a product of butane extraction and often results from a failed butter/shatter extraction. I noticed that wax concentrates are often wax-like (not formed) and sticky. Sometimes, this type of concentrate can have a softer consistency, almost like watery peanut butter.
What sets live resin apart from most other concentrate types is that it’s made using plant matter that hasn’t been dried and cured yet. This gives the product a heightened freshness, preserving maximum cannabinoids and terpenes from the original plant. When it comes to flavorful, aromatic dabs, I found that it doesn’t get much better than live resin.
Lastly, I came across budder, another product of butane extraction. It’s often made by whipping the wax into a more stable consistency. This concentrate has a yellow hue and a crumbly texture, making it a unique addition to my dabbing experience.
Bubble/Ice Wax/Full Melt
In my exploration of cannabis concentrates, I found Bubble, Ice Wax, or Full Melt to be one of the safest and cleanest options, thanks to the ice water extraction method. Instead of using chemicals to absorb the trichomes, they are simply washed off the plant with ice-cold water. The resulting product has a stable, grainy texture that reminded me of beach sand.
While dabbling in cannabis concentrates, I came across Scissor or Finger Concentrates, which are created as a byproduct of trimming wet, sticky plants. As workers handle and trim the plants, trichomes often get stuck to their hands, gloves, or scissors. These wet trichomes are then rubbed off, leaving behind an incredibly sticky, gummy-textured concentrate.
Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)
During my journey, I also discovered Rick Simpson Oil, or RSO, a cannabis concentrate known for its particularly high levels of THC. This makes it an excellent option for medicinal use, as it harnesses the therapeutic properties of cannabis in a concentrated form.
Exploring Cannabis Extraction Methods
Throughout my journey into the world of cannabis concentrates, I learned about several different extraction methods that produce distinct types of concentrates. The choice of method typically comes down to the preference of the extractor and their preferred smoking experience.
Water + Ice
Products made: Ice Wax, Bubble, Full Melt
Ice Wax, Bubble, and Full Melt are full melt concentrates that get their name from the extraction method used. These types of concentrates melt entirely and leave little to no ash. If it doesn’t melt 100% to liquid, it’s not a full melt.
The purity of these concentrates can be determined by their color, with lighter colors being the purest. Lower-grade Full Melts are soft, moist, and have the consistency of silly putty, while higher-quality concentrates resemble beach sand. Ice Wax is extracted using screens and ice-cold water, resulting in a purer product. The extraction process is complex and time-consuming, making it a relatively rare find.
Products made: Honey Oil, Black Gold, etc.
These concentrates are made by soaking plant matter in acetone for a certain duration. The longer the plant matter soaks, the darker the extract will be. As with Bubble, the purity is determined by the color; lighter colors being the most pure. When heated, these products should turn completely to oil. Be cautious of liquid or strong fume smells, as they may indicate leftover chemicals that were not evaporated during the extraction process.
Butane Hash Oil
Products made: Goo, Earwax, Honey Oil, Shatter, etc.
Most commonly known as BHO, this concentrate is made using a complex process involving butane passed over plant material. When done correctly, the resulting product will be light-colored with a consistency similar to earwax. Occasionally, the result will be as hard as glass, a concentrate known as shatter. The butane process, unlike water and ice methods, is non-organic, but the end product is pure and potent, with smell and taste preserved.
Products made: Gold Dust, Moon Rocks, etc.
To create these concentrates, dry ice is shaken with plant material, and the trichomes fall through screens. Due to the extremely cold temperatures, trichomes are cleanly separated from plant matter, resulting in a rather pure product. The final product is a gold flake or powder and may sometimes melt in warm environments.
Products made: Shatter
This concentrate is made using a process similar to the butane method, but CO2 is used instead. The CO2 extraction process is desirable due to its colder and safer nature compared to butane. The final product should be extremely sweet-tasting and completely hard at room temperature. CO2 products are also full melt and very potent.
Concentrates can also be extracted from plant matter using only heat and pressure. This method is done professionally using rosin press machines, but a similar effect can be achieved at home using hair straighteners. Visit our dedicated resource article to learn more about making rosin dabs.