Cannabis Concentrates Explained & Rated
How many forms of cannabis can you think of beyond flower? How many have you tried? The fact is, there are gobs of options, and depending on your location, you may find the choices are very different, or perhaps it is only in the name. Beyond the world of just flower (and the myriad of cultivar species), there is the world of concentrates.
A concentrate is a broad term for anything that is made of extracted material from a plant.
In practice, there are a variety of extraction methods to pull the desired chemical components from cannabis and reconstitute them in all sorts of interesting ways.
In an effort to shed some light on these varied and expansive products available (which are often misunderstood), we had our team assemble some of the most common forms of cannabis concentrates, define what makes them unique, and put together a survey to share with concentrate veterans and experts in the space. The goal was to help illuminate some of the differences between each option, point out the strengths, applications (vaping, smoking, dabbing) and mention any potential risks (namely residue & solvents based on the extraction process).
We surveyed each concentrate type by three attributes: Flavor, Purity, and Potency. Language is everything, so we defined each attribute like this:
Flavor - Amount of terpenes preserved in the end product.
Purity - Average likelihood of a pure product, free from solvents or byproducts.
Potency - Average amount of total cannabinoids present in the final product.
Finally, we instructed the participants to make their rankings based on averages and in comparison to other products. There is little homogeny in the world of extraction, so we can only go on historical averages.
To assist us in this feat, we worked with the team at MJ Arsenal. They are avid supporters of the benefits and flavor of concentrates and helped guide some of the process. We documented the results in a new collaborative infographic:
Why would someone opt for a concentrate over flower?
I see a similar parallel with spirits vs. wine and beer. Terpene profiles aside for a moment. Concentrates are a great way to consolidate that joint or blunt experience into a fraction of the "rips" needed for the same desired level of elevation. Another reason would be that generally speaking, concentrates are always vaporized as opposed to the high temps of combustion needed for most standard flower consumption. That said, they each have their pros/cons, c'est la vie.
What is the one thing that MJ Arsenal values highly as a brand?
Hard to pick just one north star. I view MJA more as having several "pillars" that provide our overall stability. Transparency in our development, sourcing, and why we do what we do. Consistent quality in the products that we offer. Affordability, such that you can enjoy a top shelf experience without sacrificing your next rent check.
Why are many of your pieces made of clear glass?
While we do have some very limited color options, our "scientific" style clear glass was always the vision for MJA. We think, as any good chef, we are only as good as the ingredients we use. We are proud to "bear all" with our raw materials (many companies use colored glass to hide imperfections) and the result is a functional aesthetic that is hard to match.
What would you recommend for someone just starting with concentrates?
Think of this as a great BBQ. Low and slow. As with the first time you do anything, you can ALWAYS take more! Always err on the side of the colder temp and small dab to ensure you get the most full flavor and least harsh experience possible. Dosage is everything!
What is the next trend in the concentrates market?
There have been some new products in 2018 that I think were a small step for man but a giant leap for the "consuming-kind". That said I think one of the coolest aspects of the cannabis space is its rustic roots. Sure there are many progressives pushing the envelope on all ends, but I would argue the more things change, the more they also stay the same. Cannabis flower is a good bellwether. Over the last ~15 years we have seen a massive vaporization movement build up thanks to the Volcanos (Storz and Bickel) of the world. While vape tech has improved a great deal and prices for hardware have dropped since the early 2000s, the most common way to consume flower still is a joint/blunt/bowl. Overall, I think concentrates have alot of legs to be developed and re-engineered over the next several years, that said, I think the quartz and torch are not going anywhere, any time soon!