7 Ways to Use and Consume Cannabis Extracts and Concentrates
New to extracts and concentrates? Don’t stress. Monica Mansfield explains the many ways to consume these products depending on the experience you’re looking for.
With so many different types of concentrates on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose one, let alone figure out your favorite way to use or consume it. You’ll find endless options at your local pot shop: BHO, CO2 oil, shatter, budder, crumble, wax, rosin, hash, kief, tinctures, edibles, capsules, lotions, and so many more.
Concentrates and extracts come in many forms and contain cannabinoids and terpenes in higher doses than flower, without the plant matter. For example, a concentrate may contain up to 90 per cent THC, whereas the flower you smoke may only contain 10-25 per cent THC. Concentrates can give you similar benefits to flower with a lower dose and cost. Not only that but concentrates generally don’t have as strong a smell as flower does, so they are more discreet for people who don’t want to advertise their love of cannabis to the world.
While concentrates are economical and low-key, they don’t give the depth of sensation that smoking flower does. However, because they have more terpenes, concentrates can help medical patients achieve specific results more quickly and easily, such as relief from depression or pain. They will usually give you more of a head high than a body high.
Once you find the concentrate that works for you, you’ll discover there are many ways to use and consume cannabis extracts. Here are seven of the most popular:
The easiest way for you to dip your toe into the concentrate pool is to sprinkle some onto your bowl or joint and smoke it. This will give you the opportunity to try out different concentrates and see how they affect you. You can even use pipes with screens to smoke hash or kief on their own, without flower.
Dabbing is one of the most popular ways to consume concentrates and is optimal for shatter, wax, budder, taffy, live resin, and rosin.
Dabs will create an intensified effect compared to smoking cannabis flower and may be too much to handle for someone new to cannabis. Be cautious and start with a low dose until you can gauge your tolerance level.
To take a dab, you’ll need a special oil rig setup for your water pipe. This setup replaces the bowl normally used for flower and will include a nail, dome, dabber and torch. The nail can be ceramic, quartz, or titanium. Heat the nail with the torch until it reaches the correct temperature. It’s a good idea to let the nail cool for about 10 seconds or so after heating. Then use the dabber to put small piece of concentrate on the hot nail, cover it with the dome so you don’t lose any of the product, and inhale through your water pipe.
E-nails are electronic versions of an oil rig. An e-nail plugs into an outlet and can be set to a specific temperature instead of being heated by a torch, which gives you a more consistent high. Many people find an ideal temperature for them and like to stick with it.
Honey straws are convenient, portable, and come in a few different styles. The simplest honey straw is a metal straw with a silicon handle. Heat the tip of the metal straw with a torch, dip the tip in your concentrate, and inhale. Some straws have a bubbler attached that holds water, so it acts like a mini water pipe. There are also electronic honey straws that heat up the straw with the touch of a button.
(Live Resin: The Holy Grail of Cannabis Extracts)
It seems like everyone and their mom vapes these days, and you never really know if they’re vaping nicotine or cannabis. For this reason, vaping is perfect for soccer moms or professionals who want to be discreet. Vaping heats cannabis oil or flower at a low temperature, which releases fewer carcinogens and tar, so it isn’t as harsh as smoke and is easier on your lungs.
Vaporizers come in tabletop and portable varieties. Tabletop vaporizers plug into an outlet and allow you to set it to a specific temperature. E-pens are portable and heat up with the touch of a button. You can buy oil cartridges that attach to the pens.
Generally, these cartridges contain butane hash oil (BHO) or CO2 oil. Some pens allow you to place wax, shatter, or even flower into a chamber that heats it to the desired temperature.
Lower temperatures (380-400°F) usually create a better flavor, while higher temperatures can burn up the terpenes too quickly. When using an e-pen, only hold the button for three to five seconds or else it can get too hot. The correct temperature and flavor is subjective, so play around with it until you find what’s best for you.
Tinctures are concentrated extracts created by soaking decarboxylated cannabis in a solvent such as Everclear for a few weeks to a few months and then straining the liquid. This process is thousands of years old and almost any herb can be made into a tincture to reap its medicinal benefits.
Tinctures come in a small jar with a dropper lid. To use, drop a few drops of the tincture under your tongue and let it absorb sublingually. It should take about 15-45 minutes to feel the effects. You can also add a few drops to your food or drink, but your liver will have to process it instead of it going straight to the bloodstream, so expect to wait about 45-90 minutes to feel the effects.
You’ll have to play with the dose to find what’s right for you. Start with one milliliter. If that isn’t enough, try two milliliters the next day, and so on until you find your ideal dose. A tincture high will last longer than smoking or vaping, but shorter than if you ate an oil-based edible. Tinctures can last for years if they are stored in a cool, dark place.
Edibles are usually candies, chocolates, and baked goods made with cannabis-infused oils or butter. You can even buy cannabis-infused syrups to add to your cocktails for an extra kick. Edibles create a pleasant body high if eaten in the correct amount and work well for medical patients treating aches and pains. There are many anecdotes of people using fewer opiates after they start using edibles.
Start with a small 10-20 milligram dose if you are new to edibles, and slowly increase to find the best dose for your body. Edibles can take 45-90 minutes to kick in and it’s tempting to eat more in that window because you think they aren’t working. Don’t. That’s one of the quickest ways to green out and have a bad trip. Start small and increase your dosage slowly for the best experience.
Capsules are an easy and discreet way to ingest your cannabis. Capsules are generally filled with THC oil. They give you a similar high to edibles without the sugar, fat, and calories. You can find them for sale in most dispensaries, and they are easy to make at home with your crockpot. They can take 30-90 minutes to kick in, so you should use the same technique as you do with edibles to find your perfect dose.
(Read also: Six Types of CBD: Find the Right Form for You)
If you want to manage pain or treat a skin condition without feeling high, topicals are very effective. They relieve pain while also reducing swelling and inflammation. You can purchase lotions, salves, balms, bath salts, and even sexual lubricants at most dispensaries. They are excellent for treating sports injuries, muscle pain, arthritis, burns, psoriasis, bug bites, skin abrasions, and bacterial skin infections. Give cannabis lotion to your massage therapist and take your next massage to a whole new level. Your pain will melt away.
Cannabinoids contain strong antioxidants and have strong antibacterial properties, which is part of the reason topicals are so good for your skin. In fact, a 2008 study showed that cannabinoids were very effective in treating MRSA, a bacterial infection that tends to resist antibiotics. Another study in 2007 revealed that cannabinoids were effective in inhibiting keratinocyte proliferation, the buildup of skin cells, which makes it an effective treatment for psoriasis.
Transdermal patches are one of the newest ways to ingest cannabis. They work similar to nicotine patches. By placing the patch on an area of skin with a lot of blood vessels, the THC goes directly to the bloodstream. Unlike lotions and salves, a transdermal patch will make you feel high and the THC will show up on a blood test.
Patches generally isolate certain cannabinoids so that you can choose the desired effect. For example, a CBD patch will reduce inflammation while a CBN patch can relieve insomnia. You can typically find patches that contain THC, CBD, CBN, THCA, and specific ratios such as 1:1 CBD:THC.
Now that cannabis has hit the mainstream, consumers have more options than ever when it comes to using concentrates and extracts. Experiment with these different options and find the ones that are right for you.
Written by Monica Mansfield | Homesteader, Owner & Writer of The Nature Life Project
Monica Mansfield is passionate about gardening, sustainable living, and holistic health. After owning an indoor garden store for 5 1/2 years, Monica sold the business and started a 6.5-acre homestead with her husband, Owen. She writes about gardening and health, as well as her homestead adventures on her blog at thenaturelifeproject.com.