Most of us are awfully familiar with tinctures, edibles, vapes, and other commonly used CBD products, but wish that we could “feel” the hemp at work in a more potent way.
For those of us who like high-strength solutions, there is an entire submarket of concentrates, which are exactly what they sound like – highly concentrated forms of hemp compounds.
Concentrates come in all kinds of varieties and are easier to incorporate into your routine than you may think.
One thing that they offer over other products is, of course, incredible potency, but this also means that they can act very quickly compared to other products, especially considering the fact that they are meant to be inhaled through a process known as “dabbing.”
Now, we know that the hemp market can be a little intimidating with all of its lingo that leaves a lot of newbies feeling confused.
We’re here to take the complexity and mystery out of concentrates, by offering one of the most comprehensive guides that you can find.
What is Dabbing Concentrates?
“Dabbing concentrates” refers to the process of vaporizing and inhaling concentrated cannabis/hemp extracts that are extremely potent.
It's important to note that t here are cannabis (THC) concentrates as well as hemp derived concentrates.
Cannabis concentrates offer more than 0.3% delta-9 THC, so they will induce a high that can also be dabbed.
Whereas hemp derived concentrates contain no more than 0.3% delta-9 THC, and will not induce intoxicating effects.
Unless using delta-8 dabs which is also a hemp derived product, this cannabinoid offers many appealing potential properties but also induces slight intoxicating effects, but far less than those compared to delta-9 THC (cannabis).
In today's guide, we will be referring to hemp derived concentrates, but the overall process is the same whether dabbing CBD concentrates or THC concentrates.
Dabbing requires specialized equipment and a specific type of product formula that isn’t like the CBD oils and other goods that so many of us have experimented with.
Concentrates are cannabis/hemp products that get their name from the extremely high concentrations of chemical compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes.
They are almost always made from the trichome rich buds of the hemp plant, which are sticky resinous glands found on the plant’s buds that naturally have higher levels of the desirable compounds including CBD (cannabidiol).
If you’ve never heard of trichomes before, look at the raw buds of the hemp plant.
You will notice there is a creamy-looking substance coating them, that has a sticky feel to the hands.
These are the trichomes, and under a microscope, they look exactly like snowflakes.
Their chemical composition matches that of the buds themselves.
The trichrome rich buds are then used to extract and converted into various types of concentrates.
Although the buds contain the most trichomes and thus terpenes and cannabinoids, the trim from the buds may also be used to make concentrates.
You will notice that the terms “dabs” and “concentrates” are commonly used interchangeably, and they do mean the same exact thing.
Although dabs can also be used as a verb, such as hey bro you want to take a dab? Meaning that you dab some concentrate. Where as concentrates simply refer to the concentrates being dabbed.
What Makes Concentrates Unique?
Because concentrates are extremely potent, one can expect a stronger experience when they use them.
For example, most hemp concentrates have between 60-80% cannabinoid potency, whereas hemp flower typically ranges between 10%-20% CBD.
Many people who prefer concentrates are ones looking for more intensive forms of relief with the hemp plant, as well as those who just naturally prefer stronger products because of how they make them feel.
For instance, if you’re using CBD to relax, you may find that dabs give you more of those relaxation qualities that are more potent and faster acting than other consumption methods of CBD. This alone makes them worth exploring.
How To Use Hemp Concentrates
There are two ways to dab concentrates, and both of them involve inhaling the product into the lungs.
Inhaling hemp is known to offer uniquely high levels of bioavailability, as the lung tissue absorbs compounds very quickly and competently.
This can result in not only a more potent experience, but very-fast acting effects, often within minutes, that can stay active for a few hours.
Method #1: Vape Pen
This requires a special type of vaping device known as a dab pen, something like the Pax or the Yocan vaporizer. It can handle the unique consistency of concentrates without burning the compounds.
Or of course you could get a hemp concentrate, such as a CBD distillate or delta-8 distillate cartridge and use with a standard 510 threaded battery.
Because dabs are a different consistency than oils, you can’t use the same output levels to vaporize them.
Using a dab pen is pretty straightforward. It contains a chamber into which you insert the product, and then you vaporize it just like you would any other kind of vaping device.
Method #2: Dabbing
In order to dab your CBD or delta-8 concentrate, you need to use a use a dab rig.
A dab rig is a lot like a bong, but with some notable differences.
Rather than holding the product in a bowl, it features a dab nail to which the concentrate is applied and vaporized which is then inhaled.
This is heated with a butane torch typically, but you can use an electronic nail (e-nail), so that the concentrate can be heated adequately so that the concentrate is vaporized that delivers an extremely potent and successful experience.
For you beginners out there, just make sure that once you heat the nail that you allow it to cool. You do not want to fall victim to dabbing on a red hot nail, if you do, be prepared for the coughing attack that follows.
Method #3: Mix with Flower
A third method to consume your hemp derived concentrates such as your full spectrum CBD wax or delta 8 dabs, would be to mix it with flower!
You read that right, you can actually load up a bowl of your finest CBD hemp flower and top with your CBD dabs.
Or if you like to roll up a joint or blunt, you may also add your desired amount of flower and before twisting up you could sprinkle in some CBD shatter or drip some delta 8 distillate to elevate the potency of your joint/blunt.
How Concentrates are Produced
When it comes to extracting and producing the varying types of hemp derived concentrates like CBD wax, shatter, live resin, and more, there are solvent-based extractions methods and solventless extraction methods.
This may sound confusing, but don't worry we are going to break this down so there is no confusion.
It's important to have a basic understanding of extraction techniques, as the type of extraction used determines the types of hemp concentrates you produce.
Today, we have solvent-based extraction methods that use a solvent such as carbon dioxide, butane or ethanol to dissolve the plant and carefully strip out and remove the cannabinoids and terpenes.
Often times solvent-based extraction techniques are used when concentrates are extracted in large scale quantities. The concentrates are then put through another chemical process that evaporates any residual solvents in the concentrate.
Distillation is a relatively new method to the concentrate game, but we are now seeing a big trend these days that relies on distillation to produce cannabinoid rich distillates.
Such as broad spectrum CBD distillate, or delta 8 distillate, which are extremely potent.
Other solvent-based concentrates include CO2 oil, butane hash oil (BHO), shatter, wax, crumble and live resin.
Unliked solvent-based extractions, solventless extractions are void of chemicals like butane, and alternatively leverage more physical methods that apply pressure, filtration, or specific temperatures to the plant material in order to produce a concentrate.
For example, some of the earliest forms of cannabis concentrates that existed were made organically, by pressing the trichomes of the buds to create a very potent and very thick, sticky product, also known as hash.
Other types of solventless concentrates include dry sift, ice water hash and rosin.
Will Hemp Concentrates Get Me High?
All but the distillate-based dabs are naturally full spectrum products, meaning that they contain every compound as it occurs in hemp.
Note that even though they are concentrated, these products will not get you high.
Delta-9 which is the cannabinoid that gets you high and is rich in cannabis, is federally illegal unless in a medical or recreational cannabis state.
Whereas hemp derived delta-8 THC is legal according to the 2018 Farm Bill, this cannabinoid will induce slight intoxicating effects but nothing like those experienced with delta-9.
Distillates of other cannabinoids exist as well, including CBD, CBG, and CBN, and these will not produce intoxicating effects.
Most Popular Types of Concentrates
Let’s break down the most commonly used types of concentrates for dabbing.
CBD wax is easily at the top of the popularity list, because it has a lot of desirable factors that make the general consumer happy.
It has a golden-amber color, with the consistency of earwax, hence the name.
Making CBD wax a favorite for users who opt to use a portable dab pen, or those who like to use an oil rig and torch/e-nail setup at home!
It’s made using a solvent, which is most often butane, which is isolated and discarded from the wax after it’s been produced leaving no residual solvents in the final product.
Shatter is basically what happens when you go to produce wax but heat it for a longer time.
Eventually, it takes on the texture of glass, hence its name, and becomes translucent.
It has a rich amber to goldish color that is actually quite pleasing to the eye.
Shatter is filtered repeatedly until the consistency is exactly right, which results in a crystalline product that’s extremely brittle.
Shatter is known for its clean taste, but it’s very fragile and so it must be handled with care.
Many shatter pros will break off their desired dab and roll it up into a ball in between their fingers.
As the heat from your hands helps to gently warm it up making it much more manageable.
Crumble, also referred to as "honeycomb wax" is both mushy and crumbly. This unique texture is the result of elevated temperatures used during the solvent removal process, or by whipping the extract under the presence of heat
This solvent-based concentrate is extremely versatile. As its texture allows you to dab it, or sprinkle the concentrate over a bowl, joint, or blunt.
When manufactured correctly, crumble is actually the driest type of concentrate on the market.
Because of how crumbly it is, it falls apart easily and therefore must be handled carefully.
Resin is simply the accumulation of trichomes of the flower buds, and comes in various forms, but maintains its raw, natural state.
Because it has not been processed using heat-based methods, the compounds do not become active until they have been heated in a dabbing setup.
It’s extremely sticky and can be a bit of a pain to work with, but many love its pure, raw nature.
Live resin is a type of full spectrum cannabis concentrate that preserves the natural cannabinoid and terpene contents of the raw hemp plant being used.
This full spectrum concentrate is produced using fresh buds, instead of using dried and cured buds like other hemp concentrates.
A live resin concentrate retains the much desired terpenes that are often lost throughout the drying and curing cycles. And because of the rich terpene profile remaining intact, live resin is rich in flavor and is considered a connoisseur-level product.
Like the other hemp concentrates mentioned in this guide, these extraction methods are also leveraged in the cannabis industry to produce THC rich concentrates.
The hemp industry is now leveraging the extraction knowledge from the cannabis companies to make CBD or other cannabinoid rich concentrates.
Sounds like it’s similar to resin for a reason. It is the result of using heat and pressure, rather than solvents, to consolidate and concentrate the trichomes that are rich in cannabinoids.
It has a sap-like consistency and is very sticky, making it tough to handle, but it offers a super pure and clean taste.
It’s possible that hash predates all other cannabis concentrates, according to historical records indicating that it has been used for centuries, at least.
Hash involves pressing the trichomes into a highly dense and concentrated brick, and thus it is a solventless type of concentrate.
When it comes to hash there are different methods for producing which can results in slightly different final products.
Types of Hash:
- Dry-Sieve Hashish
- Hand-Rubbed Hashish
- Bubble Hash
- Rosin: Can be made using hash
Budder is yet another type of dab that many do love for its flavor, and its butter-like consistency is achieved through a butane or CO2-based extraction method.
Budder is refreshingly easy to work with, having a malleable texture, and it’s not as sticky as other types of concentrates.
Budder seems to have uniquely high terpene levels due to how it’s extracted, and this is great for those who love the effects of terpenes as much as they love the effects of cannabinoids.
Terp Sauce is a newer type of concentrate that’s quickly becoming a preferred choice among serious enthusiasts.
It has extraordinarily high terpene levels, even more so than budder, and has a sauce-like consistency.
Terpene-rich, with a syrupy consistency that is often with diamonds or crystalline such as CBDA or CBGA in sauce.
Often times terp sauce is more than 50% terpenes, while also containing the minor cannabinoids and other compounds present in the extracted plant.
If you love shatter, you need to try terp sauce concentrates!
Crystalline concentrates are usually a single cannabinoid, like CBD, delta 8 or delta 9.
They look like coarse sugar crystals and are extremely potent yet pure.
They require several purification methods to finally isolate the desirable compound.
Produced using a steam distillation process.
The resulting extract is purified over and over again until 95-99% of the finished product is a singular cannabinoid, like delta-8 or cannabidiol.
This is a concentrated extract with a honey like consistency boasting astounding purity levels.
Distillates like CBD distillate or delta 8 distillate can be used to infuse edibles, or used to fill cartridges which often have a terpene profile introduced to deliver specific flavors and synergistic effects.
How to Select the Best Concentrate
We know that you’re probably wondering how you can best choose a concentrate for your needs from all that are available.
We cannot say that there is one that’s simply better than the others.
All dabs serve their purpose and satisfy customers, so it is a matter of personal preference.
For this reason, you should consider experimenting until you find which one best suits your needs.
Remember to consider the potency, flavor, and texture in order to make sure that you’re ultimately satisfied.
Other Factors to Think About
There are some other things to pay attention to when selecting a concentrate for dabbing purposes.
Factor #1: Strength/Potency
Some concentrates offer higher potency levels than others, and this information is usually found on the packaging itself.
But of course if you are purchasing from a reputable manufacturer, they will have 3rd party potency tests to access this information.
Consider this info, so that you can end up with the potency level that you prefer.
Factor #2: Purity Level
Concentrates come in various purity levels based on how they are made and what other compounds they contain.
It’s hard to find a 100% pure concentrate, unless you were using an isolated concentrate like CBD isolate, so don’t think that ones that are less pure are low-quality.
Factor #3: Testing
Concentrates, like other CBD products on the market, should be tested by a third-party lab, and the company should make this information available. Especially in regards to potency, residual solvents, and terpenes.
Factor #4: Local Laws
Always make sure that your state allows for the use of concentrates, before investing in a dabbing product.
CBD Concentrates Offer a New World of Hemp to Anyone Valuing Potency and Purity
If you want to enjoy a stronger CBD, CBG, delta 8, or other cannabinoid experience than ever before, make sure that you explore what’s available, while making sure that you go for concentrate products that have been tested for purity and quality.
Feel free to experiment with different types of dabs. Also, don’t forget to invest in a good-quality dab rig or dab pen.
Still have questions about how to dab? Drop a comment below and we'll jump in and further explain any questions you have about dabbing concentrates!