The cannabis industry has created ripe opportunities for inventors and manufacturers to create truly outstanding products in the last few years — from e-blunts to vape pens, dab rigs, and THC/CBD strips.
Recently, cannabis distillates started to conquer the market of concentrates as the new cutting-edge product. And believe us, you’re going to want to try these unique extracts.
Why? Because cannabis distillates boast almost 99% purity.
Sounds like a good way to get high or experience some powerful health benefits?
You’re probably wriggling with your feet at this point, but as with any new product, there are several questions we should answer before you start searching for different cannabis distillates, including:
- What are cannabis distillates?
- How are cannabis distillates made?
- What are the advantages of cannabis distillates?
- How can you use cannabis distillates for maximum benefits?
We’ll answer all of the above questions in this guide.
Let’s get started!
What Are Cannabis Distillates?
As the name may lead you to expect, cannabis distillate is a product resulting from a process called distillation.
Distillation means separating the chemical compounds from a liquid extract by gentle boiling and condensation.
The very process is nothing new. In fact, humans have been using distillation to purify alcohol for decades.
But the new thing about it is that manufacturers now apply distillation to cannabis flowers and concentrates to extract the purest form of cannabinoids to date.
Why is distillation so significant? Well, in order to understand that, we’ll need to cover two topics first:
- The biology of cannabis plants
- Cannabis concentrates
This will help us get a better understanding of how cannabis distillates are made. Don’t worry, you don’t need a degree in chemistry to get that.
Understanding the Biology of Cannabis Plants
There are three classes of naturally-occurring compounds we can find in the cannabis plant:
The two best-researched cannabinoids are THC and CBD but cannabis plants consist of at least 113 cannabinoids, with more being identified every day.
Cannabinoids are molecules that engage with the endocannabinoid system in your body to produce a range of therapeutic effects such as relief from anxiety or chronic pain.
Well, some of them, like THC, can also get you high, which is a pleasant side effect to top the aforementioned benefits.
Terpenes are volatile chemicals that give the cannabis plant its unique aromas and flavors. The number of terpenes and their ratios varies between strains.
Finally, flavonoids are molecules within the plant that work together with terpenes to produce distinct aromas and flavors characteristic to some pungent varieties, such as the popular Sour Diesel strain.
The problem with cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids is that they all have different boiling temperatures.
Why does that matter?
Because separating these compounds from the plant material while completely preserving them is the main goal of making cannabis distillates.
A Primer on Cannabis Concentrates
Concentrates are the new trend in the cannabis industry. They are exactly what they sound like — concentrated forms of cannabinoids found in the flowers of mature cannabis plant.
For example, if your favorite Chemdawg strain clocks in at 24% of THC, the concentrate extracted from the same strain could double or triple its strength if processed properly.
Concentrates are usually obtained through a process known as solvent extraction. Cannabis plants are soaked in chemicals such as alcohol, propane, butane, chloroform, carbon dioxide, or even ice water.
The role of the solvent is to pull the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids from the plant — and suspend them in a liquid state.
The solvent then evaporates under different temperatures or levels of pressure (or both), leaving behind a liquid extract that contains high levels of cannabinoids.
The best part about using concentrates is that you can let them harden into wax of shatter so they become more versatile and can into bowls, bongs, rigs, and joints.
Are Concentrates Superior to Other Forms of Cannabis?
Traditional tinctures and concentrates are believed to be the most refined form of marijuana — the holy grail of cannabis consumption.
But when you take a look at cannabis distillates, you’ll know one thing.
The king is dead, long live the new king!
How Are Cannabis Distillates Made?
The whole point behind distillation is to achieve the highest purity of the end product while preserving all cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
In the process of conventional extraction, terpenes and flavonoids are mostly destroyed. This affects the purity and strength of the final concentrates.
Distillation works a bit differently.
By combining steam distillation and fractionation, all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids can make it to the final product without any solvent residue. That’s how the purity of cannabis distillates is measured at 99%.
Distillation can get pretty complicated and calls for some specialized equipment, so it’s virtually impossible to do it at home. But if you’re curious what the process looks like, here are the essential steps:
- Combine the cannabis plant matter with a solvent to extract the necessary compounds.
- Increase the temperature of your solution to boil off the terpenes and flavonoids
- Pass boiling stem through a water-cooled tube that will transform the gas back into a liquid — this will save the terpenes and flavonoids.
- Raise the temperature again to boil off the cannabinoids.
- Repeat the process with the cannabinoids, similar to how you did it with terpenes.
- Mix your liquids together and enjoy.
Frankly, the above is a very simplified description of what distillation looks like, with lots of technical terms involved.
Anyways, once the process is all done, you’re left with an amber extract that has a consistency of thick honey. You can either harden your distillate or heat it up a bit if you want a more runny concentrate to work with.
Benefits of Cannabis Distillates
Wondering why you should choose a cannabis distillate for you next smoking sesh? Below you’ll find a couple of reasons.
1. Cannabis Distillates Are Already Decarboxylated
Distillates are already heated during the extraction process, unlike raw cannabis. The difference between raw and decarboxylated weed is that non-decarboxylated products contain inactive forms of the main cannabinoids (THC and CBD).
These are THCA and CBDA.
In their inactive (acidic) form, these two cannabinoids can’t produce their unique effects. THCA won’t get you high, and CBDA won’t ease stress and anxiety as effectively as CBD.
When decarboxylated, the medicinal and psychoactive chemicals in the cannabis trichomes travel almost immediately from the blood to your brain, producing the effects you’re looking for.
2. Cannabis Distillates Boast Extremely High Purity
Distillates are the creme de la creme of all cannabis products. That’s because they’re purity levels are as high as 99%. With this form of cannabis, you don’t need to worry about leftover solvents or additives.
3. Cannabis Distillates Get the Most Out of You Strain’s THC/CBD Content
Depending on the strain used for making a batch of distillate, the final product may have a very high THC/CBD content. Some of the most potent distillates on the market can sit as high as 90%.
4. Cannabis Distillates Produce the “Whole-Plant Synergy” (a.k.a. The Entourage Effect)
The term “entourage effect” refers to the synergy between cannabis compounds. This synergy is vital for the therapeutic potential of cannabis. Some of its effects are impossible to achieve when consuming these chemicals in isolation.
For example, THC is a potent painkiller, while CBD helps curb its psychoactive effects, preventing potential anxiety and paranoia.
While you can use THC and CBD alone to help with similar things, you can only experience the effects that are unique to these cannabinoids. But when you combine them in one extract, you gain an entirely new range of treatment options and possible effects.
The cannabinoids aren’t as versatile on their own. Of course, they still have some serious benefits, but the real magic happens when you mix them together.
The example above is just one proof of marijuana’s synergistic effects.
5. Cannabis Distillates Are Low Profile
Using cannabis distillates can be very discreet, unlike smoking out of a bong or lighting up a jay in public.
You can consume distillates in several ways that won’t turn any heads around.
This is extremely useful for people who need to remain low-profile with their medicine, regardless of their reasons.
How to Consume Cannabis Distillates
In the next section, we briefly describe common consumption methods for cannabis distillates.
1. Under the Tongue
This is hands down the easiest way to ingest a distillate. Just place a few drops under your tongue, and allow the liquid to dissolve into your bloodstream by holding it in your mouth for about 60 seconds.
Taking your distillate sublingually ensures the faster onset of effects than, say, oral consumption. They should appear within 15–20 minutes after ingestion.
2. In a Vape Pen
Another easy way to enjoy a distillate is through a vape pen. You’ll need a unit with a reloadable tank that is compatible with liquid cannabis concentrates. This method is better for people aiming at the quickest onset — users can feel the difference after around 2-5 minutes from their last inhalation.
And if your vape pen allows for precise temperature control, it’s all the better.
3. In a Dab Rig
For almost immediate effects, we recommend scooping a bit of hardened cannabis distillate into the nail of your dab rig and get ready to enjoy the sesh of your life.
4. In a Joint
Looking for an old-school method to consume your distillate? Again, you can harden it for a little bit and then sprinkle a small amount on a rolling paper when making your joint.
The high levels of THC in the distillate will make your joint super efficient, as you’ll only need a few puffs to feel strong effects. You know the saying that a little goes a long way? It fits just perfectly into smoking a distillate-infused doobie.
5. In a Pill
Eating your cannabis distillate in pill form produces more powerful effects that will also last much longer than other forms of consumption.
Not to mention that taking weed pills is super easy — you just need to swallow them down with some water. There’s no need to learn how to smoke or use a vaporizer. You just take it as you would any other capsule.
Keep in mind that the effects of distillate-infused capsules will need more time to kick in — it can be anywhere between 40–120 minutes.
6. In Edibles
You can incorporate cannabis distillate into a wide range of edibles for quick and enjoyable consumption. Of course, the prep work will take a bit longer than with other methods, but you’ll be well rewarded for your patience.
Here are just a few options:
- Coconut oil
Once you’ve got your infusion, you can substitute the regular butter/cooking oil in your favorite recipes with it — but please note that edibles can be really potent, so you’d be better off having a shy hand for your first batch.
Final Thoughts on Cannabis Distillates
The possibilities to use cannabis distillates are almost endless — when we say that the sky’s the limit, we mean it.
If this is your first time with cannabis distillates — or any concentrates, for that matter — it’s paramount to know your tolerance to THC so that you don’t go overboard with it. The potency of cannabis distillates makes it very easy to get way too high in no time. And that’s not pleasant at all.
Our best advice is to start with baby steps and gradually increase your dosage until you reach your sweet spot.
All that said, don’t be afraid to give cannabis distillates a try. There are many variations of distillates available on the market, each sourced from a different strain and adding unique aromas and flavors to your experience.
Have you already tried a cannabis distillate? Did it meet your expectations? What’s your favorite strain for making distillates? Let us know in the comments!