Given the obsession over finding the most potent marijuana strains, it was only a matter of time before the industry found a way to pack as many cannabinoids into a substance as possible. It is a known fact that marijuana contains more THC today than it did in the halcyon days of ‘free love.’ However, a THC content of up to 30% isn’t enough for some users, which is where concentrates come in.
The same innovation has arrived in the CBD market as medical patients clamor for a cannabidiol delivery method that provides maximum relief in the shortest possible time. As a result, CBD concentrates have become predictably popular because they are the most potent CBD products you can find. Experts extract cannabidiol from the cannabis or hemp plant, and filter it down to the highest concentrations.
CBD Concentrates: What Are They?
Basically, CBD concentrate is a high potency extract of the hemp plant that contains an incredibly high percentage of CBD. There are CBD isolate products on the market that are comprised of 99% CBD!
When you use a CBD concentrate, you can consume large amounts of the cannabinoid rapidly. As CBD is non-intoxicating and potentially helps relieve a variety of symptoms associated with medical problems, proponents claim it is a safe and effective form of medication.
How Is CBD Concentrate Made?
There are a variety of extraction methods for obtaining CBD, including the use of solvents such as ethanol, hexane, or butane. However, the cleanest and safest method is non-toxic supercritical CO2 extraction, which is what nearly all reputable companies use. Here is a brief overview of how experts turn CBD cannabis oil into concentrate:
Once the CBD-rich hemp is harvested and dried, it is ground up in preparation for oil extraction. The grounds are poured into a large vessel (often up to 20-liters) which is attached to supercritical CO2 extraction equipment. The process involves the use of carbon dioxide under high pressure and very low temperatures. This helps to isolate, preserve, and maintain the purity of the oil.
The main issue when using toxic solvents is that some of the unpleasant and unhealthy aspects can end up in the final product. With supercritical CO2 extraction, there is minimal risk of exposure to harmful residues. After several hours of extraction, the remaining oil and wax are taken from the machine.
The next step involves ‘winterizing’ the paste to remove the plant waxes that are deemed inappropriate for certain products. The oil is further refined using ethanol, and the mixture of ethanol and oil is pulled through a vacuum filter and spun in a rotating evaporator. The ethanol is recovered and recycled while the oil settles at the bottom of the container.
High-end producers use expensive liquid chromatography equipment to analyze the cannabinoid content and overall potency of the oil. The oil is then formulated into sublingual sprays, edibles, capsules, and other medicinal products. These are the lower strength products.
However, it is also possible to create different forms of CBD concentrate depending on the texture, moisture, and heat levels the oil is exposed to before the substance is purged (when impurities are removed). CBD manufacturers may add different labels to their products which are effectively CBD concentrates by another name.
Here is a quick list of terms you’ll see on CBD selling websites:
- Wax: It takes its form as an opaque oil, which is more solidified and crystallized than normal oil.
- Shatter: This happens when the substance doesn’t become too crystallized during the extraction process. As a result, it has an opaque and cloudy appearance. It looks a little like glass and resembles thick honey when heated.
- Live resin: This comes from cryogenically frozen buds rather than cured buds or dried trim. The freezing process preserves a greater number of terpenes and cannabinoids, so users experience a more flavorful experience.
- Budder: This involves purging at an extremely high temperature and air pressure when extracting the oil. The result is a waxy and fluffy substance that has a texture akin to butter.
- Crumble: This is similar to wax but may involve the use of a pre-purged CBD oil that is thicker and contains more moisture. It results in a soft substance similar to feta cheese.
Can I Make My Own CBD Concentrate?
Yes, you can — but unless you pay tens of thousands of dollars for supercritical CO2 extraction equipment, it will not compare to CBD concentrate purchased from a reputable source. The first step is to choose up to 100 grams of a high-CBD plant such as Cannatonic, ACDC, or Harlequin. Make sure the herb has been decarboxylated, dried and ground.
You also need high-quality alcohol such as Everclear that is at least 90% alcohol. Other tools include:
- Plastic, wood, or silicone kitchen utensils.
- Several containers.
- A glass temperature resistant bowl.
- A double boiler.
- An electric heat source, because using flames is dangerous!
- A mask to avoid breathing in the alcohol fumes.
- A cheesecloth or other type of filtering equipment.
- A funnel.
How to Make CBD Concentrate:
- Place the dried bud in the bowl and cover it with the alcohol until it is an inch above the plant matter in your bowl.
- Stir the mixture for up to three minutes to ensure the alcohol extracts the resin.
- Use a cheesecloth or coffee filter to separate the solution from the remaining plant material. It is best to pour the liquid from the bowl through the funnel and enable it to filter into the second container.
- Squeeze the remaining content in the filter to ensure you get the maximum amount of liquid.
- Put the liquid into a glass container that’s temperature resistant and put it in water in the double cooker.
- Heat the water until the liquid starts to bubble. It should begin to bubble at around 168 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The next step is to continue boiling the water until the alcohol evaporates completely. When it bubbles, it is close to its boiling point of 193 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Once this happens, continue increasing the temperature if you haven’t already decarbed the weed. It should happen at around 230 degrees but make sure there is lots of water because it boils at 212 degrees and will begin to evaporate.
- The remaining extract will begin to bubble so continue the process until bubbles no longer form.
- At this point, you should have a thick, tar-like compound. Although it is liquid now, it will become a resinous paste once it cools.
- Congratulations! You have created CBD concentrate.
Purchasing CBD Concentrate: What to Consider
As we mentioned earlier, it is essential to look for CBD concentrate extracted using supercritical CO2 extraction. Otherwise, you can’t be sure of the quality. Also, why pay a small fortune for butane-extracted CBD concentrate when you can make your own at home?
Pay attention to the CBD percentage. The best isolates on the market contain anywhere from 90% to 99%+ CBD. Any product with less than 80% CBD contains a significant number of polyunsaturated fatty acids. For instance, a concentrate with 60% CBD has up to 40% of waxes, which aren’t necessarily healthy.
Once you choose your CBD concentrate, be very careful when dosing as it is easy to get carried away when you ‘dab’ CBD wax, for example. Although you won’t get high when using a strain such as Charlotte’s Web, you could end up using far more cannabidiol than you need.
First of all, it is a very expensive thing to do. A gram of 99% CBD isolate will typically cost you up to $30. Secondly, as you are using CBD as medicine, it is important to begin slowly by microdosing to see how it affects you. Your goal should be to slowly increase the dose until you find the minimum effective dosage. If you take too much too soon, you’ll quickly build up a tolerance and reduce any possible medicinal effects.
Final Thoughts on CBD Concentrate
If you are in the market for cannabidiol as a form of medical treatment, CBD concentrate is potentially a useful way to get pain relief, ease anxiety, reduce inflammation, and much more. You have the option of dabbing concentrate, but this involves the purchase of a dab rig and other equipment. Alternatively, you can purchase a vaporizer and inhale CBD vapor instead. Proponents of vaping claim it is easier on the lungs.
Regardless of your method of consumption, please remember that most CBD concentrates are extremely potent, so you only need a little to get started. There is also the small matter of the ‘entourage effect’ to consider. According to this theory, cannabinoids work better when consumed together. If you are purchasing CBD isolate, you are consuming cannabidiol and nothing else. As a result, it may be worth considering a concentrate that contains CBD, flavonoids, and terpenes.
Finally, if you are worried about getting high, make sure the products you purchase come from reputable companies that provide lab reports on their websites. These reports will outline the level of CBD and tell you if there is any THC in the concentrate. It only takes a small amount of THC regularly consumed to cause you to potentially fail a drug test, so bear that in mind.