Cannabis concentrates are rooted in the ancient Turkish hashish tradition, but they didn’t become a staple in the cannabis world until 10 or so years ago. The word concentrates is an umbrella term for variations such as wax, crumble, shatter and others. These powerful oils or isolates are typically dabbed, the smoking method that is synonymous with weed culture and is viewed as a means to get extra lifted. So one may wonder why people would dab non-intoxicating CBD wax, shatter or crumble. If it doesn’t get you high, what’s the point?
Just like how dabbing concentrates intensifies a high, it is also thought to intensify the medicinal effects of CBD. This article explores the ins and outs of CBD and other cannabinoid concentrates, what they are, and how to use them.
Types of Concentrates
CBD Wax and CBD Shatter
Concentrate comprehension is slightly confusing. As mentioned, there are many different types, including shatter, crumble, rosin, and budder. Each has a subtle variation in texture, color and use. The definitions are flexible and there is no uniform method to create a specific concentrate. The inconsistency means consumers should be prepared to read the label before they buy a concentrate.
Crumble is fairly dry and solid compared to other concentrates. Its malleable texture falls apart when handled, crumbling like a cookie. Crumble is often a translucent yellow color that turns amber as it ages.
Our CBD crumble is made from broad spectrum distillate, a highly concentrated oil. In fact, distillate is considered a concentrate in and of itself. Broad spectrum concentrates contain an immeasurable amount of THC but are widely considered a THC-free product. To make a distillate, extractors target a specific cannabinoid by its boiling point and molecular weight to pull that compound from the rest of the oil. This means a CBD distillate will be around 80 percent or more CBD. For comparison, our full spectrum tinctures are around 3 to 7 percent CBD. This doesn’t mean tinctures are weak. The dosing size makes a difference. Think of it in the same way an 8-ounce cup of coffee isn’t weaker than a 1-ounce concentrated shot of espresso.
Lower quality crumble can also be made from full spectrum CBD extractions blended with isolate to make it more potent.
CBD shatter looks much different than THC shatter, which is darker and glassier, like hard candy. The white or light yellow CBD concentrate gets its name from its brittle texture that breaks easily. Most CBD shatter on the market is made from THC-free isolate, a pure powder form of cannabidiol, that is “set” into a shatter. Although most CBD shatter is made from isolate, this isn’t always the case. Some extractors may make their version of shatter using an oil instead.
Other extractors may be experimenting with other types of CBD concentrates. Rosin is typically a full spectrum concentrate that is created from heat and pressure, no solvents, while whipped budder is a butter-like, creamy concentrate.
Potency and Bioavailability
What makes concentrates powerful
There are multiple reasons why concentrates pack a punch at a quicker onset, the most obvious being potency. CBD concentrates range from 60 to 99 percent CBD. A gram of our CBD shatter or crumble includes 800 to 999 milligrams of CBD. So on the low end, one rice size dose delivers about 25 milligrams of CBD.
The second reason why concentrates are more intense is due to their bioavailability, the rate and degree at which an active ingredient is absorbed in the body. Our bodies are mostly water, but cannabinoids are fat-soluble, making it impossible for our bodies to make use of every single cannabinoid in a dose. Smoking concentrates offer the highest bioavailability rate over any other method at around 30 to 40 percent, possibly more. Edibles and tinctures range from around 6 to 20 percent.
Considering these two components means an average dose of concentrate, around 25 milligrams, results in 10 milligrams of cannabinoids absorbed, on the high end (40 percent of 25 milligrams). Compare this to around 6.6 milligrams absorbed from the average 33-milligram tincture dropper dose (20 percent of 33 milligrams).
How Concentrates Get Their Flavor
Most of the cannabis community now knows about terpenes, the vivacious molecules that give plants their aroma and character. Just like an Indian curry recipe is made of a bold mix of spices like saffron, cumin, and cinnamon, those spice profiles are made from a bold mix of terps.
Cannabis contains hundreds of terpenes that offer benefits besides emanating pleasant aromas. Some believe the molecules participate in the entourage effect, enhancing the overall success of the extract. Though inconclusive, it’s also now thought terpenes are what is steering the effect of the extract. The aromas themselves may have health benefits, too. Just like how spraying eucalyptus oil in the shower as aromatherapy or how a pungent rotten egg can make people gag, the idea that smells result in physiological changes applies to terpenes.
So what do terpenes have to do with concentrates? Concentrates, by nature, have fewer terpenes than other CBD products. Remember—they are distilled and refined extracts anywhere from 80 to 99 percent pure. It’s impossible to make an isolate or distillate and maintain all of its natural terpenes.
Extractors often re-infuse concentrates with terps. They can do this with cannabis or other botanical terpenes. That’s because dominant cannabis flavor molecules, such as linalool and myrcene, are found in other plants, making it possible to create cannabis-like profiles from other sources.
All of our new products include cannabis-derived terpenes, adding the natural flavors and natural benefits back into the end result. Most prefer cannabis-derived infusions because it means the final concentrate remains completely hemp-based vs. adding in ingredients from other plants.
How to use CBD Shatter and Crumble
Dabbing is the most popular CBD concentrate method. It requires an intimidating-looking setup and flambé-like torch, but dab rigs are fairly simple to use. The idea is to heat a small amount of the concentrate, converting it into a vapor before it is inhaled. We put together a thorough step-by-step guide on dabbing CBD for beginners.
Wax Pens/ Vapes
You can dab CBD shatter or crumble with a wax pen as well. Most concentrate pens come with three parts: a battery, a heating chamber (atomizer), and a mouthpiece. Different types of atomizers are better suited for specific concentrates. There are hard-hitting single or double-coil atomizers as well as flat ceramic dish atomizers for slower-burning. Quartz rods are the new standard because they burn cleaner and taste better. Wax pens often do not require a torch, like larger dab rigs, and are easy to carry.
Shatter and wax also mix with other smokable ingredients like marijuana flower. Crumble is a well-suited option for this method since it easily breaks apart. They can be sprinkled on a bowl, joint or used in other ways.
CBD shatter and crumble may become harsh tasting with age. A resourceful way to use aging concentrates is to add them to recipes, but they must be decarboxylated first or else they are inedible. This is the process of converting CBDA, an acidic molecule, into CBD. To decarb shatter and crumble, you can bake the concentrate in the oven for 30 minutes at 250 degrees. Our shatter and crumble are already decarbed, so this is not necessary.
The variety of concentrates and the multitude of uses provide a lot of room for experimentation. The potency, bioavailability and portion per concentrate can differ, so it is crucial to consider all of these components and dose accordingly.
Jamie Evans, aka The Herb Somm, is a trained wine scholar turned cannabis connoisseur. She was in the beverage industry for over 10 years and