Cannabis has been used for centuries for both medicinal and recreational purposes. With recent legalization and decriminalization efforts, cannabis has entered the mainstream in many parts of the world. One of the major developments in the cannabis industry has been the rise of cannabis extracts which contain high concentrations of cannabinoids like THC and CBD. In this article, we explore the various types of cannabis extracts available today, their effects and uses.
BHO/Butane Hash Oil
One of the earliest and most popular extracts is Butane Hash Oil (BHO), also known as honey oil or honey butter due to its consistency. To make BHO, butane is used as a solvent to extract the cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant. The plant material is purged in a closed loop system where butane is flushed through it, dissolving the compounds. It is then vacuumed or purged to remove the solvent, leaving behind a highly potent oil. BHO extracts can contain 60-90% THC concentrations and are hence extremely potent. They are commonly vaporized or dabbed using specialized devices. While BHO produces a powerful high due to high THC levels, there are safety concerns due to improper purging and extraction.
CO2 Cannabis Extracts
With concerns around solvent-based extraction methods, carbon dioxide extraction has gained popularity in the legal cannabis industry. CO2 acts as a non-toxic solvent that can be precisely controlled to safely extract cannabis compounds. In a CO2 extraction system, carbon dioxide is cooled and compressed into a liquid state then passed through plant material at precise temperatures and pressures. This allows for the selective extraction of cannabinoids while leaving behind chlorophyll, pesticides and microbial contaminants. CO2 extracts have a clean flavor profile and consistency ranging from waxy budder to viscous oil depending on processing methods. They can contain up to 80-90% cannabinoids and provide a full-spectrum effect from THC, CBD and other compounds.
Live Resin and Terp Sauce Extracts
Advances in extraction technology have enabled producers to craft “live” extracts made from fresh, frozen cannabis material instead of dried, cured flower. This allows the preservation of native terpenes which are responsible for cannabis’ flavors and aromas. Live resin and terp sauce extracts capture the essence, flavor and effects of a particular strain. Live resin is a shatter-like Extract while terp sauce has a wet, saucy texture. They provide enhanced strain-specific experiences due to cannabinoid and terpene profiles. Top-quality live resin can contain over 50% terpenes and can fetch high prices due to their complex flavor profiles and special production methods.
Rick Simpson Oil
Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is an ingestible whole-plant cannabis extract popularized by medical marijuana activist Rick Simpson. It is made through an ethanol extraction process where high-proof alcohol is used to strip cannabinoids and other compounds from the plant material. The mixture is reduced and strained to remove plant waxes and chlorophyll, leaving behind a thick, dark oil. RSOs contain high amounts of THC, CBD along with other cannabinoids and are orally ingested rather than smoked or vaped. Many patients use RSO for its full-entourage effect in treating conditions like chronic pain, PTSD and cancer. Its potency makes it less popular as a recreational product.
Distillate is a refined Cannabis Extract that undergoes an additional distillation process to further purify it. The concentrate retains nearly all of its original cannabinoid content while removing terpenes and other potentially undesirable compounds. This produces a clear, nearly odorless and highly potent oil with cannabinoid levels often reaching 90-95%. Distillate can be infused into edibles, tinctures and vaporizer cartridges for discreet consumption. While less flavorful than other options, its defined cannabinoid profile allows for consistent and predictable experiences. Top distillate brands perform multi-stage fractional distillation for ultra-high cannabinoid purity.
Safety Considerations for Cannabis Extracts
While cannabis extracts provide enhanced effects compared to flower, they require care in handling and dosage due to increased potency. Consumers should purchase extracts only from licensed dispensaries to avoid contaminated products. Inhalation of extracts poses combustion risks and solvent-based methods can leave dangerous residue if not purged properly. It is recommended that solvent extracts like BHO be consumed through regulated vaporization devices rather than smoked. Doses should be gradual, especially for new extract consumers. Excessive dosing can lead to unpleasant side effects like anxiety, paranoia or vertigo. Topicals and edibles are safer options for gaugeable ingestion. Finally, concentrates are not suitable for children or those with low tolerance. With care and responsibility, cannabis extracts are an appealing part of the modern cannabis experience.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it