The Pros and Cons of Cannabis Concentrates Compared to Strains

Cannabis concentrates are becoming an increasingly popular consumption method, but a lot of people new to concentrates feel intimidated by them. Their emotions aren’t completely unjustified when you consider the learning curve and tolerance adjustment for concentrates. Concentrates are waxy extracts of cannabis oil. Inhaling the vapors promise a quicker and more potent experience. It requires users to heat a glass or titanium “nail” with a small blowtorch. The wax is dabbed on the heated surface producing fumes the user inhales. Concentrates may also be used in vapers, e-cigarettes, or modified bongs. Although the multiplicity of strains available can make one’s head spin, even beginners have a pretty good idea of what they’re getting with flower, regardless of its name. “Concentrates” is an umbrella term that refers to a variety of different cannabis extracts and their monikers – and that’s where things can get more confusing.

Concentrates come in many forms. Trichomes can be shaken from the cannabis flower and added to smoked, edible, or vaped consumption. Hash can be loose, pressed, or sticky. Melts claim to be the most highly concentrated form. It can also come in oil, budder, crumble, wax, shatter, and honeycomb end products. But, the most popular forms are used in vaping and dabbing. ​

Pros of using cannabis concentrates

The most important distinction to make between cannabis flowers and concentrates is potency. While bud potency tends to range between 10-25% THC, a concentrate typically falls between 50-80% though some exceptional extracts can even push past 90%. Those numbers may be enough to scare off any under-seasoned consumers, and for good reason: dosing gets trickier as potency increases.

With bud, you can smoke it, vaporize it, and roll it, but there’s not much else you can do with it. Concentrates offer more options.

  • Dabbing – the process by which you apply an extract to a hot nail and inhale through a glass piece – is swiftly on the rise among cannabis veterans. Dabbing is an easy way to get a potent dose of cannabinoids, although the learning curve and equipment demands make it a less accessible option for new users.
  • Ingestible oils act like edibles in that they take effect slowly and last much longer due to the way they’re metabolized. These oils (or any extract, really) can be high in THC, CBD, or both. So if you’re interested in smoke-free methods – especially for treating medical symptoms and conditions – these capsules may be worth looking into.
  • Tinctures are a sublingual concentrate, meaning they’re dropped under the tongue and enter the bloodstream. They act faster than edibles and ingestible oils, though they’re often less potent.
  • Hash and oils may be also consumed using some of the same consumption methods as flower. Some vaporizers are compatible with “loose” oils, though some portable pens are specially designed to be used with specific cartridges of oil. The motivated enthusiasts can even roll their bud-packed joints with hash and oils.

Here’s one benefit to concentrates perhaps you’ve never thought of: extraction processes strip out plant material and isolate the compounds you want like THC and CBD (…and potentially some things you don’t want, in the case of pesticides, contaminants, and residual solvents; make sure the products you consume are tested). When you smoke flower, you’re also smoking the plant material that leaves your glass black with tar. That can take a toll on your lungs. However, you may have noticed that when you dab oils, the glass and water stay clean for much longer.

Cons of using cannabis concentrates

Quality: One problem with dabbing is that there are few quality standards. Where retail sales are permitted, vendors understand the value of branding products. They seek reliable producers and appreciate the feedback. But, when the product is homemade, the quality is inconsistent. For instance, the butane use can damage the product if the butane burns too hot. And, when the butane burns off, it mingles with the concentrate vapors it adds toxins to the mix.

Explosions: Some experiences have seen amateurs cause explosions with injuries and fatalities. The combination of flame and butane in the hands of novices can be a dangerous threat. But, professional manufacturers know better, and experienced careful users can prepare the treat carefully with the right tools and education. Nonetheless, users are discouraged from making their own dabs. You do not want to take the risk of ingesting the butane hash and other contaminants that may have corrupted the concentrate while the extraction was going on.

Dirty Butane: The butane sold for cigarette contains smelly chemicals added to give it a detectable odor when leaking. You must find the purer product. Unfortunately, the purest butane, the laboratory-grade product, is only available in large quantities and very high prices. Still, you can look for butane that is marketed as three- or four-times.” But, if anything crackles when you heat it, there is something dirty in the dab.

Side-Effects: The concentrate may contain as much as 95 percent THC. Most are three to four times stronger than a single joint. That presents the risk of abuse and psychological addiction to the high potency. Inhaled butane intoxicates fast, moving quickly to the blood through the pulmonary system. Effects include accelerated heartbeat, asphyxiation, confusion, delirium, dizziness, disorientation, hallucinations, hypertension, hypoxia, paranoia, and slurred speech. Some users have become involved in assaults and suicide attempts.

Pros of using cannabis strains

 Potency: Depending on the strain and the individual’s constitution, the concentrate and the strain might be comparable in potency. But, using the concentrate enables a more efficient high. That is, you can consume more concentrate faster than you can smoke it. Flower buds will usually hold 10-25 percent THC. But, a concentrate might have 50-80 percent or higher. For instance, you can manage five dabs within five minutes. To smoke the equivalent potency would take five joints. Dabbing a 0.1-gram dab with a 70 percent THC/CBD ration equals a hit of 70 milligrams of cannabinoids, a hefty dose.

Medical Therapy: Medical patients benefit from that fast and hefty dose. Dabbing concentrate lets patients inhale cannabinoid-loaded vapors and feel relief of their medical symptoms quickly. Medical patients see benefits in not smoking and some simply cannot. But, all patients must consider the involvement of the pulmonary system. For example, there can be a negative risk in some medical conditions related to heart, pulse, and blood pressure.

Flavor: Good concentrates provide an intense and purer flavor unaffected by other burning materials. You’re enjoying a cleaner substance, mostly the cannabinoid-laden trichomes. There may be come loss of flavor during the extraction process. And, smoking has the psychological advantage of mingling flavor and aroma. But, concentrate makers have learned to recapture lost flavors, so concentrates are likely to deliver a more intense flavor experience.

Discretion: With no smoke or resin, the dabbing and vaping aroma does not linger. It does not cling to your clothes or stink up your hair. Vaping, for instance, is just faster and more convenient than rolling and smoking.

Concentrates can deliver the experience in other ways, too. Tinctures, for instance, can be popped under the tongue at your convenience. And, oils can work with vaper pens. Still, concentrates are not for the uninitiated. The risks in preparation and dosing are real concerns. But, responsible recreational consumers and medical marijuana patients can learn to appreciate, select, and use concentrates.