6 Extraction Techniques for Cannabis Lovers
What is a cannabis extract?
All true cannabis lovers are always looking for ways to make the most out of their stash to ensure that nothing goes to waste. This is especially true if you’re a home grower and your yield is the result of hours of hard work caring for and harvesting those plants. Waste nothing! So how can you make use of all of those trichome-covered trimmings and small buds that aren’t ideal for smoking, but still perfectly potent? Turn them into an extract!
An extract is essentially just a concentrated form of the THC or CBD from your cannabis buds. Through one method or another, the cannabinoids are extracted from the plant matter and then reduced into a more concentrated form. One of the biggest benefits to creating and using extracts is that in this form your product is far more potent, allowing you to use less, making your yield go a little bit farther. You can also mix some extracts with regular flower that might not be the highest quality to increase its potency and effects. Not to mention you are repurposing plant matter that might otherwise be unusable into something great, and that’s pretty awesome in our books.
Here’s a look at 6 of the most popular cannabis extraction techniques that the cannabis community are loving right now.
Bubble hash is an old favourite that canna-users have been making and using for decades! It is a solid, compressed hash that gets its name from bubbles that form when it is smoked. This extraction technique also requires what are called bubble bags to make, further adding to its nickname.
Considered a pure type of extract, bubble hash is made without a solvent. Cannabis flower is soaked in ice water, agitated, then filtered through bubble bags of varying micron sizes. The ice and freezing water separates the trichomes from the plant matter and each bag then catches the separated particles. What’s left over is a potent paste that turns into a solid hash-like substance as all the water dries out of it. Because bubble hash is a solventless extract it is more refined than traditional hash, but less than other extracts like BHO and shatter.
Most users like bubble hash as it is quite potent at 60% THC, and can be consumed alone with a pipe or sprinkled in a joint to boost other flower product. It provides a relatively easy and inexpensive way to make hash from leftover plant material if you have the time, patience, and some effort to spare.
Butane Honey Oil (BHO)
Butane Honey Oil in all of its formats is a favourite of dabbers. This type of extraction can be very volatile to work with so we do not recommend trying to make this yourself at home. As the name suggests, Butane Honey Oil uses butane gas as a catalyst to extract cannabinoids from cannabis flower into a thick, honey-coloured oil. This oil can then be turned into several different forms and consistencies including shatter, wax, budder, or left as BHO oil.
Some experts believe that butane honey oil is the peak of cannabis extracts as it generally fairs superior in terms of potency, flavor, purity and aroma than other extracts. Most forms of BHO are very potent, some reaching 80% or more. If you can get your hands on it, BHO is very versatile and can be used as a base for many other types of applications. The oil can be used for infusions and edibles, topicals, or vaping/smoking, with shatter and budder being extremely popular amongst dabbing fans. The only downside is that it can be harder to acquire, and some forms require specialized equipment such as a dabbing rig.
Isopropyl Oil (or Quick-Wash Isopropyl)
You may know isopropyl by one of its many names, often referred to as an ISO Wash, Quick Wash Iso or QWISO. This extraction method is another favourite amongst veteran users as it’s easy to do yourself, requires little effort or investment, and really helps to increase what you get from your yield.
An iso wash involves freezing cannabis buds and isopropyl alcohol, and then soaking the buds briefly in the alcohol. Freezing your buds & alcohol ahead of time helps to strip the trichomes from the plant but leave the chlorophyll and other unwanted stuff behind. As it sits in the alcohol, the buds are gently agitated and then strained into a separate dish.
After the trichomes are filtered the remaining alcohol will evaporate, leaving a thick and potent oil. You can use this ISO oil to smoke on it’s own, or to boost other flower products.
Tinctures are another form of liquid concentrate that are made from an alcohol extraction. They differ from oils in that they are intended to be consumed orally instead of smoked or vapourized so some of the alcohol remains in the mixture. A tincture can also be infused with other flavours, making them a great option for those who don’t enjoy the taste of cannabis or prefer a very precise dosage.
Similar to edibles, tinctures are very safe to make yourself and can be very effective if made properly. After the cannabis is decarboxylated, it is then covered with alcohol and left to soak to pull out all the cannabinoids and terpenes. After letting the mixture sit, it’s strained through a cheesecloth and the remaining liquid is ready to be consumed.
One of the most well-known forms of cannabis extracts, cannabutter is famous for its ability to transform just about any recipe into a delicious but elevating edible. In order to be effective in an edible form, the cannabis must be decarboxylated in an oven and heated through to make sure the THC is chemically available. From there the weed sits in a bath of butter to infuse all those trichomes into the fat of the butter (coconut oil or any other product rich in fats works too).
After you strain the bud and the butter cools to a solid form, you’re left with a bright green stick of cannabutter that is ready to be used as a base for any butter-based (or oil-based) recipe. This is why edibles most commonly come in the form of baked goods, gummy candies or things such as salad dressings. Edibles help mask the flavour of cannabis and are generally more enjoyable for people who don’t like to smoke but still want to experience the benefits of cannabis. Plus with items such as Butter Trays and Gummy Trays, it allows the user more control over their dosage.
Finally, the most accessible and versatile of all extracts - topicals. These are all cannabis-infused lotions, balms, and oil products that are applied topically and absorbed into the skin for precise pain relief, and aid for soreness, and inflammation. Topicals are non-intoxicating, making them a preferred choice for medicinal patients and users who want the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without feeling high.
Similar to the cannabutter method, topicals are made by infusing cannabis to oils and other chemical compounds to create THC or CBD-rich lotions etc. that are then applied to the skin. With most topicals, cannabinoids do not reach the bloodstream, they merely bind to the skin’s CB2 receptors for immediate pain and inflammation relief without any psychoactive effects.
You don’t have to be an expert to get started with extractions
As we’ve outlined in this article, there are several ways to get started with cannabis extracts that don’t require extensive equipment or knowledge. Although we do recommend doing thorough research into an extraction method before trying it out, as some can be very dangerous. Getting started with a simple method such as cannabutter or other edibles can help you increase the effectiveness of your yield by maximizing the potential of all plant matter and small buds.
If you’re looking to try it out and don’t know where to start we carry several products that are effective for extraction. Stop the store at 376 Kingston Rd in Pickering and talk to one of our canna-experts!