Distillation is a technique used to clarify, separate, or refine many modern products, foods, and drinks. Even the water we drink, tap or otherwise, often goes through a distillation process during the purification. When it comes to cannabis distillate, the end product is not only purer; it is more potent and, unless the terpenes are reintroduced, completely odorless.
In its essence, cannabis distillate refers to a form of THC, CBD, various other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes – the stuff causing the many intoxicating and medicinal effects of cannabis. All of which have been separated entirely from one another, producing an incredibly pure, potent, and discreet product. It oozes like a sap; you can dab it, have it in a vape cartridge, apply it directly to your skin, and even eat it.
Cannabis distillate often exceeds 90% purity, assuming the terpenes have not been added back to the final product, meaning for everyone (1) gram you buy there is over 900mg of active THC or CBD.
The Golden Child of Extracts
Great and varied advances in cannabis concentrate extraction and cannabis science, in general, have come alongside growth in both medical and recreational cannabis industries across the world. In the US, states such as Colorado, where marijuana is legal, have seen consumer sentiment shift from traditional marijuana flower – you know, the good ol’ buds – to concentrates. Higher potencies, more flavor, more discreet (in some cases), and stronger effect – what’s not to like?
As concentrates and edibles slowly advance into traditional flower’s territory, cannabis distillate has been indicated as the logical end to the chase of potency, consistency, and total discreteness. With an unfathomable amount of applications, the versatile cannabis product is, itself, created from a further refinement of cannabis hash oil.
Concentrate producers make cannabis distillate by starting with a Co2 or hydrocarbon (butane, propane, etc.) oil extraction. Co2 hash oil is extremely common in hash oil pen cartridges while hydrocarbons are more keen for hash sugar, wax, and shatter- though this is not a uniform rule.
Beauty of the Boiling Point
As all the organic chemical compounds found within the cannabis plant have different boiling points, their volatile nature means they can be easily stripped from the cannabis plant. Boiling points are a huge deal when it comes to making cannabis distillate. Distillation, with regard to cannabis, is a process where chemical compounds, such as THC or CBD, are separated based on their molecular weight and boiling point from the Co2 or other solvent-based extraction processes. This can raise the potency of a hash oil testing between 70%-80% THC to 90% or more. Some can even test as high as 99% THC.
However, the process also requires the C02 or hydrocarbon-based cannabis extract to undergo a process called ‘winterization’ prior to being transformed through what is known as ‘fractional distillation.’ If Co2 and other extraction techniques aid significantly in removing plant waxes, chlorophyll, fats, and compounds not necessary to the varied effects of cannabis, then winterization is a refinement technique that takes it a step further.
During the process of extracting the Co2 or hydrocarbon-based cannabis concentrate into alcohol, the winterization process requires the solution remain under intense cold for a day or two. After the process of winterization is completed, the final product should next be decarboxylated. Decarboxylation refers to the process of heating cannabis to the point where compounds such as THC-A and CBD-A are transformed into THC and CBD. In so doing, the chemical compounds are more easily able to pass into the brain.
By the time the extract makes it to the distillation machine, a highly refined, active product that already existed is ready; it’s just – we can make it stronger. The process of fractionally distilling the winterized concentrate uses heat and pressure to separate individual compounds by their boiling point. Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD have higher boiling points than the terpenes (i.e – the flavor and smell of using cannabis). Meaning the terpenes are left out of the final cannabis distillate product.
Luckily, for those out there who cherish the flavor of cannabis or individual terpenes, distillate producers can separate the terpenes individually before fractionally distilling the THC or CBD and reintroduce them in any number of flavor or scent profiles afterward.
Versatility and Potency Above All Others
The rise of concentrates and edibles as consumer preference – while still strain specific – has made using cannabis easier than ever. Vaporizer technology has made on-the-go consumption more discreet than ever before, allowing consumers to use the various intoxicating and medicinal effects of cannabis without fear of someone noticing. Increases in potency have allowed consumers to use less and achieve more of an effect.
Cannabis distillate is already decarboxylated, unlike many other concentrated forms or traditional flower. A drop under the tongue can be as easily absorbed as a dab, though it may take a little longer to kick in. You can easily add it to foods and drinks, and even create THC or CBD distillate/ terpene blends to match all your flavor and effect needs. It’s the green rush, after all!
Article By: Joey Wells