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There are many different ways to ingest cannabis, from smoking the actual flower to infusing it to create an edible. There is no denying it, cannabis intake methods have come a long way in a short time. Gone are the days of old school joint rolling and analog intake methods. In the 21st century we get “high” technology being innovative for our smoking activities. Extracts are a highly potent product that's created by extracting the cannabinoids out by use of solvents, heat, pressure or other methods. Solvents are an array of chemicals that can be used to strip the cannabinoids off of the cannabis flower and one of the most dominant extraction methods used. The benefits of inhaling extracts come from the potency, meaning you can get very high by intaking only a small amount of product. Concentrates and extracted can come in potencies up to 99% THC or CBD. That being said there are some cautions to keep in mind as well, like any cannabis product it is important to understand how you are using it and to know the effects.
Extracts are a form of cannabis concentrate that uses a chemical solvent as the mechanism of extraction. Other forms of concentrates utilize other forms of extraction such as mechanical presses, but the use of solvents is specific to extracts. The types of solvents that can be used in this process include butane, propane, ethanol or C02, the exact process varies based on which solvent you use but in general the process involves using the solvent to strip the cannabinoids THC/CBD out of the flower and then evaporating the solvent leaving the condensed THC/CBD left at the end of the process. This left-over product is collected and sold under different names based on texture or extraction method.
There are many different styles and types of extracts with new ones being developed all the time, some of the most common that are well known include crumble, wax, shatter and budder. These have all been named after the texture left over after the extraction process. Crumble gets its name from its crumbly dry texture, it has a rich amber colour that almost looks like frankincense. Wax on the other hand is very sticky and stretchy, to look at it, it almost has the appearance of honey, compare that to shatter which looks like a shattered window or budder and its smooth buttery texture and you can tell that it is a very wide spectrum. If you don’t want to smoke your extracts you can also find tincture, these extracts use alcohol as the extraction mechanism, you would take this under the tongue. What all of these different types of extracts have in common though is that they are all very potent, sometimes reaching 99% THC compared to a dried flowers 10-25% typical percentage, it is important to understand this going in because it's easy to get in over your head even if you have used other methods in the past.
The main way to ingest cannabis extracts aside from the tinctures Is by smoking it through what is known as a dab rig, these can be a little complicated to use so it’s a good idea to do some research or have an experienced friend help you out. In short, you need to heat up the “nail" which is a small piece of glass that the extract will be placed on, with a torch and place a small piece of the extract on the hot nail, you would then inhale the vapor of the extract through a water pipe. The nail does need to get fairly hot so it can take a few tries to get this process just right which is why having a friend help can be beneficial.
Extracts are not for the beginning user, due to the very high percentage of THC present in most extracts it is very easy to overdo it and end up over ingesting which can cause issues of anxiety and paranoia. If it is your first time using an extract it is a good idea to start off slowly using no more than a grain of rice sized amount and waiting 5-10 min to see the effects before taking more. If you are using an edible extract such as a tincture or a capsule, wait up to four hours before taking more. In the event that you or someone you know does over ingests call poison control and they will talk you through an appropriate course of action. Starting off with a lower percentage would also do a lot to acclimatize you to the stronger effects. It would also be a good idea to have someone you trust with you the first few times you use these higher percentages, in the event that you take too much and start to panic they can help you to calm down.
As you get more experience and use extracts more, something to keep in mind is dependency. It is a lot easier to become dependent on these higher percentage strains because as your body adapts and gets used to it, it will be harder to feel effects off lower-level THC products causing you to need to keep upping the dose or taking more. One way to combat this is to use high percentage extracts sparingly and to use the lower percentage options in between uses of the high potency product.
Overall, using extracts can be a good way of getting a lot of THC into your system without needing to smoke a whole bunch, this can be good for long time users with a high tolerance and users that need a lot of CBD. Be careful how you store your product, extracts can be delicate and degrade easily, make sure you keep them out of the sunlight and direct heat sources, in fact it’s a good habit to keep all your cannabis products in a safe locked box away from children and pets. As long as you are careful and read and understand the label of what you're consuming this can be a great way of taking in your cannabis, just remember the rule of thumb “start low and go slow”.