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Atop cannabis colas and their surrounding foliage rest fields of bulbous, capitate-stalked, and capitate-sessile trichomes. These millions of microscopic mushroom-shaped heads manufacture the very ingredients that impact our cannabis experience, with each cloudy dome capable of synthesizing over 400 identifiable compounds including terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids. When we vaporize cannabis flowers at certain temperatures, these compounds become volatile and boil off into the vapor that we inhale. A strain’s profile of psychoactive effects can be measured by the synthesis of these varying compounds within us as we inhale them.
Cannabis concentrates afford the opportunity to influence these unique profiles. This can be done by separating the essential compounds contained within the trichomes and reassembling them in unique consumable products. Concentrates can vary greatly based on a variety of factors: chemical or mechanical separation techniques used to create them, the strains’ original profiles, environmental factors that influenced the strains during growth, and so on. While some concentrates aim to preserve original plant profiles, others isolate and recombine compounds through cannabinoid distillation and terpene reintegration techniques, creating new profiles altogether. As such, concentrates offer the unique freedom to customize the cannabis experience.
Variables that Affect Cannabis Concentrates’ Effects
There are a handful of variables to consider when using concentrates to tailor the effects of cannabis: the types of concentrates being used, the temperature they are being vaporized at, and the hardware being used to vaporize them. A major variable is concentrate type: the extraction methods used to create oils, shatters, and waxes can lend unique effects to the final products.
Furthermore, certain methods aim to preserve whole plant profiles, while others focus on fractioning individual compounds and formulating new cannabinoid and terpene ratios with the intent to manufacture a certain effect. Products high in cannabidiol (CBD), for instance, have been known to counteract the intoxicating effects of THC and help moderate cannabis-induced anxiety or paranoia, so certain concentrate products contain elevated ratios of CBD that has modulating effects on THC absorption. Speakeasy710, a California-based medical cannabis oil company, offers a 200-milligram CBD tonic, which aims to isolate the specific benefits of CBD when taken orally or applied topically.
How Terpenes Customize Cannabis’s Effects
THC, and in some cases CBD, tend to be the primary compounds in most concentrates. However, a concentrate’s terpene profile is what really individualizes a smokeable or vapeable product’s psychoactive properties. Terpenes have the ability to modulate cannabinoid uptake through the CB1 and CB2 receptors. When we inhale vapor from concentrates, we feel differing effects contingent to the ratios of compounds we absorb, and higher concentrations of various terpenes have the ability to increase absorption. Take myrcene as an example: in addition to antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, sedative, and antioxidant effects, this commonly occurring cannabis terpene also has the ability to permeate cell membranes, helping cannabinoids pass through the blood-brain barrier at certain CB receptors. In other words, myrcene can heighten your cannabis experience by letting you absorb more THC.
Many manufactures still utilize outdated extraction techniques that destroy terpene profiles and necessitate reintegration techniques in order to gain back what was lost. Some even introduce terpenes derived from food (as opposed to those derived from cannabis) into concentrates with the intention of enhancing flavor and effect; unfortunately, these products tend to taste artificial. According to Josh Hartsel, a co-founder and concentrates expert at Speakeasy710, the plant has already optimized its synthesis of over 140 terpenes and 86 cannabinoids, and trusting this process is very important when examining potential flavors and effects. Artificially flavored concentrates tend to offer inferior experiences compared to those that reflect cannabis’s natural terpene production.
The Role of Temperature in Customizing the Cannabis Experience
Temperature also plays a vital role in how we experience cannabis concentrates, because different cannabinoids and terpenoids boil off at different temperatures. THC, for one, has a relatively low boiling point of 315˚F; terpenes such as myrcene (334˚F) and linalool (388˚F) have slightly higher boiling points and require higher temperatures to release them into the vapor we inhale. On the other hand, some compounds become volatile and harsh at higher temperatures, rendering them unpalatable and ineffective. Finding the temperature sweet spot is vital to preserving cannabis compounds’ aroma and flavor as well as their effects. The graph below indicates the boiling points of a few common cannabis terpenes.
As with vaporizing flowers, it is important to use proper equipment to ensure maximum control over your concentrates. The Herbalizer was designed with this level of control in mind; whether vaporizing flower or concentrates, its proprietary halogen technology guarantees precision to within a few degrees Fahrenheit, and heats the unit to any desired temperature in a matter of seconds. This lets users experiment easily to find the perfect balance of flavor and effect, then recreate a desired experience time after time. Crank up the unit to a temperature that intensifies desired terpenes and cannabinoids, or turn it down to a lower setting for a more relaxing experience.
To maximize the concentrate experience, the new Herbalizer Steamroller features a nine-inch hand-blown borosilicate glass design, complete with a cooling chamber and a carb, and allows complete control over accessing your concentrate’s vapor. Just as wine tastes better from glass than from plastic, the glass Steamroller is designed to channel more terpenes to the user than a plastic bag would, letting users “taste cannabis again for the first time.”
Curious how cannabis’s effects change between raw flower and concentrates? Differences in flavor and effect can be easily measured with the Herbalizer as you can load either into the device, enabling you two draw comparisons between the two. Try vaporizing the same strain of flower and concentrate through the Herbalizer at the exact same temperature to get a comparison of which compounds carried over from the flower to the wax, shatter, or oil.
For more information, please visit Herbalizer’s website.