Cannabis concentrates, oils, and extracts offer many unique benefits that you won’t find smoking flower. From easy, precise dosing to clean and refined flavors, concentrates focus on the ingredients in cannabis that matter most. In this 4-part series, you’ll learn the fundamentals of concentrates, explore product options, discover how extracts are made, and more.
The world of cannabis concentrates can seem vast and overwhelming, but don’t let that intimidate you: Many products out there are perfect for beginner consumers such as yourself. In this second part of the series, we’ll introduce you to some of the most popular products for concentrate novices.
Looking for symptom relief without the buzz? We’ll get into that, too.
Once you’ve learned which concentrates are easiest to use and dose, you’re likely to keep one of these in your steady stash rotation—because who doesn’t love a smoke-free alternative?
Jump to section:
- Dosing, potency, and effects
- CBD or hemp oil
- Vape oil
- Rick Simpson oil (RSO)
- Ingestible oil capsules
Find the right dose, potency, and effects
A concentrate can provide a euphoric high, gentle relaxation, or non-intoxicating symptom relief—it all depends on its ingredients.
- For a potent and euphoric high, look for an oil high in THC.
- For a balanced and gentle high, try an extract with an equal mix of THC and CBD.
- For therapeutic relief without the high, you’ll want a high-CBD, low-THC product.
If using a high-THC product, remember to dose modestly until you’ve dialed in that perfect dose. Remember that even tiny doses—or microdoses—may be all you need to achieve your desired effect such as anxiety relief, focus, or creativity.
With CBD products, getting too high may be a non-issue, but the dosage is still important. Some consumers, depending on their desired effect or medical condition, may require very high doses of CBD while others may benefit from lower doses.
CBD oil and hemp oil
CBD oil is a cannabis concentrate abundant in the non-intoxicating compound cannabidiol (that’s the full name for CBD). Offering benefits without the smoke and high, consumers commonly reach for CBD oil when seeking relief from stress, anxiety, pain, inflammation, or another condition that may potentially be treated by CBD.
Is CBD oil the same thing as hemp oil? Not always. Hemp produces CBD and, as such, you can create a CBD oil from it. But cannabis that has been selectively bred to contain higher levels of CBD alongside a spectrum of different beneficial compounds is often regarded as more effective. While hemp oil is widely advertised online, cannabis-derived CBD is only available at your local cannabis shop as these products are subject to different regulations.
Always do your research to ensure that the CBD/hemp oil you’re purchasing is clean and produced by a reputable source.
Note that CBD oil is a broad term that may refer to a number of different products. It can come in the form of a tincture, ingestible RSO liquid, capsules, topicals, and much more. For more information on which form is right for you, keep reading below or check out Leafly’s guide to popular CBD products.
Look closely at your cannabis flower and you’ll see a dusting of crystal powder over every nook and cranny of the bud. This is called kief, and it’s created by the plant’s resin glands (called trichomes). Packed inside these tiny, sticky crystals is every reason we consume cannabis: THC, CBD, terpenes, and all the other compounds that harmonize to produce a strain’s effect.
Throughout history, kief has been pressed into hash and smoked for a more potent high. You can collect kief in your grinder and press your own hash, or sprinkle it on top of a bowl for added potency.
One of the best starter items for the cannabis-curious is a portable pre-filled vape pen—a simple setup that requires just two things: a battery and an oil cartridge. Easy to use and dose, vaporizer pens deliver an adjustable dose of vapor with just the click of a button (simpler yet, some simply activate when it senses you inhaling).
Pre-filled oil cartridges come in a variety of different strains, flavors, and potencies, so you can choose virtually any experience you’re in the mood for. Choose a CBD-rich cartridge for a low-key relaxed experience sans dizzying euphoria. Or find your favorite strain for that perfectly dialed-in high.
The most common concentrate used in these vape cartridges is CO2 oil, derived through industrial botanical extractors that use pressure and carbon dioxide to separate isolate cannabinoids and other essential compounds. You can learn more about CO2 oil in part 3 of this series.
Rick Simpson oil (RSO)
In 2003, a man named Rick Simpson treated his skin cancer using a homemade cannabis remedy. By soaking the cannabis in pure naphtha or isopropyl alcohol, the therapeutic compounds are drawn out of the plant, leaving behind a dark liquid after the solvent fully evaporates.
Also known as Phoenix Tears, Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) can be applied directly to the skin or orally ingested. Many brands and producers now create their own renditions of RSO, some of which are high in THC while others contain only non-intoxicating compounds like CBD.
It doesn’t offer much in the way of flavor, but RSO is a great choice for medical patients seeking straightforward, smoke-free relief of symptoms.
Up until prohibition in 1937, tinctures were the most common form of cannabis medicine in the United States. A tincture is a liquid concentrate procured through alcohol extraction, which pulls out many of the plant’s beneficial cannabinoids.
Apply your tincture directly under the tongue and hold it there for 15-20 seconds. Effects typically kick in after 20-30 minutes, but if using a high-THC tincture, it doesn’t hurt to wait a little longer before dosing again.
Tinctures are available in a variety of flavors and potencies, whether you’re seeking a fast-acting THC high or quick relief with CBD.
Ingestible oil capsules
With precisely defined dosages, ingestible cannabis oil capsules or pills allow you to consume cannabis as you would any herbal supplement. Filled with CBD, THC, or a combination of various cannabinoids, capsules can offer a predictable experience by providing specific measurements of whichever compound appeals to you. Note: Always make sure the product you buy is lab tested to ensure the advertised dose is accurate.
Ideally, choose a low-dose capsule (5 mg of cannabinoids) and gradually increase until you’ve identified the perfect dose for you. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours for a capsule’s effects to be fully felt, so practice patience before increasing your dose.
With a history stretching back thousands of years, the tradition of hash (or hashish) remains alive and well. Traditional methods of hashmaking involve packing the plant’s resin to create compressed, smokable chunks that typically sport THC contents between 40-60%. For comparison, cannabis flowers generally express 15-25% THC.
Technological advancements have largely changed how hash is produced today. More efficient methods involving sieves, ice water, and mechanical pressure now provide us with exceptional quality hash (which you can learn more about in part 3 of this series).