Cannabis extract has been getting a lot of attention in the commercial market lately, and rightly so. They’re easier to dose than raw bud or flower. They offer a specified concentration of CBD and/or THC per hit. Additionally, they contain more CBD and THC by weight, resulting in a more intense experience from an extract.

To choose the right cannabis extract, you need to understand these differences:

  • How they’re made
  • What they’re made from
  • What they contain

THC vs CBD Content

Your experience with cannabis extract will depend largely on the levels of CBD and THC in the product you choose. Both cannabinoids have therapeutic effects, but THC gets you high while CBD doesn’t.

  • If you want an intense high, look for an extract high in THC
  • If you want a gentler high along with therapeutic effects, look for a balance of THC and CBD
  • For therapeutic effects without the high, choose a high-CBD product with minimal to no THC

Expect some cannabis extracts to have extremely high concentrations of THC, up to 90% in some cases.

How Cannabis Extract is Made

Mechanically, all cannabis extraction methods are the same. They involve immersing cannabis in a solvent, which draws out the cannabinoid compounds and separates those compounds from the plant matter. The plant material then gets separated out and the manufacturer removes the solvent, leaving just the concentrated THC and CBD along with the natural terpene chemicals that enhance the product’s effects.

Within this basic framework, there are many different specific extraction methods, which differ primarily based on the type of solvent involved. Some of the most popular solvents include butane, propane, ethanol, and CO2.

cannabis extract uses

Which Solvent?

Some people prefer CO2 extracts because carbon dioxide is proven safe. The food industry has been using it for years, counting on it for everything from decaffeinating coffee to extracting pesticides from crops.

People also consider ethanol to be one of the safer methods of extraction, in that there’s no risk of residual chemical toxicity in the final product. Butane and propane produce famously flavorful and strong extracts at a lower cost, but manufacturers have to be certain that the toxic solvent has been completely removed from the final product.

Fresh vs Cured Flowers

Another difference among different types of extracts is whether the flowers used in the extraction process are fresh or cured. Most extracts, including butane and propane hash oils, are made with cured and dried flowers.

Live resin, a type of extract that has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years, is made with fresh flowers that are frozen before processing. The resulting extract keeps more of the terpene profile of the original plant. The flavor and aroma tend to be more robust, and the therapeutic and psychoactive effects are more noticeable.

Third-Party Testing

It’s important to be sure that your cannabis extract comes from a respected manufacturer, particularly if the product is made with a toxic solvent like butane. Make sure that the manufacturer uses third-party testing and always buy from a licensed dispensary.

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