Even if you’re not paying close attention to the rapidly changing cannabis industry, it’s hard not to notice that concentrates are having a moment. If you’ve stepped foot in a medical cannabis dispensary lately, you’ve probably noticed more and more cannabis concentrates lining the locked glass cases. Between crumble, wax, shatter, tinctures, BHO, and everything else mentioned on this list, the extract market alone is expected to reach $42.89 billion by 2030!
So, do concentrates have benefits over flower? It ultimately depends on what you’re looking for, but there are a few notable differences between the two. First, let’s discuss what “counts” as a concentrate.
Flower = flower; concentrates = many things
Although there are lots of unique strains of cannabis flower, all cannabis flower is essentially the same -- the buds of cannabis plants that have been grown to have specific terpene and cannabinoid profiles, but at the end of the day are just that: cannabis buds. With cannabis concentrates, the term “concentrate” is the general term used to describe a category of cannabis products (extracts). This category includes a variety of products, ranging from shatter and butter to sauce and diamonds.
Each concentrate product is made in a specific way, will interact with your body in a specific way and, oftentimes, will need to be consumed in a specific way. If concentrates sound complex, it’s because they are. But don’t worry, our patient coordinators will answer any questions you have about concentrates. For now, read on to learn more about some of the unique benefits concentrates have over flower.
Benefit 1: More potent (generally speaking)
The potency of concentrates is a benefit or a disadvantage, depending on who you ask. If you prefer to have more mellow experience after taking your medication, concentrates ARE NOT for you. The potency of flower tends to fall between 10-25% THC, while a concentrate typically falls between 60-80%, although it’s not uncommon to see potency hovering around 90% for some extracts! This means that cannabis concentrates will have a more dramatic effect on your body and mind than flower, which can be beneficial for patients looking for a more effective medicinal response from their medication.
Since we’re on the subject, it’s important to note that some extraction methods have their own issues regarding what remains behind in the end product. Always purchase lab-tested products from a reputable dispensary like CULTA, otherwise you risk consuming solvents and other contaminants.
Benefit 2: No plant matter
Although heating a dab on a nail produces a white inhalable vapor, concentrates are regarded as a “smoke-free” way to consume cannabis -- especially when compared to flower. Do you ever notice how when you smoke flower a dark tar-like substance builds up in the smoking device over time? This is because when you smoke flower you’re also smoking organic plant material. The extraction process, on the other hand, extracts the essential elements of a cannabis plant while leaving the rest behind. If you prefer to avoid smoking as a consumption method, concentrates may be a good option for you.
Benefit 3: Can be more discreet
While you can certainly consume cannabis flower discreetly, generally speaking, cannabis concentrates are a much more discreet way to take your medication. Concentrates are available in many forms, and some of the most discreet include sublingual (drops placed under the tongue) and ingestion (pills, capsules, beverages, gummies, or other food products.) Of course, patients can also consume extracts in other ways, including dabbing and vaporizing, but these methods won’t be as discreet as the above.
Benefit 4: Less intense smell & taste
Cannabis flower has a very distinct flavor and aroma, which is due to terpenes. Since many extraction processes use heat to remove cannabinoids from the plant, and terpenes are sensitive to heat, terpenes aren’t often well represented in extracts. If you’re especially sensitive to scents and tastes, you may want to consider using cannabis in concentrate form. It’s worth noting that some extract processes, like those used to create live resin, don’t use heat and will maintain much of the same flavor and scent as the plant matter it started off with.
Benefit 5: Can be more cost-effective
Finally, concentrates are often touted by the cannabis community as a more cost-effective option than cannabis flower, but is it true? Generally speaking, yes, with some caveats. Ultimately, it depends on a variety of factors, including consumption method, but if you dab at low temperatures and store your extracts properly you can save some money in the long run. Most of the cost savings come from the potency of extracts and how much THC is lost during smoking flower vs dabbing extracts. For example, smoking flower can burn away 60-63% of THC, while dabbing typically results in about a 20% loss.
Purchase concentrates from the experts
All cannabis products should be purchased from a licensed dispensary, but especially cannabis extracts. When purchased illegally on the “black market,” cannabis extracts can contain high levels of unhealthy contaminants and solvents. CULTA’s extraction team is highly specialized in the art (and science!) of extraction, and all our products go through third-party testing to ensure quality and safety.
For more information about our selection of extracts, please visit our Baltimore dispensary.