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The CULTA Blog

What is Cannabis Distillate?

cannabis distillate

If you’ve been browsing our blogs, you’ve likely come across the term “cannabis distillate.” It may sound like a complex term, but it’s actually quite easy to understand. Cannabis distillate is a highly concentrated, purified form of THC. It usually resembles a thick, viscous oil that’s gold or amber in color. It’s a popular choice for use in vaporizer products and is the most common ingredient in vape cartridges. 

Among patients who use medicinal cannabis, distillates offer many benefits. Per the MCA, using cannabis products, including cannabis distillate, can help treat glaucoma, severe or chronic pain, PTSD, seizures, and nausea. Often, patients using medicinal cannabis distillate experience relief where traditional medicine was not effective. 

If you’re interested in learning more about cannabis distillate, here are some important facts to help you become more informed. 

How cannabis distillate is made

Like all cannabis products, distillate is made from the cannabis plant. However, the process of creating a distillate is very different from preparing cannabis flower. It’s a multi-step process that’s similar to distilling hard alcohol and requires very specific equipment and expert knowledge. 

First, oil is extracted from a part of the cannabis plant known as a trichome. Next, the oil is cooled down in a process called winterization, which allows impure compounds to be extracted and filtered out. Then, the oil is decarboxylated to activate the THC and CBD. Lastly, it’s boiled until it vaporizes, and the vapors are recollected as the final distillate product.

Cannabis distillate vs. other forms of cannabis 

Why do people prefer cannabis distillate? There are several reasons why patients might prefer to use distillates versus flower. 

1. Potency

Depending on the strain used in production, cannabis distillates are almost 100% pure THC or CBD. That’s because the process used to create cannabis distillate removes all nonessential chemical compounds, as well as excess plant material. A small amount of cannabis distillate in a vape pen will often deliver the same effects, or even stronger effects, as a much larger quantity of flower. In other words, it’s a more potent product that costs as much as, or less, than some other cannabis products.

2. No odor

Cannabis distillate is free from terpenes, which are the plant compounds responsible for the smell of cannabis. Unless the distillate has been flavored, the vapors are almost odorless. This makes distillate a great option for patients who are sensitive to odor or prefer to be discreet about their cannabis usage.

3. Versatility

Cannabis distillate is highly versatile. Although vaping is the most common way to use cannabis distillate, it can be added to food or beverages to make your own edibles. Because there are no terpenes, cannabis distillate won’t affect the flavor of your recipe. Distillate can also be consumed sublinguilly. However, it’s important to remember that distillate is highly potent -- a little goes a long way! Please speak with a qualified medical professional before consuming cannabis distillate sublingually. 

4. Less Harsh

Because most cannabis distillate is vaporized, there’s no harsh smoke. This is an excellent option for patients who have sensitive lungs or throat issues that make smoking difficult.

How to use cannabis distillate

There are several ways to use cannabis distillate. You can add it to your own dab rig, e-nail, or vape pen, or purchase a vape pen with a pre-loaded distillate cartridge. Just keep in mind that the oil may require a higher temperature to vaporize, so check your device’s settings and user manual.

Additionally, some patients add distillate to other cannabis products such as flower. This can increase the potency of the product and help stretch the supply. For example, some people add a drop of distillate to their pipe, or put some distillate into a rolling paper before adding ground flower.

Like cannabutter and oil, distillate also pairs well with food and beverages. It can be used in almost any recipe, or added to a single individual portion. Some patients also use cannabis distillate as a sublingual. A drop under the tongue will be absorbed quickly and provide a strong, long-lasting effect. Distillates can be used topically as well, by applying directly to the skin. 

Choosing the right cannabis distillate

If you’re new to cannabis distillate, make sure you choose the right product for your needs and experience level. The budtender at your local dispensary can help you make a decision. Beginners should keep in mind that distillate is likely much stronger than other forms of cannabis they are used to. Start small until you know what to expect.

Like all cannabis, distillate is available in a wide variety of strains. You can choose from indica, sativa, or hybrid distillate. Some cannabis distillates also have a higher CBD content. This is a great option for patients who prefer to feel fewer psychoactive effects.

When choosing cannabis distillate, also consider your preferred method of cannabis consumption. What kind of smoking or vaporizing device do you own? You may also wish to invest in a new vape pen to get the most out of your distillate. To learn more about all the different ways you can consume cannabis, check out how you can use cannabis without smoking.