General InformationMedical Marijuana

Cannabis Concentrates – A Guide for Beginners

By January 7, 2018 January 3rd, 2019 No Comments

Using cannabis concentrates for the first time can be confusing. Explanations on how to use them isn’t always offered. This guide will help you enjoy concentrates without injuring yourself or using too much. Cannabis concentrates are very different from cannabis flower – especially where potency is concerned.

Flower vs Concentrates

Cannabis flower has varying potencies, as do concentrates. Flower is the most natural form of cannabis available. It’s the one sure way to achieve the entourage effect. The entourage effect is whole plant medicine where all of the cannabinoids and terpenes of a strain work together in the body.

In terms of concentrates, these are typically more potent as the extracted portions of the plant are reduced to thick, gooey forms of the liquid extraction. Not all concentrates are full spectrum. Full spectrum refers to use of the entire plant (whole plant medicine again). Isolate concentrates only extract the THC and may not provide much medicinal benefit to your body.

Concentrates can test in the 90-percent or higher range in terms of THC concentration. This is far stronger than flower, so it is important to start very, very small in terms of dose of concentrates.

The Effects

The effects produced from concentrates (dabs) are often much stronger than what you’d feel after using flower, vape or other types of cannabis products. It’s a different kind of high. Depending on the concentrate and strain it’s derived from, the effects you experience will vary but will be more intense. Every cannabis strain has a unique profile producing different effects due to the varying cannabinoids and terpenes of the strain.

While the effects will be more intense after dabbing, they’re also likely to last longer than what you’d experience from flower. Some cannabis strain effects last for an hour to two hours if you’re just using flower. With concentrates, a miniscule amount can produce effects for two hours or more.

It is important to do all of your errands and running around before you dab. Driving shortly after dabbing is not recommended. You should wait until the effects have completely worn off before you drive, use knives or participate in any activity that requires your full attention. It can be a little hard to concentrate after using some concentrates depending on the strain that you choose.

Dab rig

Strain Specific Concentrates vs General Classifications

There are a lot of concentrates available in legal cannabis markets that are strain specific. You also have manufacturers that just generally categorize concentrates under sativa, indica, hybrid or CBD. It’s really better to choose a strain specific concentrate. You at least have the ability to do some research and review strain information to ensure that the product will help the symptoms or conditions you need it to.

The concentrates that aren’t strain-specific may not produce effects that you desire. The medicinal benefit may not be what you need it to be. This also often indicates that some elements of the original strain have been stripped through the extraction process. If cannabis-based or plant-based terpenes are not added back to these formulas, you may only feel a recreational buzz and not medicinal relief.

Determining an Ideal Potency

If it’s your first time using concentrates and a dab rig, you may want to start with a lower-potency product. Some cannabis concentrates test lower – in the 50-percent to 60-percent range. This helps you get a feel for what the increased potency feels like without it being too much.

You’ll want to use an extremely small amount to start with – such as an amount the size of the tip of a pen or pencil. While it definitely doesn’t look like a lot, as previously mentioned, concentrates are a lot stronger than flower. After the dab, wait at least 10 to 15 minutes to allow the cannabinoids to produce their full effects in your body. If it’s not enough relief for you, try a second dab of the same size.

This is a dose for seasoned dabbers

Microdosing lower potency concentrates helps you determine what the ideal potency range for your body is. Microdosing also helps you prevent building up a high tolerance and allows you to remain productive.

How to Use a Dab Rig

Your first look at a dab rig might leave you feeling a little intimidated. It looks like a bong, but there’s no bowl to fill. Instead, you have a dab nail and a protective globe where a typical bowl stem would go. The dab nail is where you place your concentrate. You’ll need a dabber to apply the concentrate to the nail. Glass dabbers tend to work better as they respond to heat better.

Dab rig setup

To prepare your rig, put a little water in the bottom like you would a bong. Make sure the water level does not reach the section that leads to the dab nail. If the water level is too high, the mere pressure of your inhale may cause the water to bubble up at the nail, which can lead to burns.

Once the water level is appropriate, remove the globe protector and set it to the side but keep it within reach. Next, place a tiny amount of concentrate on your dabber and set it aside not touching anything (it will stick to whatever touches it). After that, start heating your dab nail with a small blowtorch.

The nail should glow bright red, then you put the globe protector back over the nail quickly. While still red, touch the dabber to the nail and inhale.

Start with a small inhale first – concentrates tend to produce a lot of vapor and it may be too much to take in at once. Cap the globe and mouthpiece to keep any extra vapor inside the rig. Do not touch the globe protector with your hands, use a carb capper or other heat-safe item to cover it so you don’t burn yourself.

Closing Thoughts

Using cannabis concentrates can be a very positive experience if you start out slowly. Taking in too much or becoming too medicated with your first experience might turn you off to concentrates altogether. There are different types of concentrates (shatter, budder, sugar wax, live resin and crumble) so feel free to try all of the different types to determine which you prefer. Budder is harder to work with as it’s a softer consistency than other concentrates – it’s best to refrigerate budder so you can work with it easier. We hope you enjoy your first experiences with concentrates.

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