If you’ve ever visited our dispensary, you know we’re big on cannabis concentrates. Since exploding onto the scene in the 1990s, they’ve become the hottest topic in the cannabis world, and it’s no secret why. Packing astonishing flavor and potency into a shelf-stable and portable form, concentrates bring the art of cannabis to a whole new level.
There are many forms and styles of concentrate, and we’ve written about some of them previously. Today, we’re going to introduce you to distillate, one of the simplest and most versatile kinds of cannabis extract. Let’s dive deep into the world of distillate!
Cannabis Distillate: Welcome to the World of Concentrates
Before we get too deep into distillate, let’s refresh ourselves on exactly what concentrates are. As the name suggests, at heart they’re merely a concentrated form of cannabis flower. While these days most concentrates have a liquid or semi-liquid consistency, the original cannabis concentrate—hashish—is a chalky, solid block made from the dried resinous trichomes of the cannabis flower.
These days, the world of cannabis concentrates more or less breaks down along a single fault line: Solventless extracts and solvent extracts. Solventless extracts are made through mechanical forces like pressure, temperature, and filtration to remove the “active ingredients”—the cannabinoids and terpenes we love so much—from the plant matter. These processes are labor-intensive, although they can result in some truly astonishing products in terms of their flavor and potency.
By comparison, solvent extracts are made using chemicals such as ethanol, butane or carbon dioxide to separate cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant material. And perhaps the most popular solvent extracts is the oil you find in vape cartridges, typically known as cannabis distillate.
Cannabis Distillate: A Game-Changer in Concentrates
Calling any single product a “game-changer” sets a pretty high bar, but we feel distillate lives up to the challenge. After all, distillate is what makes the wide range of simple and affordable vape pens and other devices possible: An easy to produce, shelf-stable and potent cannabis concentrate.
Distillate is made using a combination of extraction processes. One of them is CO2 extraction, in which supercooled carbon dioxide removes the cannabinoids and terpenes from dried and cured cannabis flower. CO2 extraction is considered one of the safest (and least harsh) ways to extract these precious materials, but the resulting fluid is typically too thick and viscous to be used in a vape pen. Different manufacturers have their own approaches, but most use a combination of steam, pressure, and heat to further refine the extract. At this point, it’s a thinner liquid ranging from clear to honey-colored. And when made with care, such an extract can reach purity levels of 99% or greater.
Depending on how it was produced, this distillate can include the original plant’s terpenes, or it can be blended with added terpenes to create completely new (and medically active) flavor profiles.