Tips & Tricks To Maximize Your Concentrate Experience

“There’s a reason for it: you have a lot of terps in there, and you’re generally not using a really high temperature.”

We first met Real Isolates VP and Co-Founder Andy Westerkamp and his team at a cannabis event last year where they were gathering expired roaches from the crowd. It was all for research they do using their patented “novel method used to extract cannabinoids and other compounds from cannabis smoke,” and it was pretty freaking eye-opening.

We recently visited their lab in Beverly to follow up on their upcoming partnerships with product manufacturers as well as their Smokenol “CBD forward cannabis smoke extract derived from hemp” sold under their Profound Naturals brand. That video is coming soon, but in the meantime we excerpted the following slice from our latest chat with Westerkamp for OIL Day.

The Real Isolates crew has a lot of useful data and info around extracts; Westerkamp even considers taking his “dab rig and cranking it to about a thousand degrees” years ago to be one of the company’s first true experiments. They transformed CBD isolate into 18 distinctive cannabinoid compounds in that early trial, and never looked back.

For the purposes of this exercise, we asked Westerkamp to share some of his knowledge which is useful to your average dabber. The following was edited down from our conversation for clarity … 

The case for melting concentrates at lower temperatures … 

Some people like to do low-temp dabs, some people say they’re better than high-temp dabs, while other people like to do cold starts now … there are a lot of different preferences.

The temperature and time and pressure involved with doing a dab or vaporizing or smoking does matter. The transformation is different, so at a lower temperature you will have less transformation, meaning that if you put your favorite rosin or whatever it is that you’re smoking [at a low temp] you are going to maintain more of the cannabinoid profile and the terpene profile that’s in the starting material. 

The case for melting concentrates at higher temperatures … 

At a higher temp you are going to transform more, so if you are using temperatures in excess of say 800 degrees Fahrenheit—a vape pen for example burns at about 400 or 500 degrees—that’s going to be significantly hotter. You’re going to have more transformation, the terps are going to present a little differently, and the actual cannabinoid profile will be different. For example, it will probably have a lot more CBN and THC derivatives at a higher temperature than if it were burned at a lower temperature.

What we found in our Roaches for Research project was that a lot of the heavier terpenes are staying [at higher temps], but the lighter terpenes are disappearing. So limonene and that kind of stuff is not going to be there at a higher temperature but for instance Beta-caryophyllene is not really going to burn off at all in 400 or 500 degrees.

Westerkamp breaks down basic dab and extract science for us at the Real Isolates lab in Beverly

Comparatively speaking … 

The ember on a joint burns at about 900 degrees, so it’s pretty hot, especially when you’re pulling on it. So at that temperature you’re going to have a significant transformation, but behind the ember you’re getting hot air that’s less and less hot. … Then, as the ember burns down, the stuff that was transformed is going to get transformed again with that hot temperature, so it’s accumulating a lot more down toward the tip while the other stuff is already being inhaled.

How vape carts work best … 

If you’re using a regular cart or a disposable, there’s no real way for you to control the temperature [on most devices, though not all]. Some of these new ones where you’re just pulling and not heating it first will probably retain more terps because they generally burn a lower temperature. But as soon as you start turning up the temperature on the heated ones that you have to turn on and get to pick your gauge, then you can dial in what you want, but the first lowest setting is probably going to retain the most terps.

These carts taste really good, a lot of them do anyway, and there’s a reason for it: you have a lot of terps in there, and you’re generally not using a really high temperature.

Resin vs. rosin vs. the rest … 

With rosin, you just get such a diverse profile in there and also it’s delicious. I dab that at a lower temperature for sure. I do like to retain those terpenes, but I also like to just drizzle my joints with that stuff as well so you can get a whole variety of chemical compounds but also it’s the joint smoking experience which is my favorite.