I’m not even a whole sentence into my rambling, and I’m already having regrets about taking on this topic. That’s because in order to discuss cannabis concentrates with a general audience, even heads as current as typical Dig readers, there is always some kind of update in order. It’s a necessary teaching moment, as I’ve personally inhaled and enjoyed extracts for a decade, and I still get confused by many of the names and devices involved. Due to the constantly changing trends and terms, a refresher is always in order, so before I go any further…
Solvent-based extracts are born when organic or chemical (butane, ethanol, perhaps the optimal CO2, which many argue is the cleanest of the many options) solvents are used to dissolve trichomes, in the process breaking the plant away from the terpenes and cannabinoids (aka the good stuff). There’s also solventless extraction, most methods for which involve water, like hash and rosin, but I’m not here to talk about those. I think people realize those are still legal, safe, and in the clear under Mass Gov. Charlie Baker’s four-month vape ban, which hit a snag this week but remains in place for the time being.
As for the kind of goods I am here to advocate for, a product category often relegated to a single small shelf in the display at your favorite dispensary, I’m thrilled to report that they are still clear for takeoff. Not to be confused with sketchy oil cartridges that have caused so much commotion these past few weeks, I’m talking about the umbrella group best known as “dabs.” Thanks to solvent-based extraction ingenuity and more than a decade of invention at this juncture (following more than a century of trial and error that inspired our current technological spoils), we’re blessed with brilliant treats like wax and shatter. I could author an encyclopedia about the many labels and subcategories of extractions, but in the interest of being brief I’ll leave it at some quick descriptions of the most popular macro partitions.
Wax, which is typically extracted using butane, often resembles penuche fudge, the kind that you would buy on a boardwalk, and has a similar consistency. It’s mighty potent like its cousin shatter, which looks like a paper-thin sheet of holey Swiss cheese candy when cooled in a special fashion. It’s also the stickiest of all these extracts, so proceed with extra caution as you brace for extra coughin’. If you’re just starting out with dabs, I recommend some budder; extracted via CO2 or butane but tweaked in a manner that yields a perfectly clean and smooth substance with texture like the soft but crispy cookie center of a Twix bar. Once you’re comfortable with those, you’ll want to check out goodies only found in the gourmet aisle like diamonds, live resin, and sauce, oh my!
All of the above are splendid. For those who have yet to dab, please note that you don’t have to employ a pricey and sophisticated glass contraption with a blowtorch, like you may have seen one of those professional dab kids (or grandmothers) doing on Instagram. These days, as little as $20 can get you a discreet dab pen that can be easily and repeatedly loaded. It’s not for everyone—blunt smokers, I see you, and I know you’ll never switch. But between the convenience and lasting effect of a good dab hit, it’s only feasible that these extractions and devices are poised to gain popularity in the wake of so much vape hate.
I’m not always such a fan of bandwagons, but I’ll take one over a banned wagon any day.