28 July 2022

The Culture of Cannabis Concentrates

From early accounts of civilizations dabbling with hashish to modern-day extraction methods, the allure of concentrates continues to intrigue societies across the globe.

Now, early pioneers were unaware of the science behind cannabis concentrates, yet they realized the powerful effects of the mystical plant. From their initial discoveries, science and some crazy underground concoctions for extraction began unfolding methods to acquire the tiny molecules housed within the intriguing plant.

In the past few years, technology and advancements in cannabis research have taken the culture of cannabis concentrates to a whole new level. Consumer demand for highly psychoactive THC products became a driving force in the market as science learned to isolate the potent cannabinoid.

The separation of other influential cannabinoids such as CBD, CBG, and the terpenes, brought forth an array of consumers seeking relief from medical ailments such as sleep and food disorders, pain relief, and nausea, to name a few. As science and technology merge, the ongoing evolution of concentrates will continue driving this facet of the cannabis industry.

How the Culture of Concentrates Began

Ancient tribes and societies encountered the medicinal and euphoric properties of cannabis thousands of years ago. Early cultures in Persia, India, and China discovered that a sticky goo was excreted by compressing the glistening buds. This method of extraction established the first known concentrate – hashish. The intoxicating substance was used for both its medicinal benefits and religious ceremonies.

Centuries later, apothecaries began noticing the benefits of infusing cannabis into tinctures and salves. Learning from botanical extractions in the 1800s, it wasn’t long before creative druggists learned how to extract cannabis into snake-oil elixirs and soothing topicals.

These medications were mainstream in early pharmacopeia practices. In the 1940s, curious scientists first learned about solvent-based marijuana extractions through vaporization. In fact, declassified CIA reports from the United States detail how cannabis concentrates were used in military interrogation practices after World War II, even though marijuana was strictly forbidden.

A New Revolution in the Concentrate Culture

The rebellious and curious cannabis culture forged onward, though, despite government prohibition. Marijuana supporters became an underground connection as consumers craved the sought-after euphoric highs. Early dab rigs consisted of heating hash oil on a hot knife while inhaling the smoke.

In the 1970s, solvent-based extractions gained popularity as cannabis enthusiasts experimented with alcohol, chloroform, ethanol, petroleum, ether, and isopropanol. Initial attempts were admirable, but the science had yet to catch up.

Within a couple of decades, though, the internet arrived and became an instant source of communication in the cannabis culture. As forums and chat rooms allowed fellow cannabis connoisseurs a chance to exchange ideas, a new revolution began.

Small Steps Towards an Evolving Culture

In 1999, an article published on the bold Erowid website divulged a means of extraction using butane, known as ‘Open Blasting.’ Butane Hash Oil (BHO) became a huge success, unfortunately at the cost of more than one garage set-up being blown to smithereens.

However, this discovery led to more secure extraction methods, which included closed-loop systems containing flammable hydrocarbon solvents. Other enthusiasts discovered Bubble Hash methods using filtration nets in ice-cold water to preserve the precious terpenes which provide flavor and aroma to favorite strains.

By the early 2000s, cannabis concentrates began taking on diverse forms. Budder and waxes became familiar terms in marijuana circles as curious extractors learned how to tweak their processes to produce the thicker substances. These highly infused THC products became a hit in 2010 when they first appeared in the US Cannabis Cup competition.

The problem was – marijuana consumers had yet to figure out a practical means of smoking the powerful substances. The hot knife scheme sufficed initially as a primitive method. But as concentrates came into the limelight, crafty connoisseurs soon found better avenues for consumption.

The trick was finding something that held the sticky material without clogging up the inhalation chamber. As the early ‘Dab’ culture soon learned, high heat applied to a small plate or nail attached to a water bong created an intensely powerful vapor to inhale.

These gadgets were soon refined into more sophisticated Dab Rigs as the popularity of this new cannabis culture exploded. A new age for connoisseurs looking for the extreme high began with the advent of new extraction processes.

The Extraction Evolution

Cannabis concentrates took a strong foothold when the industry began learning more about extraction procedures. Dry extraction of the precious trichomes was commonly practiced in the early days through solventless dry sifting kief and rosin pressing utilizing heat.

But once science began to catch up, new methods started popping up to extract the cannabinoids housed inside the bulbous trichomes. The dawn of solvent-based extractions became refined in closed-loop systems utilizing vacuum filtration to remove the harsh hydrocarbons.

The challenge was the terpenes. They evaporate like the dew in the morning when the sun hits, unable to withstand hot temperatures. THC-A, CBD-A, and other cannabinoid acids decarboxylate under higher temperatures, but sensitive terpenes responsible for the flavor and aroma of a particular strain erupt under extreme heat and pressure.

While CO₂ extraction procedures started with botanicals dating back to the 1980s, the method became commonplace in the cannabis industry by 2018. This clean procedure became the new age of extracting the delicate cannabinoids and terpenes under low supercritical temperatures.

Other innovative live resin extraction processes became popular in the past decade by flash-freezing cannabis plant material immediately after harvest. These methods ensure the integrity of both cannabinoids and terpenes held within a plant’s genetic make-up. Winterization and distillation practices soon gained popularity to isolate the valuable compounds as science delved into the melting points of individual cannabinoids.

The Rise of the Concentrate Culture

The allure of capturing the psychoactive effects of THC through refined concentrates escalated in the recreational sector of the cannabis community. Advancements in dab rig designs and the introduction of vape pens for cannabis consumption offered a user-friendly experience as the culture shifted to the highly intoxicating concentrates.

The movement even created a holiday on July 7 in 2011, to bring awareness to the dab community. Like the 420-marijuana holiday, concentrate industry peers declared 710, which spells OIL upside down, the official cannabis concentrate holiday.

Additionally, with the advent of legalization, it wasn’t long before the medical industry began discovering the benefits of CBD, CBG, and other minor cannabinoids. Isolating these benefactors into edibles, oils, and tinctures revealed a new direction for the medicinal cannabis industry.

Walking into a recreational marijuana dispensary in the United States in 2021 is much different than a few years back. When legalization began in some states in the US in 2012 for recreational use, the infant industry was only beginning to unfold.

At that time, local dispensaries confined to town and county ordinances were typically small shops, showcasing their products with astute discretion. The cannabis industry rolled through growing pains in the first few years, but it didn’t take long for savvy business owners to realize the potential.

When advanced extraction procedures opened doors for unique forms of concentrates, the demand for products skyrocketed. Cannabis consumer options now include names like shatter, crumble, and sauce. Budder or badder, sugar, and crystalline are other common products found in many cannabis dispensaries.

In most establishments, jars filled with glistening buds still line shelves behind stations where budtenders happily wait on customers. However, other cabinets and display areas showcase brightly colored packages of different types of concentrates. As the cannabis industry continues to evolve, one thing is for sure – the concentrate community will soundly support the rising movement.

The Future of Concentrates

As technological innovations continue to unfold in cannabis cultivation practices and extraction procedures, the culture surrounding concentrates is poised to expand significantly in the future. Add to that the advancements in medical research surrounding the mystical plant, it appears there is nowhere to go but up for this transitioning sector of the industry.

Marijuana Grow Shop is proud to be a part of this exciting venture into the future as we offer the finest cannabis seeds available from world-class geneticists and breeders. Check out marijuanagrow.shop today to see what the future holds for your next cannabis-growing experience.

Post author
Charle Thibodeau
Charle’ Thibodeau is a freelance writer with almost a decade´s experience, specializing in cannabis content for the past two years. A strong motivation to educate, inform, and promote the culture surrounding this miraculous plant is her earnest mission.
See more from Charle Thibodeau

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