There are a lot of options out there when it comes to cannabis concentrates. It can be tough to understand all the differences between them, and even harder to decide which form of concentrate might be best for you.
Concentrates are all high potency in terms of cannabinoids like THC and CBD, compared with cannabis flower. But each concentrate has its own quirks and effects. If you'd like an overview, check out our full introduction to cannabis concentrate.
In this article, we'll focus on two different types of concentrates: CO2 oil and distillate. They're both concentrated weed in a liquid form, and both are oils. The most common way of consuming them is using a vaporizer, but you can also swallow capsules filled with either oil.
The Difference Between CO2 & Distillate Cartridges
The biggest difference between CO2 oil and distillates is what compounds are in the oil. CO2 oil will be closer in character to the original weed strain, in both flavor and effects.
Distillate is produced with a specific goal: isolating one or more cannabinoids from the original cannabis (usually THC and/or CBD). Distillate is usually more highly concentrated, so it's stronger and less is required to achieve the same effects. Distillates can have THC content as high as 90%.
Usually, distillates will remove the terpenes from the original cannabis, leaving it flavorless. This can make distillates a better fit for use in edibles, as the taste won't mess with recipes.
However, the terpenes can have beneficial effects, so missing them will change the quality and vibe of your session.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction
CO2 oil is produced by using carbon dioxide to extract the cannabinoids from the cannabis plant matter.
The carbon dioxide acts as a solvent, and after the process is finished, it's removed from the resulting concentrate. It can still be present in trace amounts.
Because CO2 is a common solvent (think decaf coffee), some people are more comfortable with CO2 extraction when compared with other solvent-based extraction methods. It has a longer history in consumer products.
Still, always be sure to buy cannabis oil products from licensed producers in legal markets. Cannabis concentrates from unregulated suppliers can potentially be dangerous.
Distillate is an even further concentrated oil that goes through an additional distillation process.
In fact, sometimes, distillate is even made from CO2 oil itself. Other times, it's produced from a different concentrate, usually butane hash oil or BHO.
Although the solvents used in BHO are removed from the resulting oil, some people have a personal preference to avoid solvents like butane, propane, and ethanol.
CO2 vs Distillate Cartridges: Which is Better?
Both CO2 oils and distillates can be good for various purposes. So you can think about what you're going for in a given concentrate session, and then try the oil that feels right for that moment. You can even have both in a single session.
If you're looking for an experience that matches the original cannabis strain well, both in terms of taste and effects, you'll want to go with CO2 oil. The carbon dioxide extraction process leaves the terpenes of the weed intact.
Terpenes are the compounds found in the marijuana plant that give it its taste and aroma. But they can also have varied properties that affect your experience, like relaxation, or alertness.
Cannabis concentrates and the entourage effect
Some people argue that to get the proper experience of cannabis, it's best to keep the cannabinoid profile of the original herb intact. The cannabinoids and terpenes should have the full spectrum of compounds found in the plant.
This is known as the theory of the entourage effect. The basic idea is that the true benefits of cannabis comes from all the cannabinoids and terpenes working together to produce their effects.
A cannabis concentrate that doesn't contain the full spectrum won't produce the entourage effect. So distillates are thought by some to provide an inferior experience.
It's not fully known whether the entourage effect exists and whether a concentrate is full spectrum matters. You can compare your experience with both types and see if it makes a difference for you.
Is distillate worse than carbon dioxide (CO2) cannabis oil?
Distillate has its advantages too though. For one thing, it packs a serious punch into a small package. This means less weight to carry around (although cannabis concentrates don't weigh much to begin with).
They can also be cheaper. If you're a company looking to produce edibles at a mass scale, it can be easier to have THC distillate as your source for the cannabis ingredient. Distillate has no flavor so it doesn't affect the recipe.
Some people report that distillates give them a worse experience than other concentrates. They can be quite potent, and for some people, maybe that much THC without other compounds to balance it out can be unpleasant.
However, you can also get balanced distillate that includes CBD in the mixture, and many users report a more pleasurable experience when it's not just pure THC. There are CBD-dominant and pure CBD distillates too, if you don't want the THC high.
How to Vaporize Cannabis Concentrate
CO2 and distillate are sold in cartridges known as 510 cartridges, or carts for short. Cartridges sometimes come in disposable vape pens, or you can purchase 510 carts and insert them into a concentrate vaporizer.
Concentrate vapor is much more potent than dry herb vapor, and it also has a lighter odor when used.
And as a reminder, make sure to only buy oil vapes or vape pens from trusted sources in regulated markets.
Vaping both dry herb and CO2 and distillate cartridges
Switching between vaping oil and dry herb can be a hassle. Dealing with two different devices is a pain, and just because you enjoy cannabis concentrate doesn't mean you don't also want dry herb a lot of the time.
The Furna vaporizer features a unique solution to this problem in a single device. Instead of having only one oven to vaporize herb, Furna has swappable ovens. You can switch one for another whenever you want.
Furna has a specialized 510 oil oven allowing you to easily switch to vaping CO2 oil or distillate whenever you want, even in the middle of a dry herb session.
It's incredibly convenient, and makes for an especially perfect combo when you're on the go, without the need to carry multiple vapes. Check out Furna's oil and dry herb vape to learn more.