There are tons of cannabis concentrates on the market today, and it can be tough to keep them all straight. The best way to sort them in your mind is by categorizing them according to their extraction methods.
What's an extraction method? Well, to produce cannabis concentrate, the cannabis plant material has to go through an extraction process to separate out the parts of the herb that produce effects.
Namely, you're looking to grab just the cannabinoid-rich trichomes and leave behind everything else. This is where all the THC, CBD, and terpenes in the plant are found.
There are various extraction methods out there, some of which use chemical compounds, and others which don't. Chemical cannabis extraction processes use chemical solvents to separate out the cannabinoids, and in different methods, different chemicals are used.
There are advantages and disadvantages to using one compound over another. Butane and carbon dioxide (CO2) are two of the most popular compounds used in creating cannabis extracts. Whether CO2 oil is better than distillate is a common debate among concentrate fans.
So let's take a deeper look at the CO2 extraction process. We'll see how it works, and why some people might prefer CO2 oils over other extraction methods.
What Is CO2 Oil?
Co2 oil is sometimes also known as CO2 cannabis oil, or CO2 hash oil. You'll find it in any cannabis concentrates that use CO2 in the extraction process, and these concentrates can take different forms.
For example, a common way to consume CO2 oil is vaping cartridges, either in a vape pen or an oil concentrate-compatible vaporizer. CO2 oil can also be used to make wax, a thicker concentrate, that you'd be likelier to use in a dab rig or concentrate vape.
Shatter, a harder, glass-like concentrate, can also be made from CO2 oil. In a nutshell, if a concentrate product is labeled as "CO2", that means that the original process where the cannabinoids were extracted from the cannabis was a carbon dioxide extraction.
All the other details about form and consistency of the final product have to do with heat and pressure settings during the extraction process, or after the process is over.
The carbon dioxide extraction method
Making cannabis concentrates using carbon dioxide involves using what's called supercritical CO2. CO2 gas is compressed beyond a supercritical point, which converts it into a supercritical fluid. This liquid form of CO2 is then used to separate the cannabinoids from the cannabis.
Supercritical fluids can act as both a liquid and a gas, so it can move through solid matter like a gas, but can still dissolve things like a liquid. Using different pressures will create different results, and allow the separation of different cannabinoids to create a specific final product.
Meaning you can end up with a concentrate that is higher in specific compounds like THC or CBD, or terpenes. Supercritical carbon dioxide extraction is known for being able to achieve higher levels of terpenes than other methods.
Once the cannabis extraction is done, the pressure is dropped and the CO2 evaporates. The resulting cannabis oil will have no remaining CO2 left in it.
Is CO2 Extraction Better?
Many cannabis enthusiasts claim that CO2 extraction-based concentrates are healthier. They also argue that they have more of an entourage effect than extraction methods that use different solvents.
The basic idea here is that carbon dioxide is a safer solvent compared with other compounds that can be used. Butane is probably the most common solvent that CO2 is compared with, but propane and ethanol are also chemicals that can be used.
Regardless, all of these solvents are removed from the final product, and the weed concentrate shouldn't contain any trace amounts of residual solvents. Of course, you should only purchase products from licensed producers in regulated markets to be more certain that the concentrate is non toxic.
Some CO2 extraction fans note that CO2 has a longer track record for safe use in consumer products. Also, it doesn't rely on petroleum products, so one can argue supercritical CO2 is a more environmentally friendly solvent for making concentrates.
CO2 oil vs other extraction methods
The entourage effect is also something worth considering. CO2 oils tend to have higher amounts of terpenes compared with butane-based extractions.
Therefore, they'll be more similar to the original effects of the plant, which includes THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids, as well as terpenes all interacting to produce particular effects.
Keep in mind that supercritical CO2 extraction is more labor intensive. Meaning products made using this method are likely to cost more. Butane-based oil extract is more cost-effective, so butane hash oil (BHO) products are usually cheaper and more common at dispensaries.
How to Consume CO2 Concentrates
The most popular way to use CO2-based concentrates is vaping. It is possible to find cannabis capsules made from CO2 methods, and those you can just swallow. But in general, whether it's in oil, wax, or shatter form, CO2 concentrates are best when vaped.
If the concentrate is in a liquid oil state, you'll probably find it in a 510 oil cartridge, which can be loaded into a 510 oil-ready vaporizer. If it's more solid, the most popular choices are using a concentrate-compatible vaporizer, or for the more technically minded, a dab rig.
Some dry herb vaporizers will let you vape both dry herb and concentrates with the use of an accessory, but these can be messy and frustrating to use on a regular basis.
Another option is a vaporizer like Furna, which has multiple ovens that you can swap whenever you want. Furna has ovens for dry herb, concentrate, and for 510 oil cartridges. So you can switch between the various options whenever you like without having to deal with hot parts or slowing down your session.
It also means you can pre-pack ovens in advance, meaning no messy or awkward reloading of your vape. If you like both concentrates and dry herb, it's a game changer to have all these options in a single device, instead of having to carry around multiple vapes. Check out Furna now, and see what you think of swappable ovens!