Humans have been smoking the flowers and leaves of cannabis plants for tens of thousands of years. Modern tokers indulge in smoking in several ways, including the ubiquitous and highly customizable hand rolled joint, common glass and wooden spoon pipes, and giant water bongs. Each path to smoking nirvana has its unique appeal and offers distinct pros and cons, including stealth (think noise and size) and the smoothness of a hit (why ice catchers in bongs and larger pipes are coveted).
But what if one is a tad bored with smoking or even eating cannabis? Those who have been smoking for years or even decades may have logged hundreds of hours at their Roor bong or using their favorite handmade Celebration lava stone pipe. Or maybe a $10 one-hitter purchased from a glass blower at a music festival or the local head shop. Regardless, most regular cannabis users have plenty of experience with one or more avenues of smoking their precious buds.
What If You’re Bored?
If one is tired with their typical path for the inhalation of cannabinoids and terpenes, what options are available? How can regular or daily tokers mix things up a bit and introduce some variety and excitement to their consumption of cannabis?
First, vaporization, or vaping, is an excellent and healthy option for anyone who smokes the kind herb. Vaporization avoids the carcinogens and toxins produced when burning any plant, be it tobacco or pot. Vaporizers are available in prices ranging from about $20-120 for pen vapes and beginning at about $80 and topping out at roughly $600 for desktop models and portable/mobile units. Click here to learn about types of vaporizers, their pros and cons, and which are best for one’s budget, lifestyle, and preferences.
For those who yawn and say “been there, done that” with respect to vaping ground cannabis flowers, additional options abound, with dabbing being at the top of the list. Dabbing involves the use of a special dab rig, which is basically a customized bong or water bong, to vaporize any type of high-potency concentrate of cannabis. Dab rigs involve a special appendage called a nail or a banger that is super-heated to 600-700 degrees using a blow torch. When a small spot, or “dab,” of concentrate is applied to the heated surface of the nail, it instantly vaporizes and is inhaled by the user.
Also available are $250-600 enails that require outlet power (a wall plug) and allow an exact temperature to be dialed in. Such models are notably safer than use of a torch and appeal to those who don’t want to risk burning down the house or torching the cat in an effort to simply dab. Enails are also excellent for parties, avoiding the anxiety that might be produced in some guests by a blow torch and ensuring a consistent nail temperature for the duration of a dinner party. While relatively expensive, an enail is the tool of choice for those who wish to safety consume cannabis concentrates in a hassle-free manner.
Dabbing is a great option for both regular cannabis consumers who may have a high tolerance for even strong flowers (some of which contain up to 25 or more percent THC) and patients who need to quickly deliver a shot of pain or nausea relief, such as those undergoing chemotherapy. Because concentrates typically offer a THC potency of between 50-85 percent, there is significant harm reduction and convenience in smoking or vaping less plant matter and more trichomes to achieve a mega-dose of cannabinoids.
Concentrates are another option that leave behind the inhalation of combusted or vaporized flowers altogether, instead opting for gooey, waxy, and stiff laboratory extractions like BHO, CO2 oil, live resin, and rosin. Butane Hash Oil, most commonly known as “BHO” and also called honey oil, is the most common variety of cannabis concentrate and is widely available in both dispensaries and retail outlets in legal states and on the black market throughout the country. BHO is itself available in a variety of forms, including shatter (the highest quality and purest example), crumble, and wax, among others.
Consumers are encouraged to avoid black market BHO because it may easily contain unacceptable and dangerous levels of pesticides and other contaminants. Also, home production of BHO is simply dangerous. Several cases of explosions and fires that have resulted in deaths have emerged about home brew BHO facilities, even in legal states like Washington and Colorado where a legal infrastructure of processing facilities and dispensaries exists.
Those in legal states should purchase only reputable, laboratory-tested concentrates of any type and only from trusted dispensaries and retails cannabis stores. For those who prefer something made without potentially unhealthy extraction chemicals, a variety of solventless concentrates are available, including kief, old school hash, and rosin.
New varieties of concentrates are continually being introduced to market, many based on proprietary technologies — some of which are solventless — as new companies rush to market as part of the greenrush of investment and new products and services in the cannabis industry (mostly in legal states like Alaska, California, Washington, Oregon, and Colorado). Although California is medical only, it has liberal patient qualification standards that give significant decision making power to physicians and a market of 39 million residents to fuel the growth of its 19-year-old medical cannabis industry.
There will be plenty of growth in the concentrates market over the next few years as innovative companies develop and introduce new types of cannabis concentrates. The only bad news is that these products will be available only in states with legal recreational laws (which so far is only four and the District of Columbia) or states like California where medical cannabis is a billion dollar annual business.
Experiment with Rosin
Rosin is a unique and very practical approach to homebrew concentrates. This typically strong extraction can be produced with no danger of explosion because it employs no flammable solvent. Instead, rosin involves nothing more than parchment paper and a standard hair straightener that can be purchased at any drug store for as little as $20. Using cannabis flowers, consumers simply press the buds, inside an envelope of parchment paper, in the hair straightener for a period of a few seconds — and sometimes multiple passes. It is the combination of heat and pressure that results in a gooey or waxy oil that is 50-80 percent THC and almost immediately consumable (it must first cool and be collected).
Those who have experimented with creating rosin note that finding the exact temperature of the hair straightener or flat iron is critical to producing high-quality examples in quantities that some believe is worthwhile (and why models featuring temperature gauges are helpful). The creation of rosin is recommended for those in prohibitionist states lacking legal access to concentrates from companies. Such concentrate-seeking tokers can avoid the danger and potential explosion of BHO while inexpensively and with little effort creating a very potent concentrate that otherwise would be unavailable where they live.
Some rosin fans claim that freshly harvested, wet buds that have not been dried work best, but reports of success in creating rosin have also involved fully dried black market and dispensary cannabis. The potency and yield of rosin produced from any cannabis sample will depend entirely on the quality of that sample and the volume of trichomes inherent in the buds. Some fortunate rosin aficionados have reported a yield of about half a gram of oil from two grams of flowers, or a 4:1 ratio (flowers to resulting oil), but this is unusually good production. Other testimonials have involved 8:1 and even 16:1 yield ratios, where eight grams of cannabis flowers (which do not need to be ground) resulted in between half and one gram of rosin oil.
Track Down Live Resin
Live resin is a relatively new approach to concentrates that supposedly emerged in the Denver, Colorado area in about 2013. It is very unique and can be produced only be professional laboratories because it involves the cryogenic (as in super-cold) freezing of whole cannabis plants, stalk, stems, and all. These plants are later placed in a special industrial extraction machine involving a blasting chamber and a solvent such as butane or CO2. Live resin is still relatively rare, but rapidly gaining popularity in both the United States and Canada.
Because live resin is an example of the bleeding edge category of whole plant extractions, it preserves the terpene profile of the plant, significantly enhancing the flavors of this exciting concentrate when smoked or vaporized. Some users report finding the aroma and flavor of live resin to be superior to any cannabis product or extraction they have consumed, including BHO and CO2 oil.
An Exciting Time
It is a very exciting time for cannabis consumers, especially those who may be bored with the same ol’ ground flowers served up in a joint or a glass pipe. Although the majority of the country — which suffers under prohibition with no safe access to laboratory tested cannabis concentrates — must do without or shop for expensive, questionable product on the black market, those in legal states have an increasingly wide variety of unique concentrates at their disposal. These include extremely high-tech extractions like live resin and inexpensive homebrew options like rosin, helping tokers throughout the country enjoy a more potent path to pot consumption and possible harm reduction.
The combination of silicon valley mobile tech and the cannabis industry is producing a large market for relatively efficient pen and portable vaporizers, available from about $20 to $300. Great examples of mobile vaporizers include the $260 Vapir Prima, $280 PAX 2, and pen models that employ disposable concentrate cartridges from Bloom Farms and Neos, among others. Top shelf models like the Prima and PAX 2 reach vaping heat in only about one minute and offer four temperature settings.
Those bored with their current method of consuming or ingesting cannabis flowers, especially people in legal states, have many options to add some excitement to their lives in terms of how they consume cannabis. Dabbing, concentrates, and vaporization are all just a few dollars — and maybe a dispensary — away.