Cannabis concentrates or extracts come in various forms with names such as live resin, rosin, shatter, wax, oil, budder, diamonds, sugar, crumble and sauce. Traditionally they were consumed using a dab rig that resembled a bong and required the use of a butane torch to heat a 'nail', which can be made of various materials such as quartz, glass, titanium, and others, to a temperature high enough to vaporize the concentrate. However, the safest and most convenient way of consuming concentrates is using an electric dab straw. This is because it regulates temperature, doesn't produce flames that can cause accidents at home, avoids butane inhalation, and removes the off-putting look of using a blowtorch for cannabis; shedding associated stigma.
This device, also known as an electric nectar collector, is a vaping accessory that enables a consumer to vaporize or dab cannabis extracts more conveniently compared to dab rigs. It has an internal battery attached to a ceramic or quartz straw that has coils at the bottom. When activated, the coils draw power from the built-in battery producing enough heat directly vaporize concentrate and enabling the consumer to inhale thick clouds of vapor upon contact. It’s important to note to touch the concentrate lightly and inhale lightly to prevent the device from clogging. Just inhale the vapor and not the concentrate.
Perhaps the biggest misconception about cannabis concentrates is that all types are the same, including the oil found in pre-filled TetraHydroCannabinol (THC) or Cannabidiol (CBD) vape cartridges. The difference lies in how each product is manufactured.
Much of the oil found in vape carts is made using ethanol to dissolve cannabinoids present in cannabis plants. The solution is passed through a distillation chamber where THC is isolated and usually appears as a dark brown, thick oil. Many manufacturers then add terpenes, which are naturally extracted oils that produce distinct smells in plants for flavor enhancement and specific effects. Most oil also gets mixed with vegetable glycerine to make it lighter in density for easier vaporization.
Live resin concentrates are considered premium because they provide consumers with a holistic plant experience. Manufacturers preserve live, uncured cannabis plants ready for harvest in sub-zero temperature vacuum bags then use butane to extract cannabinoids from top to bottom. The solution is heated in a vacuum oven for hours to evaporate any traces of butane.
Live resin usually has a light brown or orange color and jelly-like appearance. This concentrate is useful for making full-spectrum concentrates because patients receive the highest quantity of medicinal cannabinoids.
Shatter is distinguished by its glassy appearance and light brown color that varies depending on the solvent used for extraction. This concentrate derived its name from people observing how it easily fragments into little pieces during consumption. Premium shatter is made using well-cured nugs while bottom shelf products use shake and trim.
The cannabinoids from the plant are extracted using cold butane to avoid contaminating them with unwanted plant fats and lipids. This solution then gets transferred to a vacuum oven that slowly evaporates the solvent at 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sauce is a highly potent cannabis extract that's translucent and yellow. It also looks like syrup, which is why consumers liken it to a sauce. It's made in a similar process as live resin where mature living plants are preserved below zero degrees in special vacuum chambers.
Manufacturers use propane to extract the cannabinoids since it poses no threat to the volatile terpenes found in cannabis plants. A special process known as centrifugal extraction is activated to separate terpenes from cannabinoids.
Rosin is a true solvent-less cannabis extract because manufacturers don't use butane, liquid carbon dioxide, or propane to extract cannabinoids from the buds. Instead, heat and high-pressure plates produce a concentrate that resembles wax, often with a dark honey color.
It’s also easy to make rosin at home by purchasing a rosin press that costs less than $500. The buds are placed inside micron bags then tucked inside folded parchment paper. This goes inside the rosin press where two thick metal plates get heated then squeeze the buds at intense pressure. Rosin then oozes on the parchment paper and manufacturers collect the wax and package for retail sale inside 1-gram containers.
Crumble tends to be brownish-yellow in color and cannabinoids get extracted similarly to live resin. It's usually made using propane, but this extract is subjected to longer drying periods inside vacuum ovens compared to other cannabis concentrates.
After soaking the plant in propane, the solution goes through a drying process to evaporate the solvent. The dark sticky residue gets subjected to a second drying process to get rid of moisture. This process results in producing a waxy substance that's so dry that it crumbles when touched.
Diamonds are small translucent rocks containing up to 99% THC concentration. This level of potency makes them quite expensive compared to other cannabis extracts. Their high potency makes them less than ideal for consumers with low THC tolerance.
Manufacturers soak properly cured buds inside butane or propane then extract the plant material afterward. The dark-colored solution gets stored in a dark, temperature-controlled room for 21 days to let the cannabinoids separate from plant terpenes. THC molecules collect at the bottom while terpenes float on the solution's meniscus. A second process then takes place to completely isolate the cannabinoid molecules, and the end product is white THC crystals.
The main disadvantage of using butane torches to heat dab rigs or nonelectric nectar collectors is the difficulty to control temperatures. An overheated glass piece makes the vapor unpleasant because the intense heat burns the airway during inhalation and also destroys terpenes.
Electric dab straws enable consumers to enjoy every hit because it’s easy to measure and regulate temperatures based on preset levels. This feature is essential to enjoying different types of extracts.
An electric nectar collector is pocket-sized and draws its power from a built-in battery. Taking a dab simply involves placing the tip on a container with concentrates then inhaling at a preset temperature. The level of convenience is superior compared to carrying a dab rig which requires a consumer to always have access to a butane torch.
An electric dab straw only requires occasional cleaning and replacement of tips after they become worn. It’s also more durable than a glass rig when you toss it in your bag or drop it accidentally. The average price is within the reach of most consumers with devices ranging from about $30-$150. For example, Dip Devices offers the Little Dipper for $30 as well as the multi-function EVRI for $69.99 and Dipper for $114.99
On the other hand, dab rigs are costly to purchase and can cost over $150. For the best dab rig experience, users need to have a pack of swabs and a bottle of isopropyl alcohol at the ready to clean the rig after each use.
Electric dab straws are ideal for consuming any type of cannabis extract, especially crumble that's sensitive to touch. It also makes sense to own one because its high level of portability makes it easier to enjoy concentrates while on-the-go compared to carrying dab rigs.