TERRAVIDA HOLISTIC CENTERS

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7/10: Diving In

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This is the second blog to our two-part 7/10 series. For part one, click here.

Concentrates

“Concentrates”, also known as the extracted resins from cannabis, can be made in many different ways.  Similar to a craft brewery or immemorial vineyard, master growers and extractors manipulate environmental factors and tinker with variables to enhance desirable attributes.  I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase “It’s a weed, it grows on its own” but there is more to it than putting a seed in the ground, letting it grow, and putting it in a machine to be extracted.  It’s similar to the love, skill and persistence required to develop a hand crafted IPA full of complex flavors, the best cup of coffee you’ve ever had, and even the dinner where every flavor blends into the next and you’re left feeling rejuvenated.  This special difference when humans pour their passion into their craft is expressed in cannabis during its growth and harvest cycle, and again when extracted. Let’s explore two different post-harvest processes and take a look at some of the highlights of the final products in the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program.


Drying and Curing Process  

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Traditionally, harvested cannabis goes through a drying and curing process.  As plants reach their peak resin content at the end of the ripening phase they are carefully harvested.  There are many ways to approach the first step, and this is where the human touch comes in. Some producers hang entire harvested plants, while others will separate the plant into branches or even go as far as removing the buds from the stem immediately.  One major factor to properly drying cannabis is maintaining a proper humidity, and each of these methods will have a different effect on the ambient humidity as the plant dries. Growers are constantly challenged to maintain a level of dryness that inhibits bacterial and mold growth while keeping enough humidity to protect the resins and structure of the flower.  After the drying is complete, usually taking 6-10 days, the bud is removed from the stalk and placed in a sealed environment to begin curing. Proper curing of cannabis flower leads to a deep blended aroma and flavor. “Curing” is the term most widely used in the industry, but it is actually a process of fermentation. During the curing process, the cannabinoids and terpenes are protected inside the trichome. The ambient air draws the humidity from the center of the flowers, and exposes the chlorophyll to oxygen. This combined with the plant cells trying to stay alive allows the chlorophyll to break down, reducing the “green” flavor associated with freshly harvested or uncured cannabis.  Everything from the temperature, humidity to the speed at which the drying occurs will have an effect on the end product. Similar to fine wine, a great deal of skill and patience is required for an optimal fermentation process resulting in a top shelf end product.



Live Process

Although most plants will be dried and cured at harvest, some are chosen for a more selective fate. At the point of harvest, some plants will be flash frozen to temperatures around -200℉.  LIke frozen vegetables at the supermarket, freezing the cannabis plant close to harvest helps preserve the cannabinoids and terpenes, as well as other parts from degrading. After the freeze, the plant resins are extracted in a similar fashion to dried and cured plants, but their end products will be marked with the label ‘Live’ or ‘Liquid Live’.  Products made from frozen, live plant material will often have brighter smells and flavors than cured, and with significantly more terpenes. For the experienced patient and connoisseurs, product profiles that have significant terpene content can hold more allure, much like a single barrel scotch would for the right pallet. For newer patients, high terpene contents can be mildly irritating or ‘tickly’ and may result in coughing or mild irritation of the airways. Not only does the live process retain more terpenes through extraction, it also affects which terpenes are present. When terpenes are exposed to oxygen chemical reactions take place.  The oxygenation of monoterpenes breaks them down. The release of these monoterpenes (volatile top notes) is part of why cannabis can be so pungent, but it also leaves isoprene units behind which bond with the existing monoterpenes. This is how the sesquiterpene (heavier more blended earthy/woody smells) levels are increased after the curing phase. Because this chemical reaction is “paused” live resin extracts contain more of the volatile terpenes that normally would not be present in a cured concentrate or flower.

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Concentrate Comparison 

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Wax/Budder/Crumble

  • Typically extracted with butane or propane

  • Physically agitated instead of heat purged leads to high terpene content and homogenous texture

  • Difference in textures depends on process and starting materials

  • Can be made from cured or live raw flower

  • Intended for vaporization or dilution

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Shatter

  • Typically extracted with butane or propane

  • Purged with heat and pressure to create the signature brittle translucent shatter look

  • Typically made from cured material for stability

  • Intended for vaporization or dilution


Sauce & Sugar

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  • Typically extracted with butane or propane

  • Allowed to naturally purge under its own sealed atmospheric pressure which allows the THCa and CBDa to crystallize and separate from the terpenes (mostly)

  • The only difference between sugar and sauce is the ratio of crystallized cannabinoid to terpene + cannabinoid liquid

  • Almost exclusively made from flash frozen material for live processing


Crystallate

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  • Similar to the Sauce & Sugar processing method, the difference is crystallate is 99% cannabinoids with no terpenes (The crystals are separated from the sauce)

  • Without terpenes to “guide” the product, THC crystallate from one strain is practically identical to crystallate from another strain.

  • Can be used to increase the potency of other concentrates

  • Perfect for a THC only application, however lacks the ensemble effect


Distillate

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  • Using heat, cannabis flower or concentrate is vaporized then re-condensed.  This removes even more of the plant material while activating the cannabinoids.

  • Very high cannabinoid content, low terpene content unless reintroduced

  • Less variance of cannabinoids and terpenes than live resin

  • Low terpene content means less irritation upon inhalation



CO2 Oil

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  • Co2 extracts a wide range of cannabinoids and a narrow range of terpenes resulting in higher CBG, THCv, CBN and lower terpene content.

  • Less irritating vapor to sensitive users

  • Usually activated cannabinoids due to high pressure extraction

  • High pressure extraction can obliterate contaminants


RSO

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  • Produced with ethanol to break down all cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids

  • Typically eaten or applied topically

  • Due to high plant material content it is not recommended for vaporization

  • Widest range of all therapeutic molecules cannabis has to offer

Summary

Although concentrate is just one category of product available in the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana market, it has great depth. Between the starting material, extraction process, and purge there are many variables that can be adjusted to get the ideal blend of therapeutic molecules.  Hopefully it is now easy to see how 710 has garnered such interest! Concentrates are an effective way to deliver a lot of medication in a short time, or save money by diluting it into other products. Next time you’re opening up a concentrate, inhale the luscious aroma and take a moment to appreciate all of the hard work that went into nurturing that plant through its life and then carefully and meticulously extracting it. For the same reason home cooked meals nourish more than just our body, when humans put love into something the end result yields something magnificent.


Image Credit

https://www.google.com/search?q=hanging+full+cannabis+plant&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj6tu2RwpvjAhULJt8KHbRTB5IQ_AUIECgB&biw=1366&bih=663#imgrc=MTZqUs07_QNqXM:

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https://www.google.com/search?biw=1366&bih=663&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=2DAeXaivMOXl_QaYuabgDg&q=rso+oil&oq=rso+oil&gs_l=img.3..0i67j0l5j0i8i30j0i24l3.72985.73537..73654...0.0..0.107.499.6j1......0....1..gws-wiz-img.......0i30.RE7OuFIJFqI#imgrc=fxGERU-DjBM5xM:

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