What is Cannabis concentrate – Wax?

What is Wax?

Wax is a cannabis concentrate that has become very popular thanks to its powerful effect and the versatility it presents for consumption. It is a type of butane hash oil (BHO) – obtained through a process in which butane gas is used to separate cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant elements of marijuana. 

We would call it wax, which tells us a bit about its appearance: it is a product between honey and dark caramel color – never black – that can be creamy, grainy or present a more brittle consistency similar to caramel. The appearance of the final product will depend on the manufacturing process and the strain of cannabis used as raw material.

The creamier waxes are also known by the name of budder, the granules are called crumble and the brittle honeycomb.

How is it done?

The Wax manufacturing process requires special equipment and extreme precautionary measures since it requires the use of butane, a highly flammable liquefied gas. So before you start you need to consider the following:

1.- The preparation MUST be done in a place with good ventilation, preferably outdoors to avoid the accumulation of gas that can cause an explosion.

2.- Having enough butane for extraction does not serve any gas. Isobutane, a special gas for extractions, must be purchased. Its composition makes it more volatile, so it is more easily released from the preparation and does not have additives that can be transferred to the Wax. 400 milliliters are estimated for every 30 grams of marijuana.

3.- Avoid the production of sparks in the work area. All electronic devices (cell phone and wristwatch included) must be removed. DO NOT SMOKE in the extraction area. Do not wear synthetic clothing at the time of extraction as movement can generate a static charge.

4.- Use gloves and face protection. Butane in liquid state has a temperature of 460  C, so it can cause cold burns.

To perform the Wax extraction you will need:

  • 30 grams of cured buds or marijuana clippings
  • A 400 ml bottle of isobutane
  • Stainless steel extraction tube
  • PFTE non-stick paper
  • 2 pyrex trays (that comfortably fit one inside the other to make a water bath)
  • Hot plate

To start the process, the marijuana must be cut or crushed trying to make it all the same size, then fill the extraction tube without compacting it too much and take it to the refrigerator for at least 24 hours to preserve the terpenes intact. The ideal compaction point can only be known through experimentation, it is important to remember that the liquefied gas must pass through all the cannabis so we must leave it enough space to move.

Place a piece of PFTE non-stick paper in the small tray making sure to cover the bottom and leave excess so that the paper rises up the sides of the container to the edge.

Take the tube out of the refrigerator and fill it with the butane on the side that does not have a grid, placing it on the tray prepared with the paper. Remember to use gloves to protect both hands from the cold. We must try to hold the tube and the gas bottle firmly to maintain a constant pressure and not lose any of the material.

A few minutes after starting the filling – the time varies depending on the compaction of the cannabis in the tube – the liquid containing the dissolved cannabinoids and terpenes in the butane should start to come out from the bottom of the extraction tube. The color of the liquid can vary from light gold to dark caramel depending on the freshness of the marijuana and the percentage of resin it contains, generally a fresh raw material produces clearer liquids.

Once all the gas has been emptied into the tube, we must wait for the liquid to drain and settle on the pyrex, in this way we can finish the extraction stage. This smoothie is not suitable for consumption, it must first be purged to extract the butane from the mixture. The product can be toxic if it is not purged properly.

The purging process must be carried out immediately after extraction, for this we add a little water to the large pyrex and place it on the hot plate until the water reaches between 35 and 40  C and put the small container inside that contains the liquid obtained in the extraction taking care that the water is far from the edge of the small container. We must ensure that the water temperature does not exceed 40  C in order not to evaporate the terpenes.

The bubbles that form in the mixture contain the butane that is released when they break, we can speed up the process by bursting the bubbles with a sharp instrument that is properly sterilized. During the Wax purging process we hit or shake the mixture with a steel paddle to incorporate air.

When not observing bubbles, we must test the amount of gas that the oil contains, carefully approaching a small portion to the fire –on the tip of a knife or other similar object that does not melt– if we see sparks jump or the product ignites, we must repeat the purging process to release more butane. This test should be repeated after each purge until no sparks or combustion is observed. Once the fire test is passed, the product is suitable for consumption.

What effect does it have?

In any of its presentations, one of the most relevant characteristics of the Wax is its power and the fact that its effects are felt immediately. This hash oil can reach concentrations of up to 80% cannabinoids –THC and CBD– responsible for the therapeutic and psychoactive effects of marijuana.

It is estimated that the potency of an inhalation is equivalent to five times the dose obtained from the consumption of a joint or cigarette of cannabis, therefore it is recommended to be careful in the dosage.

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