In the world of cannabis, there are many different forms of THC concentrates and hash rosin available. THC concentrates are made by extracting Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from marijuana plants and turning it into a highly concentrated and potent cannabis product for the most die-hard stoners. Typically a rosin is solventless while shatter or diamond are made with butane.
Concentrates are highly potent and can contain high levels 80-90% THC making them a popular choice for those looking for a strong and fast-acting marijuana experience from their dab rig.
If you wanted a comparison from the alcohol world, think of concentrates, as shots of hard liquor or grain alcohol.
There are many different types of THC concentrates available, each with its own unique properties and effects. Two of the most popular types of concentrates are solvent-based aka BHO (butane hash oil) and solventless, or non-BHOs (also known as solventless or solvent-free concentrates).
New Jersey law permits cannabis license holders to make cannabis concentrates if they contract with a third-party lab that tests the quality of the oil.
Today, we will explore the most common types of THC concentrates and discuss the differences between solvents such as butane hash oils (BHO) like budders, shatter, crumble, diamonds, and live resin compared to the counterpart solventless concentrates, non-BHO concentrates, such as live rosin, kief, bubble hash or dry sifting and discuss which one is better. For the sake of this article and being 2023 we will consider non-BHO to be fresh press, or cured or live rosins.
What is BHO?
BHO, or butane hash oil, is made using butane to extract the cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant. The butane strips the plant of its essential oils. It turns it into a substance purged of the solvent to create a highly concentrated form of THC.
What is Non-BHO or Solventless Concentrates?
Non-BHO, solventless, or solvent-free concentrates are made using various more natural means, often with machinery, pressing or freezing the cannabis flower, and extracting the essential oils from the cannabis plant.
Many users consider non-BHO concentrates a superior and more natural, more organic alternative than BHO. They do not contain any residual solvents at all nor do they involve solvents at any step of the extraction process although they could usually use machinery in the manufacturing process even at a small scale.
Making Solvent vs Solventless THC Concentrates
One of the main differences between THC concentrates is the method of extraction when creating them. Generally, solvent-based concentrate extraction methods involve stripping the THC from the marijuana plants using chemicals, usually butane. This method is efficient and can produce large amounts of concentrate quickly, but it also carries some potential risks.
The butane used in the extraction process is highly flammable. If not handled properly, it can lead to explosions and fires. When the extraction process is done incorrectly it results in a final harmful and toxic concentrate you’d want to avoid. When made improperly, residual solvents can often remain in the final product which can be harmful to users if ingested. Even at smaller amounts, you want to be skeptical.
On the other hand, there are no chemical solvents at all used in making non-BHO concentrates. THC is separated from the marijuana plants using mechanical methods. Some popular methods for creating non-BHO concentrates include dry sifting, ice water extraction, and rosin pressing.
Try making your own rosin right at home. You can get your own Nugsmasher for under $500 right from Amazon. With a nugsmasher, you can make concentrates in the comfort of your own home and in ultimate privacy. The Nugsmasher is practically odorless and noise-free with no chemicals at all!
The nug-smasher uses an extremely heavy press and exerts heat while the cannabis is in wax paper. This causes the extracts to pour onto the paper. The user then uses accordingly to dab rig or vape, or decarboxylate and make into edibles.
Another major difference is that the solventless extraction process can be more product-intensive. The fresh rosin may not produce as much concentrate as solvent-based methods generally yield, making solventless more costly. As cannabis markets dip, BHOs are getting cheaper. As times goes on solventless is often $85-100 a gram or more with BHOs dropping to less than half that price.
Here in New Jersey, solvent-less rosin is close to $80-100+ per gram in the gray market. It’s even more money. If you can find it, in the legal markets, where it’s typically the same price, $80-125+ for only half a gram!
Understanding Cannabis Concentrate Extraction Methods: Closed-Loop vs Open-Loop
When it comes to extracting cannabinoids from marijuana plants, there are two main methods: closed-loop and open-loop. Both have their own pros and cons, but it’s important to understand the differences and the potential risks involved.
Closed-loop extraction is the safer and more controlled method of the two. It involves using commercial-grade equipment to contain all flammable solvents within a closed system. Closed-loop extraction is much safer with fewer gas leaks and often recycling the butane for future use.
Professional facilities with proper licensing and testing procedures in place conduct proper testing. This further ensures a high level of safety and effectiveness.
On the other hand, open-loop extraction, also known as open tube blasting, is a popular method among BHO amateurs. However, it can be extremely dangerous due to the use of butane in a tight metal or glass tube and applying maximum pressure. Gases emit and make it extremely flammable.
The extraction generates toxic vapors that release into the immediate environment making it extremely flammable and vulnerable to explosions if a flame or spark is present. Houses have literally exploded from this method when done by amateurs. This is likely the most dangerous this about BHO, making it in an unregulated way.
After the first portion of extraction, BHO-derived concentrates goes through a post-processing step called vacuum purging. This critical process uses a vacuum oven and pump to remove any residual solvents from the final product.
he low vacuum oven heats the concentrate at low temperatures and applies massive pressure. The heating process allows the solvent to evaporate and off-gas and remaining solvents. 3rd-party precision lab testing confirms if the finished product is clear or tainted.
Closed-loop extraction is the safer and more controlled method for extracting cannabinoids from marijuana plants. Open-loop extraction carries a higher risk of danger due to the use of flammable solvents.
Vacuum purging is a crucial step in post-processing BHO-derived concentrates. This step frees the concentrate yield of any residual solvent and makes it safe for final consumption.
BHO vs Non-BHO: Which is Better?
When it comes to choosing which type of THC concentrate is better, it ultimately comes down to personal preference. Both BHO and non-BHO concentrates have their own unique characteristics and benefits. Some people do like one over the other, and some mix and match. Which do you prefer? (comment below)
One of the main advantages of BHO is its potency. Because the butane effectively strips the plant of its essential oils and compacts the THC into a concentrated product even trim runs can yield high-level THC runs. BHO concentrates are often much more potent than non-BHO concentrates but are not necessarily made from quality-grown products. Sourcing is so important.
Concentrates are a popular choice among cannabis users looking for a strong and intense high. However, the BHOs often lack the flavor that the non-BHO captures since solventless extracts do not lose their terpenes. That’s definitely not to say that BHO can’t be super tasty.
Terpenes are naturally forming chemical compounds found in plants and some animals. They’re responsible for the aromas, flavors, and even colors associated with various types of vegetation. Terpenes are what make cannabis strains have their unique smells and tastes from one another.
Enjoying concentrates could be especially euphoric by using a Dr. Dabber Switch. The switch allows the user 25 presets for heating control. The portable dab rig allows the user to move back and forth between flower and concentrates, using the same device.
Is BHO Safe?
Many people believe a myth that solvent-based concentrates are safer than solventless concentrates. It is not necessarily true that BHO is safer or healthier than non-BHO. The safety and quality of a THC concentrate depends on several factors. The quality of the marijuana plants used and the extraction method are both equally important. Despite the best efforts of cultivators growing a high quality product their harvest is easily contaminated when processed by amateurs or faulty and careless processing methods.
The main reason many people choose to avoid using BHOs is undeniably the potential of residual materials such as butane left behind in the final product. Any leftover butane in the final product is deemed contaminated. It is also often difficult to know if your concentrates might have traces of butane.
While butane is not necessarily super toxic the source may not use HQ butane. You don’t really know how much if any is in the product. That is enough for many people to choose to avoid BHOs. Using solvents always poses an uncertain risk of danger whether in processing or in leftover traces.
Contaminants can be harmful if inhaled. However, with the rise of the legal cannabis industry, there’s much more 3rd party testing, even for unlicensed processors.
The market now is safer and provides more peace of mind when using butane hash oils like shatter, budders, and live resins. Of course, you’d always want to make sure you get your stuff from a reliable source.
On the other hand, non-BHO concentrates are more pure and natural. Generally, solventless concentrates are made without any outside chemicals. Non-BHO concentrates do not carry the same risk of residual solvents. Live rosins also often have a superior flavor and a more pungent aroma.
In processing, the mechanical extraction process does not strip the plant of its natural terpenes. Processing can also affect the flavor and overall quality of the concentrate. Be warned even though BHO has few or no terpenes it does have high amounts of THC. They can also affect the flavor and overall quality of the concentrate.
In terms of solvent vs. solventless extraction, it is again difficult to say for sure which is safer or healthier. However, if the extraction process is done well resulting concentrate is typically safe to use.
Regardless of what you choose, it is important to always purchase from a reputable source.
What Does Heady NJ Think?
Overall, both BHO and non-BHO concentrates have their own unique pros and cons. The best choice ultimately depends on the individual user’s likes and needs. Some may prefer the potency and flexibility of BHO, while others may prefer the purity and organic nature of non-BHO concentrates.
Of course, it’s always important to choose THC concentrates of high-quality. Marijuana plants grown and processed in a safe and controlled environment are critical to this key factor.
Get your THC concentrates from known sources. Read labels carefully and ask questions about the extraction process to understand the ingredients and potential risks of each product. I always find it fascinating to learn and see how these processes are constantly evolving.
It is difficult to say if BHO is less safe than non-BHO concentrates. This varies depending on the specific extraction method used and how well.
Certainly, we enjoy both regularly and can say so far so good for us!
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