Cannabis concentrates are made through an extraction process in which the cannabinoids (ie. THC & CBD) and terpenes (compounds that give off flavor and smell) are extracted from the dry plant matter with the use of solvents such as butane, carbon dioxide, alcohol, or pure hydrocarbons. Generally, the less terpenes present the more brittle the concentrate will turn out. Depending on a variety of variables such as temperature and the solvent used, the concentrates are going to have different consistencies and colors. Cannabis concentrates are most popularly and efficiently used via oral consumption or vaporization / dabbing. Dabbing is a method of consumption in which a dose of concentrate (usually about half an inch long) is dabbed on a hot surface and then inhaled through a dab rig (resembles a bong). The surface can be quartz, titanium, or ceramic and it is usually heated up with a torch but in some cases can also be done electrically or with a portable vaporizer designed for concentrates.
In whichever method is being used it is important to note that if done safely and in a clean manner, the extract will contain highly medicinal properties but if it is not done correctly they may cause more harm than good. For this reason it is worthwhile to only buy concentrates from producers who can be accountable for the quality of their products and who are able to provide you with the lab test results of the products purity.
This marijuana concentrate also goes by the name butane hash oil (BHO) because the cannabinoids are extracted with a butane solvent. Other names include wax, honeycomb oil, crumble, pull-and-snap, budder, and sap. The extract is sticky and clear resembling organic honey. Hazardous home extractions can be dangerous because they may be high in trace solvents of butane – a dangerous blend of carcinogen gases. The term wax is more commonly used for harder, brittle, and more opaque forms of BHO. Besides the dangerous contaminants that may be found in BHO, there is also a higher chance of greening out (passing out from too much marijuana consumption). I would definitely not recommend BHO to anyone who is consuming marijuana for the first time unless it is for medicinal purposes and in that case the person should be prepared for a potentially uncomfortable high. Fortunately, there are still no recorded deaths from marijuana or concentrates, so overdosing will not be lethal – it will simply make you feel uncomfortable and make you fall asleep.
The potency of your wax and shatter is going to vary depending on the quality and strain of the starting dry herb material. Ryan Abernathy from Steep Hill Labs states that generally shatter (clear sappy concentrates) has higher parts-per-million residual concentrates (meaning trace solvents of butane) than other forms of concentrates. “[Steep Hill Labs] has done over 10,000 tests, and when we test these concentrates, it’s more likely that clear shatter is going to have higher parts-per-million residual solvents.” However, he also states that it doesn’t always mean that the clearer your shatter is the more trace solvents it contains, but that generally this is the case.