Cannabis 2.0 brings a lot of exciting new products to the industry, the stars being edibles and concentrates. Vape distillate is really having its moment, arriving amidst reports of illicit-market cartridges causing health issues. A regulated system for the high-demand product came right on time. Many people are taking kindly to vaping; we wonder how many people know what they are getting when they purchase cartridges. We figure a guide might help some folks.
There are two primary cannabinoid-extraction methods for distillate: CO2 & Ethanol extraction. What’s the difference?
CO2 Extraction isolates specific cannabinoids (i.e. THC & CBD) at specific temperatures. So, a CO2 cartridge’s cannabinoid make up is hypothetically precision-designed. However, it’s possible the cart may not contain the entire family of cannabinoids & sub-compounds at the same ratios that were in the cannabis before the extraction process. Ethanol extracts the full entourage of cannabinoids in one process, which renders a more balanced distillate. So, an Ethanol cartridge should contain the source cannabis’ original family of cannabinoids at similar ratios.
This brings us to the other primary options for carts : “full spectrum” & “botanical” terpene-extraction. Terpenes are the compounds in cannabis and other plants responsible for aroma, flavor, and in cannabis’ case – effect. After extracting cannabinoids, terpenes are extracted and introduced back into the distillate to curate its flavor & effects. Bear in mind that all terpenes are the same, no matter where they’re from.
Terpenes are generally extracted using CO2, but isolating them requires a lower temperature than cannabinoid extraction. So, CO2-based carts still go through this additive process. Ethanol extraction almost completely eliminates most terpenes. An ethanol distillate is therefore essentially flavorless & odorless after cannabinoid extraction. For this reason, most edibles use ethanol-extracted THC/CBD as to not present a “weedy” taste to your snack.
So, terpenes. “Full-spectrum” carts have the source flower’s original terpenes re-introduced, to create the a ‘true’ distillate for that strain. It should taste & feel like the original cannabis. Botanical terpenes are specifically curated and introduced to create a desired flavor & effect. This essentially renders a brand new, intentionally designed experience. Botanical terpene carts could taste nothing like cannabis. Other botanical carts can be a play on their original strains, presenting a creatively ‘enhanced’ version of them.
When you browse a menu and you see a cart that’s Ethanol-Extracted/Full Spectrum, you can assume it’s an honest representation of the strain. CO2-Extracted/Botanical Carts are the opposite: intentionally rendering the effects & flavor they produce. The other two permutations sort of sit in the middle; either the terpene profile (Ethanol x Botanical) or the cannabinoid profile (CO2 x Full Spectrum) are purposefully designed, the other left honest to the source.
On a final, important note, let’s quickly talk about thinning agents. Pure, distilled THC or CBD would be too viscous to vape, so terpenes act as a natural dilutant that allows distillate to vaporize properly. Be aware that some companies use additional thinning agents in their cartridges; substances like propylene glycol (commonly abridged to “PG”) & phytol are also present in some vape options on the market. These materials have proven to be volatile at high temperatures, and can potentially be dangerous depending on the device or heat settings you use. At Evergreen, we make sure not to carry any vape cartridges that contain these substances. So, make sure to be informed of which options are safe and which contain potentially harmful additives if you are shopping elsewhere.
Hope this all helps you make educated decisions when it comes to vape distillate!
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