It’s 2021, and the ability to buy marijuana online has given access to the product like never before. With so many options and buzzwords floating around, it can be hard to sift through what is fact or fiction. Full spectrum, isolates, cannabinoids, terpenes — what does it all mean? It can be unclear when choosing the right concentrate for you. To understand the full story, you need to understand the basics.
What is a Cannabinoid? What is a Terpene?
Cannabinoids and terpenes are what make individual flower strains like Gorilla Glue or Lemon Sour Diesel unique. Every strain, whether Indica or Sativa, is made up of a series of different chemical compounds that can indicate what kind of experience will be felt by the user.
Terpenes, when extracted from marijuana plants, are the ‘essential oils’ of the flower. As research continues to develop, our current understanding is that terpenes affect both the aroma and flavour of the individual plant. Whether you prefer a fruity, sweet-tasting bud like a Blueberry Nuken strain or the more pungent taste of some of the more comatose strains like Death Budda or OG Kush – the terpenes are what determine your experience.
Cannabinoids, on the other hand, are the chemical compounds that give cannabis the euphoric effects we all love. There are over 100 currently known cannabinoids within the community. They range from everyone’s favourite THC (tetrahydrocannabinol or ‘The High’) to CBD (cannabidiol). Every day, the scientific community is learning more about what individual cannabinoids do and how they affect our experience with the strains. Many more known cannabinoids can indicate where a plant is from or whether an experience will be a ‘headier’ high or more of a ‘body’ experience.
How is Full Spectrum Concentrate Extracted?
There are two main processes used to extract full spectrum concentrates from raw plants. The first is hydrocarbon extraction, which is a process that utilizes butane to extract terpenes and Cannabinoids from the flower. By controlling temperature, the butane gas cools to become a liquid which is then passed through the raw plant. After being passed, there will be a residual amount of butane left within the concentrate, which to remove requires a process known as ‘dewaxing.’
The other standard method of extraction of full spectrum concentrates is known as supercritical CO2 extraction. It is a more complicated process that uses temperature and pressure to alter the CO2 from a gas to a compound that possesses properties of both a liquid and a gas. Then, that compound is again passed over the raw cannabis plant to produce a concentrate. Though a more complicated process to arrive at a final product, the results are cleaner than hydrocarbon extraction, and as such, do not require any cleansing of chemicals from the final product.
Temperature plays a massive role in both processes, as the raw cannabis plant’s terpenes are extremely sensitive. To maintain the full spectrum, exact parameters must be followed to ensure full extraction.
Full Spectrum vs Isolate Concentrates
A full spectrum concentrate can most easily be described as the ‘full rainbow’ of the raw cannabis plant. Full spectrum extraction aims to mimic the natural plant as closely as possible by including many of the originally found terpenes and cannabinoids. The goal is to maintain the original plant’s full flavour and aromatic profile, plus a complete representation of all cannabinoids to provide a similar experience to the user.
An isolate extraction removes many of the naturally found terpenes and cannabinoids to provide a more potent THC/CBD concentrate. This process is especially desirable for CBD concentrates, as often the side-effects of THC is not the ultimate goal. When buying CBD online in Canada, it is essential to understand what you are buying and your hopeful therapeutic use case.
Though many manufactures utilize isolate extractions for their products, at this point in our understanding of the cannabis plant, the full benefits aren’t entirely understood. Questions remain around this topic. Is a full spectrum product better for therapeutic applications than a isolate, or vice versa? Our relatively primitive understanding of how all the individual cannabinoids and terpenes work together is why a full spectrum concentrate, and the effects they have on individuals may influence your buying decision.
Full spectrum extracts can offer a synergistic smorgasbord of medicinal benefits. On the flip side, isolates can offer targeted and higher doses of specific compounds. What you ultimately choose will depend on your desired outcome, and the type of cannabis product you choose.
Buying Full Spectrum Concentrates Online in Canada
Now that we understand what goes into a full spectrum concentrate and the processes used to develop them, what should you look for when buying concentrates online?
There are a few things to look out for when purchasing concentrates to ensure you are getting a real full spectrum concentrate.
- Clear Labeling (cannabinoid content): Look for a breakdown of what is actually in the product you are purchasing. A company with integrity will be forthright with what is in its products.
- Information on Extraction Process: Whether utilizing a hydrocarbon extraction process or the supercritical C02 extraction, this information should be clearly provided to the customer for full transparency.
- Lab Results: What kind of post-production testing has been done to the product? What have they learned through their process?
- Ingredient List: What changes have been made to the product during production, that differ from the raw cannabis plant?
- A Trustworthy Brand Behind the Product: Prominent branding to identify who produced the product, and where it was manufactured shows you, as a consumer, that the company you are purchasing from is proud of what they are making available to the market. A brand who is producing the best shatter in Canada, will be proud of that fact.
Live resin concentrates are a reliable way to ensure what you are receiving is a full spectrum concentrate. Live resin is most commonly used in conjunction with dab rigs, and vaporizers.
Another method of ensuring the purchase of full spectrum concentrates when buying concentrates online is to look for products that have high terpene (HTFSE, high terpene full spectrum extraction) or high cannabinoid (HCFSE, high cannabinoid full spectrum extraction) on the labels.
These products are not a one-hundred percent representation of the original cannabis plant but represent close to the full experience. They are often more blended than live resin and contain elements of a handful of different cannabis strains. Still, they will provide a fuller experience than merely an Isolate concentrate.
A More Informed Consumer
Making the choice to put your hard-earned dollars into a product can be difficult, especially with such a wide range of products available. Now that you know what makes up a full spectrum concentrate, you can be more confident when adding items to your cart. Understanding what a terpene is versus a cannabinoid, as well as the various methods of extraction allows you as a consumer to order cannabis products online in Canada more confidently. When making the choice to put something into your body, being an informed consumer is the best way to ensure you’re getting the best product possible.