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This post is presented by our media partner Extraction Magazine
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The term wax defines a highly concentrated and potent cannabis extract that can contain up to 90% of major cannabinoids such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD).

CBD wax is obtained from hemp containing high levels of this non-psychotropic cannabinoid. This extract is obtained through solvent extraction using butane or pentane as solvent. For this reason this kind of cannabis derived product can also be called butane hash oil (BHO).

CBD wax appears as a sticky semisolid resin with the consistency slightly more solid than a melted candle. This kind of cannabis derived extract is difficult to handle because of its physical characteristics and can be particularly potent so it is important to start with low dosages and slowly raise the amount consumed in order for you to check the effects on your body.

How is CBD wax made?

Butane can act as a solvent extracting the essential oils from cannabis trichomes present on hemp inflorescences. Alternatively also another hydrocarbon solvent such as pentane can be used or a mixture of butane and pentane. During the extraction not only are the cannabinoids isolated but also terpenes, flavonoids and vitamins. [1]

Amatorial producers usually perform the extraction using open loop BHO extractors while commercial extractors often employ closed-loop systems. With the latter set-up it is possible to make multiple extraction runs using the same solvent. The closed-loop system consists of a butane reservoir, trim tube, evaporation chamber, vacuum pump, recovery pump, vacuum oven, and gas detectors. [1] This system provides a more stable and environmentally friendly platform for dealing with volatile BHO. [1]

It is important to remember that butane is highly flammable so it is always recommended to operate in well-ventilated areas and avoid ignition sources close to the extraction chamber. It should be also noticed that butane is odorless and colorless so it is always recommended to use gas detection systems in order to detect machine leakages or accumulation of the volatile solvent in the area.

Butane is a non-polar solvent and the extraction of chlorophylls and alkaloids is reduced while increasing the extraction of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids. Like for other extraction methods, prior decarboxylation of the plant material and winterization can be done before performing the extraction. [2]

The hemp inflorescences are put into a column or extraction cylinder and the solvent is passed through and heated at low temperature. Once the essential oils are separated from the plant matter and removed, the solvent residues are removed through gentle heat and pressure. What is left is BHO cannabis extract. Depending on the consistency thus the parameters used during the extraction process, it can be called in different ways including wax, shatter, errl, honey, glass, comb, etc.

If BHO extraction is performed using a professional extraction equipment it has several advantages over other extraction methods:

  • Efficient
  • Cost effective
  • Safe
  • Produce extracts with a nice taste
  • Produce highly potent extracts

The overall appearance of the produced CBD wax depends on the chemovar of the hemp plants used as source material for the BHO production process.

It should be noticed that CBD wax can be obtained also from other extraction products using processes involving ethanol or CO2 as solvents, among others.

How to preserve CBD Wax?

It is a good practice to preserve cannabis concentrates in the fridge. With the exposure to sun-light or air humidity the CBD wax can lose some organoleptic properties and it can oxidize and harden to the butter consistency.

It should be noticed that high quality extracts come from high quality starting materials. For this reason it is recommended to perform the BHO extraction on plant materials that have been dried for 5/7 days. Nevertheless the best results can be obtained on fresh frozen buds: the terpenes content will be higher compared to dried cannabis inflorescences and the trichomes will be extracted more efficiently. [3]

What is the difference between CBD Shatter and CBD wax?

The main difference between CBD shatter and CBD wax is that the first one is hard and it is not mixed or manipulated to obtain new consistencies. Usually CBD shatter looks like a golden and transparent foil, fragile and prone to splitting after mechanical stress.

Instead, CBD wax is an opaque semisolid material, obtained with the manipulation and mixing of the evaporated cannabis extract. For this reason CBD wax doesn’t appear like an organized vitreous substance like shatter, but it appears like a soft wax. Generally the lighter the color of the extract the higher is the quality. This because it means the product was not exposed to excessively high temperatures or oxidized in the air. Nevertheless this rule can’t always be applied.

How to consume CBD wax

The potent and highly flavorful hemp concentrate CBD wax can be consumed by adding tiny amounts to a joint, but the most common way to consume CBD wax is using a dab rig. This specialized pipe has a metal or quartz nail that maintains the heat. Using a dabbing tool it is possible to take a small amount of wax and add that to the heated nail, producing a dense smoke that can be inhaled from the pipe.

Depending if you want to dab, vape or smoke your CBD wax different temperatures will be applied to the product. Ideal temperatures for vaping and dabbing CBD wax concentrates are between 148 °C and 230 °C.

It is highly recommended to “start slow and go slow”. Cannabis waxes can be extremely potent and even if CBD wax should not contain high amounts of the psychotropic cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), there is always a chance that some individuals can be more sensitive to this cannabinoid and could experience intoxicating effects even at low concentration.

Potential health benefits of CBD wax

This CBD concentrate can provide a variety of potential therapeutic effects including: [4][5]

  • Relief from inflammation
  • Reduction of chronic pain
  • Lowering anxiety
  • Reduction of seizures
  • Improvement of the physical and mental wellbeing
  • Reduction of depression
  • Reduction of insomnia symptoms

Being a concentrated form of CBD, CBD wax has similar effects of other CBD extracts and preparations, just with higher potency. Although CBD wax won’t make you feel the typical psychotropic effect of THC, you may feel slightly euphoric, clear-headed and calm.

Wrap up on CBD wax

CBD wax and other cannabis concentrates are rising in popularity around the world. It seems obvious, but CBD wax and THC wax look like exactly the same product. The only difference can be seen through an analytical process such as high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).

For this reason it is always recommended to buy your CBD wax from a reliable producer and to always check the certificate of analysis (CoA) of the product you are going to consume. From there you can check the levels of active constituents and be sure you are taking a CBD wax with low content of THC.

Consuming CBD wax is a flavorful experience, giving potential health benefits, without the unwanted psychotropic side effects of cannabis waxes rich in THC.

References:

[1] Al Ubeed HMS, Bhuyan DJ, Alsherbiny MA, Basu A, Vuong QV. A Comprehensive Review on the Techniques for Extraction of Bioactive Compounds from Medicinal Cannabis. Molecules. 2022 Jan 18;27(3):604. doi: 10.3390/molecules27030604. PMID: 35163863; PMCID: PMC8840415.
[2] Suárez-Jacobo, Á.; Díaz Pacheco, A.; Bonales-Alatorre, E.; Castillo-Herrera, G.A.; García-Fajardo, J.A.Cannabis Extraction Technologies: Impact of Research and Value Addition in Latin America. Molecules2023, 28, 2895. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules28072895
[3] Al Ubeed HMS, Wills RBH, Chandrapala J. Post-Harvest Operations to Generate High-Quality Medicinal Cannabis Products: A Systemic Review. Molecules. 2022 Mar 6;27(5):1719. doi: 10.3390/molecules27051719. PMID: 35268820; PMCID: PMC8911901.
[4] http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bmc.2015.01.059
[5] Rapin L, Gamaoun R, El Hage C, Arboleda MF, Prosk E. Cannabidiol use and effectiveness: real-world evidence from a Canadian medical cannabis clinic. J Cannabis Res. 2021 Jun 23;3(1):19. doi: 10.1186/s42238-021-00078-w. PMID: 34162446; PMCID: PMC8223341.

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