Distillate is one of the most popular extracts in both THC and CBD. But what exactly is it? In short, distillates are one of the most highly concentrated forms of cannabis available on the market. They offer a variety of unique benefits that make them an increasingly popular option for cannabis connoisseurs. Let’s take a closer look at what THC distillate is and why cannabis brands love to use them.
What is THC Distillate?
THC distillate is produced through a process known as fractional distillation which involves separating and purifying compounds from one another through boiling points that are specific to each compound. The result is a highly refined oil with between 80-97% THC content – much higher than other cannabis extracts. This makes it one of the strongest forms of cannabis available on the market today.
Why People Love To Use Distillate
The main benefit of using THC distillate is that it allows users to enjoy a powerful dose without having to smoke or vape, making it ideal for those who prefer not to inhale their cannabis products. Distillate is decarboxylated, meaning no heat is needed to activate the THC or CBD in it. There is also very little taste or smell to distillate, as the terpenes have been stripped out in the distillation process. For this reason, distillate is a great option for edibles.
THC distillates also offer an incredibly versatile form of consumption since they can be used in a variety of ways depending on user preference. For starters, they can be used like any other concentrated oil by dabbing directly onto heated nails or adding them into edibles like brownies or gummies. Processors also commonly infuse CBD or THC distillate with carrier oils to create tinctures for oral consumption. Distillate also works great in topicals, and can be used to formulate salves, lotions, and other skincare products.
The process of making cannabis distillate requires further refinement of cannabis extracts to further remove impurities.
Like any other product, the process starts with extraction. Most commonly, distillate is made from ethanol extract commonly referred to as “crude oil”. However, distillate can also be produced from other types of cannabis extracts like BHO or Co2 extracts.
After the primary extraction using one of the methods mention above, the product must be winterized. Winterization is the process of removing unwanted compounds like fats, waxes, lipids, and chlorophyll. Winterization is typically performed by introducing the extract to a solvent like ethanol, and chilling the solution down to below freezing temperatures. This allows the undesirables to separate from the extract. The unwanted compounds are then separated using filtration.
Once the extract has been winterized, the product needs to be separated from the solvent used in winterization. This is typically done in a reactor, where heat and vacuum are applied. This allows the solvent to evaporate into a gas. The gas is pulled with vacuum to a cooling condenser where it changes phase back to a liquid, and the clean solvent can be used again in later batches.
Decarboxylation is the process of converting the acidic forms of the cannabinoids (THCa, CBDa, CBGa, CBNa, etc.) into their non acidic forms (THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, etc.) As we mentioned before, decarboxylation allows the extract to be consumed without needing to be smoked, vaped, or heated in any way. This process also removes any residual solvent that may have been in the product, and now it is ready for distillation.
Now our winterized product is ready to be distilled. There are two types of THC distillation – short path distillation, and wiped film / thin film distillation. Both short path distillation and wiped film distillation have their advantages, and the choice between the two usually comes down to how much volume extractors wish to produce. Let’s look at the wiped film distillation process.
Wiped Film Distillation –
In wiped film distillation, heated crude oil is pushed into a column that has wiper blades spinning, spreading the oil into a thin film along the heated surface of the column. Vacuum and a cooling coil are then used to condense the vapors back to liquids. Since the compounds in the crude oil have different boiling points, you are able to separate the undesirables, commonly called “heads” or “tails” from the THC distillate or the “main fraction”.
THC distillate is one of the most versatile products when it comes to cannabis extracts. It is highly potent, can be used in nearly any consumable product, and is the ideal choice for topical and edible formulations. While THC distillate is one of the more complex products to make, as it must be refined further than other extracts, it can be worth its weight in gold.