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Concentrating on Concentrates and Distillates Author: Bruce CoetzeeThe dawn of a new age within the cannabis culture has been embraced at what smokers and tokers herald on par with the invention of electricity. The interest that is growing daily, centred around cannabis concentrates and distillates, is producing not only a unique new market but also one that is attracting many investment opportunities. This sector has become adequately formalised in a short period of time, supported by a dedicated group of extraction and distillation specialists. Many of the finest high-end products are produced similarly; however, the level of expertise afforded by seasoned professionals is by far the determining factor gauging the overall product appeal. Concentrates are, in effect, extracts that contain a multitude of specific compounds found within the cannabis plant. Besides THC and CBD, other compounds will include flavonoids and terpenes. The retention of these terpenes and flavonoids give concentrates aroma, flavour and taste. Colours may vary from dark green and gold to reds with hues of amber. Production methods used in manufacturing concentrates commonly incorporate low temperature, high pressure or solvent-based processes. Concentrates offer the benefit of a fuller flavour reminiscent of the specific strain used to produce the final product. The prevalence of terpenes and flavonoids also provide certain medical benefits and makes it more appealing to those who want to include all the possible healing abilities of the cannabis plant in an easy, potent form. Concentrates are often sold under labels as rosin, live rosin, budder or dab selections, and while they are potent, they do, however, come second in comparison to distillates. When discretion or purest concentrations of a specific cannabinoid are required, distillate is the means and mechanism by which this desire is fulfilled! Distillates are void of any terpenes, flavonoids and all plant materials, and they are also absent in both smell and taste while offering singular cannabinoid compounds as an end product. The main application of currently trending distillates includes being utilised as a base for vape pens and CBD products where a 0% THC value is required.
Two processes are used in manufacturing distillate of consistently high quality: Short path distillation and Wiped film distillation. During the process, crude cannabis oil that still contains plant residue is heated to specific cannabinoid boiling points in controlled increments. Once evaporation of the desired cannabinoids has commenced, the vapour is run through a series of jacketed cooling tubes, condensing the vapour and feeding into collection pods. Each pod will essentially collect a specific cannabinoid distillate based on careful temperature control. Primary, secondary and tailings describe the variants of distillate collected at precise temperature increments, and many professionals run the process twice to further improve quality and potency. Both distillation methods rely on starting with a good quality concentrate and are progressively tied to the quality of the end product. While short path distillation is the simpler method, where large amounts of product with a significantly higher production quality value is needed, Wiped film distillation is commonly utilised. Distillates lack the medical attributes of terpenes; however, where unparalleled potency is desired, they can simply not be beaten! While the popularity of concentrates and distillates grows, so too has new opportunity emerged for local investors to capitalise on producing hardware components for the industry right here in South Africa. Specialised rosin press systems and distillation setups have proven to be just two of the countless products flying off the shelves that domestic businesses could manufacture locally.
The resounding developments within the cannabis sector are a sobering reminder of the impact cannabis is providing. As a world blinded by servitude in demonising the plant for so many decades, it has finally begun to realise that now is the time for humanity to sit up and concentrate.
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