What is Marijuana Wax?

Posted 7 years ago by Ian Shutts

The arrival of legalized marijuana in the USA spawned all kinds of new products, with extracts being arguably the highest selling marijuana product. Even though we have been making hash for centuries, marijuana wax takes concentrates to a whole new level. It is one of the strongest forms of weed that we can take and that is why it has hit the market by storm. It gets its name because of the way that it looks – which is a lot like an oily, waxy substance. Oh, and that waxy substance is almost purely cannabinoids.

Marijuana wax is like the modern day hash. It’s what we can extract from weed with thanks to modern technology. And the more we dab into the world of extracts, the higher the quality of the products become. Extracts have even given birth to a whole new range of smoking paraphernalia and a whole new method of smoking marijuana called dabbing. Other names for marijuana wax are shatter, oil and BHO (Butane Hash Oil).

The Butane Extraction Method
So how exactly do we arrive at marijuana wax when we started out with fluffy buds? Through a method of extraction using butane, the cannabinoids are essentially blasted out of the weed. Well, that’s the short story. Before the long story – a disclaimer! Butane isn’t exactly kitchen friendly, so don’t go trying to blast your own buds at home!

The process of extracting means dissolving the cannabinoids, terpenoids and other compounds into a solvent. In this case, that solvent is butane. By packing the buds densely into a tube and then blasting it (high pressure) with butane, a resultant oily/waxy substance is leftover. The way that the butane is passed through tube means that the plant material doesn’t escape. All that comes out is the cannabinoid-filled solvent. However, this substance still contains the solvent that was used, which in this case is butane. Unsurprisingly, it’s no good for smokers to be ingesting butane, and so the second step of the process is to evaporate any solvent that is left.

After evaporating butane from the resultant substance, what you’re left with is a very potent and concentrated form of marijuana – ideally. The waxy or oily substance that is produced should be cannabinoid and terpenoid rich. And extremely hallucinogenic. It is called a “concentrate” because just a small amount contains the same dosage of cannabinoids that you might get from a whole bud.

Not all waxes are created equal
Cannabis wax containers

Ideally, the final substance doesn’t contain any of the solvent. However, the big question surrounding marijuana extracts in general is the possibility that some of the solvent remains even after evaporating. As I mentioned earlier, the human body doesn’t like butane, and a poor quality BHO can have detrimental health effects. If the process isn’t conducted properly, the final result can be kind of toxic and can lack some of the elements of marijuana that users love so much.

Marijuana enthusiasts also propose the argument that marijuana extracts don’t always cover the entire cannabinoid and flavor profile that regular weed contains. That means it’s likely some of the cannabinoids and terpenoids get lost to the process and to the solvent. And we all know that some of the most characteristic properties of weed are the taste and smell. Believe it or not, these elements also contribute to its medicinal power as well as its strength. The arguments against solvent based waxes are that the solvent can be dangerous if it isn’t evaporated properly and that some of the finer flavors are lost.

Marijuana rosin is the perfect example of a solventless extract. It looks almost exactly like wax but doesn’t actually require a solvent to create it. Simply using heat, the cannabinoids can be extracted into a waxy substance. For that reason, rosin is not considered dangerous – neither to make or to use. Having said all of this, more people have injured themselves trying to make BHO than actually using it. All of that is because the process involves combusting something highly flammable.

The more our techniques advance, the better the quality of marijuana oils and extracts become. We are getting closer and closer to oils that are basically pure, meaning 100% cannabinoids. What this offers the marijuana industry is a very strong and very potent form of weed.

A little bit about dabbing
marijuana dab smoker

As you can imagine, smoking marijuana wax is a little bit different to smoking herbal material. It doesn’t roll up to into a joint quite as easily, although some people still use it that way. It is more commonly used in a device called a dabbing rig. It looks a lot like a bong, except that there’s no cone piece for putting buds. Instead, there is a chamber which you heat up with a blowtorch before putting the wax inside. Once you put the oil or wax inside, it is vaporized completely and the vapor can be sucked in through the top of the bubbler. Ah, this part freaks a lot of people out – having to use a blowtorch. Interestingly enough, this actually means not having to inhale – surprise surprise – butane from a lighter. The fire is just used to heat up the bowl, whereas with a regular bong some butane is inhaled from the lighter in the initial inhale.

It is called dabbing because you seriously only need a dab! Marijuana oils and waxes are so heavily concentrated with cannabinoids that it would be basically insane to ingest a whole gram in one session. Plus, dabbing makes you really really high. It is one of the fastest ways to ingest such a huge volume of cannabinoids. Anyone who dabs remembers that first time hitting one. It is much stronger than the regular plant material that most people are used to.

The effects are generally considered to be more psychedelic when weed is dabbed compared to when it is smoked. This is largely to do with the amount that is being consumed in a single hit. The effects are also felt instantly. Dabbing continues to gain popularity as one of the preferred ways to smoke because of how little it requires to get absolutely blazed. Remember – dabbing is way more responsible than trying to make your own BHO! So save all the chemical stuff for the professionals and stick to getting high!