Cannabis concentrates are potent products that have grown substantially in popularity. These products, derived from cannabis flowers, are incredibly potent, ranging between 50% and 90% THC or more. For reference, the most potent flowers can reach just over 30% THC. There are several different types of concentrates, including wax. Here’s what you should know about cannabis wax extraction techniques.

What Is Wax?

Cannabis wax is a type of concentrate. It’s an extract from the cannabis plant that contains concentrated cannabinoids. There are several extracts, which range from liquidy or syrupy to solid and brittle. As the name suggests, wax is a waxy substance. It’s soft but more solid than others, a characteristic that makes it easier to handle than some other products. There are a few different methods manufacturers use to make it.

Butane Extraction

One of the most common ways to make wax is by using a solvent. Butane is one of the most popular options. Manufacturers heat liquid butane and pass it over cannabis plant material to pull out cannabinoids and other beneficial plant compounds. Next, the resulting liquid undergoes an evaporation process, which removes the solvent from the final product.

While evaporation removes butane from the cannabis wax, sometimes, some solvent gets left behind. For this reason, many users may look for waxes made using other, safer methods.

Supercritical CO2 Extraction

Supercritical CO2 extraction is a method of wax extraction that involves the use of liquid CO2 to remove cannabinoids from plant matter. Manufacturers first pressurize CO2, which turns the gas into a liquid. Like butane extractions, CO2 extracts undergo an evaporation process. Unlike butane, however, CO2 is non-toxic. It’s also a more environmentally-friendly alternative. Manufacturers can reuse CO2 over and over. The process does require specialized equipment, but it is a much safer option.


Ice Water Extraction

Ice water extraction is a solvent-less method for making wax. With this process, cannabis buds get immersed in ice water. The cold freezes the trichomes, which contain cannabinoids, terpenes, and other valuable compounds. These trichomes fall to the bottom of the container. Manufacturers collect them and pass them through a series of mesh screens. Finally, they can use the collected trichomes to create wax.

Heat and Pressure Extraction

Another solventless method for making wax extractions involves nothing more than heat and pressure. Manufacturers apply both heat and pressure to cannabis buds, which squeezes out a sappy resin. In many cases, they use the resin to create shatter, but they can also use it to make wax and other concentrates. Many cannabis enthusiasts actually make their own version at home using a hair straightener.

Know Your Wax

Understanding the various ways to make wax can help you better understand the products you use. It can also help you select the right products for your particular preferences. For instance, if you want to avoid chemicals, you might choose a wax made using ice water or heat and pressure. No matter what the extraction method, this principle remains the same – start low and go slow. Wax and other concentrates are potent. You don’t need much to obtain the desired results. A small amount will go a very long way.