For a new cannabis users, you might be asking, what is a concentrate? A cannabis concentrate is a highly potent Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC for short) concentrated mass that looks like honey or butter. For that reason, it’s often referred to its slang terms ‘honey oil’, or ‘budder’. There are a bunch of other slang terms for concentrates, such as ‘wax’, ‘shatter’, ‘extract’ or ‘ice’, and the list goes on and on. Essentially, cannabis concentrates contain extraordinarily high THC levels ranging from 40 to 80 percent. This form of marijuana can be up to four times stronger in THC content than high grade or top shelf marijuana, which normally measures around 18 – 20 percent THC levels. So now that we got you excited about them, we’re going to teach you how to smoke concentrates.

How To Smoke Concentrates

There are almost as many different methods for consuming cannabis concentrates as there are different types available. Whether your new to cannabis or not, the initial set up for smoking concentrates can be a bit overwhelming. You’re looking at spending about $100 + in equipment, and could potentially spend about the same on the cannabis material. Keep in mind also, not all ways of consuming extracts are created equal, they all have their pros and cons for different types of users. 

How To Smoke Concentrates Using Cannabis

Probably the most accessible way for new users to consume cannabis extracts is by crumbling them up on top of a pipe bowl or into a joint. This allows people to essentially “dip their toe” into the concentrate pool and see if they even like the additional potency offered by these products. 

The upside is you could most likely do this without purchasing any new equipment or product, all you need is a grinder with 3 chambers, a bowl or pipe, and some cannabis flower. With your grinder, open the bottom most chamber and what you’ll find is farmers kief. This is the little bits of kief that fall off the flower as you grind, and it collects here. Take some of that and put it on top of flower in a bowl and light it up. And remember as you’re first learning how to smoke concentrates, or trying different kinds, take smaller hits than you normally would so you don’t cough too much!

The downsides to this method are that it doesn’t allow the user to experience the concentrate itself directly and that much of it ends up wasted as part of the smoking process. This is only recommended for those who have no other choice and no other equipment to smoke or vaporize, this is the most basic, rudimentary style of smoking concentrates. 

How To Smoke Concentrates Using A Hash Pipe

There are specialized pipes intended for the consumption of hash (primarily water hash or kief, but certain pipes can work with oil and solvent extracts as well). These pipes generally require nothing more than a good lighter and occasional replacement screens. This method of smoking concentrates allow the user to experience the hash on its own without the flavor and smoke of flowers. The relatively small entry price makes this option appealing to those who have more than a passing interest in extracts and want to really see what the new world of cannabis is all about.

How To Smoke Concentrates Using A Vaporizer

There are two main types of vaporizer: portable and desktop. Though the large, expensive Volcano-style vaporizers still exist on the market, they don’t tend to work particularly well with extracts.

For the most part, these at-home units have been replaced by portable, convenient “vape pen” options which range in price from $30 to $200 depending upon features and quality. 

vape pen how to smoke concentrates

Rather than being tethered to a power outlet for the entire smoking session, these devices can be charged via USB and taken anywhere, allowing the user complete mobility. Most personal vaporizers like this can accept only solvent-extracted extracts (wax, shatter, oils), but some can also vaporize high-quality water hash and even flowers if they are designed to handle various substances.

Vaporizers allow the user to experience the pure flavor of the extract while avoiding any actual combustion of the material, which generally makes it an easier experience on the lungs and results in less carcinogens and tar than smoking.

The downside to portable vaporizers is that many of the units on the market have weak batteries or heating elements and tend to give mediocre hits. A bad hit doesn’t completely vaporize the concentrate, and results in degraded flavor and lesser effects compared to a more thorough way of consuming such as smoking in a hash pipe or dabbing (see below). The other downside to many portable vaporizers is that they have been linked to nefarious chemicals such as arsenic and boron, which are often left as residuals during their manufacturing process (most of these units are made in China, where regulations are looser). It is suggested that you study your options before purchasing any vape pen, as there are high-quality units on the market that are free of these issues.

How To Smoke Concentrates With Dabbing

A still somewhat-controversial yet arguably most effective way of consuming concentrates is dabbing. The process involves vaporizing extracts on a hot surface (the “nail,” generally made of titanium, quartz or ceramic) and then inhaling them though an “oil rig,” which is a specialized pipe meant for this use.

Through the aid of a butane torch (or an electronic heating element in the case of “e-nails” — the newest and most expensive pieces of equipment for concentrate consumers), the user heats up the nail, places their concentrate of choice on a “dabber” (again, usually titanium, quartz, or ceramic) that allows them to safely dab the concentrate onto the hot surface. Ideally, the temperature of the surface should lie between 550 and 750 degrees Fahrenheit, with the higher end of the spectrum causing a more thorough vaporization and the lower end of the spectrum preserving more flavor and terpene content.

The cost of a proper dab rig can vary from as little as $50 to as much as $50,000 for some of the ultra-artistic, rare pieces made by the most revered glassblowers in the world. 

Do you think you know how to smoke concentrates like a professional now? If you have more questions, please ask them in our comments below. You can also Check out our resource on all the different textures and consistencies. If you’re looking for a demonstration to watch, check out our Cannabis Therapy PotCast where we show you how to dab.