Distillate THC: how it’s made and who it’s for

distillate THC

The wide world of weed extract products runs the gamut, from live rosin to distillate THC. One consumer may want premium, sun-grown flower, another might seek a formulated vape pen–to each their own. The market has officially left fledgling territory, and it’s galloping into being nascent. Now, there’s room for every type of cannabis product.

Cannabis distillate has its draws and its drawbacks. Some connoisseurs of cannabis concentrates turn their noses up at distillate oil, but every type of cannabis extract has its place. This crude oil is excellent for creating vape pens that boast the same experience in every batch.

distillate THC
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What is distillate THC?

This is a high-potency weed extract purified to contain only one thing: THC. The product is made using distillation. The extraction process separates the chosen cannabinoid from everything else, leaving behind an oil that can have a slightly yellow color with no smell or taste.

The distillation method requires heating a liquid to its boiling point, which evaporates it. During the process of bringing the vapor back to liquid form THC, or another chosen compound, is isolated and removed. The end result is often pure THC, with plant matter discarded in the final product.

The issue many take with the process, and ultimately distillates, is that the terpenes and flavor-packed compounds are often discarded with the plant material. Terpenes have a lower boiling point compared to hearty cannabinoids like THC, which means they’ll burn off far before distillation is complete.

Because of this, distillate critics argue that the extract differs too much from the whole cannabis plant. Regardless, it serves a valid purpose in the ever-expanding weed space.

Distillate THC cannabis products

Many high-quality products are made with distillate THC. The marijuana vape cartridge category is varied, with everything from full spectrum pens to carts formulated with specific cannabinoids. Manufacturing the latter requires this pure THC oil.

Distillate vape carts

Full spectrum, whole plant products offer the excitement of trying new strains and a scintillating aroma, but the THC and additional content can vary from batch to batch. Crafting vape carts from distillates allows a formulator to add a milligram dose precisely the same every time despite changing batches. While they have a flavorful draw, each batch of sun-grown strains can vary in cannabinoid and terpene content– not ideal for some patients or regimented consumers.

distillate THC
Photo by Bitter and MysteryShot for Getty Images, edited in Canva

Dabbing distillates

Another common way to use these products is in a THC distillate syringe. Distillate syringes are commonly used in a dab rig. Push the oil onto the perfectly heated nail and pull. This is an efficient way to inhale high cannabinoid content, but some argue dabbing distillates lack flavor. This tracks since flavor is often donated by terpenes.

Edible distillate THC

Syringe distillate can also be eaten. Many edibles companies use distillate in products because there is no weed taste. For a low fuss option, mix it directly into a cup of tea. Since the cannabis input was already brought to a boiling point, the THCA has already been converted into THC—no decarboxylation is necessary.

The offer of a stable THC input is attractive to many companies, but flavor complaints are valid. This is where the botanical terpene industry comes in. Botanical terpenes are the same terps found in weed flower, but they are extracted from less regulated, more readily available plants such as chamomile and lavender.

Some operators add botanical terpenes into distillate pens, often in composition to mimic the original strain. These products are widely available, with equal numbers of die-hard fans and haters.

How does THC distillate feel?

THC distillate may feel one note, which makes sense since it typically contains only one cannabinoid rather than a bevy of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, esters, and more. The refined cannabis oil has been said to feel like all head high with no tingles in the body or layered effects. Anyone prone to anxiety may seek a THC distillate product that has also been blended with CBD or other distillates to avoid an intense mental high. Without balancing cannabinoids like CBD, some find THC distillate harsh.

This aligns with entourage effect theories dictating that cannabis is impactful because of the full spectrum of compounds growing in it. Botanical terpenes may not be able to mimic the entourage effect since the jury is still out on whether the essential oils impact the effects of THC. For now, those who don’t like the straightforward high of distillate THC should opt for other products.

Distillate THC frequently asked questions

Cannabis concentrates can be confusing to understand. From the distillation process to the cannabinoids, terpenes, and consumption methods–it’s a lot. Before getting overwhelmed, settle into this basic THC distillate FAQ.

Does THC distillate have a taste?

Distillate THC is generally tasteless without smell because terpenes and other fragrant compounds are boiled off in the extraction process.

Does distillate THC need to be decarbed?

Distillate does not need to be decarbed before it is consumed because the process of distillation converts the THCA into THC.

Can THC distillate be indica or sativa?

The flower THC distillate is made from can be called indica or sativa, but once the product is processed, it is chemically the same.

Is distillate THC stronger than other cannabis concentrates?

Distillate often tests over 90 percent THC, making it strong in terms of cannabinoid content. However, some value terpenes, flavor, and other aspects of cannabis—and to those consumers, distillate would not be considered stronger.

The reality of cannabis distillate

THC is a powerful compound that has served as a jumpoff for most interest in cannabis consumption and research. Before the world knew about CBN and THCV, it was keen on THC alone. Now, as more is known about the plant, some are choosing full-spectrum extracts, but there’s always a place for reliable THC distillate.

Distillate serves a necessary role in the cannabis industry. Pure cannabinoids are suitable for those formulating products with intentional ratios of THC to CBD, CBN, or other compounds. There’s space in the industry for many kinds of cannabis concentrates, and distillate has a spot on the team.

Cara Wietstock is senior content producer of GreenState.com and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.