THC distillates are a concentrated form of cannabis, and they are growing in popularity. You can buy distillates or make them yourself at home.
What to Know About Distillates
Before you make THC distillates, you should be aware of what exactly they are and why they are so popular.
As mentioned, THC distillates are cannabis concentrates. They are one of the best ways to maximize THC content for your money.
Many people love the versatility of THC distillates. You can use them to make edibles, dab them, or smoke or vape them.
People also appreciate the purity of THC distillate, because other components of the cannabis plant are removed.
Short Path Distillation
You can make THC distillates via short path distillation or short path wiped film distillation, which are almost similar methods.
The short path distillation utilizes that THC evaporates more quickly than chlorophyll, sugars, and waxes. The term “short path” refers to the fact that the vapour takes the shortest path it can to the condenser.
Short Path Wiped Film Distillation
As mentioned, the other method is the short path wiped film distillation. This is nearly identical to short path distillation, but your evaporator vessel features a wiper blade that rotates and spreads the extract on the walls of the evaporator. This feature means the extract contacts the heat, so cannabinoids evaporate.
How to Make THC Distillates Yourself
You will need some expensive gear and a basic understanding of the process of making THC distillates before you begin.
What You Need
You will need to invest in some equipment to make THC distillate yourself. You will need tubing, a thermometer, a Bunsen burner, flasks, a vacuum to assist the steam moving in the condensation tube, a cannabis grinder, collection flasks, and ethanol.
Keep in mind that getting a short path distillation system from a reputable supplier will cost around $3,000. It is possible to make your system instead, but you should expect inconsistent results if you do that. It will also be much more complicated to set up your system and harder to use it. Although you will have to spend more to buy a short path distillation system instead of rigging one together, you will find everything from setup to using it much easier, and you will get consistent results.
If you prefer to use the more efficient short path wiped film distillation system, the cost is much higher. Prices will start at around $5,000 and can easily reach tens of thousands.
The General Process – Short Path Distillation
The process of using short path distillation is relatively involved and complicated. It starts with grinding up cannabis flowers and mixing them with a solvent that has a low boiling point. You then heat the solution, so the flavonoids and terpenes become steam. You cool the steam to create a condensate, collecting it into a cooled tube. This tube connects with a collection tank.
You then raise the boiling solution’s temperature again, which forces evaporation of the cannabinoids. You let the steam pass into a cooled tube, so it condenses to create the cannabinoid fraction. You then collect the condensate. You can use it as it is or combine it with the flavonoids and terpenes to bring back some of its natural odour and flavour.
The Usual Steps Leading Up to Distillation
Before you can make your THC distillate, you will also need to extract it. As such, there are usually four general steps in the process: extraction, winterization, decarboxylation, and distillation.
Extraction is the process in which you create cannabis oil, either via physical removal or by using a solvent.
From there, you need to winterize the extract, which is the purification process that removes unwanted contaminants and by-products. This process involves exposing it to a super-cold environment. Combine the extract with ethanol, then put it in the super-cold environment for as long as two days. This will cause plant waxes, chlorophyll, lipids, and fats to coagulate then separate, reaching the bottom of your mixture. You can then use filtration to separate the purer extract from the impurities. You can use a rotary evaporator to get rid of excess ethanol.
Decarboxylation turns the THCA in the cannabis oil into THC. You can complete decarboxylation by exposing the extract to specific temperatures over time.
Finally, you can distill the extract. This is when you use the heat, vacuum pressure, and steam to separate the various chemical compounds in the concentrate.
Remember that you will have to monitor the temperatures during distillation carefully. A vacuum helps with this.
Or Distill From Ground Cannabis
You can also follow the previously mentioned steps for short path distillation to start with ground cannabis and make your distillate. This mostly follows the same four steps mentioned above, but it is completed in a single process instead of as four separate steps.
Buying THC Distillate Instead of Making It
Although you are welcome to try to make THC distillate, most people find it much simpler and more effective to buy distillate.
It should go without saying that buying THC distillate will cost less than getting all the gear you would need to make it yourself, given that the relevant gear costs at least $3,000.
Of course, buying THC distillate also saves time, as you do not have to go through the distillation process. You also do not have to waste time figuring out how to set up the system or how to use it.
It is also incredibly complicated to make THC distillate. Unless you are very comfortable with chemistry, there is a lot of room for error and confusion in the process.
Consistent and Higher Quality
Those who are new to making THC distillate will have a steep learning curve to achieve consistent results that are of high quality. This means you will have to deal with some less than stellar batches before you master the technique. By contrast, buying THC distillate from a reputable source always gives you a quality product.
You can make THC distillate at home with scientific equipment that is readily accessible, although expensive. If you do not have the time, energy, or ability to make it yourself, you can also buy THC distillate.