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How to Make Concentrates

Concentrates, in case you haven’t heard, are all the rage these days. Smoking them is less harmful than burning herbs, and they’re increasingly being used as a consumption method of choice.

But how are they made? Well, the whole thing is more simple than it may seem. First you soak herbs in a solvent, a process that extracts a thick, concentrated oil. Then you remove the solvent from the oil by evaporating it off.

You can make concentrates using numerous different solvents, but the most commonly used is butane. Butane is more dangerous, but it’s also more popular. CO² is another increasingly popular solvent that produces cleaner oil. Here is a brief explanation of how to make concentrates.

First, get yourself a few supplies. These include an “extractor,” one or two canisters of liquid butane, some ground herbs, a double boiler, an electric hot plate, a Pyrex glass container, a few single-edged razor blades, and some parchment paper.

The extractor is a tube made of plastic or glass. You can use a length of PVC piping, but be aware that toxic chemicals could leach into your product. The extractor should have a single small hole at one end and a removable cap at the other. There should be several small holes in the cap, with a filter on the inside of it; a coffee filter cut to size should do fine.

Place ground herbs inside extractor tube

Start by placing ground, dry herbs inside the extractor.  Ideally, you should fill the tube, but make sure it isn’t packed too tight. You want enough space for the butane to evenly saturate all the herbs.

Soak herbs with butane

Take a canister of butane, insert the nozzle into the hole at the top of the extractor, and spray away. Use up the entire canister; you may need a second depending on the quantity of herbs you’re using. The idea is to soak the herbs until a green-brown-black oil seeps through the filter and out the holes at the bottom off the extractor. This is your herbal extract. Let it drip into your Pyrex container.

But a serious word of caution: Butane is extremely flammable. That’s why it’s used in cigarette lighters. Do not spray it indoors, close to buildings, or near vehicles, as any spark is liable to cause an explosion that could level your house and burn you alive. No kidding.

Always work outdoors

This advice also applies to boiling off the butane. Again, work outdoors with ample ventilation. Use an extension cord to bring your hot plate outside. Fill the bottom portion of your double boiler with water and get the water boiling. Now place the Pyrex container in the top part of the boiler, and don’t remove the residue until every last bit of solvent is gone. You can tell that all the solvent has been purged when the solution no longer bubbles.

At this point you’ll have a thick, near-solid oil at the bottom of the container. This is your finished product. Scrape it up with the razor blades while still warm, and then place it on parchment paper. Let it cool and fold up the paper to store your concentrate, or, if you like, transfer it all to non-stick container.

And that is how to make concentrates. Always keep in mind how dangerous this process can be, work outside, and don’t even think about lighting a cigarette anywhere near your work space. Most important, though, enjoy your concentrates!