Cannabis wax is one of the most popular concentrate types due to its high potency, incredible aroma and flavor, and fast-acting effects. Wax is similar to other marijuana concentrates, but a difference in consistency, chemical profile, and the production method makes this extract unique.
What Is Cannabis Wax?
This extract has an opaque color, often ranging between a light and dark golden hue.
It has a soft and pliable consistency and a sticky and waxy texture.
Flavor and Aroma
Wax has a phenomenal flavor and pungent aroma that varies depending on the cultivar.
This extract has high cannabinoid levels ranging between 60 and 80% THC.
How Is Marijuana Wax Made?
Cannabis wax is made similarly to other extract types such as shatter, crumble, and budder. Generally, these marijuana concentrates are made with a solvent-based extraction, typically butane. In a licensed processing facility and extraction room, cannabis wax is made with a closed-loop butane hash oil (BHO) extraction process.
Even before it reaches its processing phase, the material used to make the extract is grown in outdoor or indoor settings. The quality of the wax depends significantly on how the plant material was grown and the type of material that was used.
Cannabis wax can be made from dried and cured flower buds or trim of the harvest containing sugar leaves and stems. Trim can have a decent source of trichomes, the plant's resin glands that produce its cannabinoids and terpenes.
While trim will not contain as many trichomes as flower buds, it can produce great results when concentrated and refined.
The cannabinoid and terpene content of the extract depends on the growing methods used and its genetics. Each cultivar will produce unique flavors, aromas, and cannabinoid content. The sheer variety of cultivars available means you can try a variety of cannabis wax products.
Butane Hash Oil Extraction
Butane hash oil extraction is the most common way to produce cannabis wax. Butane is a flammable and explosive solvent that must be used in a closed-loop system that can reuse and recycle the solvent. The process occurs in an extraction room with gas monitoring and ventilation to ensure any rare but potential leaks are caught early and do not result in injury.
Extraction processes using light hydrocarbons (butane and propane) have been common since the 1970s. Today, the cannabis industry has adopted this technology to create some of the most potent, best tasting and smelling, and safe products.
Butane’s relatively low boiling point (30.2º F) allows it to effectively dissolve cannabinoids such as THC and CBD and its aromatic terpenes from the plant material, especially fresh-frozen material.
Cannabis crude extracts then undergo a vacuum purging process to eliminate any residual solvent left in the material. During this post-processing, various whipping techniques and changes in parameters can create concentrates with different consistencies and textures, ranging from runny and oily terp sauce to hard and brittle shatter.
Here is a general breakdown of the butane hash oil extraction process:
- Cannabis biomass is loaded into the material tank.
- Chilled butane solvent is pumped into the material tank.
- As butane passes through the biomass-filled tank, the solvent dissolves the cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils from the plant matter.
- Heat is applied to the solvent and biomass mixture to evaporate the solvent into the solvent tank where it can be chilled again into a liquid.
- Cannabis extractions can also include color remediation using a variety of filter types such as silica gel, activated charcoal, activated bentonite clay, diatomaceous earth, and others. Extractions can also include extra runs with different solvents to achieve a better final product.
- Crude cannabis wax is purged of its residual solvent in a vacuum oven. The vacuum chamber decreases pressure, allowing lower temperatures to evaporate the solvent and preserve more of the plant's cannabinoids and terpenes.
- After the residual solvent has been purged, the sticky wax is cooled down to its final form and packaged in concentrate containers.
Vacuum purging is the final part of the BHO production workflow. Purging removes the butane residue from making cannabis wax.
Here is a deeper look into the vacuum purging process of cannabis wax:
- The crude BHO is placed on various surfaces, including a silicone mat, parchment paper, PTFE paper, or pyrex dish. Extraction operators will set the oven at the preferred temperature and create a full vacuum.
- During this purging process, operators must check the bubbling of the product. Over several hours, the bubbling will slow down. This means that most of the residual solvent has been removed from the extract. The purging process is complete when the product does not produce any more bubbles.
- The product can then be flipped over on a silicone mat or parchment paper, and the process is repeated with minor changes in temperatures and workflow. Bubbling will not be as intense but will produce some bubbles.
How to Use Cannabis Wax
Cannabis wax can be consumed in a variety of ways, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Generally, cannabis wax is consumed using a dab rig but can also be eaten, smoked, vaped, and applied topically.
Here are the most common ways to consume wax.
All cannabis concentrates can be smoked, although it is not the most effective way to enjoy the product. Wax can provide enhanced potency on top of your packed pipe or bong bowl or inside of your weed joint.
Lighting the cannabis wax directly with your butane lighter combusts the material, destroying much of the plant's temperature-sensitive terpene compounds. If you plan to smoke cannabis wax, try to light the weed wax using the tip of the flame. The radiant heat can avoid scorching the extract and produce a better flavor and aroma.
Traditionally, marijuana wax is consumed in a dab rig with a nail and blow torch. Dabbing involves using a blowtorch to heat the nail. Then, the nail is allowed to cool to reach the desired temperature. A dab of cannabis wax is applied with a dabber tool onto the heated surface. Warm-up and cool-down times depend on the size and thickness of the dab nail.
An infrared thermometer can be used for better temperature control of the dab nail. An electronic nail, also called an e-nail, consists of heating coils that connect to a temperature controller box. This helps maintain precise temperatures compared to using a blowtorch.
Cannabis vaporizers designed for extracts can be used for vaping wax at home or on the go. A quality vape pen is usually made with quartz or ceramic heating element and titanium coils to heat the cannabis extract. Then, you inhale the THC vapor.
Vaporizers vary in size, color, design, quality, and function. Invest in a vaporizer that allows you to have precise temperature control, or temperature presets for better temperature control. Vaping at low temperatures is better for preserving the wax’s terpenes.
Cannabis concentrates can be used to create edibles instead of using dried and cured cannabis plant material. Instead of using ounces of marijuana buds or trim, you can use a few grams of cannabis extracts.
Cannabis wax can be infused into a butter or oil that can be used in a variety of foods and beverages.
Consider the difference in potency and dosage in extracts compared to marijuana buds, which have a considerably lower potency of about 15 to 25% THC than cannabis wax which has between 60 and 80% THC.
Cannabis wax can be infused into various topicals, such as creams, lotions, salves, balms, and transdermal patches. All topicals, except for transdermal patches, do not produce a high because the cannabinoids do not penetrate the blood-brain barrier in the skin. Instead, the application of these topicals can provide localized relief when applied liberally.
Benefits of Cannabis Wax
In the wide world of cannabis concentrate types, you have many to choose from, so why would you choose marijuana wax?
Here are a few of the main benefits of cannabis wax.
Fast-Acting and Long-Lasting Effects
All dabs, including cannabis wax, provide fast-acting effects that take effect within minutes after inhalation. The effects of marijuana wax can last for about 2 to 3 hours when inhaled through smoking, vaping, or dabbing.
The effects of weed wax can differ based on the consumption methods, such as eating or applying topically. If consumed orally via an edible, the effects can take longer to kick in, about 45 minutes to an hour, and last for several hours, depending on your tolerance and amount consumed.
Cannabis wax has one of the highest potencies out of all the extracts, although shatter, distillate, and THCA crystals can contain more than 90% THC. Still, cannabis wax boasts a high THC content, great for medical cannabis patients who need significant relief or recreational users with high tolerances.
Superior Flavor and Aroma
Cannabis wax’s soft and waxy consistency results from a post-processing technique that helps retain more terpenes compared to other extracts such as shatter. As a result, cannabis wax can have a great flavor and aroma unique to the strain.
Is Cannabis Wax Safe to Consume?
BHO concentrates have gotten a bad rap for being full of harmful solvent amounts in the finished product, and the risk of butane explosions when this highly flammable solvent is open blasted in a poorly ventilated area.
Generally, cannabis wax is safe to consume and make if you have the right skills and specialized equipment for the process. Here are a few factors to consider if you want to have a safe and fun experience.
Leave It to the Pros
Butane hash oil extraction can be dangerous if it is not performed in a lab-grade setting with closed-loop equipment and a skilled operator. Instead of putting yourself and others in danger, let licensed processors create cannabis wax and other concentrates.
Avoid Black Market Sources
Avoid buying your wax from black market sources. Illegal growers and processors are not regulated, and therefore, do not adhere to the stringent regulations to create safe products. Growers can use pesticides, and processors can cut corners to make more products at a faster rate at the expense of the consumer.
Buy Lab-Tested Cannabis Wax
Always buy cannabis wax from licensed producers who have lab-tested their products for contaminants and potency at an independent analytical lab. Many state regulations require products to be tested. Products are then labeled on the package with their cannabinoid content and date tested.
Use Low Temperatures to Dab and Vape
When consuming cannabis wax, we recommend dabbing and vaping at low temperatures, between 350 and 550º F, instead of higher temperatures which can destroy the wax’s terpenes.
Cannabis Extracts Beyond Wax
Cannabis extracts come in different forms. Many are a product of butane hash oil extraction but can be made with other solvents such as carbon dioxide, ethanol, or a mix of different solvents. In addition, solventless techniques such as rosin pressing and ice water extraction can produce extracts without using solvents.
Clarify Your Wax With Media Bros
Give your cannabis wax the Media Bros treatment. Media Bros is the leading producer of color remediation technology and filters. Making cannabis wax is easier and better than ever with quality filter media such as our CRX and CRY filters for butane extraction.