Growing Marijuana: The Fringe Benefits of Saving Trim

Why-Farmers-Who-Grow-Marijuana-Save-Trim-Now

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when a weed farmer would grow marijuana simply for the bud, trashing the brittle, dry leaf trim like common waste. These were the days before the popularity of shatter, marijuana edibles, and concentrates. The popularity of dabbing and marijuana oils has shed new light on the way a savvy farmer chooses to grow marijuana in that less goes to waste. That’s because the once overlooked trim is now bringing in upwards of $400.00 a pound.

The Massive Appeal of THC Concentrates

Companies working in edibles and weed concentrates like shatters and hash oils are now asking farmers who grow marijuana Shatter-Marijuana-Concentrateto sell them their trim. It only takes ten pounds of trim to make a pound of concentrated marijuana oil or hash oil. Concentrates are forged using an extraction system that brings with it risks due to the gases used in the process. Producers are left with a thin sheet of amber-colored concentrate ranging in consistency from gooey to brittle. The goo can be sold as concentrated hash oil or wax while the brittle sheets are appropriately dubbed “shatter”.  These concentrates boast between 80% – 90% THC content versus the 15% – 25% consumers get from flower.

Trim: A New Fringe Benefit to Grow Marijuana

Marijuana-Trim-Another-Benefit-to-Grow-Marijuana

When farmers grow marijuana, the focus remains firmly on the flower. Flower can still bring in more cash to the grower than bags of trim. But until recently, it was common for a farmer to dispose of the trim completely. Finally, farmers who grow marijuana are realizing the value of a commodity once regarded as garbage.

Concentrates are the fastest growing facet of Colorado’s marijuana industry. The average weed shop credits anywhere between 30% – 50% of sales on concentrates of some form. Adding onto that a sale price of between $40.00 and $50.00 per gram and it’s obvious why those who grow marijuana are changing the way they handle their harvests to save the trim.

A Rabid Demand for Trim

But concentrate production companies are hitting a glass ceiling when it comes to their need for trim. The suppliers that grow marijuana for these companies can’t always provide them the amount of trim that they need. Many concentrate companies now grow marijuana themselves in addition to buying from farmers to guarantee production expectations are met.

Making-Hash-Oil-from-Marijuana-Trim

In addition to maintaining supply, concentrate companies that grow marijuana on their own have the added bonus of quality control. High demand doesn’t mean that companies will always buy whatever trim is available. Customers are more drawn to buy concentrates in a lighter shade of amber with a clear appearance as opposed to cloudy. Such an appearance comes when the trim is newly harvested and at its freshest. This market nuance means those who grow marijuana can’t collect the trim and store it over long periods of time before turning it over to the concentrate companies.

The lean market for trim still leaves plenty of room for rejection. Concentrate companies turn away trim bags peppered with fan leaves and stems. In addition, with autumn on the horizon, farms that grow marijuana are preparing for a big harvest that is likely to flood companies with quality trim options, driving those top dollar trim bag prices down. Yet farmers are now aware that when they grow marijuana, tossing trim in the trash is throwing away good money. Everyone wins with less waste.

How To Use A Nectar Collector In 7 Simple Steps + Bonus Review

NECTAR-COLLECTORNectar collectors for the most part, have only been around for the past year or so, but are starting to gain popularity as more and more  people discover this new dynamic method of vaporizing dabs. This new style of dabbing, takes user experience to the next level, by offering a unique vertical vaporizing process that allows  you to gauge your dab intake perfectly every time, without having to worry about excess concentrates being wasted during your hits.

Most nectar collectors on the market today are relatively expensive, ranging in price from $100, of upwards to $1,000, depending on what brand name you buy and which dab accessories come with them. If you’re lucky, you might come across a low priced, yet highly effective nectar collector from an online wholesale smoke shop, but for the most part, they tend to be on the costly side.

nectar collector kit

At first glance, the nectar collector looks like a probing device from an alien spaceship. The glass body is shaped like a syringe and usually features an embedded percolator, that can be used as a filtration device when water is applied. Accompanying the base are a glass mouthpiece that slides into the top, and a nectar collector titanium tip, that is used unconventionally, as a dab nail. Some nectar collector kits also come equipped with a wax dish, such as this one, that is used as a launch pad, for inserting the titanium tip into finely extracted medical concentrates upon inhalation. The more high end nectar collectors typically come with a rotating metal pivoting stand, that assists in the vertical vaporizing process, once inserted into dabs.

How to Use A Nectar Collector In 7 Simple Steps

             

Step 1: Add Water to the Base

Tip #1: Fill the base slowly with water, making sure that it filled about halfway, allowing for the best percolation.

Tip #2: Make sure that the glass mouthpiece and titanium tip are removed before filling with water so that water won’t get trapped in the tip.

pour water nectar collector

Step 2: Check Water Level

Tip: Make sure water level is a little less than half-way full to allow for optimal percolation.

nectar collector water level

 Step 3: Add Glass Mouthpiece to Base

Tip: A small amount of joint wax can be applied to the base in order to prevent the mouthpiece from sliding in place during use.

nectar collector mouth piece

Step 4: Add Nectar Collector Titanium Tip to Base

Tip: Joint wax can be applied as a faint adhesive to the inside of the tip after being heated with a torch, to keep it in place during use.

nectar collector tip

 Assembled Nectar Collector

nectar collector assembled

(Ready for take-off)*

Step 5: Heat Titanium Tip Gently With Butane Torch Until It Has A Light Red Glow

Tip #1: Be careful not to overheat the tip as excessive heating can cause cracking.

Tip #2: Hold the nectar collector horizontally while heating to avoid leaks.nectar collector titanium

(Don’t Be A Dumbass and Burn Yourself or Your Friends!)

Step 6: Inhale While Tip Is Heated, and Submerge Tip in Dabs

heated tip

 (The kit that we purchased came with a glass wax dish)

Tip: The nectar collector titanium tip allows you to use just the amount of dabs needed for your hit, so don’t waste your supply!

Step 7: Don’t Forget to Exhale!

exhale nectar collector

6″ Mini Nectar Collector 10mm Review

Besides the titanium tip and glass mouthpiece, this nectar collector kit features a wax dish for storing dabs in between hits.The nectar collector itself, is 6 inches in length and has a 10mm sized titanium nail. The design is sleek and clean in appearance, and is made with durable borosilicate glass, which is known for it’s high resistance to extreme heat. The only downside to using this piece is the fact that it doesn’t come with a rotating metal swivel stand, as some of the more high end nectar collectors have, but that aside, this piece does it all. While using this device we experienced no issues during the assembly process and the hits were very clean and filtered thanks to the mini percolator. We filled the water too high the first time, but it was an easy fix. All in all, this nectar collector gets the job done at a fraction of the price that you’d normally pay for your average nectar collector, and it makes for an ideal buy, especially if you’re into dabbing or simply want a cheap alternative to your every day dab rig.

The nectar collector featured in this review: http://www.marijuanapackaging.com/6-nectar-collector-10mm.html

Shatter Vs. Wax Vs. Sugar

bho  shatter wax sugarThere’s no question that we’re living in a golden age for concentrates— a greater federal tolerance for the marijuana industry and the widespread availability of extraction “tech” has dramatically increased the amount of concentrate available to patients and recreational users alike. However, the explosion in popularity of concentrates has also generated excess of misinformation circulating the internet, especially among amateur hash-makers.

Perhaps the most common questions among enthusiasts is “What is the difference between shatter and honeycomb wax?” and “Why does my concentrate look like ______? How do I make it look like _____?” A quick google search will yield an endless supply of contradicting “answers” from forum “experts” who demonstrate a tentative grasp of basic scientific principles. Even among bud-tenders, there seems to be little consensus or understanding with regards to how different forms of concentrate actually differ from one another. In this article, we will examine the difference between shatter, wax and sugar and speculate why light colored, translucent shatter is likely to be the most desirable product to consume.

Shatter Vs Wax

Just about every dispensary these days will have more than one form of hash outside the traditional pressed-trichome product that’s been around for centuries. While CO2 extracted “crumbles” and more liquid, pressure-extracted concentrates like “the clear” have become more common, this article will focus on butane-extracted hash (see our previous article on the benefits of closed-loop extraction).

BHO generally comes in two forms, shatter and wax (or crumble). Shatter tends to have a consistency ranging from sticky sap to a very stable, hard resin at room temperature and can have an appearance anywhere from a dark brown to a nearly translucent. Wax on the other hand, tends to be completely dry and crumbly and is sometimes referred to as “honeycomb” because of its resemblance. While both are made using the same solvent (butane) and a vacuum purging process, there are several factors that account for the difference between the two forms of concentrate.

As one might expect, wax/crumble is purged for longer at higher temperatures resulting in a drier more “completely purged” product that has less residual butane complexed within. However, butane isn’t the only compound that can be purged at 100°F and -29 mmHg. Under such a vacuum, the boiling point of all liquids are depressed.

More Than Just THC

When butane is used to extract THC from raw plant material, it also picks up a medley of other compounds including terpenes, plant fats, and chlorophyll (via micelle formation). The concentrations of these compounds vary as you move from the top of the cola to the roots of a marijuana plant which is why “trim run” and “nug run” extracts of the same plant can appear completely different. It should also be noted that n-butane is actually slightly water soluble at room temperature and can pick up some polar species which tend to make for darker, harsher concentrates (this is why dryness is important for both solvent and raw plant material).

While plant fats and chlorophyll are undesirable (and tend to burn, leaving ash behind), terpenes are the compounds that contribute to the smell and flavor of marijuana and some have been known for centuries to possess medicinal and practical value. Many of these compounds are volatile (meaning they start to evaporate) around room temperature so their concentrations begin to decrease as soon as a plant is cut and killed. The key to making the most pleasant, flavorful extracts is maintaining a full terpene profile while decreasing the butane content below the 3ppm taste threshold.

Over-Purging

Basic thermodynamics determine that liquids boil more readily when held under vacuum. During a vacuum purge, the pressure can be reduced as low as -29 mmHg which lowers the boiling point of butane from 31°F to -96°F (and THC from 315°F to 195°F). In order to achieve a “complete purge” many will even apply additional heat without considering the consequences this will have on the volatile terpenes (which already evaporate at room temperature and normal pressure). This is the main reason why shatter tends to have a more potent taste/ smell when compared to crumbles.

At this point one must ask the question, “what’s more important? A full terpene profile or less residual butane present in the final product?” Ultimately while the THC concentrations in shatter will be greater than that of crumble (because of density), both have similar perceived “strength.” As many people use cannabis for many different reasons, the answer is entirely personal but it should be noted that residual concentrations of butane in either products has been deemed non-toxic to humans. With that in mind, I consider crumble to be over-purged product that is missing an ideal component, the natural terpenes (some folks try to add food-grade terpenes like ‘D-limonene’ but the end result is almost always unnatural and off-putting).

Judge A Book By Its Cover

While its impossible to know just how a concentrate will taste until you’ve tried it, there are certain traits to look out for that high-quality shatters seem to all have in common:

1.It will be transparent: “dewaxed” shatter will be free of any solids that would give it a cloudy appearance and will leave little residue behind when vaporized.

2. It will be light colored: the dark color to shatter is caused by solids and polar compounds that get picked up during extraction, usually attributable to the presence of water. Some of the best extract artists have suggested freezing fresh cut plant material to lock up water while maintaining a full terpene profile resulting in some spectacularly light, almost clear shatters.

3. It will smell strongly: high terpene concentrations will almost certainly give off a magnificent bouquet.

The consistency of shatter (from vicious ‘taffy’ to ‘stable’ shatter) will depend on the overall butane and terpene concentration, both which contribute to a more viscous product.

Shatter vs. Sugar

“Sugar” is the word used to describe shatter that has begun to resemble the consistency of wet sand while not completely drying out into crumble. Many have speculated that this could be strain-dependent while others have suggested that this results from shatter “sitting around for too long” or from residual butane escaping the shatter. While legitimate experimental data doesn’t yet exist on the subject, I believe the real answer to be a combination the previous suggestions.

I think sugar results from a natural separation of volatile components (butane and terpenes mostly) from non-volatile components. Different strains contain different concentrations of various terpenes and non-volatile molecules which explains why some strains naturally “want” to sugar up more than others. This process is accelerated by the vacuum purge which effectively increases the volatility of all components within the extract. Regardless, “sugaring up” suggests some degradation of the final product (which is why it generally tends to be priced cheaper than regular shatter of the same variety)

Conclusion

Though its often farmers and amateur chemists who end up constituting a large portion of the concentrate production industry (at least as long as it’s somewhat illegal), organic extraction/isolation of volatile compounds and most especially concentration of such under vacuum is a very delicate process even by a trained chemist’s standards. A scientific attention to detail and high grade starting material are often the difference between a Cannabis Cup winner and the discount crumble available at your local dispensary. Be aware of the differences between sugar, shatter and wax/crumble and use the guidelines we’ve mentioned while choosing your next concentrate (if you have such a luxury) and see if you don’t notice the difference.

The Advantages of Closed-Loop BHO Extraction

vacuum purged shatterMarijuana extraction technology has changed rapidly over the last few years thanks to a greater demand for concentrates and wide-spread decriminalization and legalization. The black, tarry “oils” that were once acceptable forms of “hash” have all but disappeared (apparently some poor fools are still smoking that toxic ‘Rick Simpson Oil’) and in particular, the development of closed-loop extraction technologies has represented a paradigm shift in the way both producers and consumers approach concentrates. At this point, closed-loop butane extraction is the best, most efficient method we have for extracting THC and when set up properly, it provides a scientific level of safety and control that can yield the highest quality products possible.

Closed-Loop Extraction is Safer

The most obvious advantage to a closed-loop extraction setup is that it provides a much greater degree of safety than “open blasting.” BHO extraction has gotten a bad rap over the last few years because plenty of stupid, inexperienced stoners try their hand at open BHO extraction and end up on the news because they blew themselves up. A closed-loop extraction is just that– it’s completely sealed off so that no butane can escape the system into the surrounding environment (thus avoiding filling the room with butane, though proper ventilation is always necessary, closed-loop or not). 

Closed-Loop Extraction is More Efficient

Closed-loop systems will naturally be under greater pressure than open systems which, while not directly affecting solubility in any meaningful way, does increase the interface time between the raw marijuana and butane thus allowing for a more complete extraction.

Closed loop systems also allow for a more precise control of temperature which does have a direct effect on the solubility of THC into butane– though there are two ways of thinking about it. While an increase in temperature of the butane does allow for greater solubility of THC (and thus a more efficient extraction), it also increases the amount of water in the product (as water is just slightly soluble in butane), though thorough drying of the raw material and solvent could combat this.

Rather, many extraction artists choose to cool the extraction column to sub-zero temperatures which, while decreasing the solubility of butane, prevents many of the undesirable plant fats and waxes (and water) from making it into the solvent. This is a choice method since it avoids the need to “polish” or de-wax later using a cold ethanol wash. Closed-loop extraction systems also prevent butane from being needlessly evaporated and some systems even offer the ability to recover butane, allowing solvent to be used many more times without needing to be recharged.

Closed-Loop Extraction Yields The Highest Quality Product

The great Budweiser-endowed beer-scholar Charles Bamforth says with regards to taste in what is good, “to each her own,” but it’s hard to deny that the strongest, most flavorful, most cosmetically pleasant concentrates have been produced through closed-loop extraction. The only products that seem to come even close are the most carefully crafted, ultra-fine ice hashes which can hardly be seen as representative of an efficient extraction method.The use of these technologies is always accompanied by temperature-controlled vacuum purging which is the other half of the art & science of MMJ extraction. The vacuum purge is used to remove butane below the taste threshold of 3ppm, far below any level that could be considered dangerous to anyone.

While concentrates still have some legal-grey area, even in states where marijuana is legal, these advantages to closed-loop extraction are the reasons why the most forward-thinking states– states like Colorado– are creating regulations that will impose industry standards requiring closed-loop extraction for the safety of everyone.

If marijuana helps you and you live somewhere where it isn’t legal, you should move to Colorado (seriously!). Let’s stop open blasting once and for all, it’s just not very good.