Cannabis oil is another kind of cannabis concentrate, which, if you read last week’s postyou will know that “cannabis concentrate” refers to any cannabis product acquired through an extraction process, so it can be “wax” you dab, “shatter” you vaporize, or like today’s subject, “oil” that you ingest, vaporize, and/or apply topically.  

The most basic Cannabis oil can be made at home, without solvents, simply by heating your choice of oil (coconut oil, olive oil, vegetable oil) with cannabis plant material (buds, leaves, trim, etc). The heating process will extract THC and other cannabinoids from the cannabis into the oil.  Basic cannabis oil made in this way can range in color (depending on how much or what kind of cannabis you use) from light and dark green to brown. Cannabis oil of this type is typically intended for cooking or for topical use, not smoking or vaporizing.  

The Cannabis Oils that we are interested to explore in this article, however, are the ones made with solvents, such as butane, CO2, ethanol, and/or isopropyl alcohol.  This process strips the beneficial compounds from cannabis plant material, leaving behind an extract with concentrated cannabinoids.

Exploring Cannabis Oils

Rick Simpson Oil (RSO):  Rick Simpson Oil is named after the man, Rick Simpson, who allegedly cured his skin cancer using this remedy in the early 2000s. RSO, or Phoenix Tears, is made by soaking cannabis plant material in isopropyl alcohol.  The isopropyl alcohol draws out the beneficial cannabinoids and once it evaporates, leaves a supremely potent oil that is tar-like in color and consistency. It can be ingested orally or applied topically.

BHO: The term, BHO, or butane hash oil, can be confusing as BHO refers to the process of making cannabis extracts  utilizing butane.  The term BHO can cover a large range of extremely potent concentrates popularly consumed via dabbing or vaporizing. The butane strips the powerful cannabinoids from cannabis, and depending on production practices, will leave behind an extract whose consistency and appearance can range from waxy to oily to brittle, and everything in between [LINK TO SHATTER VS. WAX BLOG POST].  Because BHO products contain such high levels of THC,  they are popular remedies for chronic pain.

Photo by: Andres Rodriguez

CO2 Oil Cartridge
(Photo by WeedPornDaily)

CO2: Like, BHO, CO2 refers to the process of extraction -- CO2 oils are concentrates made with the use of sophisticated and expensive botanical extraction machines that utilize pressure and carbon dioxide to separate the oil from cannabis plant material. This method, called supercritical fluid extraction (SFE), is one of the most efficient ways to reduce cannabis to its essential compounds -- and because SFE extracts more terpenes, the extracts tend to be more fluid and oil-like in consistency than BHO products.  CO2 oil can be vaporized in a number of ways, with the most popular being portable vape pens.

THC and CBD oil

Some types of cannabis oil test as high as 80-90% in THC, while others are rich in compounds like CBD. So, what’s the difference between THC and CBD oil?  Both are two of the primary compounds found in the cannabis plant, and they both affect receptors in our brain, but in different ways. Put simply, while both THC and CBD have therapeutic effects, CBD is known for being non-psychoactive, which makes it an ideal for those looking for medical benefits from cannabis without the “high.”

Photo by: Vaping360

What determines the level of THC or CBD in a product? It’s all in the cannabis strain one selects. There are cannabis strains with more THC, more CBD, and a balance of both.

Depending upon your desired effect, you will need to make sure their selection of cannabis oil has the proper THC: CBD ratio for your purposes.  And as the legal market continues to expand and the science behind medical cannabis and cannabis extracts continues, you can bet the industry of concentrates will develop further.

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