To create extracts, solvents such as butane, carbon dioxide, alcohol and ethanol are used to produce a more concentrated, potent form of cannabis. These solvents effectively strip the cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant material and are meant to evaporate; however, trace amounts may remain (but must not exceed the limits stated in Health Canada guidelines).
The concentrated cannabinoids left after the solvent has evaporated are often combined with a carrier oil such as sunflower oil to create an ingestible product.
What are the different types of extracts?
Most extracts are designed for oral consumption. These are typically mixed with oil or other ingredients and swallowed (ingested), placed under the tongue (absorbed sublingually) or dissolved in the cheek (absorbed buccally).
How do cannabis extracts work?
Cannabis extracts interact with your body the same way other cannabis products do — the main difference is that they’re much more concentrated than whole-flower products, such as flower or pre-rolls, and are therefore more potent.
You ingest cannabis extracts by swallowing and digesting an extract product — such as a capsule or softgel. The process works the same as with cannabis edibles. It can take 30 minutes or more before you start feeling the effects, which may build gradually over time and last up to 12 hours.
- Oral absorption
There are two ways to orally absorb cannabis extracts: sublingual absorption involves holding a cannabis product in your mouth to be absorbed into the soft tissues under the tongue. Buccal absorption occurs when the product passes through the tissues in your cheeks. Typically, these methods offer faster onset of effects when compared with ingestion.
Why choose cannabis extracts?
Extracts can be a good option if you want discreet and smoke-free forms of cannabis. Plus, some extract formats, such as bottled oils and metred inhalers, offer precise dosing.
Things to consider when buying cannabis extracts
DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME
Making cannabis extracts is dangerous because the solvents are flammable.
Legal cannabis extracts are made by Licensed Producer professionals who have the proper facilities to perform safe extraction and test their products to ensure they are solvent-free and safe for human consumption.
Extracts are concentrated, potent forms of cannabis and a little goes a long way. Pay attention to the dosage and potency on the label: Legal extracts can contain up to 1,000 mg of THC per package. And beware: Regularly consuming high-THC cannabis products may create greater tolerance and potentially lead to cannabis use disorder.
If you’re trying extracts for the first time, consider choosing a product with a lower level of THC and/or a higher amount of CBD. Starting low and going slow is the best practice, especially if you’re new to cannabis or to concentrated cannabis products like extracts.