What Are Cannabis Distillates?

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Added 30 November 2021

When you bake cannabis brownies with buds, you never quite know how potent they will be. 

So, how do you tune in the potency to your liking? 

Say hello to cannabis distillates. 

If you’re into edibles, distillates will rock your world. 

Replace your buds with distillates to nail them with accuracy and potency. 

But there’s a lot to distillates — understanding how they work is imperative to use them. 

And, like everything else, distillates have a few drawbacks too. 

In this article, we will explore everything about cannabis distillates — how they are made, how you can use them, including disadvantages. 

What is a Cannabis Distillate?

cannabis distillate

Cannabis distillates are ultra-pure concentrates of the cannabis plant. Usually, you will find only one type of cannabinoid in a distillate, such as THC or CBD, unlike full-spectrum extracts that contain all cannabinoids. 

Cannabis distillates are created using a unique production technique to produce 99% pure THC or CBD concentrate. Since this extract is made at an advanced molecular level, it is considered the most potent cannabis extract you can find. 

Cannabis distillates are manufactured by refining the plant material to its simplest state or until a cannabinoid is isolated. The result is a pure cannabinoid devoid of aroma and flavor. 

Many people wonder what separates distillates from other concentrates like shatter, BHO, hash, etc. Most concentrates contain a full range of cannabinoids and terpenes; however, cannabis distillates are super refined and contain nothing other than one single cannabinoid. 

So, if you love terpenes and that characteristic aroma of cannabis, you may not like cannabis distillates at all. However, if you’re looking to try something potent containing THC or a medical cannabis user wanting to consume only CBD, distillates could work for you. 

How is it Made?

Traditionally, concentrates are created using two techniques:

  • Wax and Shatter method


Distillates are made just like other solvent-based concentrates. Typically, solvents like butane are used to extract the main component of the cannabis plant, creating shatter and wax. The problem with this is that it often leaves residue in the concentrate and can destroy the plant tissue.

  • Hash method


This is a physical method using pressure and rinses cycles to separate the plant components to produce the concentrate. The downside of this method is that it often leaves impurities in the oil that must be removed before it can be split into individual cannabinoids.

On the other hand, there's another distillation process that separates and refines the molecules. Here's what the process looks like:

Step 1: Crude Extraction

The first step of the distillation process is crude extraction, utilizing heat to vaporize cannabinoids, stripping lipids, fats, and chlorophyll from the cannabinoids.

Then, the cooling system collects pure cannabinoid vapor extract to create clean, solvent-free concentrated liquid.

Step 2: Winterisation

Once the crude is separated, the next step involves mixing the pure extract with ethanol. It is placed in a refrigerator for 24-48 hours.

During the refrigeration, the impurities solidify and fall to the bottom of the container.

The liquid is then pushed through a filtration system to remove the previously added ethanol, restoring it to its purest form.

Step 3: Decarboxylation

The extract is now in its purest form, but the cannabinoids are not yet activated — they won't produce any psychoactive or medicinal effects. In addition, the extract contains carboxylic acid that stops the THC and CBD from binding to the nervous system receptors. 

So, the extract now needs to be decarbed through the decarboxylation process. In other words, it is heated to activate the cannabinoids and reduce excessive carboxylic acid. 

The result is that the plant material is now a highly potent concentrate containing various cannabinoids. 

Step 4: Distillation

In this step, the extract is distilled using vacuum pressure, boiling, and vaporization to separate cannabinoids and terpenes.

Since the boiling points for THC and CBD are different, distillation allows the producer to create THC and CBD oils separately, where THC oil can be used by recreational users and CBD oil by medical users.

Once the process is complete, the extract is now ready for regular consumption. 

In addition, live resin won’t get you high if you don’t decarboxylate them. However, distillates are decarbed already, so you will experience potent psychoactive effects no matter how you consume them. 

How to Use Cannabis Distillates?

Distillate & Buds

Cannabis distillates are perhaps the most versatile cannabinoid extracts available out there. You can use them for various purposes, including cosmetics, medicines, cannabis products such as edibles, oils, tinctures, vaping oils, and more. 

Here are a few common ways to use distillates:


Cannabis Brownies

Some users love the aroma and flavor of cannabis concentrates and buds. However, not many appreciate their brownies smelling like cannabis. If you’re among them, distillates are perfect for you since they are odorless and tasteless when infused with edibles. 

Cannabis distillates are pure natural concentrates without odor, color, or flavor, so you won’t taste terpenes!

For the same reason, you can even add cannabis distillates to almost anything — cannabis gummies, cookies, beverages, chocolates, truffles, and even popsicles.

Plus, distillates allow you to calculate more accurate dosing because the levels of THC or CBD are consistent and range from 97-99%. Broad-spectrum and full-spectrum extracts don't offer the same consistency. 

For example, if you decide to use buds to make brownies, the effects will differ depending on various factors. The strain you use may not be potent enough to make you feel anything, or it could be strong enough to knock you off. Either way, you’re playing guessing games, and that’s not desirable. 

On the other hand, distillates will produce consistent results — perfect for both medical and recreational users. 

Vapes, Bongs, and Joints

Cannabis distillates make a great addition to your joints and bongs to make them super potent.

A pure THC distillate contains 97-99% THC in its purest form, without any other cannabinoids, delivering a hefty dose instantly.

If your buds aren’t potent, you can add a tiny drop of THC distillate in your bowl or joint to get that high you seek. And if you want on-the-go consumption, they make a great addition to your vape pens!

Want a puff while nodding your head at a boring party? Mix distillates in your vape pens. The best part is that nobody can tell the difference. Since distillates are odorless without even terpenes to give away your secret, you can use them anywhere discreetly. 


What if you want to experience cannabinoids without getting high? Many medical users love CBD but cannot stand THC. For such users, CBD distillates are a godsend. 

CBD distillates do not contain any THC and offer a highly accurate and consistent dosage, so it has a lot of potential for those who suffer from pain, anxiety, inflammation, and other ailments.

Some regular CBD oils containing trace amounts of THC show up in drug tests and can potentially ruin your career. That's not the case with CBD distillate oils. So, not only will CBD distillates not get you high but you can enjoy the health benefits at peace — they don't show up in drug tests. 

Topicals and Cosmetics

The cosmetic industry is exploding with cannabis-infused cosmetics like lotions and moisturizers that help you cure various ailments like acne, scars, or muscle inflammations. 

And with CBD distillates, manufacturers can now offer accurate dosage to everyone so you can fine-tune your cosmetics and topicals to suit your preferences and requirements.

Are Cannabis Distillates All Good?

Distillate and buds

Not really. Like everything else, cannabis distillates also have a few drawbacks.

First, it is extremely difficult for regular users to produce their own cannabis distillate as the process is too expensive. The equipment and technicians can cost you over $250,000 to set up your own distillation system.

Secondly, distillates don’t resemble cannabis at all. Manufacturers can use any cannabis strain to produce a distillate. Think about live resin, for instance. The process of making live resin is delicate to ensure that the final product preserves all the components of the plant, including the terpenes. 

Imagine you purchase a Girl Scout Cookie Live Resin. The manufacturer will use GSC buds to create the resin, and you will get a taste of the natural plant, including terpenes, with every puff you take. 

However, distillates can be made from any plant — indica, sativa, hybrid — and it won’t even matter. It’s almost like they lack character with nothing except one cannabinoid. 

For this reason, some manufacturers infuse distillates with terpenes at the fag end of the manufacturing process to add some flavor; however, you can get plain distillates as well. 

Another disadvantage is that not all cannabis is grown organically. If the farmer uses chemical pesticides to grow the plant, they often end up in the final product. The distillation process does not kill pesticides on the plant. 

Therefore, we recommend you buy only from trusted sources that publish their lab reports. Lab reports or Certificates of Analysis (COA) will tell you the content of the product along with the presence of contaminants in the form of pesticides, heavy metals, microbes, fungi, and more. 

In addition, it’s best to buy distillates from producers who source organic cannabis so you can rest assured that the product is safe to use. 

Summary: What are Cannabis Distillates?

Cannabis distillates are revolutionizing the market and creating a whole new world of cannabis-infused products and foods. They are terrific as they allow you to consume pure cannabinoids without any added flavors or unwanted psychoactive effects. 

So, if you are looking for that extra oomph in your cannabis brownies or medicines, you must take a look at cannabis distillates.

As for us, we are pretty excited to see how distillates will shape the future of the cannabis industry!


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