Thick, sticky and ready to be used in the vaporizing unit of your choice, THC wax is one of the most popular cannabis concentrates on the market. Boasting particularly high THC levels, wax is certain to be a potent experience, but what is wax exactly? How does it differ from any other cannabis concentrate? And are there any side effects or dangers you should be worried about. We answer all of these questions and talk about the best way to use marijuana wax in our article below.
What Is Cannabis Wax?
At it’s simplest definition, cannabis wax/marijuana wax is yet another in a long line of marijuana concentrates, including things like honey oil, shatter, hashish and many others. Just like most concentrates wax starts with an extraction – This can either be a chemical based extraction, using butane or isopropyl alcohol, or can be done solvent-less, via the cold water method (both of which we discuss in detail in our “How to Make Hash” article).
At the end of the extraction process what’s left behind is primarily the THC and terpene content of the cannabis plant, along with some lipids/oils/etc. This extract can then be processed further (usually to further separate the THC from any “impurities”) leaving behind an oily substance that is mostly THC.
It’s how this oily extract is processed next that produces the differences between wax, budder, shatter and a lot of other concentrates.
Cannabis wax is notable for it’s, well, waxy texture – Usually somewhat sticky to the touch but also capable of flaking and breaking apart into smaller chunks. Wax melts very easily over any kind of high temperature but, like any other high THC content cannabis concentrate requires higher temperature to vaporize than dried cannabis flower. This leads to wax typically being consumed as a vaporized product, either with a dab rig or some other kind of hash oil/concentrate pen.
What’s the Difference Between Shatter, Wax and Other Cannabis Concentrates?
As mentioned above much of what makes different concentrates different, is in how they’re processed. The method used to expel the concentrates from the cannabis plants stay fairly similar, but it’s what happens to that concentrate afterward that makes the difference.
Marijuana wax is usually made from a concentrate that has been vacuum treated to remove some (but importantly, not all) impurities, and then agitated during the process. If you’ve ever made caramel on your stove stop you’ve maybe heard not to stir it as it cooks – Stirring causes crystals to form inside of the caramel, making it seize and form into a hard, sugary lump. This is exactly what happens when creating wax, only intentionally. Agitation causes the concentrate to form crystals that then bind together, creating the sticky, waxy substance we’re looking for.
Once the cannabis wax has been formed it can be further whipped and stirred to create “budder”; this soft and spreadable THC concentrate is formed by air being beaten into the waxy solution, not unlike how a meringue or whipped cream is made.
Conversely, shatter is the same concentrate base, but further distilled, usually with the help of ethanol; this process strips lipids, terpenes and other (potentially desirable/beneficial) impurities away from the THC. The clear, glassy consistency of shatter is also due to not stirring the extract, since the crystals can’t form the shatter remains clear and glassy allowing light to shine through.
Can I Make Wax At Home?
Yes. But you probably shouldn’t. The first step to making wax is the same as any other home extraction, and usually starts with making either bubble hash, or BHO, which uses butane. We go into this in more detail in our “How to Make Hash at Home” article but to sum it up here: Unless you are a professional in a controlled setting you should not do this. It is ridiculously dangerous and multiple people have been hospitalized (and outright killed) because of BHO oil extractions gone wrong – Either check your local dispensaries for the concentrate products you desire or, otherwise, just stick to smoking weed.
How to Smoke Cannabis Wax
Much like other concentrates marijuana wax is designed primarily to be vaporized, not smoked – Though it requires high temperatures to vaporize, too high of a temperature will end up burning away first the terpenes, and then the THC, rendering your smoke much less potent. Let’s go over some of the most popular methods:
This is a concentrate pretty much custom made for the dab rig. Unlike other more liquid-type concentrates cannabis wax is great for someone new to dabbing (though maybe not smoking in general; more on that later) as it’s easy to hold and manipulate while using the dab rig.
We’ll assume you’ve read our guide on dabbing (and if you haven’t go check that out real quick and come back!) so we’ll gloss over some of the detailed points. First and foremost go ahead and get your banger/dab nail heated up to the temperature of your choice; remember that anything over 480°F will start to burn your concentrate, so get it nice and hot with your torch and then let it rest for a bit to cool off.
Once your banger or nail has reached the desired temperature it’s time to take a hit. Using the dab tool of your choice (and for our money, a pair of tweezers works brilliantly with wax) simply take a small bit of your marijuana wax and move it toward the heated element – You should start to notice it bubbling and producing vapor, which is when you’ll want to start inhaling. Remember: Unlike smoking cannabis vapor doesn’t need to be held in the lungs for a significant amount of time, so once you’ve fully taken the hit into your lungs you’re free to breathe out again.
There are a wide variety of vaporizers available that all have different builds and features but the basic idea generally remains the same, and remains one of the most efficient methods of taking in marijuana, concentrates or otherwise.
To use wax in your vaporizer unit first make sure it’s designed to be used with concentrates; some are only meant to be used with plant matter, meaning that using a cannabis wax inside can lead to clogged filters and a big, potentially device-destroying mess. This isn’t to say that concentrates can’t be used at all in a vape designed primarily for ground-up bud; if you have a liquid concentrate you care to drip onto your marijuana that can work just fine in a vape, but you’ll need to have a solid base of plant matter to make sure whatever concentrate you’re using doesn’t just drip down into your device.
If your vaporizer is designed primarily for cannabis concentrates then congratulations – You’re pretty much good to go. Just load your wax into the concentrate chamber and follow your usual instructions. Like we mentioned before vaporizing is incredibly efficient at utilizing cannabis; as the vaporizer unit stays at and doesn’t exceed a set temperature there’s no worry about your concentrate burning away precious cannabinoids, and as the unit is self-enclosed the vapor isn’t likely to just go floating off into the air like can happen with a dab rig.
Smoking Wax as a Marijuana Additive
Let’s start off with the warnings: This is the least efficient method of smoking a concentrate on this list. You have zero temperature control and, while the joint/pipe/bong burns, so does your precious and valuable wax. But, if you have a brand new container of wax sitting in front of you with no other way to smoke it and you absolutely just cannot help yourself, this is a valid way to consume it, albeit not one we recommend.
Any cannabis concentrate can be added to regular, ground-up bud to give it a little extra kick. For something like wax it can be hard to mix it well with the ground up weed – One method is to toss some wax in with the flower as you’re grinding it, though that can lead to sticky grinders that need cleaning regularly. Trying to mix the wax in with your ground bud by hand can be a terrible idea, as most of the wax (and therefor the THC) can end up sticking to your skin, utterly wasting it. If possible, try to get your wax into very tiny balls or pellet shapes, which you can then sprinkle into a joint or a bowl of weed.
Whatever you do, try to ensure that the concentrate is mixed and layered into the bud, not just placed on top where the flame of your lighter will touch it – This is another great way to burn your wax and end up destroying most of the THC/cannabinoids within. Make sure you smoke quickly, too, as every moment that goes by is another moment where your concentrate is just floating off toward the ceiling. Overall? This is a horrible way of smoking concentrates, and we seriously recommend just buying a vaporizer or a dab rig if you’re seriously looking to start smoking wax.
Is Wax Dangerous?
Wax is, again, a product with a very high THC content, making it very efficient at getting a person high – For some, perhaps too efficient. Though THC poisoning does not exist it is very easy to smoke far more than one should with cannabis wax, leading to intense bouts of paranoia and physical issues such as heart flutters. For first time smokers, doing a heavy dab of any concentrates may be a bit…. intense, so we recommend making sure newcomers take it slow, and maybe save that heroic super-hit off the dab rig for after you’ve gotten a bit more experience under your belt.
Otherwise, outside of our earlier advice about not blowing yourself up trying to make wax at home, the evidence about wax being dangerous is about the same as the evidence about cannabis being dangerous – Non-existent. As long as you’re being careful and understand you’re doing a very potent drug that has notable physiological & psychological effects, smoking wax is no more dangerous than smoking your average joint.
We hope our article has taught you a bit more about wax, how it’s made, and what it’s best uses are. Now get out there, get yourself a jar, pick up the dab rig and get to smoking – We’re pretty sure you’ll enjoy yourself. As always, have fun!