What is Cannabis Oil and How Do You Use It?

As the cannabis industry evolves, so do a consumer’s product choices. Cannabis oil has become one of the new staples, prized for it's delivery of concentrated cannabinoids and relative ease of use. You'll find it in edibles, tinctures, vape pens, and more.

The following guide will help you understand the definition of cannabis oil, it's different uses, and what you can expect from the cannabis oil experience.

What is cannabis oil?

Cannabis oil is simply a broad category of concentrated, liquid extract of the cannabis plant. Manufacturers will typically extract the oil once the cannabis plant has matured. Cannabis oil is usually a slightly oily substance with a mild cannabis fragrance and scent, and provides all the benefits of the original plant in a more convenient form.

The chemical makeup of cannabis oil will depend on the type of plant it came (the "strain" from as well as how it was produced (the "extraction method"). This will concentrate the levels of cannabinoids like THC and CBD, as well as remove others to fine-tune the effects and experience. Additionally, the preservation or addition of terpenes will give the cannabis oil it's unique flavors and aromas.

What is this the specific extraction process? We outline some of the most popular methods below.

How is cannabis oil extracted

There are a lot of different ways to turn a living plant into a shelf-stable oil. All the different extraction methods have their own unique benefits. Learning the answer to "how is cannabis oil made?" can help you pick the right product for your needs.

  • Hydrocarbon extraction: This process involves the use of butane or propane (the hydrocarbons) with special equipment and a multi-step process that produces high quality cannabis oil. You'll find concentrates like budder, shatter, resin, wax, and crumble are made this way.
  • CO2 extraction: This technique involves passing cannabis through three chambers of special extraction equipment. CO2 flows over the initial flower input, separating the oil from the rest of the plant before evaporating. CO2 extraction is pricey, but it is very efficient and produces very pure, concentrated oil.
  • Ethanol extraction: This technique soaks cannabis in pure ethanol alcohol, which acts as a solvent. After a while, the ethanol is evaporated using water or heat, leaving behind the natural oil. You'll find this method used for ingestible and topical products.
  • Heat extraction: If you've ever tried making cannabis oil yourself, this is probably what you used. You just heat cannabis in oil to release the cannabinoids and then strain the plant matter to get the pure oil. It's not very precise or efficient, but it's simple and fast.
  • Steam distillation: This method mostly turns up in cannabis oils that are CBD-based. It involves heating the cannabis in a high-moisture environment and catching the resulting vapor. After cooling the vapor into a liquid, you can separate the oils to get CBD oil. This method doesn't produce very consistent cannabinoid concentrations.
  • Rosin press: This method is used to produce rosin, and requires using fresh frozen cannabis flower, turned into buble hash, which is then pressed into oil. The entire process is done without solvents.

It's also important to note that the resulting extract is closely related in its chemical make-up to the original plant from which it was extracted. In other words, cannabis oil can vary widely in its contents based on the plant from which it was made.

What are the different types of cannabis oil?

One of the big perks of cannabis oil is that you can pick oils with exactly the cannabinoid levels you prefer. Most cannabis oil sellers will divide their oils into specific categories based on their ingredients.

Distillate Oil

This cannabis oil has been refined and contains fewer impurities, and is typically created using the hydrocarbon, C02, or ethanol extraction methods above. You'll typically find more isolated cannabinoid products such as the below:

  • THC oil: This stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, the signature cannabinoid in cannabis. There's a very broad spectrum of THC levels in THC oil. Some may have as little as 1% while others may have up to 80%. Most oils have around 20 to 40%, though.
  • CBD oil: CBD stands for cannabidiol. This is another type of cannabinoid in THC. CBD oil may have trace amounts of THC, but it will primarily just contain CBD.
  • Hemp oil: Hemp oil only comes from hemp plants, and by law must contain less than 0.3% THC.

Full Spectrum Oil

This type of oil is typically more than just individual cannabinoids, and contains more of the active compounds found in the cannabis plant. The best example of this is Live Rosin, which has a rich blend of cannabinoids and terpenes.

How do I use cannabis oil?

As you can see, there are a number of cannabis oil varieties to choose. The key is finding the right combination of format, dose, and formulation that works for you. Below are different consumption methods that you can choose from:

  • Tinctures: These are typically taken as sublinguals, meaning you put a drop of the oil under your tongue. This is a simple, easy option, but can have limited variety.
  • Capsules: Cannabis oil can be added to capsules to be swallowed. This is a convenient way to take a dose in the markets where it is permitted.
  • Edibles: Anything that involves cooking with cannabis-infused oil is an edible. Edibles can include baked goods, gourmet meals, and beverages. The main drawback is you typically lose the original cannabis flavors.
  • Vape: A vaporizer uses heat to instantly turn cannabis oil into a breathable vapor. This provides the benefit of full extraction, and all the different products make it easy to find your preferred strain.
  • Dabs: Dabbing is essentially a type of partial vaporization that you can do with a dab rig or electronic nail. This delivers a very strong dose of cannabis concentrate.

Knowing your cannabis oil product and how it is supposed to be used will help you have a better experience. If you're unsure about how your cannabis oil product should be used, check out the brand's website or talk to your local dispensary for more information.

Cannabis oil is a versatile innovation

The creation of cannabis oil is spurring innovation throughout the entire legal cannabis industry. Cannabis oil offers consumers a vast array of choices when it comes to consumption. Whether you prefer oral products, vaping, dabbing, or edibles, cannabis oil and the infused products it is used to create cater to all types of consumer preferences. If you are in a state where cannabis oil products are legal, you are likely to have plenty of options to choose from for your next session.

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