What is Cannabis Wax?

Liz Filmer
23 Aug 2021

Within the last few years' Cannabis wax has taken the legal market by storm. But, what is it exactly? And how is it made? Cannabis wax is a concentration of cannabis essential oil. Opaque and amber in appearance, wax is soft and easy to mould.

One of the most potent cannabis extracts, wax is considered superior in flavour to many other BHO's. BHO (Butane Hash Oil) is a cannabis extraction that is made using butane as a solvent.

Wax is very powerful compared to the amount of THC you would find in a single joint. With THC levels between 60-80 per cent, you should be expecting a high "high". It is not for the first-timer or occasional user.

Wax is smoked using a dab rig, a bong, pipe or vape. Wax requires a higher temperature to combust than plain flower. If vaporizing wax, you should not heat the cannabis concentrate higher than (230℃) as this is the point of combustion for cannabis products. 

Butane is highly flammable and should only be handled carefully in a stable, well-ventilated environment. Butane gas can explode easily, making cannabis wax a risky business for hobbyist extractors to try.

Nowadays, professionals use expensive closed-loop extraction equipment to extract large quantities of concentrated cannabis essential oils safely. The cannabis buds are then packed into tubes and blasted with butane. Exposure to butane separates the cannabis resin from the other plant material.

After this initial extraction, any excess butane must be removed from the concentrate. To achieve this, the concentrate is spread on a baking sheet and "purged" at a low temperature in a vacuum oven. The final result is a sticky concentrate that presents as wax once left to cool and harden.

Cannabis Wax and Shatter are two of the most commonly used types of BHO. They are both made via butane extraction. Both products are exposed to a low-temperature vacuum that removes any residual traces of solvent. 

The difference between the two occurs during the handling and processing. The chemical composition of the concentrate is somehow altered, resulting in either wax or shatter. The result is one product that looks like a translucent sheet of candy. The other is a softer, opaque wax.

Extractors making shatter can "winterize" their initial extract. This is where they run the original concentrate through an ethanol solvent in the second round of extraction.

The process of winterization removes excess waxes, lipids and terpenes that are found in the initial product. The result of this is a product (Shatter) that has less flavour than other concentrations, such as wax, that are not subject to the second round of extraction.

Suppose you're looking for a powerful high, and you have a high tolerance. In that case, wax may be for you. For medical patients, wax may be an option if you find that regular weed just isn't giving you enough relief. If you decide to try, remember that a little goes a long way with wax! Finally, I wouldn't advise making your own; leave that to professionals unless you want to blow your house and potentially yourself up!



Liz Filmer