Safety Lesson: Concentrates


If you are familiar with cannabis culture, you have likely heard of the newest craze. You may have heard it referred to as “dabbing,” “wax,” or “oil” but they all are referring to the same thing: marijuana concentrates aka hash oil.

Well, the fact of the matter is, concentrates aren’t new at all. Cannabis concentrates have been being made for centuries using an ancient technique which involves rubbing the matter between one’s hands. Today, we use modern technology to increase efficiency and turn out a more potent product. This process uses solvent such as butane or propane, which is pushed into the plant matter and then purged using a vacuum. That is why you will oftentimes hear the term BHO (butane hash oil) or PHO (propane hash oil).

A lot of questions surface when we discover new methods of medicating. That is especially true when it comes to safety, which is precisely why we put together this handy guide.

Are Concentrates Right for Me?

Concentrates are not for the faint of heart. In a 0.5 gram joint, you consume about 15% THC/CBD per 50-60 mg of cannabinoids. Now, compare that to a 0.1 gram dab that contains 70%+ THC/CBD per 70 mg of cannabinoids. That is a major difference in potency, which is why one should always be aware of the intensity of their marijuana product of choice.

To put it simply, if you have a hard time finishing a joint by yourself, I would not suggest concentrates for you. However, if you have a high marijuana tolerance and you are hoping to lessen the amount that you smoke, or if you are in severe pain, hash oil just may be for you.

Can I Make Concentrates at Home?

Absolutely do not try and make BHO or PHO at home. There are an astonishing amount of unsafe how-to blogs and videos making their way around the internet, trying to teach people how to make wax in their kitchen. Unfortunately, due to this influx of bad information, there have been an increasing number of incidents in which people cause house fires or explosions. As they are not aware of the hazard of working with flammable chemicals and they do not have the proper equipment, they are putting themselves, their loved ones, and their neighbors at risk.

Only licensed professionals should be making concentrates, because the solvents that are used are highly volatile chemicals. When you combine heat elements and butane anywhere outside of a laboratory with a closed-loop system, you are putting yourself at risk for an explosion.


One type of concentrate you can make at home is rosin. Although it does not have as much of a yield as BHO or PHO, you do not run the risk of starting a fire, and all you need is a heat-controlled hair straightener and some parchment paper.

  • Heat up the hair straightener to somewhere between 200°F-300°F.
  • Fold some parchment paper in half and place it between the flat iron plates.
  • Place the marijuana in the crease of the folded parchment paper, but be careful not to burn yourself!
  • Squeeze the herb between the two plates.
  • Watch the rosin come out!
  • Collect your product.

The rosin technique does not compromise the potency of the oil, and it is actually safe to do in your house. If you have to make concentrates at home because it is not readily available to you, stay away from those explosive chemicals and take up the rosin technique. You will be much safer, because even if you didn’t blow something up, it is not likely that you would know how to properly purge the butane or propane and you don’t want to be inhaling either of those.

Can Concentrates Cause Any Bodily Harm?

BHO and PHO are safe to inhale, but only if they are properly purged. Purchasing and using black market concentrates or trying to make BHO or PHO in your home will likely lead to trouble breathing and possibly even bodily harm. Get your concentrates from a reputable caregiver or dispensary to assure it is of utmost quality.

There have been no recorded deaths or long-term health issues associated with marijuana oil.

I Think Concentrates Are Right for Me. How Do I Stay Safe?

There are some obvious rules to using marijuana products as potent as hash oil, such as “stay off the road” and “don’t do any heavy lifting.” However, there are a few rules that you may not know if you are new to the world of concentrates.

Replace Your Nail Often – If you choose to use an oil rig with a nail, plan on buying a new one every couple of months if you smoke regularly. Buildup and pesky, unwanted crumbs, hair, etc. can end up all over your nail, and they will over time. Even if you take care of your rig, buildup is something that you cannot avoid. To make sure you do not inhale all of that gross buildup, just get a new nail when you start to scrape up some icky, burnt-looking black gunk. Reclaim, which will look a lot like used motor oil, is perfectly acceptable.

Don’t Buy Cheap Dabbers – While that $3.39 dabber on Amazon may look tempting, I would not advise that you risk it. Many dabbers are made out of cheap materials that are not safe to smoke from. If you like metal, always buy titanium dabbers. Titanium has a high melting point, so you do not inhale heavy metals when you smoke off of it. However, if you try that with stainless steel, you can do some serious damage to your lungs.

Do What Feels Best to You – While this should go without saying, don’t let someone press you into smoking off a rig if it hurts your lungs. There are other options, such as using a vaporizer pen with a wax atomizer.

91% isopropyl alcohol.
91% isopropyl alcohol.

Clean Your Rig – Cleaning an oil rig is easy, and it will be necessary with all of the reclaim that you will collect. Just get some 91%+ isopropyl alcohol. Dump out the water in your rig and then fill it with the alcohol. Let it sit for a few hours until the alcohol is a brownish color and all of the reclaim has broken down. You can then dump the alcohol into a bowl and let it sit at room temperature for a couple of days until the alcohol dissipates. You should, then, be left with reclaim.

Be Aware – Concentrates are much more potent than other forms of marijuana, so be prepared to feel a bit slower than usual. Before you try and do any daily tasks after smoking hash oil, get a feel for how it affects you. If you feel any discomfort, paranoia, or anything else that you find alarming, medicate with less or discontinue using it.

Stay Safe and Happy Dabbing!




Jheri is a successful freelance writer and cannabis enthusiast from Michigan. She is currently writing her novel and a number of short stories, as well as promoting cannabis for Smoke Weed and Medical Marijuana Cure. Her office is based in Denver, CO.

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