Wax is a cannabis concentrate with elevated levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Oil, hash and shatter are other types of concentrates, but wax differentiates itself as a non-transparent solid substance with a soft texture. Generally speaking, wax has lower THC levels than shatter (a glass-like type of concentrate), but it has high levels of terpenes, the organic compounds responsible for the plant’s taste and aroma. A person taking a wax hit only needs a small dab, which inspired the name dabs for concentrates and dabbing to describe their use. Likewise, most dabs are made with oil, which inspired an association with the number 710, which resembles 01L when turned upside-down. Like 420 cannabis use on April 20, many dab users celebrate concentrates on July 10.
Taking a Dab of Wax
Special devices are necessary to take a hit of wax, and they typically involve using a torch to superheat a heating surface (typically called a nail and made of titanium, quartz or glass) attached to a water pipe or vaporizer pen. Using a metallic needle or similar device, the wax is placed on the superheated surface, instantly vaporizing it and providing a super-charged hit through the pipe or vape. Various delivery devices exist, and some people simply sprinkle a little wax or oil atop cannabis buds and smoke it. Furthermore, the quality of wax often relates to the extraction process and the quality of the cannabis, but the THC content in wax is typically at least 70 percent. By comparison, 20 percent THC is high for regular cannabis.
Types of Wax
Just as there are different types of dabs (e.g., oil, hash, shatter), wax comes in a wide variety of forms that include honeycomb, crumble, earwax, flake and others, including local variations. The differences often relate to the manner in which the THC and other cannabinoids are extracted from the cannabis plant. Extractions should be left to professionals, so please do not try this at home, but it typically involves combining buds with a solvent like butane, carbon dioxide or isopropyl alcohol and then purging it with a heat and possibly a pressure vacuum. The molecules crystallize during the extraction process, which accounts for the opaque appearance.
Depending on the heat, moisture and pre-purge texture of the oil, the wax can have different consistencies ranging from a coarse cookie-like crumble to sticky thick chunks that truly resemble wax. Budder, another form of wax, is whipped like scrambled eggs during the purging process to add air and create a peanut butter-like consistency. While the names and extraction methods might differ, opaque dabs with these types of consistencies are collectively called wax.
Learn more about shatter here.