Marijuana smokers have always been a creative lot. Take for example, all the terms we have for dating Mary Jane (oops, there’s another one): bake, toke, hit the hippie lettuce, rip, get irie, bug out, and many, many more.
But recently, a new term—dabbing—has been growing in popularity as marijuana aficionados discover its benefits. Dabbing involves vaporizing marijuana concentrates, so, while it’s similar to smoking the traditional spliff, it’s also very different.
It’s these cannabis concentrates that we’ve come here to talk about today and we’ll be focusing on one in particular: marijuana wax (or just “wax”). Let’s start from the beginning.
What Is Marijuana Wax?
Marijuana wax is a form of hash oil concentrate (or just “concentrate”) often produced using a process known as butane hash oil extraction.
If those terms are foreign to you, don’t worry. We’ll explain them in the next section.
For now, it’s enough to know that marijuana wax got its name because, in its final form, it looks like earwax or, more appetizingly, thick honey.
Now before you get grossed out by its appearance, look back at the first sentence in this section. Notice that wax is a concentrate. What does that mean?
It means that wax contains more THC than your traditional marijuana (sometimes 80% or more). Are you starting to see the appeal?
But how is marijuana wax made and how does it get to be so potent? Here’s how.
Creating Marijuana Wax: Butane Extraction
Marijuana wax is most commonly made through a process known as butane extraction.
Traditional marijuana buds are packed into a tube or pipe and then butane—more commonly known as lighter fluid—is forced through the contents.
Thanks to some really complicated and technical sciency stuff that we don’t need to be concerned with, the butane bonds with the THC in the buds and essentially pulls it from the plants. The butane is then allowed to evaporate and the resulting concentrate is an oily substance aptly called butane hash oil.
If the process of creating butane hash oil is still a bit hazy (pun intended), think about it in another, more familiar way.
If marijuana buds were sugar, butane extraction would be like boiling sugar water until it becomes thick. The resulting substance—caramel—is a much sweeter form of the sugar you started with because all the “extra stuff” has been removed (through the boiling) leaving only the sweetness behind.
That’s butane extraction in a nutshell. The butane extraction is also why the concentrates are so much more potent than traditional marijuana: because the extraction process pulled out all the THC and left the “extra stuff” behind.
Once the extraction process is complete, the butane hash oil concentrate is then either hardened to form shatter or cooked a bit longer to form marijuana wax.
Now before you run out to buy some butane to make your own marijuana wax, be warned: butane extraction is a very dangerous process if not performed correctly.
First of all, butane is a highly flammable substance that can explode if not handled properly.
Second, butane vapors can collect at low levels (the floor) where you’re not likely to detect them until it’s too late. Add any kind of spark to this mix and you’ve got big problems.
Third, butane vapor can be deadly if inhaled in high quantities so it’s important to work in a well-ventilated area.
Butane extraction is very similar to the process used to make methamphetamines (meth) and we’ve all seen the charred results on TV when that goes wrong (no more trailer!).
Bottom line: Leave butane extraction to the experts with the fancy (and expensive) equipment
Instead, try this much safer option to get your DIY marijuana wax on.
How To Make Marijuana Wax At Home
Ice Water Extraction
Ice water extraction is ideal for those who don’t want to worry about explosions or fires but still want the satisfaction of making their own marijuana wax from scratch.
The marijuana wax you make with ice water extraction is also called bubble wax (or sometimes bubble hash) because of the bubble bags (fancy names for the sieve-like screens) you use to separate the trichomes from the plant matter.
Ice water extraction is extremely safe (‘cause, as far as we know, ice water has yet to explode or catch fire), but the process does require a bit more time, patience, and elbow grease than other extraction methods.
Be patient and keep at it! The results are well worth the effort.
- Your favorite high-quality high-CBD or high-THC strain
- 10-15 pounds of ice
- 5-gallon buckets (at least one for mixing and one for wet screens)
- Purified water
- Stir sticks
- Bubble bags (check online for this item)
- Layer your bubble bag or screen (three or four of them) in the bucket from smallest to largest. The smaller the number, the smaller the screen.
- Add 3-4 ounces of high-quality cannabis.
- Pour half a bag of ice on top of the cannabis.
- Add enough purified water (about eight cups) to cover the cannabis under the ice.
- Mix the ice, water, and buds together.
- Continue to agitate the mixture for 15 or 20 minutes.
- Let the mix settle for another 20 or 30 minutes.
- Lift the first bubble bag part-way out and let it drain back into the bucket. You can even shake and squeeze the bag to get all the water out.
- Set that bag aside.
- Remove the next bubble bag and scrape out the material at the bottom of the screen (a spoon works great here). This is marijuana wax!
- Deposit the wax onto your cheesecloth. This is the least pure form of marijuana wax (but it’s still good) so keep going.
- Remove the next bubble bag and let it drain into the bucket. Don’t squeeze this bag to remove the water. Just let it drain.
- Scrape out the goo at the bottom of the bag and deposit it onto your cheesecloth. There should be more material in this bag compared to the first one. And it will be lighter in color and contain less plant matter.
- Continue removing bubble bags from the bucket and scraping out the marijuana wax material until you’ve reached the last one.
- Fold the cheesecloth on top of the goo and press gently to remove the leftover water.
- You’re left with three or four different grades of marijuana wax depending on how many screens you used. Keep in mind that you can mix all the concentrate together. You don’t have to keep it separate. We just wanted to highlight the different qualities so you understand what you’re getting.
- Repeat this process one or two more times to get as many of the trichomes off the bud as possible.
That’s it! You’ve learned how to make marijuana wax. Congratulations!
So now that you’ve made your own DIY wax, you’d probably like to get it in your body. Here’s how to do that.
How Is Marijuana Wax Consumed?
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, marijuana wax is consumed by vaporizing a small dab of the concentrate with a special bong called a dab rig and then inhaling the smoke.
A dab rig can take several forms and is not much different from a regular marijuana bong, but the vaporizer does have a few extra parts you should know about.
There are two basic differences between a regular bong and a dab rig: the nail and the dome.
The most important part of the dab rig is the nail. A nail can be made from titanium, glass, ceramic, quartz, or any number of other materials.
Each material has its own benefits and drawbacks so make sure you do some research to find the one that works best for you.
The nail is heated (typically with a blowtorch) and then the dab of wax is applied to the HOT surface where it instantly vaporizes (a.k.a. turns to smoke). The smoke can then be drawn down into the pipe just like a traditional bong.
Some dab rigs reverse the process and use a solid glass bowl to hold the wax and a hollow metal nail attached to tubing (like a hookah).
The hollow metal nail is heated and then applied to the wax in the solid glass bowl. A strong inhalation then draws the smoke through the hollow hail, through the tubing, over the water, up the pipe, and into your lungs.
The dome is a spherical piece (usually glass) that fits over the nail to help contain the vaporized marijuana wax so that it doesn’t just float off into space.
The dome makes it possible to inhale most of the smoke and allows you to use less wax because you get more vapor in your lungs.
Another Piece You May See
A carb cap is another common piece you may eventually use on your dab rig.
Most dabbing is done by heating the nail to high temperatures but this process can be difficult to learn and do correctly.
To help prevent these “mis-fires”, some dabbers heat the nail to lower temperatures and then use a carb cap instead of a dome. The carb cap creates a mini oven that helps vaporize the marijuana wax at lower temperatures.
Some dabbers claim that the smoke created by using a carb cap and lower temperatures gives a smoother, more enjoyable experience.
Other Ways To Consume Marijuana Wax
Marijuana Wax In A Traditional Bong
Don’t have a dab rig and all these extra pieces lying around? No worries. With a little bit of doing, you can smoke marijuana wax with a traditional bong.
Here’s how to do it:
- Find one or two nugs of dried and cured bud (not nugs of wax) in your stash that are slightly larger than the diameter of the downstem.
- Insert those nugs of bud into the bowl.
- Add a few small pieces of wax.
- Gather another nugget of marijuana from your stash, remove any seeds and stems, and, while holding it over the bowl, rip it into small pieces with your fingers. The finer you make it the easier it is to pack in the bowl and the better it will burn. Alternatively, you can use a grinder to shred your cannabis before packing it on top of your wax.
- Fill the bowl the rest of the way with shredded marijuana.
- Light up, puff away, and pass the bong around.
When you pack the bowl with wax in the middle, you create an oven-like effect — much like the carb cap does — where the wax vaporizes thanks to the burning ganja around it (e.g., at lower temperatures).
These lower temperatures preserve more of the cannabinoids, allowing you to inhale more of the good stuff in every breath.
Marijuana Wax In A Joint, Blunt, Or Spliff
Thankfully, the dab rig and the bong aren’t the only ways to have fun with marijuana wax.
Aside from the bong, one of the easiest, most familiar, and most accessible methods is to roll a bit of marijuana wax in your joint, blunt, or spliff. This works well if you’re rolling your own product.
With a little effort, though, you can also add a concentrated kick to pre-rolled blunts and joints.
If you’re rolling a joint or blunt (or even a cross joint) from scratch, cut three or four small pieces of wax off the larger wad and distribute them evenly down the length of your smoke stick before closing.
If you’ve purchased a product from a local dispensary and want to add a bit of marijuana wax to the mix, you’ll have to deconstruct the product, add the wax, and then reroll everything together in order to smoke it.
It’s kind of a pain to do this because you first have to deconstruct the product before reconstructing it. But adding wax to a pre-rolled item is sometimes quicker and less stressful.
After adding the concentrate, you can rely on the “memory” of the wrapper to roll up much quicker instead of struggling again and again to form the flat sheet into something resembling a tube.
The manufacturer has done all the hard work for you (i.e., rolling it the first time).
Marijuana Wax In A Vape Pen
Some vape pens have the capability to vaporize marijuana wax, but be sure to read the specs before you buy.
Most vape pens only burn vape juice or accept specific pre-filled cartridges.
The more expensive ones allow you to increase or decrease the heat in order to vaporize different types of concentrates, including shatter, wax, budder, crumble, and honeycomb.
That said, these types of vape pens are complicated — there are multiple settings you have to tweak before you can smoke — have a steep learning curve, and require lots of practice to master.
If you want to consume your marijuana wax right away, using the supplies you probably already have on-hand is a much better use of your time.
But, if you like the portability, discreteness, and reusability of the vape pen, by all means, find a model that allows you to vaporize marijuana wax and then practice, practice, practice to get it right.
Marijuana Wax In Edibles
We love to mix marijuana wax in our favorite edibles recipes, and we’re sure you will too.
We’ve added it to everything from butter and honey to tea and candy. We’ve even sprinkled it on top of our lunch salad to start our afternoon off on a high note.
Having said that, we always go as small as possible if we have to work after lunch because marijuana wax is concentrated cannabis, has a high THC count (or CBD count if you use a high CBD/low THC strain), and can really knock you on your back if you’re not careful.
There really are few things worse than being couch locked when you’ve got deadlines to meet or trying to balance your checkbook while your desk and computer dance the Lambada in front of you.
Why Is Marijuana Wax Growing In Popularity?
One word: Potency.
As mentioned, THC percentages can reach as high as 80% (and sometimes higher). That’s more than three times higher than some of the strongest strains of traditional marijuana (at ~25% THC).
Dabbers testify to two distinct differences between dabbing and smoking: faster effect and more intense highs.
Many report that the effects of dabbing are almost instantaneous and result in a much more intense high (both visually and physically).
Another reason it’s growing in popularity is because you don’t need much of it to get really high.
Most dabs are less than the size of your pinky nail (picture a mini-chocolate chip) so you can get a pretty big bang with just a little bit of product.
Does Marijuana Wax Cost More?
Yes, because cannabis wax is processed more than traditional marijuana, it costs more than traditional marijuana.
Traditional marijuana flower can cost between $15 and $20 per gram on the west coast while wax and other concentrates can cost between $70 and $100 for the same amount.
So while you may be paying more for the same amount, you’re getting a very high THC content and will need considerably less of the concentrate to get really high.
It goes back to the old adage, you get what you pay for.
To Wax Or Not To Wax…
That is the question.
Though it sounds like a rip-roaring good time, dabbing with marijuana wax may not be for everyone. The best advice? Give it a try and see for yourself.
Maybe you’ll decide to do the dab forevermore. Maybe you’ll stick with the spliff instead. Maybe you’ll mix and match as the mood hits. It’s entirely up to you.
That’s the beauty of marijuana: there’re so many options.
You’re sure to find one that works for you, but you’ve got to try in order to decide.