Concentrate with the terpene profile of a plant fresh from the garden
The Synergy created by the magnificent elements of cannabis as they come together in our body, results in a combined effect greater than any effect a singular effort could possibly have. More commonly referred to as the entourage effect, it suggests that cannabis from a medical perspective, is most effective when the whole plant is consumed, therefore combining cannabinoids and terpenes. Although cannabinoids have received the most attention, cannabis contains hundreds of terpenes.
Medical scientists believe they may contribute significantly to the medicinal properties of cannabis. We’ve known about their presence for decades, but it’s only recently awareness of their potential medicinal and therapeutic properties has begun to expand.
Mowgli Holmes, a geneticist and founder of a cannabis genetics company Phylos Bioscience said, “What gives cannabis character are the hundreds of other chemicals it contains. These include THC’s cousin cannabinoids such as cannabidiol, along with other compounds called terpenes.”
Aromatic organic hydrocarbons (meaning the only elements present are carbon and hydrogen) known as terpenes are those delicate molecules in cannabis that are synthesized in trichomes all over the plant and responsible for its aroma and taste. Research has proven the medical attributes of a wide variety of terpenes, including their ability to treat cancer, relieve depression, and reduce inflammation.
Myrcene is the most abundant terpene in cannabis. It composes up to 50% of the terpene volume and has been found to aid in the formation of other important terpenes.
Myrcene, in tandem with another terpene, thujone, fights the symptoms of diabetes. When combined with THC, myrcene results in pain reduction, muscle relaxation, and, in high enough doses, can act as a hypnotic sedative. When combined with the cannabinoid CBG, this powerful terpene fights cancer.
Terpenes are fragile and easily lost through evaporation or excess heat. Once a cannabis plant has been harvested, the processes that follow has the potential to dramatically reduce or eliminate flavors and aromas. Patients experience a less fragrant and tasty concentrate. The conventional drying and curing method is not conducive to preserving these miraculous elements of cannabis, nor is the traditional extraction procedures.
From a medical perspective, scientists say it’s too early to determine all the health benefits derived from terpenes. Early indications are that terpenes play a major role in the healing properties of cannabis.
When terpenes have been denatured by oxidation (drying and curing), they become referred to as terpenoids. Research has shown that after only one week into the drying and curing, as much as 60% of the terpenes have evaporated.
For more discussion on terpenes: The Miraculous Cannabis Plant Keeps on Giving.
A better understanding about terpenes and the long journey they have travelled to arrive in your next extract, provides a higher level of appreciation for the wondrous terpenes and the extract specialist who made it possible to enjoy.
It’s helpful to remember how new this information is. Just a few years ago, extraction methods were in their infancy and terpenes were not even talked about. There remains a tremendous amount of research to be done, but the industry has made giant strides as scientists and aficionados are beginning to feel more comfortable in conducting and sharing knowledge.
The Cannabis Aficionados. We owe them a debt of gratitude. They have always quietly been there helping to take our industry forward. Until this decade, if you didn’t read High Times magazine, there wasn’t much knowledge about the growers in the trenches that persisted year after year regardless of the adversity. Every day was a risk, but that was the furthest from their minds. They loved everything about the cannabis plant and were motivated by passion. They have always been there.
Jayson “Giddy Up” Evo and Bill “Kind Bill” Felger carry these credentials. They were researching innovative methods of extraction and terpene preservation before they were mainstream. Together, they developed methods capable of extracting concentrates laden with very high levels of terpenes, on average much higher than the extracts produced using cured resins.
Kind Bill is a legend in the concentrate community. Originally from Colorado, he began growing cannabis and making hash while living in Florida in the late 1980s. In 2000, when medical marijuana became legal in Colorado, Fenger returned home and began working as a master grower. Mr. Fenger started the first legal grow dedicated exclusively to concentrate production in 2010.
“As I would trim my harvests, the smell was so intoxicating compared to dried buds… that’s what I wanted in an extract.”
Seeking to produce a concentrate with the terpene profile of a plant fresh from the garden, he tried processing a batch of BHO from a freshly harvested, flash-frozen whole plant. The result was a new type of cannabis concentrate that Kind Bill later dubbed live resin.
This idea wasn’t entirely new. A few others had also attempted making “fresh-frozen” BHO as early as 2011—but they were all using the open-blasting method, with less than satisfactory results.
“The first batch I made was amazing.” Said Fenger. “The flavor, smell and effect was the best I ever had. Everyone I showed it to was blown away, but the appearance received a lot of flak and the yield was terrible.”
There were challenges to open-blasting live resin.
- Freezing the extraction tube made the glass fragile and prone to shattering.
- The resulting concentrate was green and harsh due to chlorophyll drawn out along with the terpenes and cannabinoids as the plant material thawed during the slow extraction process.
- Moisture drawn from the thawing plant material led to a finished product that snapped and crackled in a way that most dabbers found unappealing.
- Packing a glass tube with frozen material took up more space than dried, thus, yielding less than a gram of finished oil.
Most hash-makers concluded that fresh-frozen BHO would never become a viable commercial product.
Kind Bill meets Giddy Up.
But, in 2013, “Kind Bill” met “Giddy Up.”
Jayson “Giddy Up” Emo smoked his first joint when he was 14 and he’s been Giddy Up ever since. A cannabis connoisseur and a self-taught hash maker, Mr. Emo moved from Oklahoma to Colorado when he was 26. Working as a Bud Tender in a Colorado Springs dispensary, he quickly became familiar with all aspects of the business. Giddy Up found his passion in extraction.
In 2012, Mr. Emo founded Emotek Labs and created one of the first butane hash oil extraction machines in the world: the Obe Dos. Within two years, Emotek Labs developed into the most well-known hash extraction machine company in the world.It all started in a Colorado Springs medical dispensary production facility where Giddy had placed one of his early OBE-Dos closed-loop extraction units. To assist in orientation for the new piece of equipment, they brought in Kind Bill. By this time, Bill was a well-known extraction consultant.
When he was introduced to Giddy Up and his shiny steel, large-capacity extractor, Fenger knew. The adrenalin must have been flowing fast. It had been 13 years since he began growing a dedicated garden for extraction in a quest to preserve the fragile terpenes.
“When Giddy told me that the OBE-Dos unit was pressure-rated down to -10•f, I was incredibly excited,” Bill recalls. This was the discovery he had been waiting for.
“I immediately knew I could do new things with this unit that weren’t possible with glass tubes. I knew this was the machine that could make what would become live resin.”
In the years since Kind Bill and Giddy Up extracted those first batches in Colorado, they have watched dozens of other extract artists make live resin. There are different methods from the one they pioneered, but that isn’t a concern.
Kind Bill Fenger has an open-source mentality that sets him apart. Kind Bill is happy the interest and technology is getting out there. “That means more live resins for everyone and that’s a good thing for the universe.” Fenger says. “I love seeing the progression of this industry. I look forward to the time when I can smoke something new that makes me forget all about live resin. That’s the special magic that keeps me doing this, and keeps me excited about the future of concentrates.”
Fenger may be a prophet. We now have the means to separate various cannabinoids and terpenes. This means we will soon be seeing custom extracts designed by the user, specifying precise percentages of THC, CBD, perhaps a touch of CBN and some selected terpenes. It’s something old school cannabis loyalists never imagined.
Without question, live resin has become the hottest concentrate on the market. The pungent smell, distinct flavor and near-luminescent color has won multiple Cannabis Cups and other concentrate competitions since its creation in Colorado.