What Is Marijuana Wax?
The highly concentrated cannabis extract known as marijuana wax or liquid marajuana is named for its thick, sticky consistency and dark amber color. With THC concentrations up to 90 percent, wax or “dab” is small and easy to conceal, and it is, therefore, an attractive alternative to marijuana flowers, buds or joints.
How Is Marijuana Wax or liquid marajuana Made?
THC wax or liquid marajuana can be produced “solvent-free” but is most commonly produced with butane extraction. For safe wax production, reputable manufacturers use specially closed equipment to prevent explosions because butane is so highly flammable. Butane is normally a gas, but it is used in a liquified form to release the wax from the cannabis plant.
The marijuana plant is packed into tubes and “washed” with the liquid butane. The butane will separate the “trichomes” of resin from the rest of the plant. The trichomes are where most cannabinoids and terpenes are located. Next, there are several necessary steps to removing the dangerous butane from the plant material. This process uses heat, condensation, and vacuum purging. These last steps are often skipped or not done correctly in home labs, and toxic butane can be left in the resin or wax, creating the potential for marijuana dangers.
Once the washed plant material cools and hardens, it is sometimes processed further by stirring or whipping into forms called sugar, crumble or “budder.”
Unfortunately, littered among the well-made marijuana products available for medical and recreational use, there are many unregulated waxes that do not have limits on THC concentration or the methods used to create the product. There are also unscrupulous manufacturers who may create waxes that are made from left-over, unusable waste products left behind from making other cannabis products.
What Are The Potential Marijuana Dangers of Concentrated Wax?
Marijuana wax / liquid marajuana, when vaporized, may deliver significant amounts of toxic “degradation” product into the lungs1. Chemicals like benzene and methacrolein may be given off when vaping with e-cigarettes or smoking wax through glass pipes or cartridge pens, especially when heated by temperatures that are too high. Given the widespread and increasing likelihood of full legalization of recreational cannabis across the United States, these potentially harmful toxins and other marijuana dangers from concentrates like wax must be the focus of future research.
Since marijuana wax “dabs” are made from marijuana oils and other THC concentrates or liquid marajuana, many people believe smoking dabs or wax is the same as smoking dried leaves. This is not the case.
The dangers inherent in wax manufacturing include the possibility of molecules of dangerous butane being present in the wax. Smoking wax and inhaling that butane can cause lung damage.
A ScienceDirect.com article details how heating marijuana wax to high temperatures releases up to 75 percent of THC, compared to five to 20 percent THC in traditional methods of smoking cannabis. At 978 degrees Fahrenheit, these heated terpenes degrade into methacrolein and benzene. Methacrolein is structurally similar to acrolein, a pulmonary irritant, which causes acute lung injury and pulmonary edema in laboratory animals. Scientists theorize that the relatively new practice of inhaling these irritants given off by heating marijuana wax at overly high temperatures can injure lungs and even mimic pneumonia in some cases.