What Is Cannabis Distillate and How Is it Made?

What Is Cannabis Distillate and How Is it Made

Distillates are cannabis extracts cleaned and processed to separate the cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, into precise amounts. The potency is the first reason distillates are popular with cannabis enthusiasts and users. This article will cover what distillate is and how it is made.

What Is Distillate?

Distillates are thin, clear oil with no waxes or other highly volatile compounds from the cannabis plant. These cannabis extracts are stripped of all compounds and materials except the specific desired cannabinoids. They are popular since they are potent and extremely versatile, mainly due to removing terpene throughout the distillation process. 

Cannabis concentrates, like distillates, can be used on their own or added to other cannabis products. They can be dabbed, vaped, or mixed into products like edibles, topicals, and more. 

Most edibles and vape cartridges start with distillate, which usually has no smell, taste, or flavor. THC and CBD oil are the most common distillate types on the market. The name of the oil tells you which cannabinoid is the most important. In CBD oil, CBD is the cannabinoid that stands out the most. Check out examples of distillates here.

Is Distillate the Same Thing as Oil?

Distillate is one of the most common types of cannabis oil, and people often want it because of how strong it is. Since almost everything else has been taken out of it except for the cannabinoids, it is very versatile and is often used as a base for many other cannabis products.

While all distillates are oils, not all cannabis oils are considered distillates. Cannabis oil is only a distillate if it has been stripped and cleaned of all other materials and compounds, including terpenes. Check out Mary’s 1ml Distillate and see its difference from Mary’s Honey Oil Syringe 1g. Many other kinds of marijuana oils on the market have not been through that process.

Terpenes and Distillates

Distillate doesn’t have terpenes, the source of natural flavors and smells of the hemp plant material. Getting rid of the natural terpenes means you have complete control over how the product tastes and smells in the end. 

With distillates, cannabis product makers can separate the different cannabinoids and terpenes in the cannabis extract and then put them back together in the right amounts. For example, the cannabis plants that are harvested may not have enough CBD on their own to make a tincture that can help treat anxiety disorders. With distillates, the correct ratio of CBD to THC can be achieved.

One problem with taking out the terpenes is that the resulting product might not have the therapeutic benefits often attributed to the entourage effect. Manufacturers can still add terpenes to the distillate later in the process. This would lower the overall potency but bring back the flavor and smell that terpenes produce. However, taking the terpenes out first means more medicinal benefits are lost.

Does Distillate Get You High?

How high you get from distillate depends on the type of cannabinoid you take. The main benefit is that the final product is powerful because almost everything was taken out except for the cannabinoid that was wanted. Thus, you will likely get very high from using a distillate with a high THC content because the oil that comes out is almost pure THC. Try these Boost Gel Caps to experience the effects of THC distillates. On the other hand, if you take a CBD distillate, you will enjoy CBD’s therapeutic benefits without the high.

A woman and a man using THC distillate

How to Use a Distillate

Cannabis distillates can be used with a portable vaporizer or a dab rig. You can also use a distillate cartridge and a vape pen to smoke them. When you dab or vape distillates, the vapor is almost odorless, depending on whether it has been flavored, and the effects are usually felt immediately. When you put a few drops of THC distillate on a flower in a bowl or a rolling paper, the high gets stronger without changing the taste or smell.

You can also add distillates into cannabis edibles or topicals instead of using them for vaping or smoking. In edibles, distillates give you the cannabinoids you want without the taste of the plant. To make your own edibles, start with low doses, like 5 milligrams or less of THC per serving. Then, gradually increase the dosage until you get your desired taste and effect. 

Distillates can also be dropped under the tongue or taken by mouth on their own. They can also be used in topicals, simply put the distillate on your skin and let the substance be taken in through the pores.

How to Make Distillate

Distillate is made by separating undesirable compounds from cannabis plant matter through various distillation techniques. Distillate products are made from winterized, decarboxylated, and distilled cannabis extracts.

Compared to how we get wax and shatter, it’s a very different process. A process called molecular distillation is used to make distillate. For health and safety reasons, distillates should only be made by professionals who have the right tools and work in safe, controlled environments. The setup and materials need to be done with precision and care.

Here is how the distilled form of cannabis is usually made:

Step 1: Crude Oil Extraction

Usually, the process begins with crude oil extraction, a procedure used for getting the cannabinoids out of the cannabis plant. A crude extraction can use either a physical or a chemical way to separate the different parts. Other methods using sieving or rosin tend to make concentrates with more plant impurities than supercritical fluid carbon dioxide extraction or Butane Hash Oil (BHO). 

Whether the cannabinoids are separated chemically (through BHO or supercritical fluid extraction) or physically (through sieving or rosin), the crude extract has impurities that must be taken out before the oil can be split into cannabinoids.

Step 2: Winterization

Winterization is the next big step in the process of making distillate. It is a way to eliminate plant waxes, lipids, fats, and chlorophyll that are left over from making the crude extract. Ethanol is added to the raw extract. After that, the solution is put somewhere very cold for 24 to 48 hours. From there, the impurities stick together and then separate, falling to the bottom of the container. 

The solution of the crude extract and ethanol is then put through a filter. Ethanol is taken out after filtering. There are different ways to get rid of ethanol, like using a rotary evaporator or a falling film evaporator. At this point, the extract wouldn’t be that potent. For instance, THC is a well-known compound and active cannabinoid that makes people feel high. But at this stage, what is found is tetrahydrocannabinol acid (THCA).

THCA does not make people feel high. When THCA is heated in a process known as “decarboxylation,” it changes into THC.

Step 3: Decarboxylation

Decarboxylation is the process of taking carboxylic acid out of the cannabinoid’s chemical compound. By eliminating that specific acid, the cannabinoid can easily interact with your body and bind to your nervous system’s CB1 and CB2 receptors.

Most of what determines the point of decarboxylation are time and temperature. For example, THCA starts to change into THC when heated to 220°F or put near an open flame. 

However, remember that THCA is not the only cannabinoid that needs to undergo high boiling points or decarboxylation before it can work well with your body. All cannabinoids must first be decarboxylated from their acid form. When making edible cannabis, extractors decarboxylate cannabis oil, mixing the concentrate with other ingredients to add active cannabinoids like THC and CBD to foods, candies, and drinks.

Step 4: Molecular Distillation

In the last step of making this cannabis oil, the cannabis is distilled. Each cannabinoid and terpene in the decarboxylated extract can be separated based on its boiling point and molecular weight using vacuum pressure and heat. The boiling point can be reached at much lower temperatures in a vacuum pump where the pressure can be tightly controlled. This helps keep the substance from losing its effectiveness.

A syringe containing a distillate with only a desired cannabinoid present

Distillates FAQs

Is distillate the same as vape?

No. Distillate is a cannabis concentrate devoid of all other plant compounds and materials except one specific cannabinoid. On the other hand, a vaping pen is a device used to smoke distillate. There are now a plethora of vape pens with pure distillate oil on the market today. These items have a distillate cartridge, a heating element, and a battery that powers the heating element. The heating element turns the oil in the cartridge into vapor, which is then inhaled through the mouthpiece.

What is the difference between concentrate and distillate?

The most important difference between concentrate and distillate is that concentrate keeps some of its natural terpenes. This makes the final product taste better and have more terpenes, leading to the entourage effect. Distillation gets rid of everything from plant lipids to terpenes. Since each cannabinoid vaporizes at a different temperature, producers can easily change the process to get only one cannabinoid. Because of this, distillate is a potent concentrate.

What is liquid distillate?

Distillation turns a liquid into vapor and gets the liquid back by making the vapors cool down. The liquid that is left over after this process is called the distillate. Distillation separates liquids from solids that don’t evaporate quickly, like alcoholic liquors from fermented materials or two or more liquids with different boiling points. Cannabis distillates are highly refined cannabis plant extracts used worldwide in vape cartridges, edibles, and topical products. The oil in distillates is made up of a single cannabinoid.

Why is distillate so cheap?

Even though it costs more to make distillate than wax, wholesale flower prices have decreased since 2016. This has helped a lot to get cheaper concentrates on the market. Raw materials, like hemp, are also cheap, and the yield is high. For Delta 8 distillates, there are no regulatory bodies to pay for taxes, and most hemp licenses don’t even mention distillates and other products with added value. You will be paying more if they tax D8 distillate the same way they tax D9 concentrates.

Lastly, distillate isn’t as new and popular to cannabis consumers as it used to be. Live resin sauce and THCA crystal mixtures have the same potency and taste better than distillate, which loses all of its terpenes during the purification process and needs to be added back in.


THC or CBD cannabis distillate is an excellent way to get high or try out certain cannabinoids in their purest form. There are also many ways to use cannabis distillates, such as vaping, adding it to your joint or bowl to smoke it, putting it under your tongue, or adding it to your edibles.

Make sure to buy only a high potency and high-quality product from a legal brand or a licensed dispensary if you want to get the most out of the extracted cannabis. Check out our distillates here at Budlyft and take advantage of our weed delivery Vancouver and Lower Mainland, Canada. You can also get a 10% commission for every product sold through your referral code when you sign up as a Budlyft affiliate!