When vape pens first came out, butane hash oil concentrates occupied a significant majority of the cannabis market share. It’s impossible to tell exactly how popular it was back then, but data gathered from markets where recreational cannabis use is legal shows a clear trend.
Since then, however, the legal cannabis marketplace has moved away from butane hash oil concentrates. A spate of tragic laboratory accidents in 2013 served as a clear warning to amateur chemists experimenting with highly flammable alkanes under pressure.
Although the risks of preparing cannabis concentrates using the butane hash oil method are clear, butane hash concentrates can also present risks to the user. This is why the legal cannabis market is accelerating away from butane hash oil concentrates and moving towards other options.
Is Butane Hash Oil Concentrate Bad for You?
First, a disclaimer: A competently prepared butane hash oil concentrate, created in a commercial-grade laboratory using professional closed loop extractor equipment, is as pure a concentrate as any other. The end result – a highly concentrated form of THC – is similar whether you use butane hash oil, CO2 extraction, or any other similar chemical process.
But the fact that many amateurs take it upon themselves to product butane hash oil concentrates using homemade setups presents an obvious risk of contamination. Laboratories testing homemade butane hash oil have found residual leftovers of the petroleum-based fuel amounting to between 2% and 5% of the total weight of the finished product.
By contrast, in Colorado, the legal limit for residual butane in these kinds of concentrates is 0.0005%.
Butane poisoning from BHO products can be as bad for the human body as drinking gasoline or any other saturated hydrocarbon fuel. Most alkanes cause short-term memory loss, nausea, and dizziness, and can even provoke paranoid hallucinations when ingested.
This points to a greater problem the cannabis community faces with butane hash oil concentrates. Users who prefer butane hash oil to other concentrate forms may deliberately seek these kinds of cannabis experiences and are willing to put themselves in jeopardy to obtain what cannabis professionals would call undesirable butane hash oil side effects.
Risks Associated with Consuming Butane Hash Oil: Dabbing
There is another dimension to the health risks associated with butane hash oil: the method of consumption. “Dabbing” refers to a particular method of holding hash oil concentrate against a preheated surface to maximize intake while minimizing waste.
Some cannabis users see dabbing as an improvement over smoking plant material. Overall, the process means a user can ingest THC in a more efficient way while reducing their exposure to smoke. But dabbing culture places inordinate importance on the strength of the high, which casual and medicinal users often find uncomfortably powerful.
Dabbing hash oil may complicate medicinal use as well. Vaporizing plant concentrate can cause cannabis cuticle waxes to accumulate in the users’ lungs. These may produce granules that lead to medical problems later in life – dabbing is too recent a phenomenon to tell at the moment. Some professional extractors winterize their extracts to remove these cuticle waxes.
However, even with a properly winterized butane hash oil concentrate in hand, the question of scope remains. There are no recognized medical benefits of using butane hash oil concentrate, but it does produce a powerful psychoactive effect that a particular segment of the cannabis community values highly.
Elizabeth has been writing cannabis industry-related articles for years. She is one of the founders of the California-based company CaliExtractions. With a passion for enlightenment and years of knowledge in the cannabis industry, her articles have stretched from a variety of subjects including the legalization, extraction, and upkeep of cannabis.
Currently, she’s contributing to a variety of blogs in the cannabis industry in hopes to spread valuable information on useful topics for the benefits of the industry.