Are clean concentrates worth the extra cost?

Are Clean Concentrates Worth The Extra Cost?

  • Why clean concentrates? Think no harmful chemicals plus maximum flavor and potency. 
  • Get the dirt about clean concentrates from the husband and wife team behind Nightshade Farm. 

7-minute read

A Small Farm with a Big Impact on Clean Concentrates

When Kris Walsh and Phil Spinelli purchased Nightshade Farm in 2007, the idea of growing quality cannabis wasn’t even on their radar. Instead, for more than 10 years, their focus was on organic vegetable farming. Then, in the 2018 Farm Bill, the US legalized hemp cultivation and they pivoted to cannabis. But when they did, they still kept their commitment to clean farming. Of course, we love that for the environment. But what does that mean for us consumers? Like all organically farmed produce, clean concentrates tend to be more expensive. So, are they worth it? Read our interview with Kris and Phil to decide whether clean cannabis is important enough for you to spend those extra dollars.

How did you get started?

When we met in 2002, it was love at first sight. We had two interests in common: horses and weed. We purchased the farm on 4/20/2007. At the time, we wouldn’t have guessed that someday we’d be New York’s single source mom-and-pop cannabis producer. But here we are!

Why did you transition from vegetable farming to cannabis?

Organic vegetable farming is very rewarding. But it was also extremely challenging to make a living. In late 2017, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets announced its hemp program. So, we jumped at the opportunity. We believed that the program would lead us into cannabis. Sure enough, it did.

Nightshade Farm makes clean concentrates with maximum flavor and potency.

What surprised you most about making clean concentrates?

Before creating concentrates, we’d never dabbed before. That might’ve been a blessing because we didn’t have any biases regarding extraction techniques and concentrate coloration. We just wanted to create a super clean and potent concentrate using a technique that was different from the crowd. From a chemistry perspective, we wanted to prove we could create an analytically superior concentrate without using hydrocarbon extraction. The petrochemical industry manufactures hydrocarbon solvents. Personally, we believe hydrocarbon extraction isn’t healthy for a product that’s going to be used for human consumption. Especially when detectable levels of solvents are present in the product. When performed correctly, hydrocarbon extraction can produce quality concentrates without any detectable levels of residual butane or propane. But, we were determined to find a cleaner alternative. And we did! In the process, dabbing has also become our preferred method of consumption.

How are most cannabis concentrates made?

A lot of manufacturers produce cannabis concentrates using hydrocarbons. In our opinion, that’s disgusting. Our roots are in Woodstock, NY. So, we’re fairly crunchy. Regardless, we truly believe that no person should ingest a product that’s made with chemicals like butane and propane. Another popular concentrate is live rosin. That’s made with just water and heat. So, it’s super safe. But, unfortunately, the extraction process volatizes or loses a lot of terpenes. So, that wasn’t for us either because we think terpenes are a critical part of what makes cannabis effective. To avoid harmful chemicals while maximizing effects, we use 200-proof ethanol as our solvent instead.

Why is ethanol safer than other solvents for clean concentrates?

Ethanol is plant-derived and safe for human consumption even, in relatively large quantities. With that said, after extraction, we still remove 100% of the ethanol from our concentrates.

How do you make clean concentrates?

We start with the highest quality A-grade trimmed and cured flower. No trim, no shake, and no “boof” (poor quality) flower. To make a clean concentrate, you need to input the highest quality materials. We use 200-proof ethanol as our solvent. After extraction, we remove all the residual ethanol from the concentrate so that the final product is as clean as possible. We pride ourselves on creating the most potent and terpy concentrate in the New York market. It’s free of residual solvents, heavy metals, and pesticides. Not all concentrates can make those claims. We encourage everyone to review every cannabis product’s certificate of analysis (COA) prior to purchasing and consuming it.

What’s the importance of growing cannabis on clean land?

We’re blessed with having extremely clean land to grow our cannabis. As a result, our concentrate contains zero heavy metals. Cannabis is a very efficient bioaccumulator. So, if heavy metals are present in the soil the plant will absorb the metals and, consequently, contaminate the plant matter.

Why should we care about clean concentrates?

In short, because of your own health and wellbeing. Regardless of what the EPA says is a safe consumption limit, we don’t think that ingesting chemicals, heavy metals, or pesticides is ever a good idea.

What are the health benefits of clean concentrates?

A clean concentrate is a consumption option that provides a super potent, terpene-rich experience without the undesirable polymers that occur naturally in cannabis flower. When you smoke flower, even high potency flower (20-30% THC), you’re also inhaling 70-80% plant matter composed of a myriad of compounds, including polymers. By extracting the cannabinoids and terpenes from that plant matter, we’re eliminating the majority of undesirable compounds while maintaining the integrity of the cannabinoids and terpenes. Scientists have studied both cannabinoids and terpenes. And they’ve determined that both could be beneficial in treating a wide range of ailments.

Why is it important not to have heavy metals in your cannabis?

There has been extensive research on heavy metals—like arsenic, lead, and mercury—and their adverse effects on the human body. Needless to say, you should avoid them whenever possible. Heavy metals are acutely and chronically toxic for different bodily organs. The complications stemming from heavy metal toxicity include gastrointestinal and kidney dysfunction, nervous system disorders, skin lesions, vascular damage, immune system dysfunction, birth defects, and cancer. That brings us back to the importance of the certificates of analysis (COAs) on cannabis products.

What’s a nug run & why is it important?

Nug Run is a slang term created by chemists to describe using trimmed cannabis flower or “nugs” to make concentrates instead of using the leftovers that come off the nugs, or shake and trim. Nug runs are necessary for the creation of potent, flavorful concentrates. That’s because they’re made from high quality flower. So, they limit the need to extract undesirable compounds like chlorophyll and lipids, both of which are abundant in shake and trim.

Nightshade Farm makes potent, clean concentrates that don't have pesticides, polymers, or hydrocarbons.

What’s a “full spec nug run” concentrate like you make?

To break it down, the term “full spectrum” refers to an extract that contains all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and compounds found in the raw cannabis material used to make the extract. We’re firm believers in the entourage effect. That’s the concept that all the compounds in cannabis work together to make it more effective. So, we want to keep as many of them in our concentrates as possible. The term “nug run” means trimmed flower from which we extract all the good stuff with a solvent. And “concentrate” means a substance that’s been purified of diluting agents like chlorophyll, lipids, and polymers. So, when you put all those terms together you get a product that has all of the cannabinoids and terpenes found in trimmed flower without any of the undesirable compounds or diluting agents. In other words, good clean fun!

How can we tell which are clean concentrates?

We’re extremely lucky in New York because all adult-use cannabis products require COAs that are easily accessible to the consumer. All our products include QR codes on the packaging that link to our COAs. So, we encourage everyone to research the products they’re interested in before they buy. To us, cannabis is a way to enhance and uplift. To do that, we think it has to be clean.

What are your fave ways to use clean concentrates?

We love to do low-temp dabs. They’re super flavorful. But we also enjoy eating cannabis raw.

If we can only buy one, which concentrate should it be?

Our Nightshade Farm Hella Jelly Nug Run Concentrate! You can pick it up or have it delivered by Union Square Travel Agency, Housing Works Cannabis Company, The Cannabis Place, Upstate Canna Co., Legacy Dispensers, Elevate ADK, Stage One Dispensary and William Jane Dispensary—and coming soon to Flynnstoned!

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