The High Times team recently met up with our resident-in-dope Malcolm Mirage (@malcolmmirage) in San Francisco to learn more about the process of cannabis concentrate extraction. Malcolm brought us to the lab of one of the city’s premier extraction companies, Level Blends (@trylevel), who were gracious enough to give us behind-the-scenes access of their facility. So it’s only right we laced them up with some of our finest official High Times gear.
Below, check out Malcom’s step-by-step account of Level Blend’s extraction process, and visit shop.hightimes.com for the freshest official High Times merchandise.
Since the recent ‘Dawn of the Dab,’ Northern California and San Francisco specifically have been an industry leader in the cannabis concentrate community. In converted warehouses, garages and basements, there’s an underground race to create the most advanced cannabis extraction refinement techniques. The leaders are Ph.D chemists, bio-pharmaceutical techs, rocket scientists and D.I.Y average joes with a yen for potent-ass concentrate.
The holy grail is the creation of a solvent-free 99 percent plus THC distillate, AKA “White” AKA “Clear,” AKA “Dab N a Pen.” The search for understanding how to make the Lamborghini of concentrate tanks is comparable to the quest for a 5 Star ‘Dragon Ball,’ many will come, few will be chosen.
The beginning of the quest starts with one of San Francisco’s leaders, Level Blends (@trylevel) located in the heart of downtown.
Chief scientist Chris, sporting a High Times Navy Logo Coaches Jacket, is the brains behind Level Blends. Armed with a degree in molecular biology from Stanford, Chris is a believer in using cannabis extractions and polypharmacy to modulate the moods and behaviors of cannabis concentrate users.
Level Blends adheres to the philosophy “quality-in, quality-out” with respect to concentrate manufacturing. This means ONLY the highest grade mold- and pesticide-free trim and popcorn buds are used throughout the entire process. No leaves, no old brown product. In the image below, a winterized batch of concentrate awaits further refinement. Winterization is the process in which plant waxes and fats are isolated through an extraction machine.
For Extraction: Popcorn buds only…no bullshit!
After winterizing, some of the remaining lipids and fats still have to be removed from the cannabis concentrate for further refinement. That’s where the “Roto Vape” comes into play. A Roto Vape machine vacuums off all residual undesirable elements, pictured below.
The Roto-Vape Machine vacuums leftover residuals in the concentrate ball.
Handling product this precious demands the utmost focus, as Chris prepares winterized concentrate for the “Roto Vape.” High Times Navy Logo Coaches Jacket.
Malcolm watches Level Blends’ proprietary fractional distillation machine break the cannabis concentrate down into its primary cannabinoid elements. Weed Cream Grim Reefer Tee
Heaven comes in double passed 90%+ concentrated THC form. Taking a wiff, it’s impossible to know what kind of weed birthed this maple syrup of the gods. All cannabis terpenes, or “terps,” have been evaporated off and must be re-introduced.
After the extraction and distillation processes, higher-end cannabis concentrate companies separate themselves from the pack by re-introducing freshly-concentrated cannabinoid extractions like CBG and THCV, as well as additional terpenes, into their final products.
One pound of top quality trim will run $500 and delivers you 3 ml of terpenes. Which means you’re looking at $1500 dollars of explosively fragrant Jack Herer in this shot. That amount of liquid could fit in a soup spoon.
At Level Blends, every concentrate tank is surgically filled automatically to exactly 500 mg. One hundred tanks are topped off in a matter of minutes. This industrial process is way less sketch than filling tanks one-by-one in a kitchen with a hot mason jar on the stove top with a syringe in one hand and a lighter in the other.
The Final Product! Holding the Dragon Ball at the end of the rainbow. A $10,000 dollar sphere of supercritical CO2 extracted cannabis oil, which has gone through winterization, rotorization, fractional distillation and then double passed to create a 99% THC concentrate that will make you see into the future.
Hundreds of cartridges await packaging. Each cartridge is hand inspected before being individually wrapped and heat sealed for sale and transport. It’s a labor of love done in the name of connoisseurs and patients and distributed all over California.
Level Blend comes in zero additive Sativa, Hybrid, Indica and three tiers of high CBD blended tanks. Here’s a high ass idea, how about a vaporizer battery shaped High Times lighter that still functions as a lighter? It’ll be like the utili-kit of getting blazed
Mirage Medicinal (@mirage.medicinal) couldn’t function without the best cannabis products California has to offer. Level Blends creates a unique style of concentrate products that have become some of the highest in-demand tanks on the market. Their precision, state-of-the-art equipment and serious attention to detail puts them at the top of their game
We are very grateful to be given access into their laboratory/hide away. Big up to the dope folks of High Times for making this possible and lacing the squad up from head to toe.
SHOP: Check out our High Times Shop for more cannabis-infused merchandise for growers and tokers alike.
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All photography shot on 35mm film by @supremethang
Mirage Medicinal: @Mirage.Medicinal
Malcolm Mirage: @Malcolmmirage
Level Blends: @Trylevel
HIGH TIMES: @hightimesmagazine @shophightimes