Distillate THC: What Is It and How is it Used?

THC distillate
By Nick Congleton Updated March 8th

Fact-checked by Deb Tharp

You may have heard of distillate THC, otherwise known as “liquid gold”. If you’ve been wondering what it is, we’re here to explain all about this cannabinoid concentrate, what its effects are, and how to use it properly.

What is THC Distillate?

In order to understand THC distillates, you’ll first need an idea of what cannabis concentrates are. Cannabis concentrates are actually fairly common. They’re the result of putting some part of the cannabis plant – usually the flowers – through a machine to extract only certain parts. These parts are usually cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, and the plant’s terpenes, which account for each strain’s unique smell and effects.

There are many ways to make cannabis concentrates. Most commonly, they involve using some kind of solvent to break down the plant. The resulting mixture is then subjected to a process to pull out the remaining solvent, leaving behind only the desired plant compounds. The result is usually a thick amber substance with a high cannabinoid concentration which can be used as it is or further refined into a different form.

Common forms of cannabis concentrates include oil (the thick amber liquid), wax (a yellowish gold concentrate that is crumbly or buttery), or shatter (a solid glassy substance). These are typically used for vaping or dabbing. Other concentrates – such as hash, kief and rosin – can be made without the use of solvents.

Vial of THC distillate closeup

So what is THC distillate?

Distillates take concentrates and process them one more time, heating the mixture to the point where the desired cannabinoid – THC, CBD, or both – vaporizes. This vaporization separates the cannabinoid from the rest of the mixture. The cannabinoid is then cooled and condensed separately. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s essentially the same process for distillation that’s been used to make alcohol for thousands of years.

The resulting product will be much lighter in color than the original concentrate. It’s as completely free from impurities as can be while still being derived from the whole plant, and it’s ready to be used in countless applications. It’s also made entirely of cannabinoids. A THC distillate is pure THC.

Is THC Distillate the Same as Cannabis Oil?

THC distillate and cannabis oil are not the same thing. The definitions here get kind of shaky, depending on who you ask, but cannabis oil generally refers to a cannabis concentrate that’s mixed with an oil. This could be vape liquid for inhaling or it could be a cooking oil like olive or coconut oil (which should not be inhaled). 

In either case, cannabis oil is far less concentrated than THC distillate. Cannabis oils will also contain the full spectrum of cannabinoids and the terpenes of the plant they were extracted from. In contrast, THC distillate is more of a viscous light amber liquid than an oil. It contains THC and only THC. As a result, it intensely concentrated, up to about 99%.

What are the Effects of THC Distillates?

Only experienced cannabis users should attempt to use THC distillates. Even then, the extraordinarily high concentration increases the risk of using too much and creating an unpleasant experience.

The effects of THC distillate will be the same as the consumer would get if they smoked the strain that was used to produce the distillate (only magnified by the concentration). So, you can expect anything from energetic euphoria to sleepy relaxation. Likewise, depending on your body, tolerance, and the dose, you may experience hunger, altered perception of time, couch lock, increased heart rate, and sleepiness.

Pros and Cons of THC Distillates


THC distillates have many advantages over other forms of cannabis concentrates. The first, and probably most obvious advantage they have is their extremely high concentration of THC. For medical patients, this means the possibility of relief more quickly, without as much need to worry about a high tolerance dulling the effects. 

THC distillates don’t have any odor, since they no longer contain the plant’s terpenes. They’re discreet, and if vaporized won’t tip other people off to the fact that you’re using cannabis.

These distillates are also highly versatile. Their high concentration and lack of smell means that small amounts can be incorporated into other products – from homemade edibles to topping a bowl or joint – to add THC content without altering the smell or taste. 

Many concentrates have to contend with impurities, like leftover solvent from the extraction process. Due to the distillation process, THC distillate doesn’t have the same issue. Aside from cannabis isolate, it’s one of the purest concentrates available.


While THC distillate seems to offer many advantages, there are potential downsides consumers should be aware of. 

Because the THC is so highly concentrated, it’s difficult for even the most experienced cannabis users to get the dosage correct. It’s all too easy to use more than intended. The high THC concentration also increases the chances of experiencing undesirable side effects. At the same time, there’s no guarantee that consuming distillate will actually deliver stronger effects once you’ve consumed a certain quantity, if that’s your goal.

Since THC distillate takes more processing to create and contains such a high concentration of THC, it’s also quite pricey when compared to many other cannabis products. Granted, you don’t have to use as much, but if you enjoy the experience of consuming cannabis as much as the effects it provides, this can be a serious downside.

It’s also important to consider that because THC distillate has such a high concentration of THC, it may not always be available near you. Generally speaking, such extreme levels of THC are reserved for serious medical conditions, and even some medical cannabis dispensaries may not carry the product.

Pros and cons of THC distillates

How to Use THC Distillates

For most consumers, especially those new to cannabis, consuming THC distillate on its own is probably not a good idea. The concentration is so high that even the most experienced cannabis users may have a hard time getting the dosage correct.

THC distillate really shines as an additive to other cannabis products, like gummies and chocolates or vape cartridges, or in order to add THC to something yourself, like homemade edibles, for example. 

In order to smoke THC distillate, some users will add a very small amount to top off a bowl of dried flower or line a pre-roll that they’re already smoking. The distillate will increase the overall THC content without being overwhelming, if done properly.

If you’re making your own vape liquids, you can use THC distillate for a custom vape without the typical cannabis smell. This method isn’t suggested unless you know exactly what you’re doing, though.

THC distillate can also be a great way to make cannabis edibles. You can add a small amount to your favorite recipe to get the exact dose of THC you want. You can also make a cooking oil with distillate to use in baking.

Some more experienced consumers choose to dab plain THC distillate. This, again, is not recommended, as even the most advanced cannabis connoisseur may end up consuming too much THC.
Understand your consumption options and what can work for you with our guide to the best ways to consume cannabis.

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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