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Monday November 22, 2021

By Samantha Smith

reclaim on a dab rig Health/Science

We’ve all been there, you really want to smoke but you’re out of product, so what do you do? Some people turn to smoking the resin that is stuck to their bowl. You know, the black sticky stuff that tastes like dirt? But what about those who only smoke concentrates? Is there an option for them?

Well, yes and it’s called reclaim. Reclaim is un-vaporized or re-condensed oil that collects inside your dab rig over time. This goldish-orange, sticky, substance forms due to vapor residue. Reclaim can get you high but are there health risks involved? Read on to find out.

What’s the Difference Between Resin and Reclaim?

The resin we are discussing here is not to be confused with live resin. Here we’re talking about the resin that builds up in a pipe.

Resin and reclaim may share some similarities, but they are very different end products. Both have cannabinoids, terpenes and lipids that were not fully vaporized or combusted when the initial cannabis product was smoked.

cannabis concentrate
Resin comes from combusted flower, while reclaim comes from concentrates.

However, unlike reclaim, resin also is made up of burnt plant material and tar. Additionally, pipe resin contains minimal cannabinoid content, while concentrate reclaim can contain anywhere from about 20%-60% THC. Both will have very low levels of terpenes, but reclaim is likely to have more than resin.

How Potent is Reclaim?

In a 2014 study conducted by MCR Labs, four reclaim samples were taken with the goal of determining the differences in their cannabinoids and cannabinoid content. To find this, each sample was collected in different ways and differed in smell, consistency and color.

Their study found that Delta 9 THC was the most prevalent cannabinoid in each of the samples, ranging from a maximum of 23.3% to 58.5% while the maximum level of CBD ranged from 1.7% to 3.7% and CBN ranged from 3.8% to 8.6 percent. The total amount of cannabinoids in the samples ranged from 48.1% to 65.3 percent.

By contrast, when the Director of Scientific Operations at MCR labs Scott Churchill tested his pipe resin, the results showed about 12% THC.

Factors That Affect Reclaim Quality

It’s difficult to address the viability of smoking reclaim without addressing the matter that not all reclaim is created equal. The temperature that you dab at will greatly affect what is left in your reclaim, both for THC and terpene content. Naturally, reclaim will have a weaker terpene content when compared to raw concentrate, because a significant amount of the terpenes have been used up in the initial dab. This will leave the reclaim far less fragrant than it originally was.

cannabis vaporization chart

How much of the initial terpene content is retained in the reclaim will depend on how hot the concentrate was dabbed at. Cannabis’ major terpenes vaporize between 300-400℉. Thus, hotter dabs will burn off more terpenes than lower temperature dabs. Similarly, cannabinoid content will be affected by temperature. Cannabinoids and terpenes begin to degrade and combust above 400℉, so reclaim from concentrate that was dabbed above that point is likely to have more toxic materials in it than reclaim dabbed below it.

As a general rule of thumb, the darker the reclaim, the more likely it is to have unwanted materials in it. Cannabinoids noticeably darken in coloration as they degrade (as anyone who has left a vape cart in the sun or heat for too long can attest). If your reclaim is dark, it’s more likely that the compounds in it have degraded into something else. The closer it is to the original consistency of the concentrate, the more viable it is.

Is Smoking Reclaim Safe?

Is smoking reclaim safe? It’s a complicated answer. As you can see from above, the amount of harmful material in reclaim can vary.

The general consensus among health professionals is that vaporized flower is safer than combusted flower. This was corroborated by a study conducted by California NORML. Thus, it is believed that reclaim and resin follow a similar pattern, that because of the lack of burnt carbon material, it would generally be safer than smoking resin.

Someone taking a dab
If you want to consume reclaim dabs, be sure to keep the temperature of your nail low!

However, that doesn’t make it “safe.” Some studies into the safety of vaporizing have shown that it can release harmful compounds as well. A study by the National Center for Biotechnology of Information (NCBI), suggests that you are still exposed to toxic particulates in the vapor that is inhaled. Such particulates include Sulphur dioxide and sulfuric acid droplets that are invisible to the naked eye when inhaling vaporized cannabis. Thus, to fully call consuming it “safe” would mean ignoring the general issues of smoking concentrate, which are not fully known and are still being studied and studied.

There’s the chance that either the terpenes or the cannabinoids in the concentrate were degraded to a high extent (becoming benzine and other harmful compounds), and thus that reclaim is likely to be less “safe.” Without better research, it’s hard to say.

Can I Eat Reclaim?

You can. Due to it being mostly decarboxylated, reclaim can be eaten just like other decarbed concentrates. It can be infused in food, drinks or capsules and be applied to the skin as a topical. The resulting edibles are likely to be of lower quality than if you’d used fresh concentrates, due to the factors mentioned above, but will still contain a good amount of THC.

Ways to Collect Reclaim

If you want to try reclaim it would be smart to invest in a dropdown attachment or reclaim adapter. There are a few ways you can collect it: 

Way #1: Gently Torch the Dropdown Attachment or Reclaim Adapter

  • A torch
  • A dropdown attachment/banger or reclaim adapter 
  • A silicone mat/parchment paper
  • Hot water
reclaim adapter
Adding a reclaim adapter to your dab setup allows for the easy collection of reclaim. photo credit

Step 1: Empty the water out of your rig and let it dry completely.

Step 2: With the banger turned upside down, gently apply heat, barely letting the flame touch the glass. Be careful not to burn yourself.

Step 3: Watch the melty reclaim drip out of the attachment and onto the silicone mat or parchment paper. Note: Do not use wax paper, as it is not heat resistant.

Step 4: Give time for the reclaim to solidify—usually overnight (you can also put it in the fridge).

Way #2: Use a Solvent

If you do not have a dropdown attachment or torch handy, you can also use a solvent and some household items. 

  • 90% High proof alcohol or higher, such as high-grade isopropyl alcohol, acetone, 
  • A hot Plate
  • Razor Blade
  • Paper Towels
  • Thermal shock resistant dish (Pyrex)
  • Wax paper

Step 1: Take your alcohol and fill it to where it meets the reclaim.

Step 2: Cover the mouthpiece and attachment with the paper towel and gently swirl the alcohol, dislodging the reclaim in the process. You may need to add some hot water to hurry the process along.

Step 3: Repeat step 2 until all the reclaim is removed from the sides of the rig, then pour the mixture into the dish. Put the hotplate on low at this time.

Step 4: Take the dish and set it on the hotplate, this will cause the alcohol to evaporate slowly.

Step 5: when the alcohol has evaporated completely, let the reclaim dry in the dish over night.

Step 6: Once the reclaim has dried, take the razor blade and scrape it off the bottom of the dish and onto a piece of wax paper.

Helpful Hints When Using the Solvent Method

  • Be aware that concentrates are tested and approved by a licensed testing lab before they can legally be sold. If solvents are detected in the product, the product will fail.  By using a solvent, you add a dangerous element back into the equation that was removed for safety reasons.
  • There’s a reason why we use a hotplate with this method and not use a direct flame. Alcohol is flammable and heating it quickly at a high temperature could cause it to ignite, whereas a hotplate slowly heats up to an average of 120 degrees at its hottest.

Is Smoking Reclaim a Good Idea?

Reclaim may be a good idea in a pinch but you may want to consider the risks and downsides before smoking it. If you consume concentrates for the flavor and aroma, you’ll likely be let down, as most of the tasty parts of the concentrate will have burned off. Reclaim from low-temp dabs may still have some terpenes left in it though. The smell of your reclaim can be a good indicator for how much terpene content it has left.

Many who consume dabs feel that reclaim isn’t with the work, due to its inferior quality and questionable content. But at the end of the day, it’s ultimately up to the consumer if they would like to part take.


Samantha Smith Samantha Smith

Samantha Smith is a journalist, medical cannabis patient and cannabis advocate. A graduate of Ball State University, Samantha was a newspaper reporter in southwest Michigan and Indiana before entering the cannabis industry. She specialized in covering stories about local politics, the Indiana public school system and, community events.

Currently, she is the Marketing and Communications Manager at The Green Door, a medical & recreational dispensary in Bangor, and Baldwin, Michigan. Her work has been published on Leafly and in Pet Lifestyles Magazine. She is also a brand ambassador for Paw-able cbd pet treats. Samantha can be found on Instagram at @sammyliz92 or on LinkedIn.

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