Cannabis concentrates are quickly becoming the preferred way to enjoy THC and other cannabinoids. With concentrates, you have a greater sense of control over your dose, and you can enjoy clean and refined terpene flavor profiles with ease.
If you’ve ever shopped at a dispensary or used a delivery service in Washington DC, you probably noticed just how many different cannabis oils and concentrates are available. Buying concentrates can be super confusing since there are so many different extract companies in the mix, making the same products that go by different names. For example, wax can be called crumble or budder, while rosin often goes by SHO or fresh frozen.
No matter what extractors call the stuff, you should still be able to tell precisely what you’re looking at by sight alone. Here’s an in-depth look into cannabis concentrates, oils, and extracts that will teach you the fundamentals of cannabis concentrates along with a few product options and a rundown on how they’re made.
How cannabis concentrates are made
Cannabis concentrates are essentially made by separating the THC-rich trichome heads from cannabis flowers and removing all other plant materials. This is accomplished by extraction, which can be broken down into two categories: solventless and solvent-based.
A solvent-based extraction method is generally used by commercial extractors who need a lot of product out of few materials. These extracts are made by blasting the plant material with chemical solvents to strip the plant materials away from the cannabinoids and terpenes. Some of these solvents include ethanol, propane, butane, and carbon dioxide. This process typically requires a purge process to ensure that all chemical solvents evaporate out of the final process. Keep in mind that solvent-free does NOT mean solventless. Solvent-free extracts are solvent-based extracts that have effectively removed all traces of the chemical solvents from the final product.
Solventless extracts, on the other hand, do not use chemical solvents. It typically requires mechanical techniques that combine heat and pressure along with water filtration to concentrate the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant materials. You may be wondering how these extracts are considered solventless if they’re filtered with water. Keep in mind that the term solventless means that no chemical solvents were used in cannabis. Solventless extracts are standard and can even be made safely at home. However, they require a lot more work to make than solvent-based extracts.
Regardless of which method is used to make cannabis concentrates, you’re left with a product that has a higher percentage of THC and a good amount of terpenes. On average, cannabis concentrates contain somewhere between 75-90% THC and 3-25% terpenes. Many people claim that cannabis concentrates are cleaner, easier to dose, taste better, and have longer-lasting effects. Cannabis flowers contain about 10-25% THC on average. When you smoke dried flowers, you’re getting a full spectrum of terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids like THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, and so on. However, combusting the dried flowers tends to destroy terpenes and transform the cannabinoids into something different. You still get a good, full-spectrum of effects, but the high is often foggier and won’t last as long, which is why so many prefer to smoke concentrates.
One of the main reasons people prefer concentrates is that depending on which method you use, you can get high without the drawbacks of actually smoking. As you will see from the list below there are many different types of concentrates, each with their own purpose. Take a look and see which ones are best for you.
Solvent-based extracts come in all different shapes, consistencies, smells, and flavors. These variations are caused by the different solvents that can be used as well as the purging method used for the extraction. Here are a few common solvent-based concentrates you can find at most DC dispensaries as well as a few of their alternative monikers.
Hydrocarbon extracts are the most commonly made cannabis concentrates used for dabbing. They are created by pressurizing butane or propane and using the pressure to strip the essence of the cannabis from the plant material within a closed-loop system. The final product contains no propane or butane and preserves the chemical structures that make a strain unique, such as terpenes and cannabinoids. Hydrocarbon extracts also go by butane hash oil and include products like wax, shatter, honeycomb, and oil. These extracts are highly variable and exist at every price-point and consistency, containing about 70-90% cannabinoids on average. This is where all of your live resin, shatter, and wax comes from
Some cannabis extracts are made with CO2 instead of chemical solvents. In a CO2 extraction, extractors place carbon dioxide under extreme heat and pressure to separate the cannabinoids and terpenes from plant material. This supercritical state allows it to take on the properties of both a liquid and a gas. It has the reputation of being one of the safest solvent-based extraction methods since it is noncombustible and already present in the air we breathe. In fact, CO2 extraction can be used for decaffeinating coffee and extracting pharmaceuticals. You can find CO2 oils at most dispensaries in the form of vape cartridges. These products often contain cannabis oil made from a supercritical CO2 extraction.
Distillate takes a CO2 extract one step further. An ordinary extract may still contain trace amounts of terpenes, fats, and lipids from the plant. However, all of these can be removed by refining the material further with a distillation process, leaving behind pure cannabinoids. Quality distillate is mostly clear and contains 90-100% cannabinoids. Pure distillate doesn’t taste or smell like anything, though, so it’s used more often in products like edibles and topicals. However, you can also buy distillate in the form of vape cartridges. Vapes may contain additive terpenes that enhance the flavor and effects of the cannabinoids.
Solventless Cannabis Concentrates
Like solvent-based extracts, solventless extracts also come in a variety of textures, flavors, and smells. However, these don’t require any solvents and are derived mechanically. Usually, solventless extracts are made with ice, pressure, heat, and a sieve or fine screen, so they are considered much safer to make than solvent-based extracts. Here are a few common solventless concentrates you can find at most DC dispensaries as well as a few of their different names:
Kief is considered to be a solventless cannabis extract. When you grind up cannabis flowers, some of their trichome heads are separated from the flowers and passed through a fine mesh screen in a three-chamber grinder. The trichome heads are easy to isolate from the flowers since they separate easily when ground up. Kief also goes by the name “Kif” and is derived from the Arabic word for pleasure. You can find it in the form of moonrocks or caviar, which is cannabis flowers dipped in cannabis oil and then rolled in Kief. Kief makes a great addition to a joint or bowl as it can add an even higher dose of THC.
Dry-sift is a version of Kief that often gets called Kief instead of dry-sift. It is a collection of trichome heads that are mechanically separated from the flowers using mesh screens instead of being collected in a grinder. Dry-sift is made when extractors roll, sift, and rub dried flowers over a sieve or mesh screen. The mesh is so small that it only allows the trichome heads through the filter. Some techniques utilize static electricity to separate the plant material from the trichomes even further. You can take powdery dry sift and press it into traditional hash or even rosin with heat and pressure.
Bubble hash, also known as ice hash, is made when trichomes are separated from plant materials using ice water or dry ice. The first step is agitating the flowers in ice water and then filtering them through fine-mesh bags or sieves. Since the flowers take a water bath, this process is often called “washing.” After the dip where they are agitated, the flowers are then filtered through a number of the bags. Since each strain has trichome heads that vary in size, a number of bags are required to filter out as much plant matter as possible. After being filtered through the bags, the final product is dried. The final hash varies in texture from dry and dusty to oily. The best bubble hash is also called full melt or ice wax and can be pressed into rosin, smoked like hash, dabbed, or reserved for cannabis infusions, like edibles or topicals.
There are many different types of bubble hash. Trim-processed bubble hash is made by collecting the trichomes from trim, leaves, and branches. Bud-processed bubble hash is made with whole flowers and is always considered to be higher quality than trim-produced bubble hash. However, quality goes a step further when you take the micron size of the bags used to extract the trichomes into consideration. The larger the screen, the more plant materials, and contaminants make it into the final product. The smallest sizes will result in pure resin glands. Look out for dark colors, since they indicate poor quality.
Rosin is one of the cleanest forms of cannabis concentrates available. It is made from one of three starting materials and transformed into a dabbable concentrate with heat and pressure. Rosin is interesting because it preserves a massive number of cannabinoids and terpenes while the temperature and pressure force the other plant materials out. It comes in a ton of different colors, textures, and consistencies, so it goes by many different names. Some companies call rosin sap, budder, rosin jam, and solventless hash oil (SHO).
Like bubble hash, rosin is an umbrella term of sorts. Rosin comes in three major varieties. The first is flower rosin, which is made by using fresh-frozen cannabis flowers and trim or dried flowers alone. Hash rosin is rosin made from bubble or ice hash that is heated and pressed into rosin. The last one is dry-sift rosin, which is made by applying heat and pressure to Kief or dry-sift. Each variety is named after the starting material.
Consistencies of cannabis concentrates
As we mentioned earlier in both sections, variations in heat and pressure, as well as different solvents and purging methods, can create concentrates with different consistencies, colors, textures, and odors. Many extractors name their products based on consistencies alone. These concentrates are most commonly BHO extracts, though they can also be achieved by manipulating other forms of concentrates. Here are some common examples of concentrate consistencies and what they’re made of.
Shatter is hard and translucent, made with a BHO extraction process. It forms when raw extracts are poured into a thin flat slab and left undisturbed to evaporate the solvents out. Overworking shatter mechanically can turn it into a buttery or crumbly consistency.
Wax is soft and opaque, though varying in color from clear to orange. It comes in a ton of different forms since each strain’s concentrate is determined by the way it reacts to heat and moisture during the purging process. It is made by agitating a raw extract (like shatter before it’s purged completely and hardened) into an aerated or whipped consistency. If wax gets whipped and turns smooth, it may also be called budder, batter, or icing. On the other hand, if they’re purged and dried, wax earns names like crumble, sugar, or honeycomb since it turns dry and crumbly.
Pull and snap
Pull and Snap looks a lot like shatter, but instead of being fragile, it has a soft taffy texture that is highly pliable. Like the others, its made using a BHO extraction and left undisturbed while it purges. When exposed to warm temperatures, they become a nightmare to deal with, but most prefer the pull and snap consistency to that of shatter.
Cannabis oils are thin and runny, and they contain terpenes and cannabinoids separated from plant materials using a hydrocarbon, CO2, or distillate extraction method. Oils can come in a variety of flavors, but the consistency is always very viscous. You can add thickening agents to make cannabis oils thick enough to vape, though.
Live Sugar or Resin
Live sugar or resin often contains “diamonds” of THC that are made from solvent-based extraction methods and heat and pressure. The term “live” comes from the fact that the plant was harvested and immediately frozen until it was ready to be processed. This effectively preserves the terpenes and creates a more flavorful final product. Live products come in a ton of different consistencies, including batter and butter.
Crumble is made when wax is left to dry and purge. It also goes by sugar wax, and honeycomb for its dry appearance that gives it a crumbly texture.
Batter or butter is another name given to wax that is whipped or aerated. It looks like a concentrate-colored dollop of sour cream and is rich in terpenes. However, live versions are also available. If you see Live batter or live butter, just remember that “live” is a term given to concentrates that are made from starting materials that are harvested and immediately frozen.
Want to try some?
If you are looking to get your hands on some of these different types of cannabis concentrates you can reach out to one of the professional cannabis delivery businesses listed on our site. They have a variety of different types of cannabis products so you can get whatever your heart desires.