Guide to Concentrates
Cannabis concentrates are variations of concentrated trichomes (or resin glands) which contain most of the plant’s cannabinoids like THC and CBD. These essential elements are extracted from the cannabis flower using different methods and techniques to achieve different levels of potency, taste, and texture or viscosity (which change how the concentrate can be consumed). Some concentrates are made using solvents to separate the trichomes from the plant matter. These solvents are then purged out of the final product often by using a vacuum-heat method. Other concentrates like hash or rosin are made using various combinations of nothing more than heat, pressure, ice water and filter screens. It should be noted that all medical and legal solvent-based concentrates are purged and tested extensively to ensure residual solvent ppm levels are in adherence with FDA regulations. (While it’s completely safe to experiment at home making solvent-free concentrates, we recommend leaving the solvent-based extractions to the licensed professionals.)
Solvent Free Concentrates:
Kief is an extremely simple and traditional concentrate made by rubbing cannabis flower against fine filtering screens or tumblers. This agitates the trichomes, breaking them off of the plant matter, and collecting them through the screen. This method preserves all the plant’s natural flavors and characteristics. The final product is very fine and appears to be light brown or tan in color. Many grinders have a lower compartment and Best if smoked or vaporized. Can be used on top of flower or alone.
Live Kief is like traditional kief but starts with flower that has been freshly cut and frozen (fresh-frozen). This method sometimes yields a more potent product with stronger flavors and aromas. Best if smoked or vaporized. Can be used on top of flower or alone.
Dry Sift is essentially a purer version of kief. It is filtered several additional times to ensure that the end product is primarily resin gland heads, as opposed to the heads, stalks, and residual plant matter. Full-melt dry sift can be dabbed if it’s pure enough. Good for dabbing if full melt.
Bubble Hash A.K.A. “ice water hash” or “water hash” utilizes ice water and vigorous mixing by hand or by machine to break the trichomes off the plant matter. This is done within a series of “bubble bags” which are lined with several different micron screen variations that filter the trichomes from the plant matter. These screens allow different grades of bubble hash to be collected and left to dry. The micron screen that returns the most desired bubble hash will depend on the specific strain and size of trichomes. Sometimes the hash is dried as patties. Other times, the patties are frozen and grated to allow more even drying and curing. They can be repressed later if desired. Should be smoked unless full melt.
Full-Melt Hash: This distinction is given to high grade bubble hash that can be fully dabbed or vaporized without leaving behind any plant residue. To get this high grade, the process must be started with high quality flower or trim. The washing and filtering process is usually gentler when making full-melt to make sure only trichome heads are extracted, rather than heads AND stalks in addition to small bits of plant matter. Good for dabbing.
Rosin is made simply by heat pressing flower, hash or kief and collecting the oil that is squeezed out. The better the starting product is, the better the rosin will be. Most large-scale operations use high powered hydraulic presses for maximum return but rosin can be made at home with hand powered repurposed t-shirt presses using heated plates or even hair straighteners and parchment paper for those of us who are on a budget. Zeroing in the perfect combination of heat, time, and pressure can be tricky but rewarding if done correctly. Rosin is perfect for dabbing and has the benefit of maintaining the original unaltered cannabinoid and terpene structure making for a flavorful and pure concentrate. Best if dabbed.
CO2 Oil has become extremely popular recently. It is often considered a “natural solvent” because it is a naturally occurring substance and is produced by the human body. Because of this, CO2 oil is generally considered “cleaner” than concentrates made from butane, propane, or hydrocarbons. (Although if purged correctly, alternative methods are safe to consume). CO2 extraction usually requires high end lab equipment that can finely tune the desired results. Sometimes the terpenes and flavors are altered during extraction and later re-added resulting in customizable terpene profiles that vary in subtleness. Some people enjoy this aspect, others prefer a more natural taste. Because of how thin the viscosity of the oil is, it’s perfect for vape pens and other sublingual applications. Can be dabbed or used in vape pens. Can also be taken orally if sold as a diluted sublingual.
Wax/Budder/Crumble/Honeycomb: These are very common terms you’ll hear in the world of dabbing. These concentrates are made by “blasting” a solvent like butane (BHO) or propane (PHO) over plant material to separate the cannabinoids and terpenes from the original product. This method should not be attempted at home but rather left to professionals who use high end “closed-loop” systems and vacuum ovens to ensure a safe, clean, and consistent product.
After the extraction, the texture and consistency of the product can be manipulated depending on heat, time, and agitation during purging. The result comes down to preference. Different people prefer different consistencies for dabbing. Most budder is heavily whipped and left with a slight amount of moister to make it more malleable and smoother. Waxes and crumbles have less moisture but are also whipped to get the desired consistency. Honeycomb or “Pie Crust” is pressed after purging resulting in faster nucleation and a consistency that resembles a honeycomb. Designed to be dabbed.
Sugar Wax is a form of wax that’s more textured and thick, with less stickiness than its wax counterpart. It sometimes produced unintentionally when lipids breakdown causing them to separate from cannabinoids. This makes the wax begin to crystalize. It can also be made intentionally be means of agitation during purging. Designed to be dabbed.
Shatter/Taffy: Shatter is made much like waxes or budders but isn’t whipped or agitated. Instead it is left to slowly purge in a vacuum oven which can last a full day. The final product is a hard, translucent amber concentrate that easily snaps apart. Taffy is not as stiff as shatter because of purging variances, but often appears similar. Designed to be dabbed.
Live Resin is produced much like wax, but it uses fresh plant material that is frozen before processing. This results in a robust and pure terpene and cannabinoid profile that is unchanged from the source material. Live Resin offers some of the best flavor profiles available. Great for dabbing, especially at low temps.
Terp Sauce/High Terpene Full Spectrum Extracts (HTFSE) are similar to Live Resin but take the terpene content to a new level. Most companies that claim to have “Terp Sauce” are offering Live Resin that they mistakenly refer to as “Terp Sauce”. Real Terp Sauce, however, can only be produced using cured or dried material unlike Live Resin. Terp sauce doesn’t aim to have as extreme cannabinoid percentages as other concentrates, instead favoring a full spectrum product preserving as much of the original terpene profile as possible. That being said, THC/CBD test results still typically return between 45-70% while Terpene content returns between 13-30%. The final product contains all the therapeutic elements of a cannabis trichome, without the waxes, fats, and lipids that which are removed through processes called “winterizing” and “de-waxing”. Can be dabbed and combined with Crystalline. >
Crystalline/Isolate is typically one of the strongest concentrates available. So pure in fact that it often lacks terpenes which give cannabis products their taste. It requires a complex and exhausting extraction process using lab equipment like rotary evaporators and various solvents like acetic acid and hexane to isolate the pure cannabinoid crystals. Further processes like chromatography are then used to continue purifying. The final product is so pure in fact that it can appear as white colorless crystals. Test percentages often return THC-A results in the high 90s! Can be dabbed, which converts THC-A to THC, or consumed in edible form for a high dose of non-psychoactive THC-A.
Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) became very popular early on among medical marijuana patients and emerged as one of the first solvent-based concentrated ever made. RSO is made with pure light aliphatic naphtha which separates resin from plant matter. The final product is a thick dark oil that is typically sold in syringe form. It is typically extremely potent and contains decarboxylated oil that doesn’t need heat to activate its cannabinoid content. It is usually ingested orally alone or with food. Usually taken orally.