Concentrates 101: A Beginner’s Guide

Cannabis can be consumed in many forms, from dried and cured flowers to potent concentrates with all kinds of applications. If you’ve ever vaped, dabbed, ate an edible, or used a cannabis topical product, you’re benefiting from the innovating science behind cannabis concentrates. But what are they exactly and how are they made?

Cannabis concentrates are made from the cannabis plant. Starting with raw cannabis, extractors use various solvents, heat, and pressure to separate the essential oils from the plant matter. This can be accomplished through a variety of ways, resulting in differing consistencies. Here are the most common forms of concentrates.

SOLVENTLESS EXTRACTS

Solventless extracts are among the oldest forms of concentrates because they require no manufactured solvents to create. Using sifting and water-purging processes, extractors can condense the best parts of the plants into potent concentrates.

KIEF

Also known and dry sift or pollen, kief is considered the original concentrate. Kief is composed of the resin glands found on the trichomes of cannabis flowers. Within these glands are the cannabinoids and terpenes that provide cannabis’ euphoric and wellness effects. You can harvest your own kief at home by running your flowers through a grinder with a kief catch. This process is slow, as the yields are low.

HASH (WATER HASH)

Hash is made from compressed resin glands and is one of the oldest cannabis concentrates because it can be made using only water, although there are alternate methods that do use solvents. Once the resin glands are harvested and dried, they are compressed under high pressure, The resulting concentrate is dense and sticky, as it’s made primarily from condensed essential oils and is often more potent than kief alone.

ROSIN

Rosin is quickly becoming a popular concentrate for a number of reasons. First off, making rosin requires no solvents or chemicals, only heat, and pressure. Secondly, you can purchase a table-top rosin press and make your own rosin at home. Rosin is made by compressing cured flowers between heated pressurized plates, squeezing out the essential oils. When made properly, rosin retains the aromatic terpenes and well as the cannabinoids, producing some of the most potent and flavorful concentrates you’ll be able to make yourself.

SOLVENT EXTRACTS

HYDROCARBON EXTRACTION

Hash oil is made by passing pressurized chemical solvents through plant material, which draws out the cannabinoids and other essential oils. These solvents include Butane, Propane, Hexane, and Ethanol. The resulting material is often called wax and can maintain its oily, sticky consistency, or it can harden into other forms. Hash oils are powerful concentrates that regularly test above 80% THC. Despite their potency, hash oil can contain trace amounts of solvents, so consult your Budtenders to confirm the extracts you purchase are solvent free. Here are some of the most common hydrocarbon extraction concentrates.

SUGAR

Composed of tiny sticky crystals, sugars usually have the consistency of wet sand. The resulting consistency of the concentrate is due to a trace presence of moisture, which prevents the concentrate from hardening.

SHATTER

Well-made shatter has the consistency of taffy, which is pliable yet can snap if bent quickly. Shatters are the result of low or zero moisture extracts and can contain very high amounts of THC.

BUDDER/BADDER

This concentrate gets its name from its soft, smooth texture. Budder (or badder) is made using the same processes as sugars and shatters, the difference is the extract is whipped to remove solvents and create the desired creamy texture.

HONEYCOMB

Honeycomb is basically unwhipped badder/budder. Instead of whipping the final product, producers place the purged extract in a low-temp vacuum oven, The process creates a texture like Swiss Cheese that is crumbly to the touch.

RICK SIMPSON OIL

Rick Simpson Oil, or RSO as it’s commonly called, is named after the man who pioneered the technique. To make RSO, extractors soak plant matter in naphtha or isopropyl alcohol, which draws out the cannabinoids and essential oils. The mixture is then strained and heated over low temperatures until the solvents evaporate and only the active cannabis compounds remain. RSO can be ingested orally or used topically.

SAUCE

Sauce is a mixture of THC crystals and liquid terpenes. The crystals form over time and can then be combined with water, terpenes, and other cannabinoids to create tailored euphoric effects. Sauces can be more expensive than other concentrates due to the time and materials needed to create them, but their intense flavor profiles and high potency can make them well worth the extra cost.

CO2 Extraction

Supercritical extraction is the technical term for using CO2 to make concentrates. The physical process is similar to hydrocarbon extraction. The main difference is carbon dioxide is converted from a gas to a liquid solvent to extract the essential oils from the plant matter. The resulting concentrates have a more fluid texture than hydrocarbon extracts.

SAP

As its name suggests, sap is dense and sticky, like sap from a pine tree. Its color will vary depending on the plant matter used, as will its potency.

OIL

Oil is a very viscous concentrate and is most often sold in syringe form to make dispensing easier. Oils can be vaped in a dab rig, added to flowers, and even eaten. You’ll most often find oils in vape devices like disposable vape pens or detachable vape cartridges.

CONSUMING CONCENTRATES

Most concentrates are consumed through dabbing or vaping but can be ingested in other ways as well. Almost every concentrate can be added to a bowl or joint of flowers, enhancing the flavor and potency. And, some concentrates can be eaten or applied topically. It really comes down to the concentrate you choose.

The best method to experience the full potential depends on the concentrate. For shatters, sugars, and wax in general, a dab rig is ideal. Use an electric nail that you can set to an exact temperature, or use a laser thermometer to know when your torch-heated nail is at the perfect temperature for your specific concentrate.

If all that sounds like too much work and cost, you can always purchase cartridges that are easy to use and disposable. You’ll find a wide selection of cartridges on our menu. Come in and consult one of our experienced Budtenders to learn more about how concentrates can fit into your cannabis routines.

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