Cannabis Concentrates 101

Cannabis Concentrates 101

7 minute read

Cannabis concentrates have become so popular that there is an unofficial holiday for them - “Dab Day,” (annually on 7/10), which is dedicated to cannabis users who prefer concentrates such as live resin, shatter or hash rosin. The name comes from the word “OIL” turned upside down, forming the numbers 7/10. If you're curious about concentrates, here's an overview to make your next dispensary trip a little more informed and enjoyable.

by Jamie Toth

The term ‘cannabis concentrate’ can sound a bit intense, but it means only what it sounds like – a concentrated product made from cannabis. A concentrate seeks to eliminate as much excess plant material as possible in favor of cannabinoids and terpenes. Descriptions of concentrated products can be confusing because they describe extraction methods (solvent vs. solventless), flower preparation (live vs. cured), and consistency of the final product (wax, shatter, crumble, etc.)

There are many ways to consume concentrates that we’ll review in a later post, so without further ado, let’s learn about concentrates!

Solvent vs. Solventless
There are two overarching categories of concentrates, and it comes down to how they separate the trichomes from the rest of the plant material. In one, a solvent to washes the trichomes free, in the other, a solventless, physical process is used.

Solvents such as butane, CO2, ethanol, and propane are generally associated with products such as waxes, shatter, and sugars.

Solventless methods include physical methods (pressure and heat) to create the concentrate and can include products like kief, hash, and live rosin.

Flower Preparation
Often concentrates describe the plant material used to make them, which is beneficial if you’re looking for a particular experience or level of craft. If unlisted, then it’s most likely a cured trim run.

Live means that the plant is fresh frozen and then processed. There’s no drying, curing, or trimming that’s performed before it’s processed into the concentrate. Many terpene hounds prefer live preparations, as terpenes are very volatile.

These products have been created after drying and curing. Many growers have very specific cure times and methods that they use for their cannabis to make it unique and present the best flavor profile possible.

Nug Run
This means that bud/nugs were used. As this uses higher-grade cannabis, it tends to be more expensive.

Trim Run
Trim, sugar leaves, and other usable products from trimming are used to create this type of concentrate.

Whole Plant
I’m guessing after the other two, you can guess what 'whole plant' means – extractors use the whole plant to create this type of extract! If you understand, enjoy, or pursue whole plant medication, then be on the lookout! These are not the highest in THC potency but can make for an amazing experience.

Consistency / Texture
Concentrates come in a wide variety of consistencies and textures, and these are achieved through many techniques. For instance, shatter, budder / badder, and crumble are created using the same relative basic processes with different purging/finishing techniques to create their signature textures.

I’m going to divide these texture categories up between solvent and solventless.

Solvent-based Extracts
The overview of the solvent-based extraction process is sort of the same. The extractor takes the material, places it in a tube, and soaks it in a solvent. This then drips out of a filter, which filters plant matter from the pre-purge material. The material is then purged of the solvent in a vacuum oven, and any after-purge steps are taken to achieve the desired consistency.

Budder / Badder
Budder / Badder is a malleable, soft extract that is made by purging the solvent at higher temperatures and whipping with air. This causes crystals to form during the agitation and gives it its characteristic look and texture.

Shatter is a clear, glass-like substance that ranges in color from gold to deep amber. It’s made using the same process as budder, crumble, and others. The craftsman creating the extract has to be careful not to agitate itduring the purge and sheet pouring processin order to prevent cloudy crystalline structures. Shatter can also come in different consistencies, such as pull and snap.

Crumble / Honeycomb / Pie Crust
Crumble is a type of extract that is opaque and crumbly. The pre-purge oils in this case are often at a different temperature, with more moisture, and with a thicker consistency. This helps the post-purge process create the desired texture, which includes extra time in the vacuum oven at low heat as well as at pressure.

Much like the other solvent extracts, creating sugar depends on how the oil is treated during the purge and post-purge process. This commonly requires two iterations of agitation with some time between them to help form the sugar-like consistency.

Live Resin
Live Resin is a little different. Instead of using cured material to soak with solvent, live resin is created using fresh frozen cannabis to create those pre-purge oils. This is done in the name of terpene preservation, and the resulting product is quite flavorful, and it retains the majority of the flavor profile of the original plant.

THCa diamonds, can be created using a variety of methods which end in the THCa-rich diamonds separating from a terpy sauce. Diamonds offer the highest THC potency when separate from terpenes and other saucy components.

CO2 Oil
CO2 oil is differentiated from other extraction solvents because the use of CO2 creates a product with no residual solvents. Often organic cannabis farmers choose this method for processing, and some organic certifications will not allow other processing methods.

Live Rosin
The process for Live Rosin, much like for Live Resin, involves freezing the plant fresh. This solventless process uses heat and pressure to create an amber-colored substance that is flavor-rich.

Hash is created by removing the terpene and cannabinoid-rich trichomes using a physical process (sifting, cold, heat, pressure) as opposed to a solvent.

Hand-rubbed Hash (Finger Hash, Charas)
Charas, also known as Finger Hash (or sometimes ‘hand-rubbed hash’), is an old form of cannabis concentrate. so old it’s believed to pre-date written records. It’s made by collecting the resin from the hands of cannabis farmers. Anyone who has spent time trimming knows how ubiquitous this is in cannabis processing!

If you grind your cannabis using a 4 piece grinder, you know all about how kief is created (if you want to maximize your kief, throw your grinder in the freezer but I like my kief undisturbed and as much on the bud as possible). There are a lot of trichome collecting methods on a commercial scale, and kief is often overlooked when talking about concentrates!

Dry sieve or sift Hash
Dry sieve or dry sift hash Cannabis refined resin glands are sifted through fine mesh screens. It can be run through a series of finer screens to further refine it – this could be considered a very high-quality kief.

Bubble (or Ice Water) Hash
Cannabis is added to ice water and agitated which breaks off trichomes and freezes them. That liquid is is filtered a series of times. The process is almost like a wet and icy form of dry sift hash. The hash can have a variety of textures after this processing method, based on strain attributes.

As you can see, there’s a huge variety of concentrates and extracts to explore!


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