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There are many ways to enjoy cannabis but concentrates typically provide the best experience by delivering everything you want, such as terpenes and cannabinoids like CBD and THC. In addition, concentrates enable a faster and more potent effect than flower with long-lasting effects, flavor, and aroma.
Read this comprehensive guide to learn more about how to navigate cannabis concentrates so you can have the best possible cannabis experience.
When visiting your favorite dispensary, you have tons of options to choose from. Most people are familiar with flower, edibles, and vapes.
Cannabis concentrates are available in various forms, so whether you're new to cannabis or a long-time enthusiast, understanding cannabis concentrates can help you determine whether they're right for you and which products to try.
But what exactly are cannabis concentrates? This article will discuss everything you need to know about concentrates, including how it's made, the different types, and how to choose the right product.
Cannabis concentrates, also known by terms such as extracts, hash, etc., are products that isolate the active ingredients of the plant. While most concentrates are consumed via vaporization (“dabbing”), they can also be consumed via topicals and edibles. Concentrates contain all the cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis without extraneous plant material, offering a different experience than cannabis flower, marked by superior flavor and elevating effects.
Concentrates can be consumed in several ways, but the most common is using a dab e-rig or pen.
Cannabis concentrates aren't new. They originated thousands of years ago in the form of hashish used for medicinal and religious purposes worldwide. Similarly, dabs have been around for several decades, dating back to the 1970s when they first appeared in the US.
The last decade has seen a renaissance in hash-making as increased acceptance has led to rapid innovation in concentrate manufacturing techniques, such as “live” (fresh-frozen) starting materials and cold cure hash rosin.
The original live extracts were made in India, where workers would catch fresh resin from living plants (Charas).
More recently, hash makers have developed technology and techniques that enable fresh cannabis to be deep frozen within hours of harvest, which optimally preserves the cannabis for longer.
But how are cannabis concentrates made? There are two different schools of thought, and concentrates are considered either cured or live.
Most cannabis products start with cured flower, which is the plant matter typically smoked in joints, pipes, and bongs. More traditional methods of resin extraction use cured flower as the starting material, such as traditional or “temple ball” hash. Cured flower can also be extracted via any modern solvent-based or solventless extraction method.
While cured concentrates go through a curing process, live concentrates don't. Instead, the plant is frozen with dry ice or liquid nitrogen as soon as possible after harvest.
As a result, live extracts typically contain more terpenes and have a better flavor profile than other types of cannabis concentrates.
Cannabis concentrates are created using flammable and non-flammable solvents or solventless extraction with heat, water, and pressure. In any case, all concentrated THC products go through a purging process to remove potentially harmful chemicals.
A particular method isn't necessarily better than others, but some people prefer one over the other.
Solvent-based extraction can use non-flammable carbon dioxide or flammable solvents like butane, propane, or alcohol. The most common solvent-based extraction produces butane hash oil (BHO).
The BHO method uses a high-purity version of butane gas and was invented in the 1970s.
During extraction, the gas passes through the cannabis to separate cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant material. BHO extraction is a closed-loop system that prevents gas leaks, making it much safer for producers. In this system, a butane solvent is put into a pressurized tank to extract various cannabis elements.
Solventless-based extraction doesn't use solvents like butane or carbon dioxide to produce concentrated wax or dabs. Instead, this process uses dry sift and ice water.
Dry sift is named after the process of rubbing or sifting dried flower to collect trichomes, which are the resin glands eventually turned into extracts and dabs. Ice water hash, also known as bubble hash, uses ice water and nested micron mesh bags to extract and separate the prime trichomes – which can also be further processed into other forms like hash rosin.
While both solvent-based and solventless extractions are safe, many people prefer solventless concentrates because there’s no risk of inhaling solvents if the product isn’t purged properly.
Luckily, cannabis companies today have strict standards they adhere to, so there’s no risk associated with either type of method.
There are several types of concentrates on the market today, which can be categorized by input type—live or cured, extraction method, and consistency.
Each has its own characteristics, which can help you determine which product is best for you. If you're a novice user, learning these terms can help you when choosing a product at your local dispensary, and if you're a dabs aficionado, you probably already have your favorites.
Here are a few of the several types of concentrates you can try:
Most people are familiar with hash because it's been used for centuries for medicinal and religious purposes. It's highly potent, fragrant, and made with the solventless technique via ice water and pressure.
The result is a sticky powder resembling sugar that can be vaped or consumed using a dab rig. In addition, hash typically has a lower THC concentration, making it ideal for new users who want to experiment before moving on to more potent concentrates.
Diamonds and sauce are a newer type of cannabis concentrate offering potency and flavor. THC diamonds are made with live resin and a cold-extraction method with pressure until they form THC crystals resembling diamonds.
Diamonds are different from other types of cannabis concentrates, and not only in appearance. They're created from a sauce, which is put through a process called diamond mining to form crystalline structures. These concentrates are highly potent and can contain over 90% THC.
Concentrate wax and shatter are made using the same butane extraction method. However, sugar wax has a slightly different consistency as it looks like sugar that hasn't fully dissolved.
Apart from sugar wax, the regular consistency of concentrated wax is smooth and sticky. Wax is made by pouring extract onto a slab and letting it sit while purging.
Similar to wax is shatter, another one on our list with a unique appearance that looks brittle. Shatter is known for its potency and its ability to break easily. Like wax, it's made using solvents to separate cannabinoids like THC from the plant. Both wax and shatter are typically used with dab rigs or vape pens.
Budder and batter refer to the same concentrate, and they get their names from their creamy and buttery consistency. Budder is known for its strong flavor and smoothness. It is created with either trim or live resin and a butane or propane extraction method in a closed-loop system like shatter.
Shatter becomes budder when the extracts are whipped on a hot plate to give it a different texture. Budder and batter are typically used with a dab rig. However, soft concentrates can be smoked in a joint or blunt.
That said, burning concentrates may overheat them, causing them to lose valuable terpenes and cannabinoids.
Choosing the right concentrate is important so you can have a positive cannabis experience. However, the right choice for you will depend on your personal preferences, tolerance level, and desired effects.
Some people choose their cannabis concentrates based on consistency or extraction method. For example, they might choose diamond concentrates because of their unique appearance.
Additionally, they might choose those created with a solventless extraction method, such as bubble hash, because they consider it a more natural process.
Desired effects include how you want the concentrates to make you feel.
For example, bubble hash typically has lower THC but more of an emphasis on terpenes, which offers a completely different experience from products with higher THC contents. If you're looking for a more therapeutic effect, you might choose a cannabis concentrate that's lower in THC and higher in CBD.
Certain strains may be unable to be produced via solventless extraction, such as certain OGs and Hazes. Depending on your preference regarding specific strains/terpenes, you may find that your options are predominantly solvent-based extractions.
Even after choosing a concentrate, you should monitor your dosage because concentrates only require a small amount to reach the desired effects.
There are various types of cannabis concentrates that can be consumed in different ways, from dab e-rigs to pens. Some concentrates provide a more therapeutic effect, while others are used for medicinal purposes. It’s important to choose the right concentrate for you based on your personal preferences and the type of experience you want to have.
To get the most out of your cannabis experience, you should use high-quality equipment that can help you reach your desired effects.
Dabs are highly discreet and favored among cannabis enthusiasts because it takes less to reach the desired effects. But of course, to enjoy concentrates, you need a dab rig to get started. Shop our collection of vaporizers made with top-tier technology to enhance your cannabis experience.