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Cannabis 101: Cannabis Concentrates Explained

A cannabis concentrate is created by separating and accumulating the trichomes from plant. The proportion of cannabinoids and terpenes to other plant material in the final product is far greater (i.e. 80% THC) than would be for flower (i.e. 18% THC). This term encompasses concentrated cannabis made through both solvent separation (chemical method) and solvent-less separation (mechanical/physical method).

Extract is a common term used to describe concentrates that are made using the solvent extraction process. It is encouraged not to use the terms extract and concentrates interchangeably, because although all extracts are concentrates, not all concentrates are extracts. The starting plant material can be either dried/cured buds OR can be fresh/flash frozen buds. The starting material plays a huge role in the flavor, consistency, color and smell of the final concentrate.

Extraction methods used for solvents include:

  • Hydrocarbon (butane/propane) – the most common method. Any extract made using butane is commonly referred to as butane hash oil or BHO
  • Supercritical CO2 – commonly used to make oil
  • Alcohol – commonly used to make Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) and/or tinctures

Cured extracts (also known as cured resin) are products that are made from dried, cured plant material. Example of cured extracts are listed below, with the major difference being their consistency/texture:

  • Cured shatter/wax
  • Cured badder
  • Cured oil
  • Cured sugar
  • Cured crumble

Drying/curing plant material does degrade terpenes and cannabinoids, resulting in extracts that may be slightly less potent or flavorful than live extracts.

Live extracts (also known as live resin) are products that are made from fresh, flash frozen plant material. Examples include:

  • Live badder
  • Live oil
  • Live resin

Preserving the plant material in a fresh state helps to preserve its terpenes and therefor its flavor and aroma.

Concentrates can also be made through solvent-less separation methods. Examples of solvent-less concentrates include:

  • Kief – made through dry sifting/grinding
  • Hash – made through compressing kief
  • Bubble hash – made through ice water separation
  • Rosin – made through compressing plant material with high pressure and some heat

After collecting an extract, further refining can happen to the product to create distillates and isolates.

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