710 Day Celebration: Guide to Concentrates
In honor of 710 Day and our Four Days of Dabs promo, we thought it would be a great opportunity to break down the types of concentrates that exist and what qualities they have that may make them a great addition to your cannabis repertoire.
The main reason that consumers turn to concentrates is generally the increased potency, which allows for a more efficient, faster delivery – one dab can give a user the effect of many hits off a joint or bong. In fact, in 2019 High Times reported on a Swiss study that showed that dabbing was up to 300% more efficient in THC delivery than a joint.
The science behind concentrates and extracts is a broad subject, but Wikileaf offers a great, simple summation: “There are many ways to extract cannabis, but they are all variations of this process: cannabis plant matter is exposed to a chemical solvent (butane or ethanol are commonly used) or a natural solvent (water, ice, CO2, freezing temperatures) that separates cannabinoids (and sometimes terpenes, too) from the plant matter. The extracted cannabinoids are then purified of the solvent, and the remaining substance is the concentrate.”
The final product achieved depends on multiple factors including the method of concentration or extraction, the types of solvents used, and the techniques used to treat the material. As the cannabis industry develops, these methods, tools, and techniques are being refined and reinvented in novel ways, leading to many exciting types of products.
Here’s an overview of some of the most popular types of concentrates.
Hash and Kief: One of the oldest forms of concentrate developed in Eastern Asia involves simply rubbing fresh cannabis leaves between the hands to gather the resinous trichomes, then pressing it into a smokable mass called Charas. In the 12th century this process evolved into the creation of hash: makers would “dry sift” cured cannabis by shaking it over a screen, collecting the trichomes below. The gathered trichomes are what it known as kief – the same thing that you get from using a grinder with a kief-catcher chamber. To convert it
into hash, heat and pressure is applied to form the trichomes into blocks. You can create bubble hash, also known as water hash, by sifting in ice water to remove the trichomes.
Rosin: Rosin results when you heat and compress the entire cannabis flower, not just the dry sift. Due to the fact that it is created solely through heat and pressure, rosin is a popular choice for consumers who want to avoid any solvents being used in their products. It is also becoming more widespread because of the increased availability of personal rosin presses that allow consumers to make their own rosin at home.
Resin basically refers to the sticky material the cannabis plant creates to protect itself, made up of terpenes and cannabinoids. Although tokers have often referred to the sticky tar-like substance that builds up in bowls as resin, within the concentrate world, it’s typically referring to particular preparations.
Live Resin is considered to be a cannasseur’s choice for fullness of flavor through the preservation of the cannabis flower’s terpene and cannabinoid profile. This is because live resin starts with the cannabis freshly trimmed and then immediately flash frozen before solvent extraction. The curing (drying) process that most plants undergo after harvest actively changes the terpene concentration of the cannabis, so by foregoing that process and immediately freezing the harvested flower, producers retain the full original terpene profile, allowing for a very aromatic, flavorful final product.
Cured Resin is simply resin extracted from cured flower. Cured resin tends to taste more like the cured flower you would smoke, while live resin retains more of the fresh flower aroma and flavor.
Many of the various extract designations simply come down to consistency and texture.
Shatter is a popular type of extract that is typically a translucent amber color. It tends to have a brittle, glass-like consistency for which it is named, though
there are types of shatter that are less brittle, often referred to as “pull-and-snap”. Shatter is a more stable substance, so it has a long shelf-life than other types of extracts.
Wax is a soft, typically golden concentrate of cannabis oils that have a waxy consistency. Crumble has a soft, crumbly texture. Budder has a creamy consistency like butter. Badder or Batter tends to have a texture more like cake frosting. These various consistencies are achieved by adding heat and agitating or whipping the extra
Diamonds are a very potent concentrate made of crystallized isolated THCA (THC acid), a cannabinoid sibling of THC. When it is consumed orally, THCA has no psychoactive effect, but when it is decarboxylated or combusted it converts to active THC which provides the intoxicating effects. Because THCA is a pure isolate, it has no flavor, so diamonds are often combined with sauce. Sometimes referred to as terp sauce, it has a runny, liquid consistency and has a high amount of terpenes and cannabinoids. Due to its high level of terpene content, it is often considered the most flavorful of the concentrates.
This is such a nuanced subject that there is much more to learn! For more in-depth explorations of the processes that create concentrates, check out Leafly’s breakdown here.