A Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis Concentrates 

What You Need to Know About Cannabis Concentrates 

Cannabis concentrates—also called cannabis extracts—are an increasingly popular product, thanks to their rich flavor and potency. Concentrates generally have THC levels around 50%, but they can creep as high as 90%. Consumers are also attracted to the wide variety of different types of concentrates available, along with the multiple ways to consume concentrates, ranging from alone to infused in a joint to an ingredient in an edible.   


What are Concentrates? 


Cannabis concentrates are made by isolating the active ingredients in cannabis (most notably, cannabinoids and terpenes) from excess plant material. Cannabinoids and terpenes are responsible for the effects, aroma, and flavors produced by a cannabis product—and in their concentrated form, produce a product that is very potent, extremely aromatic, and rich in flavor. 


Different Kinds of Cannabis Concentrates 


Keeping track of the numerous types of cannabis concentrates is hard for even seasoned stoners; there is a multitude of products that go by different names and are consumed in various ways. That said, cannabis concentrates are most commonly broken down into two groups: concentrates created without using a solvent (solventless) and those extracted using solvents.  


  • Solventless extracts do not use any additives to separate active ingredients from plant matter; rather, they rely on the use of pressure, temperature, and agitation and produce a comparatively less-refined product with more plant matter left behind. 


  • Solvent extracts, as their name implies, use a solvent to separate the active ingredients in cannabis from plant matter, producing extremely pure substances with a minimal amount of plant material remaining.  


Adding more complexity to the understanding of concentrates is that they can further be broken down into subsets of extraction.  


Solventless Cannabis Extracts  


There are three primary subsets of solventless cannabis extracts: water extracted, mechanically separated, and sifted.  


Water Extracted Cannabis Concentrates  


Bubble hash, ice hash, and ice wax are names given to products made using water extraction. Bubble hash is made using ice water and a series of bags (called bubble bags) or screens which are used to separate plant material from the valuable trichomes, the part of the plant that contains terpenes and cannabinoids. The quality of ice hash is commonly determined by how well it melts and is often ranked on a scale of one to six, with six (full melt) considered the highest quality bubble hash.  


Mechanical Concentrates  


Rosin is made using a combination of heat and pressure. The resulting product is a sticky golden oil with the consistency of tree sap. Rosin is prized for its rich flavor and pleasant aroma, although it’s typically less potent than other types of concentrates. Many consumers appreciate that no chemicals are used in its creation.  


Sifted Concentrates  


Kief is a powdery and somewhat sticky substance that looks a lot like pollen. Kief is made by running dry cannabis buds through a series of screens or sieves. Kief is also commonly collected in grinders, which are typically equipped with a separate chamber called a kief catcher. A popular use for kief is to add extra potency to flower by sprinkling it on top of a bowl (called crowning a bowl) or adding it to a joint, known as twax. 


Solvent Concentrates

There are two primary subsets of solvent cannabis extracts: CO2 extracts and hydrocarbon extracts.  


CO2 Extracts  


CO2 extract is best known for producing CO2 oil—typically a viscous golden liquid treasured for its potency and flavor and most commonly used in vape cartridges. However, CO2 oil can also come in other consistencies, such as shatter, crumble, and wax. CO2 extracts are made by using pressure and carbon dioxide to separate valuable compounds—like terpenes and cannabinoids—from plant material.  


Hydrocarbon Extracts 


Hydrocarbon extracts typically use butane or propane as a solvent to separate cannabinoids and terpenes from plant matter. Some consumers are turned off by the use of hydrocarbons, but it’s worth noting that they’ve been used in food extraction for decades and are also used to produce a variety of flavorings and colorings. Hydrocarbon extracts take the form of a broad spectrum of products, largely named after the consistency of the final product, such as: 


  • Shatter is a gold- or amber-colored product with a glass-like consistency that tends to crack or shatter when broken apart.  


  • Crumble is a soft, brittle substance usually yellow in color; named because it crumbles easily. 


  • Wax goes by many names, including budder, badder, and sugar. As its name implies, it has a soft, malleable consistency that resembles wax. 


  • Sauce is different from other hydrocarbon extracts; it contains two parts and possesses cannabinoid-rich crystals floating in terpene-rich oil to create an exceptionally potent and flavorful product. 


How to Enjoy Cannabis Concentrates 


Just as there’s an abundance of different cannabis concentrates, there are also a wide variety of ways to enjoy them, including dabbing, vaping, and baking them into edibles. They’re also commonly used to increase the potency of another cannabis product, such as being infused in a joint or added to a bowl.  


Use Caution with Concentrates 


The popular mantra about consuming cannabis, start low and go slow, applies particularly well to concentrates. Cannabis concentrates are powerful and it’s a good idea to start with a small amount and gradually increase consumption until you reach the desired effect. Remember, you can always consume more cannabis, but you can’t un-consume it.  


Plant Dispensary  


Whether you’re looking for some flower to collect your own kief or some super-powerful sauce, Plant Dispensary has you covered. Plant stocks a large variety of both solvent and solventless concentrates and a broad spectrum of products—from vapes and dabs to concentrate-infused pre-rolls. Not sure what you’re looking for? Still confused by the huge number of concentrates available? Stop into Plant Dispensary and have one of our experienced budtenders guide you through our selection of cannabis concentrates.


Plant Dispensary

Plan Dispensary writes about cannabis cultures, recent events, promotions and industry developments.




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