Understanding Concentrates
Understanding Concentrates
May 20, 2021
By Nikohle Mann

Over the years, concentrates have become one of the most popular ways to consume medical cannabis, due to the high and concentrated THC percentages. More recently, concentrates have gained more popularity for terpenes.

What are concentrates and how are they made and used?

Sugar by Vivid

Sugar by Vivid

Cannabis concentrates come in a variety of forms. They are the result of distilling raw cannabis flower down to its most valuable parts: cannabinoids and terpenes. To help you better understand the different types of concentrates, let’s talk about the processes in how these concentrates are extracted.

Extraction is the process used to separate cannabinoids from the plant matter to form the desired cannabinoid(s) into a concentrated liquid, where it will later become one of many desired forms of wax.

First things first, there are 2 different stages in which a plant can be extracted.

  1. Fresh or Frozen, also known as “live resin.” This is due to the fact that the plant has never been dried or cured and is still technically alive. This is when you start the extraction process for a freshly harvested cannabis plant or by flash freezing prior to extraction. This process has gained extreme popularity over the years for preserving the large amounts of terpenes that are usually lost during the drying process, and in many cases during the extraction process.
  2. After a plant has been dried, many manufacturers will begin the extraction process by either using dried trim, buds, or whole plant.  Depending on which part of the plant is used this could mean your concentrate is considered “Trim Run” or “Nug Run.” 
Most common extraction processes used 
  1. Butane aka BHO  (Butane Hash Oil)
  2. Propane aka PHO  (Propane Hash Oil)
  3. CO2  (CO2 Hash Oil)
  4. Heat or Solventless

Extraction Processes 

Shatter by Vivid

Shatter by Vivid

After the manufacturer has decided on which stage of the cannabis plant they want to extract (alive or dried,) they will then decide on which solvent or extraction process that will be used to determine how they will retrieve their desired amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes.

Hydrocarbon/ Solvent Extractions (Butane, Propane)

During both of the Propane and Butane extraction processes, plant matter is mixed with either Butane or Propane in its liquid form then “blasted.”  (Blasted is a term used when the cannabis plant is mixed with a hydrocarbon/solvent to separate the cannabinoids from the plant. It is then filtered out leaving behind a gooey liquid consisting of your solvent and cannabinoids.)

— Butane is the most commonly used solvent when extracting most concentrates, due to its cost, and preservation of terpenes during certain extraction process.

CO2 Extraction   

This is the process in which pressurized carbon dioxide is pumped into a chamber where it dissolves the plant material and separates plant compounds such as cannabinoids. It is then released into a separate chamber where low heat and pressure causes the cannabis compounds to separate from the carbon dioxide leaving behind an amber colored cannabis oil.

— CO2 extraction is considered one of the cleanest, safest, and most effective extraction possesses. Carbon Dioxide is non-toxic, environmentally safe, and creates a superior concentrate free from any byproducts, solvents or residues.

Purging Process (For Hydrocarbon Solvents) 

After your extraction process is complete and you are left with a liquid like substance, that liquid consists of both the solvent that was used and the cannabinoids that were stripped from the cannabis plant. After extraction, you will need to remove the residual solvent, this is where the process “purging” comes into play. Purging is when your extracted oil is then put into a controlled atmospheric oven (or similar heat source) where heat is slowly added to essentially transform your carbon liquid into a gas. After heat is applied and your solvent turns into its gas form, the pressure is then turned down and a vacuum is used to pull the remaining gases from the chamber.

– Depending on the length of time and temperatures used during the purging process will determine potency, flavor, and texture of your concentrate.

Heat or Solventless Extractions 

This process utilizes a combination of heat and pressure to ultimately squeeze out the oils from your cannabis plant. This oil is known as Rosin and can be made from flower, hash, or kief.

– Rosin uses no solvents, gases, or chemicals during the extraction process. This preserves the majority of cannabinoids and terpenes that are normally lost during Hydrocarbon, and Carbon Dioxide extraction methods.

Kinds of Concentrates

Crumble by Clovr

Crumble by Clovr

  • Shatter- This is a hard shiny glass like texture that looks as if it could “shatter.” Shatter is normally very high in THC, but it lacks the nice terpene profile due to the process in which it’s made.  Shatter can be used with a dab rig or a nectar collector, a handheld device that once you heat up the tip , you gently touch it to the sides of the wax in a fire-resistant dish, which turns the shatter into a vapor. You can also use specific vape pens with coils.
  • Badder, Butter, Batter– This is a soft like “cake batter” consistency that is made the same way Shatter is but by being whipped when warm before being placed into the vacuum chamber. These products can also be used with a dab rig or a nectar collector.
  • Crumble- This is a dry, soft, crumbly substance. During the purging process crumble is purged at a lower temperature for a longer duration that ultimately “dries” it out giving it its crumble-like texture. Unlike with the softer, stickier concentrates, crumble can also be used in joints, blunts, or sprinkled over bowls.
  • Sugar- This is a soft like substance that often resembles sugar due to crystallization from lipids being broken down and separated from the cannabinoids. This is obtained during the purging and vacuuming process by ‘agitating’ your extract. Sugar Wax is known to have a nice terpene profile unlike shatter.  Sugar can also be used with a dab rig or a nectar collector.
  • Bubble Hash- This is a soft texture made up of multiple trichomes that were separated from a process using ice water, agitation, and a sieve. This can also be used for flower, blunts, or simply by sprinkling over bowls.
  • Terp Sauce- This is a full spectrum concentrate made up of all cannabis compounds to experience the famous ‘entourage effect.’ Terpene sauce is a clean extract made up of terpenes and pure THCa crystals. This is typically made from fresh or frozen plants by being left to age and crystallize after being made into BHO. This extraction process is lightly purged with gentle heat. Terp Sauce can also be used with a dab rig or a nectar collector.
  • Live Resin- This is a shatter-like consistency made from fresh or frozen cannabis plants. Live Resin is an extremely popular concentrate known for its high THC and Terpene profile.Resin can also be used with a dab rig or a nectar collector.
  • Rosin- This is a softer shatter-like texture that is made from only using heat and pressure. It is most popular for its strong flavonoids whilst also being solventless.  Rosin can also be used with a dab rig or a nectar collector.
  • Distillate- Is a cannabis extract that has been stripped of all compounds except for your one desired cannabinoid, this includes terpenes as well and is why distillates are the most popular in edibles and vape cartridges due to it lacking flavor, taste, and any aroma. However, they are extremely potent. Distillates are made from cannabis extracts that have been winterized, decarboxylated and then distilled (hence the name.) You always use distillate in a cartridge.
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