What Are Cannabis Concentrates, Oils, and Extracts?

Concentrates and extracts

What are Concentrates and Extracts?

Cannabis concentrates are the product of extracting the most desirable parts of the cannabis plant; located mostly in the trichomes of the plant; to produce a highly concentrated product. Concentrates let you experience cannabis in a variety of ways – they come in a variety of textures and can be consumed using several different methods. These methods can include vaporizing it in a vape pen, cartridge, or dab rig. Concentrates are also found in cannabis edibles, tinctures, and topicals. 

Extracts are a specific type of concentrate made using a solvent, while concentrates are made using mechanical or physical means. So, not all concentrates are extracts, but extracts are a form of concentrate. 

Solventless Concentrates

A Solventless extraction method uses no solvents and is created using high temperatures, pressure, ice, water, or filtration. Solventless extraction methods preserve more cannabinoids and terpenes than any other extraction method.

  • Kief – Unpressed resin powder collected by sieving (grinding) dried cannabis
  • Hash – Pressed kief that can be produced in a variety of ways, such as bubble hash, water/ice hash, finger/rubbed hash, or sieved/grinder hash.
  • Rosin – This type of concentrate is created through heat and compression, producing a  sticky, yellow-golden wax similar to shatter but more viscous. Live rosin is produced using fresh flower as opposed to cured rosin, which is made using dried and cured flower.


Solvent-Based Extracts 

Solvent-Based extractions are produced using either hydrocarbons (butane & propane), ethanol, or supercritical carbon dioxide to pull out the trichomes, cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis flowers. After extraction, the material left over is purged to remove or evaporate any remaining solvents.  

  • Wax & Budder – These are the most popular types of concentrates; wax normally has a dry and crumbly consistency, while budder has a higher moisture content and is less crumbly.
  • Live resin –  Live Resin is produced using flash-frozen fresh flower as opposed to dried and cured flower; this helps preserve the terpenes, allowing the final product to carry strong aromas and flavors.
  • Cured Resin – Cured Resin is derived from dried and cured cannabis plant material rather than fresh plant material.
  • Sauce – One of the most popular cannabis concentrates defined by its liquidy consistency.
  • Diamond – THCA crystals that resemble the crystalline structure of diamonds.
  • Shatter – Shatter is a sticky, solid cannabis concentrate that “shatters” into pieces when used.
  • Crumble – Crumble is a cannabis concentrate that is very potent and has a unique crumbly texture.
  • Oils – Cannabinoids are usually extracted using supercritical CO2 and then mixed into a carrier oil (coconut oil or palm kernel oil).
  • Tinctures – Tinctures are made from cannabinoids that have been dissolved in alcohol rather than suspended in oil.



Types of Solvent-Based Extraction Methods

Supercritical carbon dioxide is a great solvent to use because it has a high extraction efficiency and leaves no harmful residuals in the final product. This type of extraction method involves pumping highly pressurized liquid CO2 through cannabis to separate the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant material. Successful CO2 extraction requires correct temperatures and pressure to maximize the extraction efficiency. 

Ethanol is a strong medium polarity solvent that extracts more compounds like chlorophyll, proteins, and sugars, that one would not want in the final extraction product. This means that most ethanol extracts require post-processing to create a marketable product. This method of extraction generally has poor terpene preservation. Products that are usually produced using ethanol include distillate and isolate. 

Hydrocarbon extractions can be done using either butane or propane. Pressure forces these hydrocarbons from a gas to a liquid state. Once in this liquid state, these compounds act as potent, non-polar extraction solvents. Non-polar solvents don’t extract as much plant material when compared to ethanol and supercritical CO2. This means the same plant material may have to be re-extracted to achieve the same extraction efficiency as supercritical CO2 or ethanol; however, propane and butane extracts have higher terpene content than any other types of extracts. Hydrocarbon extraction is the only extraction method that produces a wide range of different types of extracts, including shatter, budder, crumble, sauce, live resin, and cured resin, making it the most commonly used extraction method.

Distillate is a process in which cannabinoids like THC or CBD are separated and isolated from plant matter using distillation technology. Cannabis distillate can be made using solventless concentrates; like kief, hash, or rosin; or solvent-based extracts usually from CO2 or ethanol. A distillation apparatus heats the oil to an exact temperature depending on what cannabinoid is being focused on.

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