Marijuana concentrates are incredibly potent forms of cannabis extracts. Technically, you could consider them to be the purest form of cannabis available to the public. The main reason behind this is because they are extracted from the cannabis plant by using some sort of solvents, such as butane, carbon dioxide, or even water.
The resulting product is then left in its purest and most potent form, which is why they are so much more powerful than just smoking raw marijuana.
In this article, we’ll cover every single type of marijuana concentrate on the market today so that you know everything you need to know before purchasing one.. We’ll also discuss their benefits and drawbacks so that you can make an educated decision on whether or not a particular concentrate is suitable for you.
What is Distillate?
Distillate is a very potent form of marijuana concentrate. Creating distillate involves using an alcohol solvent to extract the cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis flower. It basically strips all other cannabinoids from Tetrahydracannabinol and now only THC is left.
The resulting product is then able to be inhaled or vaped by consumers. It’s important to note that not all distillates are created equal. Today, many companies on the market just use alcohol as an extractor but don’t go through the distillation process. This means that their product isn’t nearly as potent as a genuine distillate.
Many people have become accustomed to calling any kind of concentrated cannabis oil “a distillate.” The truth is there are other forms of marijuana products that can be vaporized which include live resin HTFSE, and Rosin.
Benefits of Distillate:
- Very pure form of cannabis – most will have no additives or binders in them at all (unless stated otherwise)
- Very high concentration means that only a little bit goes a long way! Most distillates will have THC levels over 80% THC, which means you just need to use a minimal amount of it! It’s also nice that it’s so easy to dose out.
- Flavorless and odorless – this means that they can be used in a variety of different ways.
- Tons of different strains, and THC percentages available to choose from on the market today.
Drawbacks of Distillate:
- High THC – maybe too much for novices
- It can be costly to make – sourcing distillate is an everyday battle with the market
- Flavorless and odorless
- Added fake terpenes (fake flavoring) – because distillate is flavorless, fake terpenes (usually non-cannabis derived) are added into the oil which is not natural and could potentially pose negative health effects
How Marijuana is Distilled
The process of distilling marijuana is relatively simple. It involves using an alcohol solvent, such as butane or carbon dioxide, to extract all of the cannabinoids and terpenes from a particular cannabis strain. Once this has been done, you then have to undergo a process of purification. This means that the solvent must be removed from the resulting mixture through a purging process.
The most common way of doing this is to run the finished product through a vat and then through a distillation process where it’s heated up and cooled down at different temperatures. This will cause each of the cannabinoids and terpenes to separate based on their boiling points.
Once this has been done, you’ll have a pure, concentrated form of cannabis THC that can be vaped, inhaled, or eaten by consumers. The resulting concentrate is also referred to as “purified cannabinoid extract” if it’s been decarboxylated.
The main difference between distillate and other extracts is that distillate is stripped of all the other plant cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes except Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Common Solvents for Marijuana Extracts
Butane is one of the most commonly used solvents in the world today for extracting various substances from plants, such as essential oils or fragrances from plants like jasmine or orange blossoms. In fact, many people have probably purchased butane as a solvent to extract essential oils from their own plants!
Butane is commonly used to make BHO (butane hash oil), which can be vaped at lower temperatures (this makes it safer!). Butane is also the most commonly used solvent for making shatter, wax, and other types of cannabis extracts.
Butane is a very volatile substance and can be dangerous if inhaled or ingested. Many people have died by inhaling butane directly from their lighter. This makes it even more important to use a professional-grade system when creating your distillate (or any kind of concentrate).
Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
This is the primary solvent used by companies looking to create CBD concentrates from hemp or industrial hemp crops. The reason for this is because carbon dioxide doesn’t leave behind any residue on the resulting product, which means that all you’ll end up with when you’re finished is pure CBD oil! This makes it highly sought after by consumers who want clean products with as few additives as possible.
This is the primary solvent used by companies looking to create solventless concentrates from marijuana buds and/or trim. The reason for this is because water doesn’t leave behind any residue on the resulting product, which means that all you’ll end up with when you’re finished is a solventless extract. This makes it highly sought after by consumers who want the cleanest product on the market. You can literally hold in the smoke twice as long as the smoke from other concentrates like live resin, shatter, wax, or sugar.
Besides Distillate, What Types of Marijuana Concentrates Are Available?
When it comes to marijuana concentrates, today’s various products include: shatter, wax, sugar, sap, live resin, rosin, and different types of vape cartridges or pod systems. Each one has a unique texture and consistency that offers certain flexibility regarding consumption methods and administration methods (e.g., vaping, dabbing, infusing with flower)
Usually distillate is made using a source product consisting of “trim,” which is a mixture of leaves (fan leaves & water leaves) and smaller buds.
Shatter, Wax, Sugar, Sap, and Live Resin are all examples of solvent-based concentrates. Bubble Hash and Rosin are examples of what’s considered non-solvent-based concentrates.
Shatter is a transparent to amber-colored concentrate with a hard, brittle texture that looks like glass or hard candy. It’s typically made by dissolving the trim in butane (highly flammable) and cooling it down until it solidifies. After it passes through a butane filled cylinder, it is then poured out onto baking trays and set in an oven for a period of time to allow the butane to fully dissipate.
As butane is used to create shatter, you can often taste the solvent’s flavor in its taste and smell. This is not always the case, but it can be a deal-breaker for some people.
Shatter is one of the most common types of concentrates available on the market today. It comes in a variety of different viscosities, from incredibly thick to runny. The texture can also vary quite a bit within each type of shatter (hard to soft). Because it’s so hard and brittle, you’ll need to be extremely careful when you break it up into pieces small enough to fit into your dabbing device or vaporizer pen.
The smell and flavor of shatter tend to be very earthy, with an aroma reminiscent of pine trees or fresh cut wood. It’s also very easy to overheat when vaping, so make sure that you take your time while consuming this type of concentrate.
Wax is similar to shatter as both are made from dry sourcing marijuana plant material. It can come out in a number of different consistencies including dry crumble, or a wet peanut butter texture, and sometimes a mixture of both.
Wax tends to be slightly softer than shatter, and has a reputation for being easier to handle since the texture is not as brittle. It’s also easier to break apart since it’s more pliant and more malleable.
Wax is very easy to overheat when dabbing, so make sure that you take your time while consuming this type of concentrate as well.
Sugar is a type of cannabis concentrate that tends to be very translucent with an amber hue. It has a soft, gooey consistency that’s often sticky and tacky like honey or syrup. Sugar is often created by dissolving trim or nug in carbon dioxide (CO2) or butane and then allowing the mixture to cool down until it solidifies into a syrup-like consistency. Because CO2 is used in the process, you can often taste the solvent’s flavor in its taste and smell (similar to shatter). The texture of sugar tends to vary quite a bit within each type, from very runny to highly thick, like dried tree sap or hard candy. Sugar has become quite popular because it’s relatively cheap compared to live resin and rosin. Sugar has slightly more flavor than wax or shatter, but still is made from dry sourcing plant material.
Now sap is also made from dry sourcing plant material, but tends to have more of the other cannabinoids than Tetrahydrocannabinol, which means less crystals and more terp sauce. It also has many medicinal benefits because of the presence of other more prevalent cannabinoids. The sap is also very easy to overheat when dabbing, so make sure that you take your time while consuming this type of concentrate.
Live resin is made by taking freshly harvested buds (flower) from specific batches and throwing them in a freezer. The flower is then placed under pressure until the trichomes are separated from the rest of the plant material. Once this process is complete, you’re left with a type of concentrate that contains oil-soluble cannabinoids, and terpenes found only in fresh cannabis plants. The resulting substance looks like big crystals forming on the bottom of the jar while the saucy terpenes rise to the top. This process takes an average of two weeks to get the crystals to fully mature and get their biggest.
The crystals are separated into what’s called HCFSE aka High Cannabinoid Full Spectrum Extract, while the saucy terpenes are poured off and separated into what’s called HTFSE aka High Terpene Full Spectrum Extract. The result is amber-colored crystals that contain around 90% THCA and a terpene profile that exceeds 20%.
HTFSE is commonly used in vape cartridges because of the better flavor and experience than a distillate cartridge will offer. HCFSE on the other hand are crystallizations of THC and thus once separated from the HTFSE, have been marketed as “diamonds” which people still love.
Rosin is made by pressing bubble hash, which is made by washing fresh frozen marijuana plant material with distilled water, and ice. This mixture is then washed gently in an effort to knock off the trichomes from the marijuana buds without damaging the buds at the same time. This will ensure that your end product will come out white or a light color instead of a greenish tint which indicates plant matter and chlorophyll present. The finished watery mix is then strained and then poured into bubble hash bags with different sizes. Once you have your bubble hash collected from the bottom of the bubble bags, it is scooped onto a tray and put into a freeze dryer for a certain period of time and temperature to cure properly. Rosin is the cleanest concentrate you can consume simply because it’s made using water and ice essentially, while other forms will have chemical residuals still left in the final product.
What is the Difference Between These Types?
The main difference between each type of concentrate is its texture, consistency, flavor, and smoothness. The texture is often an indication of how easy or difficult it will be to handle and consume (e.g., wax vs. sap). The consistency is simply a reflection of its viscosity, which can vary quite a bit within each type, depending on the manufacturer’s process. Flavor depends on the purging method used as well as the actual flavonoids in the sourced plant material used. Smoothness depends on the quality of concentrate, consumption method used (dabbing vs vaping), and the efficiency of your smoking device as well. In summary, it all comes down to your smoking device, and personal preferences.
In terms of benefits, each type of concentrate allows you to intake more cannabinoids and terpenes than you would when eating raw marijuana alone as an alternative form of inhaling cannabis (e.g., edibles or smoking). This means that you get much higher concentrations in a shorter amount of time, so it’s great for those who are pressed for time or are looking for the quickest way to intake their cannabis without having to smoke it first. You also don’t smell like marijuana smoke after consuming marijuana concentrates which is a big benefit for users who still want to be discreet.
As far as drawbacks go, the long-term health effects and side-effects are still unknown to this relatively young form of marijuana products. I would say to practice KISS and Keep It Simple Stoner. Stay away from concentrates that smell like solvents, still have butane bubbles in them, or are super green or dark looking. The darker the concentrate usually the harsher the smoke, though that isn’t 100% always the case. Some cherry marijuana strains come out very dark looking but still have a nice flavor to the extract.