From brownies to medicated muscle creams, you can find cannabis concentrates in hundreds of products.
Concentrates are products made from the cannabis plant that have been processed to keep only the most desirable plant compounds (primarily the cannabinoids and terpenes), while removing excess plant material and other impurities. Ounce for ounce, cannabis concentrates have a greater proportion of cannabinoids and terpenes when compared to natural cannabis flowers.
Concentrates can also help increase the potency of your flower. The next time you pack a bowl with cannabis flower, try sprinkling kief on top, or add drops of concentrate oil to cannabis flower before rolling your joint. Cannabis concentrate products can also be consumed on their own. For example, concentrates can be vaporized using a portable vaporizer or dab rig (this activity is referred to as “dabbing”). Dabbing has quickly become one of the most popular consumption methods in the market.
Concentrates let you experience cannabis in a multitude of ways; they come in a variety of textures and can be consumed using several different methods. The look and feel of a concentrate doesn’t necessarily indicate its level of quality (effects, flavor, potency); these are simply aesthetics that can help you keep track of your personal preferences.
One of the leading benefits of concentrates is the rapid onset time and the ability to yield a high more potent than consuming cannabis flower. Concentrates have a high bioavailability, meaning the effects you feel and experience, as well as the rate of absorption into your body, happen almost immediately. The effects of a cannabis concentrate can last anywhere from 1 to 3 hours, depending on the person.
WHAT ARE CONCENTRATES AND EXTRACTS?
Concentrates come in many forms and include the most desirable parts of something. For example, orange juice concentrate has the smell and taste of the orange fruit, but without the excess fluid, peel or pulp. The same is true for the cannabis plant: the aromas, flavors, and other desirable substances can be retained while removing the leaves, stems, and other unwanted materials.
Extracts are a specific type of concentrate that use solvents to draw out the desired substances of a plant, seed or fruit. For example, vanilla extract is produced by using alcohol as a solvent to pull out the desired flavor component, vanillin, from vanilla bean pods.
The cannabis plant has complex compounds, or chemical substances, that can be used in a multitude of products. These compounds affect the look, smell, flavor, and texture, as well as physiological or psychoactive effects (if any) of cannabis products. The most desirable cannabis compounds are found throughout the cannabis plant in small, sparkling structures called trichomes. A cannabis concentrate refers to any product created by the accumulation of the trichomes from the plant.
These frosty appendages coat the entire surface of the plant, especially the flower buds. Trichomes contain all the cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc.) and terpenes that give different cannabis cultivars, or strains, their unique aromas and physical effects.
Compared to cannabis in raw plant form, cannabis concentrates offer a more potent high, quicker onset of action, and a wider range of consumption methods. Depending on your consumption preferences and tolerance level, the ideal dose can vary widely from person to person and even product to product.
Cannabis concentrates are diverse and used in a wide range of products. With a selection of options, you can fine-tune your cannabis experience and find the ideal combination of cannabinoids and terpenes that appeals to your taste and provides the most benefit.
Is there a difference between a concentrate and an extract?
All extracts are concentrates, but not all concentrates are extracts. While those terms are used interchangeably, the primary difference between a concentrate and an extract is how trichomes are collected. Extracts are a type of concentrate created using solvents (alcohol, carbon dioxide, etc.) that essentially wash the trichomes off the cannabis plant. Concentrates made without the use of solvents are produced using mechanical or physical means to remove and gather trichomes.
Butane Hash Oil (BHO), Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) and CO2 wax are examples of extracts; each of these comes in varying textures such as shatter, badder, budder, and crumble. Different extracts and the varying textures may yield different experiences from one product to another.
Rosin, dry sift and kief are examples of concentrates that are made without using solvents.
HOW TO TALK ABOUT CONCENTRATES
“Reduced Fat Homogenized Ultra-Pasteurized Milk” is also known as “2% milk,” but that may sound baffling until you’re familiar with the product and its name. Once you familiarize yourself with the terminology used with concentrates, the more comfortable you’ll feel when reviewing descriptions and labels. The product names can seem complex. For example, a product named “Hardcore OG Nug Run Shatter” may sound confusing. What do each of these words mean?
Producers and manufacturers use specific words and phrases to help you identify key characteristics and qualities of cannabis concentrates. Certain terms may be used on labels and descriptions on concentrate products to identify:
The type of cannabis plant materials used to make the concentrate
The processing techniques
The resulting textures
The intended consumption methods
Everything starts off with cannabis plant material. The cannabis plant’s flower buds, leaves, and stems are collectively referred to as the starting, or input material. The input material can alter the resulting cannabinoid and terpene profile of the cannabis concentrate. Additionally, the quality or grade of the input material also affects the potency and flavor of its resulting concentrates.
Cannabis concentrates are products created by the accumulation of trichomes (the gland that makes the cannabinoids and terpenes). There are a variety of ways to separate the trichomes from the starting material. Each of these processes needs its own specific materials and/or physical actions, or methods, in order to produce a concentrate.
Once the cannabinoids and terpenes have been removed from the plant material, the resulting solution can take a variety of forms. These forms allow patients and consumers to pick and choose their preferred texture of the concentrate product; they aren’t necessarily an indicator of how the concentrate will taste or affect an individual.
Concentrates are safe, yet potent. To consume a cannabis concentrate safely and effectively, you must have a specific setup with the appropriate equipment in order to properly activate the concentrated cannabinoids and terpenes.
TEXTURES AND CONSISTENCIES
Terms like shatter, badder, crumble, sugar, oil, and sauce refer to a concentrates’ appearance (texture, color, malleability). In other words, these terms simply inform us about the look and feel of the concentrate. For example, a concentrate product with the name “Nug Run Blue DreamShatter” tells you three things:
The strain of the cannabis plant used was “Blue Dream”
“Nug run” indicates that the plant material used to make the extract was dried and cured flower
The extract has a “shatter”-like consistency and texture
The following seven terms describe the most common concentrate textures found in the market.
Shatter, Budder, Badder, and Crumble
Shatter is known for its brittle, glass-like texture. It can also have a snap-and-pull consistency. (Imagine taffy candy being pulled really tight before snapping). Shatters usually have a golden yellow to bright amber color throughout.
Budder and Badder are oilier and softer in texture. (Think of a stick of butter or cake batter.) They’re malleable, easy to handle and have a sun yellow to bright orange coloring. The butter-like consistency allows the extract to be easily used as a spread on blunts or joints, or to be dabbed using a dab rig.
Crumble is a brittle version of budder or badder. As the name suggests, it has a crumbly-like honeycomb consistency. The color tends to be similar to budder or badder, but instead of having a glossy texture, they tend to have a matted shade of yellow.
Sugar, Sauce, and Crystalline
Sugar is a term used for any concentrate that has a similar consistency to wet, sappy sugar. They’re not uniform in nature and typically have colors ranging from a bright yellow to a deep amber.
Sauce is thicker, more viscous in texture and looks stickier. The color of sauce can range from deep amber to bright mustard. Sauce is similar to sugar in both its consistency and color, but has a more uniform and prominent crystalline structure.
Crystalline is a single, crystallized compound. Just as the name implies, THCa and CBD crystalline are white crystals that can vary in density and size from small rocks to powder.