Cannabis Concentrates

A Glossary

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Cannabis Concentrates

The second round of legalization in Canada will revolve around cannabis edibles and cannabis concentrates. These are set to be introduced into legislation by the end of 2019. Most people are already familiar with edibles. In fact, the National Post has declared that cannabis-infused edibles will “radically transform food and drink” in Canada, and there’s already talk of introducing the world’s first cannabis-infused beer!

But what about concentrates? What do we really know about them? Well, like the name implies, concentrates are a concentrated form of cannabis. The most popular form of concentrates on the market today are hydrocarbons, or BHO’s (butane hash oil extraction method), which use a chemical substance to strip the cannabis plant of cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, and various terpenes.

Available in a myriad of forms and textures, and further accompanied by a range of slang, the category of cannabis concentrates can seem overwhelming and more than just a little confusing. Below we explore the most common BHO’s that are likely to be found in dispensaries so you can feel confident when selecting what’s right for you.

Types of Concentrates

Shatter

Shatter is probably the most popular of the cannabis concentrates.  Getting its name from what happens when you drop it, shatter has hard, glass-like consistency, very similar to caramel brittle that are often found on fancy desserts.  Some cannabis purists will argue that this is the best form of concentrate since the cannabinoids in shatter are in the same state that you would find them if left in the plant material, just more of them.

Due to its hard consistency, shatter is best consumed by doing dabs, though some higher end vape pens will do the job.

Budder

Butter, a.k.a. Budder, a.k.a. Batter
Budder is essentially the same form of concentrate as shatter, wax, honeycomb, crumble, and flake, with the only differentiation coming from tweaks in the extraction process. Budder is formed by pouring extract into a Pyrex vessel and whipping it while apply heat. This gives budder that creamy and smooth consistency.

Careful not to confuse budder with cannabudder. Cannabudder is for cooking, and is literally cannabis infused butter, while budder, or batter, is meant to be inhaled.

Wax, Crumble, Honeycomb

Cannabis Wax, like shatter and butter, is made using BHO extraction. During the extraction, if the concentrate solution is overheated or agitated, it produces an opaque material with a consistency similar to ear wax (as unappetizing at that sounds). If the consistency is porus, it would be called Honeycomb. If it turns out dry and flaky because less heat was applied during extraction, it would be called Crumble or Flake.

Hash

Most everyone knows about hash, the oldest player in the game and one of the few concentrates made without the use of BHO’s. Hash is made by compressing the plant’s resin, or the powdery kief that coats the cannabis flowers.

Although not at strong as its BHO counterparts, hash remains a staple in cannabis culture due to its versatility. Easily consumed on its own, or added to any joint or bong hit for a little added extra.

Hash Oil, Honey Oil

Hash oil, or honey oil, uses alcohol such as Everclear or isopropyl to separate the delicious trichomes and cannabinoids from the plant. Once the alcholol has been evaporated, what you’re left with is the dark concentrated plant extract.

Live Resin

Live Resin is known for its intense flavor. The process of using live plant material (fresh or frozen) helps preserve the terpenes and many other cannabinoids that don’t get spoken of very often. This is what contributes to the entourage effect that provides an incredibly well-rounded high that is complemented with delicious flavor profiles. Unfortunately, live resin is pricier than other concentrates.

This increasingly popular and unique form of cannabis concentrate involves the cryogenic freezing of a freshly-harvested plant at temperatures below -292 degrees F (-180 C). This process is often labeled “full plant” or “full spectrum” because it involves the entire plant, including the flowers, leaves, branches, and even stalk.

Rosin, Rosen Tech

Unlike most of the other concentrates mentioned in this post, Rosin is made without chemical extraction. Instead, it’s made using a combination of heat and pressure to release the THC rich resin.

This increasingly popular and unique form of cannabis concentrate involves the cryogenic freezing of a freshly-harvested plant at temperatures below -292 degrees F (-180 C). This process is often labeled “full plant” or “full spectrum” because it involves the entire plant, including the flowers, leaves, branches, and even stalk.

Live Rosin

Extracted from fresh, frozen flowers or trim, the distinct difference between Rosin and Live Rosin is terpenes. While a hair-straightener might be sufficient for extracting rosin from cured flowers, the water content in the frozen plant matter would boil when heated, thereby making the technique unsuitable for live rosin. Rather, live rosin is made by first making ice wax, and then drying that extract prior to pressing it.

Distillates

Cannabis Distillates are a different kind of concentrate that are beginning to make waves in the cannabis community. Distillates are 99% pure decarboxylated and distilled cannabinoid sap. Athouhg it’s the most expensive concentrate available, it’s for good reason. Distillates have an unmatched purity for cannabis connoisseurs to enjoy.

So what makes distillates so pure? Well, in order to isolate compounds such as THC, or CBD, into their purest and most concentrated form, additional layers of refinement must be executed. This is known as fractional, or short path distillation. First, cannabinoids and terpenes are separated from the flower using hycrocarbon or CO2 solvent-babsed extraction techniques. The isolated cannabinoids then undergo decarboxylation in order to activate certain compounds. Finally, they’re run through a short path steam distillation or rational distillation chamber in a series of passes to purify the desired compound to its isolated state on a molecular level.