Cannabis Concentrates 101, Extracting the Facts on Inhalable Concentrates

Cannabis Concentrates 101, Extracting the Facts on Inhalable Concentrates

Want to have the different types of concentrates explained? In Cannabis Concentrates 101, we break down the cannabis extracts in Canada, with a focus on our ever-popular assortment from BC.

Bubble hash, rosin and resin, shatter – you may have seen these products at BC Cannabis Stores and wondered what they are and how they’re made. Whether consuming cannabis by inhaling (smoking or vaporizing) or ingesting (eating an edible or ingesting an oil), terpenes and cannabinoids (such as THC or CBD) are what most consumers are searching for. Extracting and utilizing the desired parts of the cannabis plant develop products with a significantly higher potency of cannabinoids.

Before the different types of concentrates are explained, let’s review the two common extraction method processes.

Solvent-based vs. Solventless:

You may hear about “solvent-based” or “solventless” concentrates. In short, “solvent-based” concentrates use an extraction method that requires a solvent to separate the cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc.) and terpenes (aromas and flavours) from the plant, whereas “solventless” methods extract those same items from the plant without the use of a solvent.

At their most basic, solventless techniques can include manually shaking the dried cannabis buds to release trichomes (those resinous glands that appear like frost on the flower) and collecting the resulting powder for use. Although effective, some solventless techniques, such as the heat-and-pressure method to make rosin, can evaporate heat-sensitive cannabinoids and/or terpenes.

A common solvent-based technique that doesn’t require high temperatures involves using butane or CO2 in a controlled manner to separate the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant without the use of pressure. Solvent-based techniques can be helpful for recreating that “whole flower” experience (as more cannabinoids and terpenes are left intact) but may be less desirable due to other factors such as cost.

What are Live Concentrates?

If you see the term “live” in a cannabis product, such as “live resin” or “live rosin”, this means the cannabis flower was flash-frozen before being extracted. Immediately after harvest, the cannabis plants are flash-frozen and remain this way until extraction. This means the typical drying or curing of the bud (which is done to make dried flower, for example) is skipped; terpenes can be degraded during the drying and curing period of flower, so flash-freezing and bypassing this stage means that terpenes remain relatively untouched, lending to a more “true-to-flower” taste.

Let’s move onto explaining different types of concentrates, including…

Solvent-based Extracts:


Live resin: Live resin is made by taking flash-frozen fresh cannabis bud and extracting the cannabinoids and terpenes using a solvent-based extraction method. Often the “liquid” in vape carts, live resin-based products are prized for their rich terpene profiles due to the flash-freezing method occurring immediately after harvest.

Distillate: Typically found in vape cartridges and edibles, distillate is a clear concentrate that has been “distilled” after a solvent-based extraction. Potency is the major draw for fans of distillate, as true-to-flower flavours are often lost during the plant’s curing process pre-extraction. Terpenes and other natural flavourings are commonly added to distillate before it’s eventually placed into the vape cartridge or added to the edible recipe.

Shatter: Shatter is often made with dried, cured cannabis (although it can sometimes be produced with live resin) and a solvent-based extraction method. While some terpenes can be lost due to the curing process, the solid nature of the pieces make shatter ideal for consuming using a concentrate (or dab) rig, or, alternatively, it can be found in a liquefied form in vape cartridges.

Diamonds: Just like all diamonds, THCA diamonds are formed under pressure. First, a cold-extraction method is used on the plant, it then goes through either a closed-loop or crystalline method where heat and pressure are used to form crystal-like diamonds. Like shatter, diamonds are usually consumed using a dab rig, however Licensed Producers have begun making liquid diamond vapes too.


Continuing this cannabis concentrates 101, let’s explore a different extraction process…

Solventless Extracts in Canada:

Kief: Kief is a powder-like substance gathered using the technique of shaking or sifting dried cannabis flower to remove the cannabinoid-rich trichomes. Kief is a potent powder that is often used to add extra potency to dried flower by sprinkling some into a joint or on top of flower in a bong. Kief may also be called “dry sift”. When pressed together, kief forms hash.

Bubble Hash: Like kief, bubble hash is made by agitating dried flower until the trichomes separate from the plant. Bubble hash gets its name from the unique method of mixing the cannabis with ice and water during agitation to remove the trichomes without exposing the plant to heat. Bubble hash is consumed in similar ways as kief or hash.

Rosin: Created by squeezing kief or hash between heated plates to extract terpene-rich resinous oil, rosin can also be “live” if bubble hash is used as a starting material. Rosin is often consumed by vaping using a concentrate (or dab) rig but can also be mixed with dried flower or used in an edible product.

Still curious about other cannabis extracts in Canada that you’ve heard of?


Cannabis Concentrates 101 Continued:

In this Cannabis Concentrates 101, there are also other products worth mentioning. Crumble, wax, budder, and badder are just some of the other product types you may see in stores. Typically, these all have various textures and appearances. Resin, for example, can be whipped into a “butter”-like consistency to make budder.


Infused pre-rolls: New to the market, infused pre-rolls are made with one or more extracted concentrates. For more information on these products, check out our interview with BZAM on the making of infused pre-rolls.


Use caution:

With these different types of concentrates explained, regardless of the form of cannabis concentrate you choose, remember that all concentrates are highly potent extracts. While typical dried flower THC potencies can range between 1-30%, concentrates can yield THC amounts of 80-100%. Even experienced consumers are reminded to start low and go slow.

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