What are Cannabis Concentrates?

What are Cannabis Concentrates?

The allure of cannabis concentrates has surged remarkably in recent years, offering a diverse range of options for enthusiasts. These concentrated forms of cannabis are designed to deliver an intensified experience, allowing users to dive into a vast spectrum of flavors, effects, and strengths.

For those new to concentrates or cannabis at large, acquainting oneself with the nuances of their production can be enlightening. Understanding these details aids in selecting the concentrate that aligns with your desired benefits and effects, while also minimizing the risk of consuming too much THC due to unawareness of concentrate potencies.

From the viscous textures of waxes and oils to the brittle clarity of shatter and the purity of distillates, each concentrate brings its own set of advantages, offering a unique cannabis journey. Thus, for anyone aiming to elevate their cannabis experience, delving into the world of concentrates is an excellent starting point.


Types of Cannabis Concentrates 101

1. Shatter

Shatter is distinct for its translucent, glass-like appearance, making it a bit more cumbersome to handle compared to softer concentrates like wax. Its solid structure contributes to both its stability and extended shelf life. Owing to its hard, fragile nature, shatter requires high temperatures for optimal consumption, which might risk damaging simpler vaping devices. The primary techniques for consuming shatter involve dabbing or vaporizing it. In vaporization, shatter is placed in a chamber where air is heated around it, preventing direct burning.

Shatter is known for its high THC concentration, maintaining roughly 80% to 90% THC levels. Compared to live resin, shatter has a lower terpene profile due to its extensive purification and filtration processes, aimed at achieving its clear, solid form.

2. Wax 

Wax concentrates are characterized by their sticky, beeswax-like texture. They often have a dense, sometimes coarse structure and display a golden hue. Wax is celebrated for its potent fragrance and strong flavors, which vary based on the strain used for its production.

The predominant method for extracting cannabis wax is through butane hash oil extraction, which uses butane to separate the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids into a concentrated resin. The low boiling point of butane efficiently extracts these compounds, preserving the strain's original essence and flavors. The resultant oil is then heated and stirred until it achieves its distinctive golden and waxy appearance.

Wax concentrates derived from cured buds with a high terpene content are considered premium quality, showcasing terpene levels around 5.9%, although this can slightly vary. Wax may be challenging for vape pens to process, and direct flame can degrade its terpene-rich profile. Experienced users often opt for an electric dab rig or use water pipes equipped with a nail for water vapor-based consumption of wax.

Full-scale vaporizers, equipped with coils that reach the required temperatures for wax, represent another favored method. These consumption methods potentially lessen lung damage associated with smoking and deliver immediate effects.


3. Budder/Butter

Budder, also known as butter, refers to a form of wax concentrate that boasts a creamy, whipped texture akin to butter.

The production of budder typically involves the use of butane or CO2 to extract terpenes and cannabinoids. The concentrate is then vigorously stirred, a process that promotes cannabinoid crystallization while preventing air bubble formation, resulting in its smooth, creamy consistency.

Budder is noted for its high THC potency, ranging from 80% to 90%, with the whipping process ensuring an even mix of terpenes and cannabinoids for a richly flavored concentrate. As with other wax types, top-quality budder generally has similar terpene concentrations, about 5.9%.

The soft, spreadable nature of the budder makes it exceptionally user-friendly, allowing for simple application on dab tools for straightforward consumption. Besides the electric dab rigs and vaporizers commonly used for concentrates, budder can be easily consumed in joints, blunts, or bongs. Mixing it with ground flowers ensures proper combustion. It’s advisable to evenly distribute the budder on the paper or wrap it before layering on the flower for an optimal experience.

4. Live Resin

Live resin stands out as a meticulously crafted, solvent-based extract derived from cannabis plants that have been rapidly frozen. This method of flash-freezing ensures the preservation of the plant's essential terpenes and cannabinoids, leading to a final product that boasts the most intense aromas, flavors, and the full spectrum of plant benefits when compared to traditional concentrates. As such, aficionados of cannabis hold live resin in high regard, deeming it the premium choice among concentrates.

The texture of live resin products is typically sticky, bearing resemblance to taffy. However, through various processing techniques, producers can adjust the texture to achieve a saucy, sugary, or buttery consistency. As for its appearance, live resin concentrates usually exhibit a dark yellow hue, although shades can range from light yellow to white. Live resins are perfectly suited for use in vaping with a dab pen or for smoking with a traditional dab rig.

5. Sauce

Sauce extraction shares similarities with other solvent-based methods, with a distinctive initial step of flash-freezing the cannabis buds to capture a high concentration of terpenes. This process is more time-consuming for sauce, often referred to as “terp sauce,” extending over several weeks compared to the 24 to 72 hours typical of other methods. Throughout this period, THCA crystals develop and settle at the bottom, while terpenes float to the surface, forming a gooey layer and giving sauce its characteristic consistency. The sauce is noted for its thick, oily texture, akin to marmalade or applesauce, due to its unique mix of crystals and elevated terpene content.

Containing up to 60% THC, sauce places a premium on preserving terpenes over achieving the highest THC concentration, leading to robust flavors. Consequently, it tends to contain lower THC levels than other concentrates but still significantly more than flower. Unlike other extracts that strive for a uniform blend of cannabinoids and terpenes, sauce displays varying degrees of consistency, meaning the flavor experience can differ with each use.

For those new to concentrates, the sauce might seem daunting, yet its consistency is more substantial than suggested by its name. It is commonly dabbed or vaporized like other concentrates, and some manufacturers offer specially designed “terp sauce” cartridges for vaping.

6. Sugar and Crumble

Sugar and crumble are high-potency concentrates, boasting up to 90% THC content. Both undergo extraction processes similar to other concentrates, with crumble being distinguished by its exposure to lower temperatures over a longer duration in a vacuum oven. This extended "cooking" period minimizes mold risk and results in a dry texture.

Sugar and crumble are known for their flavor richness, attributed to a terpene profile more concentrated than that found in shatter or budder but not as aromatic as live resin. These concentrates vary in color from pale yellow to deep amber, with crumble presenting as the driest form, resembling sugar clumps.

While containing fewer terpenes than sauce and live resin, sugar and crumble boast about a 10% terpene content, higher than that of wax and budder. The granular texture of sugar makes it particularly user-friendly, ideal for topping off a joint or for vaporization using a rig or dab setup. Sugar's slightly moist consistency makes it especially suited for vaporizer use, compared to the drier crumble.

7. Rosin

Rosin stands as a straightforward method for crafting cannabis concentrates. Employing gentle heat and considerable pressure, it's possible to derive a mixture brimming with both the accessible psychoactive and therapeutic substances found in cannabis. This approach does not facilitate the separation or refinement of compounds, yet it offers a swift and uncomplicated means to obtain potent cannabis derivatives.

8. Hash

Hash, also known as hashish, represents another category of cannabis concentrate, crafted through a process that does not involve solvents.

The plant's trichomes, along with their resin, are responsible for giving cannabis (particularly its flowers) a frosty appearance. These components can be amassed in their dry form and consumed as "Kief," a fine powder. However, applying minimal heat and significant pressure transforms this kief into hash.

Various techniques exist for extracting trichomes and their resin, each leading to distinct hash variants with different levels of strength.


 9. Oil

Cannabis oil represents a type of concentrate derived through the use of alcohol or CO2 extraction methods. Characterized by its liquid consistency, this substance can be consumed by smoking, vaporizing, or oral ingestion. Notably, a small amount of cannabis oil can provide significant effects, making it an ideal choice for individuals seeking a potent and convenient alternative.


THC concentrates, when utilized judiciously and procured from trustworthy sources, are deemed safe. In response to the growing demand for cannabis concentrates, extraction facilities, and producers have advanced their technology for bulk production. Yet, these entities must conduct comprehensive tests on the final products for any residual solvents and impurities before market release. Consumers are advised to examine the COA (certificate of analysis) before purchase. This essential document outlines the product's potency and confirms its safety, ensuring it's devoid of heavy metals, pesticides, molds, and bacteria.

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