What are Concentrates?
Is anyone else getting confused about Concentrates? This industry has evolved so much in the last 25 years that unless you're constantly educating yourself through endless hours of YouTube, Reddit discussions and Google searches, it's almost inevitable that you'll be out of date in no time. Before legalization, you could group the pot smokers into 2 groups. The Dried Flower goers, or the Concentrate junkies. Dried Flower customers were simple, they just need to find their strain. The Concentrate junkies (and I say junkies because once you can handle smoking a concentrate it's hard to go back to just flower) start with a wide range of consistencies. Wax, shatter, honey oil, resin, rosin, hash, kief, is just the start. There are so many to choose from. Lately they've been popping up in other products too, like Pre-rolls and Distillate Vapes. So, to explain concentrates in the most basic of ways we should first off with a simple question, what is a concentrate?
Concentrates are different forms of resins extracted from the cannabis plant. Each method of extraction results in a unique consistency which is why there are so many to choose from. Explaining all the different methods could literally fill a book so for the purpose of simplifying things, let's break it down into 2 categories. Solvent and Solventless.
Honey Oil / Wax / Shatter
These concentrates start with dried, cured flower and use a solvent, most commonly butane to extract the THC from the plant matter. Then through a heating method the butane evaporates and the resin consistency forms. Honey Oil is the consistency of honey, wax is the consistency of gluey wax and shatter is a tackier resin that looks like it could shatter into a million pieces if dropped. These concentrates are often referred to as BHO (Butane Hash Oil).
Diamonds/Sugar & Sauce
These concentrates are the newest to hit the market and they all start with the same process as live resin. Once the resin is made it goes through a chemical treatment to get rid of as much plant matter as possible. Then it is put into a vacuumed sealed environment where the pressure, over a matter of weeks, starts to crystalize the THCA and separates it from the terpenes. Depending on how fast your crystals form they could range from what looks like grainy sugar to raw diamonds. The Terpenes that are left over look like a sauce and there you have it. In case you're still stuck on what THCA is, it stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol Acid, it's what THC starts off as and it is non-psychoactive. Only when THCA is dried or heated does it turn into THC, hence the reason you don't get high from eating a dry bud but if you light it up and smoke it the heat will transform the THCA into THC and well... you know the rest. Diamonds/Sugar are very potent and putting them back into their sauce (terpenes) really kicks things up a notch.
This Concentrate starts with fresh flower that is flash frozen right after trimming and kept at a cold temperature throughout the extraction process. It's technically BHO as it still most commonly uses butane, but many don't refer to it as such. Live resin is quickly gaining popularity because the process of making it preserves the natural oils called terpenes, giving the product more aroma and flavor.
People have been collecting kief forever, especially with the invention of the 4-piece grinder. Gathering kief is done through the process of sifting dried cannabis through a screen. This knocks the trichomes off the plant leaving you with a fluffy, sand like product. If you collect enough you can press it together into a hash. Keif is often sprinkled in joints and bong bowls.
Rosin & Live Rosin
Rosin and Live rosin use pressure and heat to extract the THC. Rosin uses dried cured cannabis buds while Live Rosin uses the fresh, flash frozen buds that Live resins use.. Both are squished in some sort of press, usually the hydraulic kind. It takes a lot of bud to squish out a smaller portion of Rosin which is why it is one of the more expensive concentrates. Think of it as fresh bud juice.
Hash & Bubble Hash
Both types of hash use cold temperatures and agitation to freeze and knock the trichomes off the plant matter. Traditional hash often uses dry ice followed by a sifting method through a micron screen. Bubble hash on the other hand uses ice and water during the agitation process, then the matter is filtered through a series of micron screens. For both processes, Once the resin has been collected, it is pressed to form a gummy, slightly squishy brick. These bricks range in colour from blonde to black and because of its more solid consistency there are more limitations when it comes to buying accessories to smoke it.
Choosing a concentrate can seems like an overwhelming task. Knowing the basics can help consumers make a better choice on what they want to experience, how they want to experience and what ingredients they are consuming. These potent resins aren't for everyone but if you're looking for a new way to smoke, a stronger THC level or even a different type of high, they might be for you.