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Daniel Berman

Concentrates 101

Before you dab, learn what makes these high-potency products special.

Dating back to the late 11th century, the original usage of Cannabis concentrates was for oral ingestion purposes, but since then, a lot has changed. Over the years, extract artists have continued setting the bar higher and higher by constantly pushing themselves to produce innovative ways to experience hash in different forms. These days, you can commonly find forms of extracts incorporated into topicals, pre-rolls, and of course, edibles. But the main question is: What defines something as an extract or a concentrate? 

These terms refer to a broad spectrum of products that contain higher levels of cannabinoids than are encountered in the Cannabis plant. They can be as solid as a rock like diamonds, or a liquid like honey – with some extracts getting their name from their appearance or consistency, such as badder, honeycomb, and shatter. 

Below you will find a guide in chronological order of their development – helping you maneuver around the wide world of all things hash-related. 

Full Plant Extract or RSO (Rick Simpson Oil)

With the purpose to produce more minor cannabinoids such as CBG and CBN, full plant extracts were originally created by the pioneer Rick Simpson. This process was done by simply soaking Cannabis for long periods in hexane or ethanol. Once this process is completed, the hexane or ethanol is removed with heat or evaporation, leaving a full spectrum product containing many more cannabinoids than traditional concentrates. Innovators have since created a new version of FECO, utilizing advanced CO2 extraction equipment.

Solventless

Bubble Hash 

Chris Ryan

Utilizing water and ice, extract artists take their starting material, either cured plant matter or fresh frozen flowers, and carefully wash with a paddle in large buckets of ice water. This liquid is poured through a set of micron filters, meticulously separating the trichome heads. The extraction artist carefully removes the trichome heads from the filters to avoid breaking or damaging them. From there, the end product is either put into a freeze drier or air-dried to perfection.

Hash Rosin

Photo by Daniel Berman

After the bubble hash has been freeze or air-dried, the product is placed in another micron filter specifically micronized to produce hash rosin. Using a high-pressure heat press, you then take the micronized screen and refine the hash with pressure to secrete what is known as fresh press rosin. 

Hydrocarbon

BHO/PHO

July 2020 Northwest Leaf The Concentrates Issue Photo by Daniel Berman
Daniel Berman

Using the hydrocarbon known as butane, BHO or butane hash oil, was one of the first products to hit the common hash market. Propane is also used in this process, either in a mixture with butane or on its own. Working with highly evolved closed-loop extraction systems, the extract artist takes either cured or fresh frozen starting material and places it inside large steel columns for processing purposes. The gas is run through the material multiple times, extracting the terpenes, along with the plants’ fats and lipids. Once processed, this raw material is dewed to remove the undesirable components. From there, the product is dumped out in liquid form and then placed inside of a vacuum oven to purge and remove all solvents.

CO2

DANIEL BERMAN

CO2 extraction uses highly sophisticated machinery that pulls high levels of terpenes amongst a broad spectrum of cannabinoids. Under controlled circumstances, supercritical CO2 dissolves substances into fractions that can be separated and removed. The end product is ideal for cartridges, edibles and dabbing purposes.

Distillate

Chris Ryan

Cannabis distillate is created by using a combination of extraction processes. All distillate starts as final processed terpenes and THC. Different extract artists have their unique approaches, but most utilize a sequence of steam, pressure and heat, further refining the extract by removing any last impurities. This process is usually repeated until the final product is a light golden color. Ordinarily, distillate ends up making its way into edible products and cartridges.

Solventless Consistencies

Fresh Press

Daniel Berman

Fresh Press rosin is pure and unmixed, coming straight off of the rosin press into your jar, without any additional steps added. This product often looks very clear and transparent.

Badder

June 2020 Oregon Leaf Stoner Owner Natural Wonders in Portland Photo by Chris Ryan
Chris Ryan

Badder has a texture that usually imitates cake batter, soft and palatable. Cold cure and heat cure techniques are applied to achieve this type of consistency.

Rosin Jam

June 2020 Oregon Leaf Stoner Owner Natural Wonders in Portland Photo by Chris Ryan
Chris Ryan

Rosin jam is a saucy combination of both THCa diamonds and terpenes. By utilizing a combination of heat and pressure, extract artists have further developed a new way to smoke solventless.

Six-Star Bubble Hash

Photo by Daniel Berman

Six-star bubble hash is the raw and unadulterated microns of trichome heads that provide the highest quality smoking experience. Six-star will usually be the higher microns, such as 73-120u, and looks like beach sand.

Hydrocarbon Consistencies

Shatter

Chris Ryan

Shatter takes after its name, as this consistency of BHO is often very fragile and will break easily at the touch. Its appearance is clear and almost looks like glass.

Diamonds

Chris Ryan

Often dazzling and dancing with gleaming clarity and sometimes accompanied with colorful terpenes, THCa diamonds are as hard as a rock or, in this case, a diamond.

Badder

DANIEL BERMAN

BHO Badder is a homogenized product that combines cannabinoids and terpenes, providing a very simplistic smoking experience. Similar to rosin badder, BHO badder appears soft and provides an effortless smoking experience.

Honeycomb/Crumble

Photo by Daniel Berman

Usually using cured material, honeycomb and crumble BHO look exactly how they sound. Both are whipped and can appear very soft, but disintegrate effortlessly when touched.

About Max Early

Max Early is the State Director of Oregon Leaf Magazine. In this role, Max looks after/coordinates/manages/leads a team providing insight into all aspects of the cannabis industry, including processing and producing knowledge. Solventless concentrates are a quintessential part of his day-to-day life and help him stay balanced. Cannabis has impacted his existence and many close loved ones in such a positive way that he can't imagine life without it!

This article was originally published in the July 2021 issue of all Leaf Magazines.

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