Concentrates 101- Beginner Crash Course to Understanding Concentrates

Have you ever tried to navigate your way through the world of concentrates only to be confused by all of the letters, abbreviations and various names of what is ultimately the same thing, high potency, pre-activated cannabis products aka concentrates? Well I am here to break it down for you, in the simplest manner possible, as was recently explained to me by a true professor of hash, my buddy Cam. For those of you who are visual learners, like myself, see Figure 1. I am mad proud of my Publisher skills and hope this infographic will help you better understand the sticky, tricky world of concentrates. I further expand on the pictured information in this article so read on to understand how to make rosin at home, what FSE stands for and how to sound like a pro the next time you go buy some solvent less, nug run shatter.


So let’s start with the two basic subgroups of concentrates, solvent and solvent less. These describe the extraction methods used to derive the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant matter. Solvent less extraction methods include ice water extract, dry sift and heat and pressure, known as rosin. Ice water uses extremely cold temperatures to extract the trichomes. Dry sift is created when agitation of dry buds over a screen collect trichome heads. And rosin is created using heat and pressure, such as the ghettotastic DIY method involving a hair straightener and wax paper if you don’t want to drop a few grand on a legit rosin press.

Concentrates extracted using gases are called solvents and will be labeled according to which method was used. There is propane (PHO) and butane (BHO) extracts which are common in the legal cannabis market. CO2 is the favored method for filling syringes and vape cartridges. Less common is liquid nitrogen extraction, similar to ice water extract, except a chemical agent is being used to enhance the process.

Ok, so those are the basic methods of extraction. Now let’s get into some of the other terms. Trim run, nug run, and full spectrum extract or FSE all describe the source of the concentrate. Pretty self-explanatory, trim run will consist of leaves, stems, low quality nugs yielding lower quality and lower potency products. Nug run will be made entirely from whole, cured buds and will contain most of the cannabinoids and terpinoids. Full spectrum extract means the whole plant is used meaning maximum amount of trichomes and therefore potency. High terpene full spectrum extract (htfse) and high cannabinoid full spectrum extract (hcfse) are made when the whole plant is flash frozen and then pressed into live resin. Quality is typically (but not always!) reflected in price, so trim run BHO is going to be cheaper than say FSE ice water hash. Both will get you high, but the latter will be smoother, tastier and will have no residue or contaminants. Cam described hash like wines. You have your cheap $7-15 bottle of wines that taste alright, get you drunk and are shared with friends and acquaintances. Whereas good wine, you know the stuff that cost over $50 a bottle, you reserve for special occasions and close friends. Hash is the same. You got your shareable stuff that costs maybe around $25 a gram (on the medical side) all the way up to $75 a gram (still on the medical side) for your crème ala crème FSE solvent less hash.

Alright, that just leaves us with all those colorful names, shatter, budder, earwax, sugar CO2 oil. Wtf is the difference, they all get you high don’t they? Yes, that is true. With a potency between 50% on trim run and up to 99% for live resin, as compared to flower potencies which range from very low THC content like 5-10% up to 30% which is considered rather high for bud, concentrates are made to know your socks off. The different names are typically descriptive of the texture of the consistency. Shatter is glass like and breaks easily, so careful breaking yourself off a piece especially if you just got it out of the fridge, because that stuff will go flying.  Wax and budder can be more putty like, more malleable, but can harden into a compact nug of concentrated goodness. Heat and a little whipping will soften them into a more manageable consistency. Both budder and shatter are popular forms for rosin. Live resin and sugar will be crystally and a bit courser, like sand. Because live resin is flash frozen, all of those cannabinoids and terpenes are preserved making live resin particularly aromatic and terpy as well as extremely potent.  Sap is appropriately named because it feels just like sticky syrup and flows slowly like glue or lava. Or sap. Sticking sap in the fridge will harden it up, making it easier to transfer to a different container or load into a pen. These forms are easily changeable by whipping your concentrate by quickly stirring it to alter its consistency. Oil can range in viscosity from a thicker consistency to liquid and can be cut with a variety of solvents including alcohol and coconut oil. Many vape companies use CO2 oil in their cartridges ranging in quality from cheap oil cut with nasty chemicals and additives like propylene glycol and polyethylene glycol to superior products that are cut with only terpenes and other cannabinoids. Ask you budtender which cartridges they recommend and why. Good Colorado brands to try include the Clear from Clear Concentrates as well as RX Green and Eureka vapes.

So the next time you are getting high with friends or trying to impress that cute budtender at the shop you can show off your knowledge of concentrates and sound super cool. Talking nerdy is sexy, especially when it’s about weed. The right people will find that attractive. Not to mention now you can make smarter, more informed decision the next time you want to go on a dabventure. By no means does this cover all there is to know about concentrates, so if you are hungry for more weed wisdom, join us next week for Concentrates 201- The Advanced Crash Course where we will cover such topics as distillates, microns and granular trichome heads as well as expand further on the fascinating world of solvent less hash. Until then, happy dabbing!





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