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Introduction to Cannabis Concentrates

What are cannabis concentrates? In this guide, we answer this question, as well as how to consume concentrates, and briefly describe all of the examples of these products.

Chapter 1 · 6 min read
Introduction to Cannabis Concentrates

Cannabis concentrates are one of the most popular products on the market today. Concentrates are potent, tasty, and can be fun to consume. In this chapter, we outline what concentrates are, how they are made and consumed, and describe all of the different kinds you can purchase.

What are Cannabis Concentrates?

Cannabis concentrates are products that contain a high amount of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds found in the cannabis plant. For more information on what cannabinoids and terpenes are, be sure to read our corresponding guides on each.

Simply put, cannabis concentrates are the extracted, often more potent form of cannabis flower. The quality of cannabis concentrates depends on several factors. These include the original cultivar of the concentrate, how well and in what condition the source flower was grown, the extraction method used, the result (texture, color, etc.) of the concentrate, and so on.

When you consume food, many factors affect how tasty and nutritious that food is. The same concept is true for how tasty, effective, and potent cannabis concentrates are. As such, cannabis concentrates vary as widely as flower does, whether it’s Indica or Sativa, as well as its cannabinoid and terpene concentrates. In general, concentrates should smell and taste stronger and be more potent than the source flower they came from.

Due to their high potency and distinct flavor profiles, concentrates are preferred by many cannabis connoisseurs. But with the multitude of textures, colors, and names of concentrates, understanding what they all are can be a bit confusing. It can be tricky to even tell the difference between concentrates just by looking at them. HashDash has you covered.

How are Cannabis Concentrates Made?

There are two main ways that cannabis concentrates are made: either with solvent or without one.

Solvent-based methods of making concentrates utilize substances that strip essential compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant. These compounds come directly from resinous glands called trichomes, which we discuss further in-depth in our Cannabis Plant Guide. Solvents like CO2, Butane, and Ethanol are run through plant material and then removed by using intense heat at the end of the process. The result is a concentrate with little or no solvents traces.

Solventless concentrates are made without using substances like butane. Instead, solventless extraction methods use intense pressure and heat to squeeze out the cannabis rosin. Solventless concentrate-making machines are called rosin presses, which are essentially hydraulic presses for cannabis, with heated plates.

This process is certainly not exclusive to cannabis, as industrial operations have been extracting rosin gum from pine trees for nearly a century. The process of making concentrates like hashish and kief is less involved than solvent-based and solventless methods.

Some people believe that solventless always means better, which is not always the case. Just because a concentrate utilizes a chemical solvent, doesn’t necessarily make it worse than a solventless one. Many factors play into the quality of the concentrates you find in a pre-filled oil cartridge or in the wax you load into your portable vape, or dab rig.

The biggest factor is whether there’s a quality source plant material from which concentrates are being made. If the original plants are of low quality, so will be the resulting concentrates. How are they grown? Do your solventless concentrates come from a reputable grow facility with a proven track record? These are just two examples to think about with the source material.

There are licensed, insured, solvent-based extraction labs that have been producing safe, quality products for years. And there can be home-based concentrate-makers who just purchased a portable rosin press on Amazon, as well as everything in between. The latter is often perfectly legal and acceptable, but you get the idea.

Additionally, state regulations should allow acceptable levels of trace amounts of solvents that will be fit for safe consumption. A concentrate with an unsafe level of solvent or hard metals should never be allowed to be sold in stores if harmful residual solvents exist within them. Naturally, this isn’t always the case, but we touch more upon heavy metals and trace solvents in our Cannabis and the Body and Industry Guides.

Concentrates VS Extracts

Many cannabis consumers and professionals alike will use the terms extract and concentrate interchangeably, as they are both very similar. However, there is a difference. All extracts are concentrates, but not all concentrates are extracts. Extracts are produced with the use of a solvent.

For example, food companies that make vanilla extract use alcohol as their solvent to remove the desired component for flavor in many dishes. This component is known as vanillin and is pulled from the pods of the vanilla bean. Alcohol is just one example of a solvent, as butane, supercritical CO2, and ethanol are also used.

Live VS Cured

In addition to how your cannabis concentrates are processed, there are different schools of thought as to what makes the best source plant material for these products. When looking around a dispensary, it’s common to see concentrates with labels that read either ‘cured’ or ‘live’. The difference is simple: cured concentrates contain source flower that has undergone the curing process, while live concentrates have not.

To reach its optimum potency, flavor, and so on, harvested cannabis flower is put through a process known as curing. This process slowly removes the natural moisture in the cannabis plant, making for a smoother and more potent consumption experience. The process of curing may lead to removing some of the natural terpenes and other compounds found in the plant, however.

Live concentrates are produced using plant material that is frozen immediately after harvest. The plant is matter usually frozen with dry ice or liquid nitrogen. Depending on the concentrate being made, the harvested plant material is either thawed or placed in an ice bath before beginning the process.

Skipping the curing process can lead to a concentrate product that better retains the plant’s natural terpene profile and more abundance of other compounds like flavonoids. Since live concentrates require an added cost and step in the process of freezing the harvested plant, these products are usually more expensive than their cured concentrate counterparts.

How are Cannabis Concentrates Consumed?

Most people have heard of the phrase ‘doing dabs,’ which refers to consuming a small amount of a concentrate out of a dab rig, a vaporizer, or a traditional pipe. In the early days of doing dabs, consumers were using blowtorches to heat their concentrates in their rigs, which is not only dangerous but is not the best look.

Thankfully, this method is no longer necessary. We now have devices like eNails, dab pens, and portable dab rigs that remove the need for cumbersome and potentially hazardous butane torches. For more in-depth information on dabs, be sure to check out our chapter called “What Are Dabs?” found in this Concentrates Guide.

If done properly you can save money with concentrates because they can help you reach the same effect as vaping or smoking flower with fewer inhales. This is mainly because concentrates usually contain much more THC than flower, which is the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

What are the Different Kinds of Cannabis Concentrates?

Below is a brief overview of each one of the different kinds of cannabis concentrates. We cover the most important ones with much more information in upcoming chapters in our Concentrates Guide, so be sure to read up on the one(s) you’re interested in.



Shatter gets its name from its brittle texture, and because it is almost glass-like and can break and snap easily. Shatter is usually a bright yellow translucent substance that resembles dried honey.

While its cannabinoid content is usually high, shatter doesn’t translate cannabis terpenes all that well. Shatter tends to be consumed most often by dabbing. It is a concentrate that is extracted using a solvent like butane or CO2.


Wax is similar to shatter in its extraction method, except that its extraction process leaves it sticky and gooey instead of glass-like. Wax is one of the easiest concentrates to handle and apply to various consumption methods. Or, you can consume wax in dab form just like shatter.


Kief is perhaps the easiest and simplest form of cannabis concentrate. It’s all of the crystal-looking goodness that falls through when you grind your cannabis flower. These crystals come from the top of the gland of a cannabis plant. These crystals are known as trichomes.

Much of the cannabis plant material falls through as well, including those-hair like strands. Many consumers sprinkle their kief on top of a glass pipe or put it in a joint. It is simply made but is highly effective. Kief has some of the best terpene profiles you’ll find in cannabis because it contains a lot of plant material that makes it taste delicious.


Hashish is the oldest form of cannabis concentrate and has been consumed by humans for centuries. History tells us that hash was consumed in Asian cultures many years before raw cannabis flower was consumed.

Hash is most commonly made by pressing kief. The kief is heated and pressurized, which forms the well-known pressed, brown color substance. The reason it turns brown is because of the pressure. Another popular method of making hash is bubble hash. This method uses ice water and mesh materials to separate trichomes and form them into hash.

Cannabis Oil

Cannabis oil is extracted directly from the cannabis plant and is one of the most popular concentrates. Oil can be consumed in many different ways, but arguably the most popular is through a pre-packaged vaporizer cartridge.

Ingesting cannabis oil through the mouth is one of the most common ways that previously skeptical consumers are introduced to the plant medicine. Cannabis oil is a common way for children and the elderly that have conditions like cancer to consume, gaining the benefits of concentrated cannabinoids without having to smoke or dab.

Live Resin

Unlike other concentrates, live resin is a concentrate that is made from freshly harvested cannabis that hasn’t been dried or cured. Many cannabis consumers believe that this form of concentrate helps to preserve terpene profiles better than any other flavor.

This form of concentrate delivers a medium amount of cannabinoids. Traditionally, live resin has been extracted using solvents like butane. Fresh-frozen solventless hash rosin is quickly becoming one of the most popular cannabis concentrates on the market today.


Rosin is a solventless concentrate produced when intense heat and pressure are applied to cannabis trichomes. Some cannabis connoisseurs believe that solventless concentrates represent the terpene profile of the original plant material. While rosin can be made at home with a DIY setup, we strongly recommend against attempting to do so.


Also called batter or butter, budder is named as such because it has a buttery texture. This solid, waxy cannabis concentrate has its similarities to that of crumble but is a bit thinner and creamier. Completely different from canna-budder, which is cannabis-infused butter, budder is typically available either cured or live and can often be found added to the outside of pre-rolled joints.


Distillate is a cannabis concentrate similar in texture to oil, but is put through a process that separates, distills, and isolates THC from all the other compounds found in the plant. Distillate is often sought out by those looking for an intense psychoactive effect, as it is very light on terpene profile and flavor.


Sauce is a cannabis concentrate with a gooey texture, earning its name thanks to the fact that it resembles apple sauce. Cannabis sauce contains perhaps the highest levels of terpenes of all concentrates and may be the best tasting. Sauce is of lower potency than most other concentrates, often containing trace amounts of THC. This makes cannabis sauce an excellent addition to many infused dishes.


THCA-Diamonds, also called simply diamonds, are one of the most unique cannabis concentrates out there. This substance is made with the crystalline diamonds that remain after terpene sauce has been extracted. Diamonds typically have higher potency but are lacking in flavor.

The Future of Cannabis Concentrates

It’s incredible how far we’ve come when it comes to the wide array of choices that now exist for consumers interested in cannabis concentrates. As the cannabis industry continues to expand, and consumers become more product-savvy, the demand for new concentrate products will grow along with it.

Cannabis concentrates are some of the most innovative products to hit the market since legalization has expanded markets into nearly two dozen states. New technologies will certainly emerge as brands develop exciting ways to bring these concentrate products to their customers.

What We Learned: Intro to Cannabis Concentrates

Learning the various cannabis concentrates can be confusing. With help from our Guide, you’ll be a knowledgeable concentrate consumer in no time. Here’s what we learned in the Intro to Concentrates chapter:

  • Cannabis concentrates are products that contain a high amount of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds found in the cannabis plant.
  • Due to their high potency and distinct flavor profiles, concentrates are preferred by many cannabis connoisseurs.
  • Concentrates are either produced using a solvent, or without a solvent, which is called solventless extraction.
  • Solvent-based methods of making concentrates utilize substances that strip essential compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis plant.
  • Solventless concentrates are using intense heat and pressure to squeeze out the cannabis rosin.
  • Solventless and solvent-based concentrates are better than the other, as they are just two different methods.
  • The quality of the source cannabis material and the extraction lab are the two most important factors in producing quality concentrates.
  • All extracts are concentrates, but not all concentrates are extracts. Extracts are produced with the use of a solvent.
  • Cured concentrates contain source flower that has undergone the curing process, while live concentrates have not.
  • The phrase 'doing dabs' means using a dab rig or a vaporizer to consume concentrates.
  • There are many different kinds of cannabis concentrates, including shatter, wax, kief, hashish, oil, live resin, budder, distillate, sauce, and THCA-diamonds.

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Chapter Question

Which cannabis concentrate gets its name from its brittle texture?

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Cannabis concentrates contain a high amount of cannabinoids and terpenes. There are several different kinds of cannabis concentrates, each with its own textures, potency, flavors, and so on.




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