Rewind to a time before the legalization of cannabis: the product landscape was limited, dominated by flower and hash and little else, with just a few exceptions. Concentrates were rudimentary, home-brewed mixtures that were transferred amongst patients in search of better medicine if they were ever accessible. Those days are already a distant memory, more than two decades after they occurred. When you walk into any retail location, you’ll notice dozens of concentrates on the shelves, all of which would be foreign to the cannabis enthusiasts of yesteryear. Shatter, wax, HTFSE, live resin, and sauce are among the cannabis products sought for by today’s cannabis consumer.
Despite the fact that these cannabis concentrates are all of the same potency, they are extracted through a fascinating array of high-tech techniques. The production of butane honey oil (BHO) in one’s own backyard was simply the beginning. The use of gas and liquid chromatography, mass spectrophotometry, and other sophisticated, lab-based methods is now required to determine concentrations. Not to mention the fact that they are constantly in need of a licensed and well trained lab technician.
What is the difference between all of these new categories of cannabis concentrates, especially for the uninformed and perplexed? What is the difference between a shatter and a wax, and what does the “living resin” classification mean? The specific properties and extraction techniques of these popular consumer concentrates will be discussed in greater detail later.
TYPES OF CANNABIS CONCENTRATES THAT ARE COMMON
According to a novice, all extracts and concentrations are simply a more refined type of cannabis that has been treated further. There’s no doubt about it: a cannabis concentrate is extremely potent, with cannabinoid concentrations ranging anywhere from 40 to 90 percent THC, compared to only 30 percent THC in the strongest buds studied so far. Along with commonalities, there are numerous distinctions between the various types of concentrates, including texture, flavoring, color, and the method of extraction used to produce them.
Many categories of cannabis concentrates are distinguished solely by the ultimate form in which they are produced. Shatter is a transparent extract whose texture ranges from snappy and toffee-like to brittle and glass-like, depending on the concentration used. The plant elements (cannabinoids and terpenes) present in the original material have the greatest influence on the color and texture of the finished product.
When it comes to shatters, most manufacturers rely on hydrocarbons such as butane (and occasionally CO2) to extract the cannabinoids from the raw material. A subsequent procedure, known as vacuum oven purging, is used to evaporate the final solvents and most of the remaining moisture, resulting in a texture that is similar to glass. When it comes to producing shatter, some growers use a rosin extraction press, but this is less prevalent nowadays.
The terpene profile of the initial material, as well as what is left after extraction, predicts the final consistency and texture of the finished product. Shatters have lower quantities of moisture and terpenes than other concentrates, making them a better choice for smoking.
When compared to shatter, wax (also known as budder or frosting) has a significantly softer consistency. This concentrate has a variety of textures, ranging from soft icing to creamy budder to sticky candle wax in consistency. Another similarity to shatter is that it is often created by solvent-based extractions, with the most noticeable change in consistency occurring during the last stages of the process.
It is due of the agitation that occurs during the cooldown stage that Budders develop their creamy, whipped-like consistency. When you whip for many hours after extraction, you aid to evaporate the remaining solvent molecules, eliminate additional moisture, and preserve more terpenes than if you shatter the leaves.
The extraction technologies used in the current cannabis industry have changed in tandem with changes in customer preferences. High Terpene Full Spectrum Extract (HTFSE), also known as High Terpene Full Spectrum Extract, is becoming increasingly popular because of the increased demand for flavorful concentrates. Conventional extraction processes, which use harsh, high-heat conditions, completely destroy the majority of volatile terpenes. HTFSE is a new generation of extraction technology that is less concerned with cannabis strength and more concerned with terpene preservation.
Methods for making HTFSE that are often used include employing fresh, flash-frozen plant material, light solvents, and extremely low temperatures.. HTFSE can be found in both live resin and terp sauce, to name a few of examples.
RESIN THAT IS ALIVE
Live resin concentrates reveal more about the origin of the plant material than they do about the extraction procedure used to create them. Most of the time, dried and cured plant material is used to make cannabis extracts. In contrast, live resins are derived from freshly harvested and flash-frozen plant material.
The flash freezing of fresh material, which is harvested at its peak potency, preserves volatile terpenes and cannabinoids that could otherwise be lost during the curing process. Because of the high terpene content of live resins, they are categorized as HTFSE. Another distinction between living resins and other cannabinoid-focused concentrates is the temperature at which the resin is extracted. In order to maintain the most volatile of terpenes in the final product, lightweight hydrocarbons allow for extraction at extremely low temperatures.
It is not necessary for all companies to process their live resin in the same manner. Los Angeles-based Bloom Brands uses a different strategy to conserve valuable terpenes than the rest of the cannabis industry. The plants are transported to their extraction facility immediately after they are cut down, and they are processed within 24 hours of being harvested, as opposed to being flash frozen. Once the oil has been extracted, it is triple distilled, allowing the important terpenes to be captured during the process. A specific fingerprinting process is then used by the Bloom team to break down the strains at the molecular level, after which each strain is subjected to a chemical examination by an independent laboratory. This allows them to develop a fingerprint of the strain that can be used to duplicate it over and over again, resulting in a product that is as similar to the original strain as possible to the original strain The user receives the benefit of a live resin vape cartridge that produces the same results each and every time they purchase it.
Known as “sauce,” this extraction has several different personalities and is all about terpene retention. Terp sauce, diamonds, or simply “The Sauce” are all names for this condiment. The consistency, as the name suggests, is highly liquidy, or saucy, in appearance. It may also contain crystalline structures (THCa) depending on the cannabinoid profile and stage of extraction used, which is why it is referred to as “Diamonds.”
A complete sauce will contain both High Cannabinoid Full Spectrum Extraction (HCFSE) and High THC Full Spectrum Extraction (HTFSE), albeit both can be separated into their distinct components.
Sauce is a Live Resin, solvent-based extraction process that is designed to meticulously preserve the terpene profile of the cannabis plant. For terpene preservation, a lighter solvent (such as a dominating propane blend) as well as lower temperatures are required. Despite being exposed to typical environmental temperatures, terpenes can degrade very quickly, which is why it is necessary to use fresh, flash-frozen plant material.
Producers separate pure terpene’sauce’ from cannabinoids ‘diamonds’ by centrifuging the mixture or, more primitively, by adjusting the temperature of the mixture. Terp sauce can be used in a variety of ways, and it can be separated or sold as a full-spectrum concentrate, among other things.
Rosin is the favored method of consumption for cannabis purists. Rosin, which is produced without the use of any solvents, has a flavor that is similar to the buds from which it was pressed, but with a richer flavor and a higher high. Rather than employing a solvent such as butane and extracting the flowers in a closed-loop extraction process, rosin is manufactured with a specialized rosin press, which is designed specifically for this purpose. It is necessary to arrange the buds between two points that apply equal levels of heat and pressure in order to firmly squeeze the buds together until a warm, sticky extract comes out. Using a mesh sieve or filter bag, this golden liquid is rich in terpenes and has no plant waste, as it is contained within the sieve or filter bag.
It is possible to press fresh or dried flower to make rosin, but the most complex way of manufacturing rosin is to press bubble hash, which further refines the rosin to produce the most concentrated of all concentrates. Rosin presses, whether for commercial or personal usage, are a reasonable price to pay. It is possible to inhale rosin in a dab rig or vape pen, or to add it to a joint or bowl of weed to add additional cannabinoids and a terpene-rich flavor to the weed.
An ever-evolving spectrum of cannabinoid concentrations is available.
Cannabis concentrates have improved as consumer tastes have evolved and as technology has enabled more sensitive ways to extraction to be used, a trend that has continued. In recent years, extraction technology has evolved from focusing on THC-rich crude oils to creating terpene-rich live resin masterpieces. Despite the fact that there may still be a major sector of the industry pushing concentrates with potencies greater than 90 percent, the market appears to have gently turned towards taste profile, which means HTFSE and other terpene-rich products are becoming more popular. Given the progress of the industry over the last ten to twenty years, it will be interesting to watch where the industry is headed in the coming decades.