Over the last few years concentrates have become the biggest thing to happen to the cannabis culture but as the popularity of continues to grow so do the questions about the many forms these concentrates. All concentrates are made through a process called extraction where cannabis’ main ingredients are concentrated into an essential oil.
The main three solvents used to create these cannabis concentrates are butane, CO2 and isopropyl alcohol. After extraction the resulting cannabis concentrate can look very different, today we are taking a closer look at the main types of concentrates and the differences between them.
Methods of Making Cannabis Concentrates
There are methods for making cannabis concentrates such as hypercritical CO2 extractions, dry sift resin collection, and ice water hash but the most common commercially available concentrates are butane hash oils (BHO). These concentrates are often created by loading the cannabis into glass tubes and blasting butane through the plant material. The butane acts as a solvent stripping the resin glands containing THC and other cannabinoids as well as terpenes pigments and other oily components of the cannabis plant from the plant material. The oils and butane are filtered and collected from the end of the tubes into shallow pans. The oil butane mixture has been purged ideally using specially designed purging ovens so temperature and time can be precisely controlled to evaporate the butane leaving only the BHO concentrate. It is through the myriad of variables that occur in this process that the resulting wax will get the attributes to classify it with a name. The most basic breakdown is that of either shatter or wax.
Differences Between Shatter and Wax
Shatters are concentrates that have retained a crystalline structure allowing light to pass through them so that the resulting shatter is lightly translucent to nearly transparent. Wax, on the other hand, has lost its crystalline structure either through purposeful manipulation or agitation during the purging process or by accident or some unwanted disruption of the process of making shatter. Wax concentrates are opaque but the texture of these concentrates can vary drastically. So the basic difference between these two concentrates is that if you can see through it it’s a shatter if you cannot see through it it’s a wax. Inside the wax category, there are various consistencies and textures that give it classifications, some of these may be subjective classifications and there are regional variations on nomenclature. Here are the basics of wax.
Sugar crumbles are signified by the crystallized surface of the wax and the crumbly texture. Light refracts up to sometimes gritty wax giving you an often beautiful appearance and the crumbly texture makes it easy to handle and keeps it from being very sticky to the touch.
Wax crumbles are very similar to the sugar crumbles and the consistency of the body of the wax, the difference is on the surface and the sheen. Wax crumbles have a smooth almost slick surface though they are not quite sticky to the touch they are creamier than the sugar crumbles.
The smoothest and creamiest of the wax family is the aptly named budder wax. Budders are very creamy and silky and often with a very rich deep yellow color. Budders are perhaps the cream of the crop when it comes to wax concentrates.
Shatter concentrates are usually referred to simply as “shatter” despite that the consistency can vary from a thin oily consistency to a brittle glass-like hardness depending on the temperature, humidity, and other factors. Shatters are primarily defined and sometimes judged by the translucent properties of the BHO. Liquid hash oils which are translucent are sometimes used in edibles manufacturing but may not be a result of butane solvent extractions. Also, sometimes propylene, glycol, and vegetable glycerin is added to a solid BHO shatter to create ecig oils such as seen in dank tanks but it may not be accurate to classify them truly as a liquid shatter. Commonly shatters are very sticky like taffy to a hard and brittle consistency. It is often thought that the darker the shatter is in color means that the quality is proportionately bad but this is not necessarily true. A very high-quality shatter made from Granddaddy purple, for instance, could easily be darker than a lower quality product made from a lighter color strain. More than color or consistency it is often the material that is used in making the concentrate that determines the strength, flavor, and overall quality of the end product.
BHO Concentrates Category
Most BHO concentrates fall into one of the three following material categories:
Trim runs are the most widely available concentrates and are usually not labeled as such. A concentrate is generally expected to be a trim run unless it is otherwise noted. These concentrates whether shatter or wax are blasted using trim leaves and the shake plant material. These concentrates may have less concentrated amounts of cannabinoids such as THC or CBD yet more flavors from the abundance of plant material in the tubes while the extraction is going on.
Considered by many as the Cadillac of concentrates is live resin although many think because the price is usually expensive that live resin is stronger or more pure than other concentrates but again that may not be the case. Live resin means that the concentrate was made with fresh green uncured cannabis either within 24 hours of being harvested or from fresh frozen material. Extracting from the green plant keeps much more of the terpenes or flavors and aromas of the plant in the concentrated form. Live resins are very flavorful and aromatic and give a clearer flavor profile of the source cannabis but that has little effect on the potency. However, it does seem that the few people who do manufacturer live resin for sale seem to really know what they are doing and often produce very high quality concentrates.
Rosin is produced by curing and drying cannabis flowers and then using a combination of heat and pressure to press and agitate them, in the process releasing the THC-packed resin. Unlike other types of concentrates, you can produce rosin on your own safely. Also, it is very cheap to make and it is good to extend the life and use of your cannabis.
You can always try these concentrates before you settle on a favorite using the right dab rig. Let us know in the comment section your favorite extracted cannabis concentrate.