History of Concentrates:


Some of the earliest concentrate processes originated in Eastern Asia. The oldest method of creating concentrates simply involves rubbing cannabis flowers between hands, scraping the collected trichomes and compressing them to form a moldable and dark amalgamation, known as Charas (the Hindi word for Hashish).

In the 12th Century, smoking hashish was highly popular in the Middle East. Arabic for grass, “Hashish,” or “Hash,” is the product created when marijuana flowers are sieved through a screen, also known as “dry sifting,” and processed with heat and pressure. Dry Sifting is a process used to separate the resin glands, called trichomes, from other plant matter. The extracted trichomes, with a powdery appearance, are commonly known as kief. Most take the process a step further and add heat and compression to the kief to form blocks of hashish.

Hashish is the oldest form of concentrate known to man and despite the illegality of cannabis in some of the Middle East, countries like Lebanon and India still produce black market hash for export.

There are many ways to collect the resin glands from cannabis flowers, but arguably the most common method of trichome collection over the years is facilitated through the use of a three-chamber grinder. During the grinding process, trichomes are sieved through a mesh screen and broken off of the cannabis flower through what is known as agitation. The collected trichomes can then be used for a variety of concentrate production methods, or simply smoked as kief.

How Processes Have Evolved

Since hand-rolling Charas, extraction processes have come a long way. Through developments in technology and further scientific and chemical discovery, concentrate extraction has become a highly sophisticated and modernized practice. Lab-grade equipment is utilized for both solvent-based and non-solvent extraction methods, capable of producing a wide variety of different concentrate types and consistencies.

Most concentrates are named after their appearance. For example, the names shatter, wax, and budder all refer to the consistency of the concentrate, although it is the method in which they were created that determines the difference in melting points, appearances and price. While many concentrate products are similar in THC percentage, they all have different melting points, cannabinoid profiles and appearances.

Modern Day Techniques

Today, there are two main methods of creating cannabis concentrates, solvent-based extraction and non-solvent extraction.

Let’s go back to high school chemistry for a bit. A solvent is just a liquid in which something is dissolved to form a solution. In extraction, a solvent is just a liquid used to separate the psychoactive compound THC (as other cannabinoids and terpenes), from the cannabis flower.

The most popular solvents used today are butane, carbon dioxide (CO2), propane and alcohol. Even though water is technically a solvent, in the marijuana industry it’s considered a non-solvent extraction method. These processes are similar to creating essential oils and vitamin capsules. (Remember that although most concentrates are known by their appearance, the real difference between most products is how it’s made, not its final form.)

Dabbing as a Concentrate Consumption Method

Dabbing is the most popular way to consume marijuana concentrates. Often called “doing a dab” or “taking a dab hit,” dabbing simply refers to the vaporization and consumption of a marijuana concentrate. On average, the concentrate a consumer might dab has between 60-80% THC, compared to smoking cannabis flower which averages 10-25% THC. For this reason, dabbing is much more economical for most users, as far less product needs to be consumed to reach optimal or desired effects. The effects of a dab usually come on stronger and quicker than smoking flower. Because of this, dabbing is often recommended for experienced or frequent smokers due to the high potency of the product.

While it is possible to use concentrates as a “bowl-topper” over flower, most consistencies other than bubble hash do not vaporize effectively with this method. The most effective way to consume cannabis concentrates is dabbing with what is known as an “oil rig” or “dab rig.” Rigs are essentially water pipes made for dabbing that are designed specifically to bring out the complete flavor profile and potency of the concentrate being consumed. In combination with a titanium or quartz nail, a dab rig is the most optimal and efficient way to vaporize and consume concentrates.

The method of dabbing is also more complicated than smoking flower. While flower can be relatively simple to pack into a pipe, bong, blunt or joint, a few more tools are necessary for dabs. In order to effectively consume concentrates, a torch, a rig with a titanium or quartz nail and dabbing tool are needed. The titanium or quartz nail is inserted in place of a traditional sliding bowl, and is heated by the torch. Optimal dabbing temperatures are regularly debated within the cannabis community, and “low-temp” dabs have taken the concentrate scene by storm in recent history for those seeking the purest of flavors.

For novice users, just be sure to wait until the nail is not red hot to ensure vaporization of the product and not combustion. To take a dab, consumers apply the desired amount of concentrate to the dabbing tool, heat the nail, wait until the nail reaches the perfect temperature, gently touch the concentrate to the nail and inhale. To achieve even vaporization and convection within the dish of the nail, most experienced dabbers will use what is called a “carb cap” to cover the nail and evenly distribute heat. Using a carb cap allows for better flavor and more economical and even vaporization of the concentrate.

Some consumers use electronic nails, or e-nails, which are heated to a specific temperature by a small machine. E-nailsare often high in price and not very portable, so be sure to research if they are right for you before making an investment. Another dabbing apparatus is a honey straw. A honey straw, or nectar collector, is essentially a portable nail that allows concentrate consumers to travel without lugging their rigs around. Some honeys straws have a middle chamber where water can be filled to induce percolation, similar to traditional rigs and water pipes.

Remember, portions aren’t just for food. Novice dabbers should only try a very small amount of concentrate initially until they fully understand how it will affect them. A good tip for starters is to take a dab of concentrate about 1/2 the size of a grain of rice or smaller.


Terpenes are chemical compounds found in cannabis that produce the distinct flavor and smell of the flower. That means the tangy, citrus scent of Lemon Haze or the blueberry, sour smell of Blue Cheese is created by different terpenes. In a more general sense, a terpene is any group of hydrocarbons found in the essential oils of a plant. In cannabis, terpenes are produced by secretory cells found within glandular trichomes. Terpenes are produced similarly in fruits as well. For example, the same tangy, citrus terpene found in Lemon Haze, called limonene, can be found within the oil glands in the skin of oranges as well.

There are over 100 different terpenes that have been identified in cannabis plants. Terpenes not only influence the smell and taste of a plant, but also influence the effects of each strain of cannabis.

In recent years, strains have been grown to produce the highest THC levels possible. Regardless of the goofy strain names, it is the combination of terpenes and THC that impact the psychoactive effects. Many experienced cannabis consumers even claim they can determine “good bud” by relying on smell alone.

Some of the most common terpenes include Limonene, Alpha-pinene, and Myrcene. Limonene, found in most citrus fruits, can promote weight loss and improve mood. Alpha-pinene is the terpene that gives pine trees their scent and has anti-inflammatory properties that are helpful for those with asthma. Myrcene smells musky with a hint of berry; it is great for pain-relief and has sedative properties as well.


Trichomes are the small hair-like structures found on cannabis flowers that contain terpenes. Biologists hypothesize that trichomes evolved to protect the plant from environmental dangers such as animals looking for food, insects and bacteria or fungus.

The word trichome comes from the Greek word meaning “hair.” There are three main types of trichomes: bulbous, capitate-sessile, and capitate-stalked. Right now we can think of them as small, medium and large respectively. Most bulbous trichomes are hard to see, even magnified, and protrude similarly to goosebumps on skin. Capitate-sessile trichomes are much more numerous and have a rounded head. It’s often difficult to see the stem and they appear to lie flat against leaves. Capitate-stalked trichomes are the most abundant and are raised from the leaves with elongated stalks. Capitate-stalked trichomes usually contain the most cannabinoids due to their larger size and are the main focal point of cannabis macro-photography.

In their unprocessed form, the stalk-like trichomes, when collected, are often referred to as kief, which is smoked frequently by cannabis consumers. While kief is technically considered a concentrated form of THC, it is important to note that it is an unprocessed concentrate. As discussed earlier, the final form of kief is comprised of many individual trichomes, meaning that it has not undergone an extraction process amalgamating it into a cohesive and unified final product. In order to process trichomes into a stable and concentrated product, a variety of processes may be used.

Despite the slightly technical nature of trichomes, they’re vital in the creation of concentrates. Because of the recent rise of concentrate popularity, most extraction methods are catered to preserving the healing powers and flavors developed within trichomes. Flavor, medicinal effects and strength of the effects continue to be the staples of concentrate efficacy. With all three aspects getting stronger every day, as well as technological advancements in scientific equipment, it’s not far-fetched to believe extraction artists will continue to innovate and progress concentrates to greater heights.

Why Consume Concentrates?

Let’s take a moment to recap and ask, why consume concentrates? Concentrates are rapidly growing in popularity for a plethora of reasons. They are much more potent than flower, providing a more economical way to consume cannabis. Because of the high potency, they also allow medical patients to achieve faster relief than flower or edibles. Concentrates are also more efficient than flower, allowing patients to remedy medical ailments efficiently with a quick, large dose of cannabinoids.

The difference in flavor between concentrates and flower is also pretty dramatic. Cannabis extracts not only concentrate cannabinoids, but also the tasty and beneficial terpenes. The flavor resulting from concentrate vaporization allows consumers to taste terpenes more clearly, instead of having the terpene flavor mixed with combustible plant matter (this occurs while smoking flower).

Dabbing also allows cannabis users to consume in a more discreet manner. Concentrate vapor does not stick on clothes or residually hang in the air like combusted cannabis flower might. In places like Colorado, where many residential properties might ban the use of marijuana inside, concentrates make it possible to consume cannabis tactfully.

The last thing any new dabber should do is smoke too much at once. Infrequent smokers can experience adverse reactions to concentrate consumption such as rapid heartbeat, paranoia or even hallucinations. For novice cannabis consumers seeking less intense concentrate highs, or those who still aren’t sure if concentrates are for them, vape pens are the perfect introduction. Most of the concentrated marijuana in vape pens are oils created with CO2 that can be smoked slowly, decreasing the chance of taking too large of a hit and feeling an intense or uncomfortable high.

Solvent vs. Non-Solvent Extraction

As previously mentioned, there are two main methods of creating cannabis concentrates, solvent-based extraction and non-solvent extraction. In solvent-based extraction, chemical solvents such as butane, propane, carbon dioxide (CO2) and alcohol are used to separate resin glands containing the psychoactive compound THC from the cannabis flower. In non-solvent extractions, water, temperature and pressure are the predominant factors.

Again, it is important to note that even though most concentrates are known by their appearance, the real difference between products is how they are made. Different extraction methods alter the chemical and biological makeup of the final product form in ways that are not forthright to the naked eye, which is why it is always important as a consumer to understand the process behind the product.

While many side in favor of non-solvent extracts, the argument for solvent-based extractions is strong too and has many devout supporters. Now that the perceived dangers of producing solvent-based extractions have been alleviated by certified extraction lab requirements, there is minimal risk for explosion or safety hazards.

Many people believe solvent-based extractions to be more potent, containing what is called a “full-spectrum” of cannabinoids and terpenes that greatly influence the flavor, aroma, and effects of the concentrate. Because the flower is not physically agitated (like bubble hash or rosin) and cannabinoids are pulled from the plant by passing solvent, the structure of the bud is kept intact throughout the process. Not only does this reduce plant matter from being accidentally extracted, but also preserves terpenes remarkably well.

Both solvent-based and non-solvent concentrates are superb methods of consuming cannabis, and by knowing the key differences consumers are able to make educated decisions based on their personal preferences. One thing is certain however, no matter which extraction method you choose, there are no shortages of effective, high-quality options to select from in either variety.

Solvent-Based Extractions

Solvent-based extractions utilize chemical solvents to strip cannabis flowers of their highly potent resin glands. Because chemical solvents are often highly flammable, professional extractors use what are called “closed-loop” systems to ensure that there is no airborne chemical exposure during the process, therefore eliminating any risk for fire, over-pressurization or explosion. This is why concentrate production should only be conducted by licensed professionals. It is extremely dangerous and illegal to perform solvent-based extractions at home, so leave the process to the professionals!

After a solvent has passed through the flower and collected its cannabinoids, the resulting product is referred to as slurry. Slurryis the mixture of cannabinoids and unpurged solvent, and can look a variety of ways depending on the solvent used. Mainly, slurry looks like either a runny liquid form, or an airy patty/loaf. Slurry contains high amounts of residual solvent and is not considered safe to consume. In order to turn slurry into a finished and compliant product, purging must be implemented.

In any solvent-based extraction, whether butane, CO2, propane, or alcohol, extensive purging is required in the post-extraction phase to rid the product of residual solvent. Purging is a broad term in the world of concentrates, as it can be achieved through evaporation, vacuuming or hand-whipping. Each method of purging has different variations and produces a different end product and consistency. While there are many different options for solvent purging, vacuuming is predominantly considered the most popular.

When a solvent is purged by vacuum oven, it is being deliberately pulled from the slurry and the air within the vacuum, leaving behind a low parts per million (ppm) of residual solvent. Vacuum purging duration varies depending on many different factors and can last up to 72 hours in some instances.

Solvent-based concentrates are considered less healthy than non-solvent concentrates by some. One of the biggest concerns is that inhaling residual solvents may be unhealthy, howeverno scientific data backs this claim universally, as residual solvents are present in many Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulated consumer products like cooking sprays, air fresheners, and canned shaving creams.

Little research has been done on the health effects of residual solvents contained within solvent-based concentrates, and ultimately it is up to the consumer to choose which concentrate is best for them.

Solvent Based Extracts:


Butane hash oil (or BHO for short) is a solvent-based extraction that utilizes butane as a solvent. BHO offers a variety of end products with high potency including budder, shatter, wax, sap and more. Typically speaking, flower or trim is placed in a receptacle tube while butane is forced through, essentially stripping the plant matter of its cannabinoids. The material is contained while the gas is released, hence the term “blasting,” which is commonly used when referencing the process. Butane was one of the first solvents used in concentrate extraction and is the common culprit of open-blasting induced explosions. Because of its low burning point butane is extremely volatile, which is why it is unsafe to use outside of a closed-loop system.


CO2 extractions use temperature and pressure to effectively extract elements of the flower or trim. Facilities with advanced technology and machinery can experiment with supercritical carbon dioxide methods, which keeps CO2 at high pressures. In other words, extractors can finely control the rate at which cannabinoids and terpenes are extracted. Many advancements have been made recently in the equipment used for CO2 extraction, with high-end models nearing one million dollars to own and operate. These machines use computer interfaces to calibrate diagnostics and fine tune the desired extraction parameters. Depending on the equipment used, CO2 extractions can have multiple receptacles for slurry, resulting in tiered grade products that can easily be separated and used for different purposes.


Similar to BHO, cannabis extractions using propane are called propane hash oil (or PHO). Although this method usually demands higher pressure, it also requires a lower boiling point, which means better terpene preservation and faster/more effective purging. PHO offers end products similar to BHO, such as wax, budder, shatter, live resin and more. Propane has risen in popularity for solvent-based extraction in recent years and is generally considered a cleaner final product than BHO. Propane is slightly more expensive than butane, but is worth the additional cost for extraction artists seeking to boost their concentrate flavor, consistency and overall value.


Typically speaking, cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis flower, trim or hash dissolve fairly easily in alcohol (specifically isopropyl alcohol or ethanol). This method of extraction is also considered one of the safer options, but requires exact temperature control for optimal results. Extraction using isopropyl alcohol is also known as “QWISO,” or quick-wash isopropyl alcohol. Conducive to its name, this process can be completed rather quickly and easily using minimal equipment. However, not many licensed facilities use isopropyl alcohol, as the more popular alcohol solvent is ethanol. Ethanol is a fairly expensive solvent to use for extractions, but it has an extremely high recovery rate. That means it can be used for extraction, and be recovered afterwards through rotary evaporation or another form of solvent reclamation.

Solvent-Based Products:

CO2 Oil

Ranges from $40 – $80

CO2-extracted concentrates in the form of an oil have become increasingly popular over the years. This supercritical fluid extraction is created with large amounts of pressure and carbon dioxide and is seen as an incredibly effective method to separate plant material to produce an amber oil. CO2 extraction is gaining popularity in commercial extraction operations due to the fact that the equipment used is able to finely tune desired results and end products.

CO2 is often preferred to other extracted oils because it’s incredibly efficient and yields purer, cleaner product with limited processing and low residual solvent. Because CO2 is a naturally occurring substance and is produced by the human body, it is widely considered as a natural solvent with less health concerns than butane, propane or other hydrocarbons. The opportunity to tune the process is key, while its sterilizing component allows end products to last longer than most. Typically, CO2 oil is found most often in pre-filled oil cartridges (alongside a medical grade solvent, polypropylene glycol) for vaporizers as well as edibles.

CO2 Oil varies on price depending on the dispensary.


Ranges from $15 – $40

Arguably the most well-known type of dabbable concentrate, wax is made by blasting plant material with a solvent using a closed-loop extraction system. The resulting slurry is heated at low temperatures and whipped vigorously to remove all residual solvent. Because the product is whipped by hand, it gains airy peaks that are similar to whipped topping. Wax is generally drier and more crumbly than its counterpart budder.

As stated above, the finished product resembles a “whipped” consistency and ranges from a variety of amber shades complete with a milder aroma and flavor profile. Budder is essentially wax with higher moisture content. The consistency of budder is oily and malleable, while wax is crumbly and more solid. Budder contains a higher moisture content because it is whipped less than wax. Remember, many hydrocarbon extractions are similar in nature, but it is the finishing techniques that determine the appearance and consistency of the final product.

Wax/budder varies on price depending on the dispensary.

Live Resin

Ranges from $30 – $80

Live resin is made the same way as wax, however the starting product is fresh frozen plant material. By using cryogenically preserved plant material, the finished product has robust, exceptional terpene and cannabinoid profiles that resemble the qualities of the live plant.

Live resin is known for its excellent flavor and resemblance to the aroma and taste of the live plant. It ranges in color from light amber to yellow-gold and has a moist, shiny looking exterior with a strong, rich smell.

There are currently many “live” products on the market that exhibit high terpene and cannabinoid content and are extracted from fresh-frozen starting material. For example, live sugar is a form of live resin that looks like an amber sugar patty, while live budder is a smoother, more malleable consistency. No matter what the name is, live resin and its many variations offer the best flavor profiles and are frequently enjoyed by connoisseurs and novice cannabis consumers alike.

Live resin varies on price depending on the dispensary.


Ranges from $20 – $60

Shatter is made by blasting plant material with a solvent using a closed-loop system. The resulting slurry is collected onto parchment paper and placed in a vacuum oven for solvent purging. After “burping” the slurry (this helps release as much solvent as possible) a few times the shatter starts to take shape and slowly spreads across the paper. Times in the oven can vary anywhere from 45 mins to a full day to achieve optimal consistency.

Sometimes during the process (depending on the starting product), the shatter might not purge correctly resulting in a very “taffy-like” concentrate, reminiscent of salt-water taffy in texture. While shatter is typically stable and easy to handle and snap, taffy is closer to budder in its consistency and stability.

Shatter ranges in color from light to dark amber and is high with terpene content, resulting in superior aroma and flavor. Taffy exhibits similar attributes to shatter in regard to appearance, aroma and flavor.

Shatter/taffy varies on price depending on the dispensary. Be sure and shop around when you are looking for Shatter.


Ranges from $50 – $120

Distillates are newer concentrate products and utilize highly scientific equipment to heat and vaporize the THC and CBD within the flower, bringing the vapor into a cooling system for consolidation and eventual collection into beakers. This process is repeated over and over again to create pure cannabinoids without residual solvents or plant matter.

A method called “short path distillation” is used to separate and collect cannabinoids from contaminants to create a clean, clear final product. The process of short path distillation leaves little terpene content. They are generally lost in the extraction process due to the amount of heat used. However, extraction artists and companies are introducing terpenes into the post-extraction process to create specialized and sought after flavors.

Distillate varies on price depending on the dispensary.

Pie Crust/Honeycomb

Ranges from $20 – $40

Pie crust is made by blasting plant material with a solvent using a closed-loop extraction system. The resulting slurry is collected onto parchment paper and placed into a vacuum oven for solvent purging.

After the purging interval, the concentrate patty is pressed to promote faster nucleation, turning it from a shiny shatter looking substance to more of a cookie crumble, honeycomb look. The final product delivers an amber color with a strong aroma and overall flavor.

This concentrate is more or less a mix between crumble and wax. You can expect some super good taste with this kind.

Pie Crust varies on price depending on the dispensary.

Caviar/Jelly Hash

Ranges from $30 – $60

Cannabis caviar sells for nearly four times the normal price of top shelf strains and is made by soaking cannabis flower in powerful hash oil.

Afterwards, the soaked flower is coated in kief and dried until ready for consumption. When dry, then final product will have a very pungent aroma with exceptional flavor.

It looks similar to regular flower, however the kief-coating hash oil gives off a vibe similar to that of a cocoon. Naturally, it’s extremely potent and lasts much longer than normal flower when burned.

Jelly hash is a very potent mix of kief and hash oil. Although it’s fairly uncommon to find, it has proven to be extremely effective for patients undergoing chemotherapy or individuals suffering from chronic pain, nausea and other illnesses. With its jelly-like consistency, jelly hash has a mild aroma with an earthy flavor.

Caviar and Jelly Hash varies on price depending on the dispensary.

Rick Simpson Oil

Rick Simpson Oil (or RSO) is a very popular and highly potent decarboxylated concentrate extract that is consumed orally. It utilizes pure light aliphatic naphtha to remove resin containing the cannabinoids, resulting in dark, viscous products with THC levels up to 90% and an earthy flavor.

This particular form is often used for medicinal purposes, as made famous by Rick Simpson who cured (or at least controlled) his cancer thanks to RSO. RSO is considered an early example of solvent-based concentrates, and its lack of availability in commercial dispensaries is indicative of its replacement by cleaner solvents and more efficient extraction methods. You can learn more about RSO from Rick’s official website,

Rick Simpson Oil varies on price depending on the dispensary.


Non-Solvent Extractions:

Non-solvent extraction processes typically involve using ice to chill cannabis flowers to sub-zero temperatures, agitating the resin glands to detach from the epidermis of the flowers. Heat and pressure extraction methods are sometimes implemented to make non-solvent concentrates as well.

Typically speaking, they’re smooth-hitting concentrates that highlight the product’s aroma, flavor and overall effects better as compared to other extraction methods.

Recently, non-solvent concentrates like rosin and full-melt bubble hash have risen to popularity since they are extracted without the use of chemical solvents, comparing similarly to the cannabinoid and terpene profiles of solvent-based extracts. Non-solvent concentrates are arguably considered a healthier form of concentrate due to the absence of any residual solvent on a parts per million (PPM) scale, although all medical and legal solvent-based concentrates produced are purged and tested extensively to ensure residual solvent ppm levels are in adherence with FDA regulations.

Contrary to belief, non-solvent extraction processes result in products that have equal to higher potency than those created with solvents. As a result, these traditional extractions remain popular with purists and new consumers who care about what chemicals they’re inhaling (or technically not inhaling) as well.

Attention to detail is critical in non-solvent extraction processes, as there are many factors that need to be considered to make a high-quality end product. The most important aspect of the entire process is understanding that the quality of the finished product is a direct result of the quality of the starting material. In other words, you get out what you put in, so using the best quality starting material is key to creating superior non-solvent extracts. For example, if the starting material does not have a high trichome content, the yield of the extraction and end product will be lesser quality than an extraction using product that is heavily frosted with trichomes.

Arguably the best non-solvent concentrates are created with fresh-frozen, high-quality cannabis flowers. Because there are no chemicals introduced to the process, the chemical structure of the plant remains unaltered, resulting in rich and complete terpene and cannabinoid profiles.

Non-Solvent Products:

Kief & Live Kief

Ranges from $10 – $30

Kief is the simplest and most traditional type of concentrate available. The process used to extract it typically involves cannabis flower and specialized, fine filtering screens or tumblers. By rubbing the flower against the screen, trichomes are agitated and isolated, effectively producing product comprising of collected trichomes. Anyone can extract their own kief through a three-chamber grinder, which features a screen in the bottom level to help collect the trichomes. Depending on how coated with trichomes the flowers being used are, it may take a few weeks to get a decent amount to consume.

Kief is very fine in texture and often takes on a light brown or tan coloring and mimics the flavor of the flower it came from. It can be used on top of a bowl or consumed on its own. As mentioned earlier, this form of cannabis is more potent because the majority of cannabinoids and terpenes are found in trichomes.

Live kief is made from fresh-frozen flower, meaning the plant was cut at harvest and immediately frozen to keep all of the cannabinoids and terpenes of the live plant intact. After a quick liquid nitrogen bath, live kief is extracted similarly to regular kief through agitation. Live kief is often preferred because it yields more potent, flavorful, and aromatic product.

Live kief has similar aroma and texture properties as normal kief with a slightly lighter appearance. In particular, the aroma resembles the smell of the live plant and flavors are naturally stronger.

Kief varies on price depending on the dispensary.

Bubble Hash

Ranges from $25 – $50

Bubble hash (also known as water hash or ice water hash) is a non-solvent product made using ice, water, and fine micron bags (often referred to as “bubble bags”) to filter out plant material and other waste. Bubble hash is a popular concentrate (especially for those new to the concentrate space) that originally gained momentum around 10-12 years ago. Producing bubble hash is debatably the safest extraction technique known to man.

Ice water is used throughout the process to freeze the trichome glands, making it easier for them to become agitated, snap off and sink to the bottom (as trichomes are heavier than water), while unnecessary plant matter separates and rises to the surface. The resulting product is extremely rich with trichome heads and stalks, although additional sieving and drying is necessary to remove any residual plant matter and evaporate any additional water.

The process is rather simple. First you must decide on how many bubble bags to incorporate in the extraction. A six or seven bag operation is considered typical, and provides a good striation of micron sizes. Generally speaking, most bubble bag sets include 25, 45, 73, 90, 120, 190, and 220 micron bags. The bags are sequentially placed inside an appropriate-sized bucket, with the 220 micron bag placed last in the bucket. In a traditional bubble hash extraction, the 220 micron bag is considered the “work bag” and houses the starting flower material during the extraction process. Another method is sometimes used however (most commonly in commercial operations), which usually omits the work bag from the process.

When washing large quantities of flower, a piece of machinery known as a washing machine is often implemented. This handy equipment works in similar fashion to a traditional washing machine and gently agitates the product at set intervals (think automated spin cycle for flower). When using a washing machine to make bubble hash, the micron bags are still used, but not within the washing machine. Instead, water, ice and the starting flower material are mixed within the basin of the washing machine. Once the washing segment is complete. The resulting water containing the extracted trichomes is drained from the washing machine into the bucket containing the sequenced bubble bags. From there the process is the same as a hand-washed extraction.

The bubble bags holding the trichome-rich water are carefully lifted up and shaken to drain the water back into the bucket. What’s left in the bag is a patty of trichomes. This process is repeated for each bag throughout the process and the hash collected from each bag is separated, dried, and cured. In some instances, the patties are frozen and grated onto parchment paper to create a fine, sifted product that can be gently pressed into a single form, or pressed more firmly in a rosin extraction.

Bubble hash comes in a variety of qualities and consistencies and is commonly graded based upon the micron level of the screens used and a “star” scale, with 1* being the lowest grade and 6*, or full-melt, being the highest. Quality bubble hash will look tan or golden in color with a sand-like consistency, lacking any visible plant matter.Additionally, quality bubble hash should technically bubble and, depending on star grade, melt when heat is applied. Full-melt (see below) can be dabbed and vaporized completely without leaving behind residual combusted plant matter, half-melt (3*-5*) contains traces of plant matter and will not vaporize fully (ideally used as a bowl-topper or inside of a joint), and cooking grade hash (1*-2*) is even more contaminated and will not melt efficiently. Having said this, full-melt bubble hash is more difficult to create without having the proper equipment and quality plant material. Consumers should always ask about the product before they buy. What specific plant was used, is it a full-melt product and how it was processed are great questions to ask in order to find the best bubble hash possible.

Bubble hash varies on price depending on the dispensary.

Full-Melt Bubble Hash

Ranges from $35 – $70

Full-melt bubble hash is produced similarly to bubble hash but generally is more refined in nature and intended for dabbing or vaporization purposes.. The starting material used for this process is fresh-frozen flower or trim, which means it was cryogenically frozen directly after being cut down. By using fresh-frozen starting material, the final product yields a more robust terpene and cannabinoid profile. Typically speaking, full-melt bubble hash is much more pungent and slightly more potent than traditional bubble hash. Again, the quality of the final product is highly dependent upon the starting material. For the best results, only high quality flower should be used for the production of full-melt bubble hash.

In terms of processes, the material is run more gently in comparison to the bubble hash process. This is because only trichome heads are desired in this method. In traditional bubble hash extraction, both the stalks and heads are agitated from the plant and collected, but with full-melt, only trichome heads are extracted, rather than a mix of heads and stalks. Trichome heads, or the bulbous tips connected to the stalks, contain and produce more terpenes, resulting in a superior flavor profile. It is critical that the washing process is very gentle, as more trichome stalks in the process will produce a less-refined final product.

As stated earlier, the extraction process is quite similar to bubble hash, as ice, water and micron bags are utilized to collect the trichome heads from the plant. This process can either be hand-washed, or gently washed within a washing machine. After extraction, the product is collected and freeze-dried into patties. Once the patties complete the freeze-drying cycle, they are sifted over parchment paper with a fine mesh screen. The sifted, dried, and separated final product looks similar to kief, but contains no plant matter and is light brown to white in color. Full-melt bubble hash can be dabbed, used as a bowl-topper or gently pressed into a solid state. The pressing process is not the same as rosin pressing however. Ice wax pressing refers to the process of gently forming the individual trichome heads together through gentle pressure. The pressure breaks the epidermis of the trichome heads, forcing them to combine together into a unified product. Breaking open the trichome heads also reveals the full flavor of the terpenes contained within, resulting in a fragrant and flavorful product.

Like bubble hash, there are several ways to grade the quality of full-melt bubble hash, although most should be 6*. Full melt is the highest grade and usually contains around 90% trichome resin heads, meaning it will vaporize fully when dabbed without leaving traces of combusted plant matter on the nail. This form of concentrate has an earthy aroma and is more potent because the majority of cannabinoids and terpenes are found in the trichomes.

Full-melt bubble hash varies on price depending on the dispensary.

Dry Sift

Ranges from $15 – $30

Dry sift at its core is refined kief, which is often manually or mechanically extracted using several micron screens (over and over again) to keep the trichomes intact.

Like bubble hash, there are several ways to grade the quality of dry sift. Full-melt is the highest grade and will usually contain around 90% trichome resin heads which means it can be dabbed, while half-melt will contain both trichome heads and stalks (and other plant matter). Kief is the lowest grade, which will contain the most plant contaminants and is not recommended for dabbing due to the high plant matter concentration.

Similar to live kief, live sift is made from fresh-frozen flower (meaning the plant was cut at harvest and immediately frozen) to keep all of the cannabinoids in tact. This method produces more potent and highly flavorful, aromatic end products.

Dry sift is also very fine and often looks beige or tan in coloring. It can be used on top of a bowl or consumed on its own. This form of cannabis is more potent because the majority of cannabinoids (THC or CBD) and terpenes are found in the trichomes.

Dry Sift varies on price depending on the dispensary.


Ranges from $30 – $80

Rosin has gained popularity in recent memory, however, extraction through heat and pressure has been around for quite some time. Producing rosin involves the use of high heat and high pressure to isolate the resinous essential oils from trichome heads to create a solid form of resin.

Rosin is debatably the easiest and safest way to make dabbable concentrates. Additionally, it is also legal to produce at home since it does not require solvents. This is why it has been deemed the “everyman’s” concentrate. That doesn’t mean rosin is a lower grade or average by any means though. In fact, rosin is one of the only types of concentrate that is a direct reflection of the starting material used to make it. That means without exceptional starting material, it is impossible to make high-quality rosin.

In the early stages, many people used hair straighteners, repurposed t-shirt presses and even tortilla presses to make rosin. While these machines do get the job done to a certain extent, they are far from efficient, sparking consumer interest in industrial-grade options. This yearning for more powerful and efficient rosin presses instilled a do it yourself movement amongst cannabis enthusiasts who were eager to build their own extraction units. These units are definitely more effective than hair straighteners or t-shirt presses, but have proven to be dangerous and imprecise (and certainly not recommended to try at home).

Recently, many new equipment and products have hit the market to help create safe, quality rosin extractions. Small, semi-portable hydraulic presses have become favorites for home-extractors, and have opened the possibility for cannabis concentrate enthusiasts to make legal and effortless extracts from the comfort of their living rooms.

On a commercial level, companies like PurePressure have created purpose-built machines for the sole purpose of extracting rosin efficiently and effectively (they even have an at-home model coming soon). Their rosin presses are made in the USA with reliable parts, which is why some of the country’s top extraction companies are using their Pikes Peak presses. With countless features and exact parameter control, it’s a no-brainer that serious rosin extractors are turning to PurePressure for quality presses.

Rosin allows more people to experiment with making concentrates. And because solvents are not introduced in the process, the chemical structure of terpenes and cannabinoids within the flower are unaltered, which is why rosin is often considered one of the purest and most flavorful forms of concentrate.

Aroma, flavor and taste of rosin vary greatly depending on factors such as the starting product used (flower, kief, bubble hash) plus the actual extraction method (as rosin demands high temperatures around 220-350 degrees Fahrenheit). If the starting product has low-resin, the end-yield will resemble poor resin production as well. A common industry saying that holds true for non-solvent extraction is “Quality In, Quality Out,” as the finished product is a direct reflection of the grade of the starting material. It is important to note that specific strains are known to produce better rosin than others, although most appear to be a yellow-amber hue and can take on consistencies of sap, budder and shatter. It’s important to note that a little research is necessary to make sure the best product is created.

Rosin varies on price depending on the dispensary.

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