The Difference Between Concentrates

Cannabis concentrates come in a variety of forms.


Cannabis concentrates come in a variety of forms – from solids of various textures and consistencies to liquids like the oils you’ll find in vape pen cartridges. The one thing they have in common is that they’re devoid of cannabis plant material and composed of nothing but the precious cannabinoids and terpenes that contain the therapeutic qualities we’re after – that, and they’re all sticky. The only exception here is that there may be traces of a solvent in the concentrate as well, though quite minimal. If you’d like to learn about extraction processes using solvents, visit Hytiva’s Learning Center on our website.

In any case, there’s five major reasons why concentrates are gaining popularity at dispensaries.

First, Their potency is higher, so less of it has to be consumed to feel the effects.

Second, Their effects are felt quicker, since the body needs only to process cannabinoids and terpenes.

Third, Flavor is improved because of increased terpene presence.

Fourth, The levels of cannabinoids and terpenes can be controlled with advanced equipment during processing and extraction.

And finally, it’s a more economical manner to consume cannabis because we aren’t shipping or packaging big buds that require specialized environmental conditions.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the various concentrates presented to you at dispensaries.

Shatter, as its name indicates, is a resinous concentrate that’s both hard and brittle. It’s amber in color and translucent, easily being broken into small shards used for dabbing or vaping. Shatter is currently one of the purest forms of cannabis concentrates, containing some of the highest terpene and cannabinoid levels after extraction. It’s nickname is taffy because when placed on a hot plate and gently pulled, its consistency becomes similar to stretching taffy.

Wax is next on the list. It can sometimes look like crumbled honeycomb, thus its nickname as crumble, but sticks to itself easily in large chunks and can have a smooth surface depending on the quality of processing. Wax varies in yellows and golds depending on the strains it was crafted from. It may be a solid but can easily become wedged between your fingerprint grooves and under your nails if handled too much. Its consistency and texture is a result of the cannabinoids becoming agitated and crystalizing during the extraction process, when a solvent is blasted through the plant material using a closed-loop extraction system.

Budder can be made from wax and involves being whipped like batter during the extraction process. This is what gives it a smoother consistency like that of butter. Many consumers enjoy this form of concentrate because it’s easier to handle than breaking apart pieces of shatter and wax, or attempting to place oil on a dab rig nail.

Live Resin is generally a more expensive concentrate because it starts its extraction process with frozen plant material. This frozen material can be put through the same process as wax or budder, but the product contains far more exceptional cannabinoid and terpene profiles that mimic the qualities of the

live plant, thus its name. Live resin generally looks moist and shiny, like crystalized honey. You can find many “live” products in the cannabis market today, which simply means cryogenically preserved plant material was used to make them.

Despite this, Oil is jumping in popularity because it can be sold in dispensable vape pen cartridges. Oil cannabis concentrates can be extracted using a variety of methods, and this is where you’ll find BHO or butane hash oil advertised in dispensaries versus CO2 extracted oils. Not only can they be smoked via a vape pen or with a dab rig, but they’re prevalently used in edibles.

Kief, sometimes called sieve, is a concentrate that doesn’t require a solvent, being composed of the powdery, dried resin glands or trichomes found on the leaves of the plant. It’s easily collected at the bottom of a three-chamber grinder and can be sprinkled on top of your bowl or inside of a joint to increase potency. When produced on an industrial scale, extraction involves freezing the plant material and either dry-sifting it on a screen or using the dry ice extraction method. Dry-sifted kief is normally more golden in color, while kief collected via the dry ice method can be green as miniscule pieces of plant material also come off with the trichomes.

Hash or hashish is simply compressed kief. It’s one of the oldest forms of cannabis concentrates found in history, being quite notorious in eastern countries such as India or Afghanistan.

And finally, Tinctures are the concentrate making a comeback. Before prohibition in the U.S., they were the most popular form of cannabis concentrate on the market. Using alcohol extraction, tinctures need only be applied a drop or two at a time under the tongue, though some prefer to add a few drops to a drink. They can be flavored and are much easier to consume on the go than any smoking or vaping method.