What are cannabis concentrates?

— 12
min read

If you take an interest in cannabis culture, I'm betting at least once you've seen that bongs with unusual bowls and beautiful amber-like stuff.
Yep, this is it, today we talk about cannabis concentrates.

cannabis concentrates in barcelona photo

What are cannabis concentrates and extracts?

The cannabis plant contains myriads of chemical structures, but the most interesting for the majority of us psychoactive components contained in small mushroom-shaped structures. These crystalline formations make up part of structures known as trichomes, which may be found on many plants, including cannabis. Cannabis trichomes are primarily protective structures produced by female plants when flowering. Their intense bitter taste and strong aromas render the plant unpalatable to herbivores and, they also inhibit some fungal growth.

weed concentrates photo

All methods of extraction are different ways to collect trichomes inherently. All types of extracts represent a mass of trichomes, whereas their appearance and consistency depend on purity and method for producing.

Concerning using terms as "extract" and "concentrate", without getting into some exceptions: most products produced using a solvent are called extracts, and what getting with other methods and processes like mechanical actions or water - called concentrates. These definitions came from the scope of medicinal plants and in my personal opinion separate them within the subject of cannabis makes little sense. So, further, we would use the word "extract".

There are quite a lot of extraction methods, it would be most suitable to divide all of them into two main categories: solvent-based and solventless. Solvent-based methods use different types of solvents (no prizes for guessing) to dissolve trichomes "chemically", then the solvent is evaporated. Common advantages of these methods are high level of THC concentration in the final product, the drawback is that solvents may capture undesirable substances like chlorophyll and waxes and leave useful like terpenes. Besides, it's often impossible to completely remove the solvent from the final product.

What are the main production methods?


Perhaps Butane is the most popular hydrocarbon solvent, used in extraction at present. Plant material loads to a special tank with a valve at the top, liquid butane passed through it and flow out at the bottom. Products receiving by this method have the general title "butane hash oil" or BHO.

Advantages Downsides
  • good selectiveness, optimal for capture desired substances such as cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis, without joint extraction of undesirable components of the plant
  • highly flammable substance, the danger of explosion during the production process
  • a risk that the solvent will get into the final product


This is another commonly used method because it is safe, provides a clean end product, and gives a high degree of extraction.
To extract cannabinoids and other phytochemicals, carbon dioxide (CO2) is used under pressure. At certain temperatures and pressures, CO2 becomes to act as a solvent.
After extraction, CO2 is easily removed from the material, it is only enough to reduce the pressure and CO2 evaporates from the material without residue.

Advantages Downsides
  • absolutely no residual solvent in the final product
  • a manufacturer can use different pressures and temperatures of CO2, to grab different compounds
  • requires special equipment, which is expensive and takes up a lot of space
  • some useful substances, such as terpenes, do not stand out during the extraction process and do not enter the final product


Plant material is placed in alcohol, which acts as a solvent. Ethanol is typically used. It is a powerful solvent and can extract the full range of cannabinoids and terpenes from the cannabis material.

Advantages Downsides
  • no risk to leave toxic residual chemicals in the final cannabis extract
  • the equipment is relatively inexpensive
  • low selectiveness: the extract may contain fats, waxes, and chlorophyll

Solventless methods used processes more related to physics, such as heating, refrigerating, pressure, etc. For example, Rosin is made by pressing plant material at high temperatures. Kief and hashes are made by sieving buds through the sifter in different ways.

What are the ways to consume extracts?

Extracts are fairly universal in smoking methods. In the absence of any special devices, they can be added to buds and smoked the way you usually use. Often they are used to bowl-topping when the extract is placed on the top of the bong bowl, filled with buds. Or added to buds, when rolling a blunt. These unsophisticated methods are well suited for extracts like kief, which close by its properties to buds. To a much lesser extent for THC-focused extracts with low terpenes content, like oils. The disadvantages of this way are that taste of extract gets lost against the backdrop of buds' taste, and the temperature of buds smoldering may be far from optimal to extract evaporation, so you lose the part of THC in the extract, that's combusted. It just sacrilege in relation to such jewels of extract world like live rosin or sauce.
So, to achieve the full potential of your extract I highly recommend using special devices: dab rig and vaporizer.

  • A dab rig is basically alike usual water bong, but they're typically much smaller, and Instead of a bowl, it has a nail, also called banger. Nail is heated by a torch, then extract is placed inside and immediately evaporates from contact with a hot surface. Temperature is controlled by nail heat time.
  • Vaporizers for extracts are another very effective way of consuming because, as a rule you can set temperature matching of your extract boiling point and pulling out the taste of your concentrate for a maximum.

There are many varieties of dub rigs and vaporizers. We have an extensive overview of them in our articles dedicated to all regards of using these fine devices.

What kinds of cannabis extracts exist?

And now, let's shortly go over the most common types of extracts. We collected the majority of products, which you can face in dispensaries of cannabis clubs.


Kief is a concentrated form of cannabis, created by separating the resin glands or trichomes from the cannabis flower, trichomes fall off easily when you grind or sieve it.

Kief is a concentrated form of cannabis in barcelona photo

Method of producing Kief can be collected from grinders, different containers where cannabis is stored, or extracted using dry ice and other similar methods
Way of consuming Probably the easiest way to enjoy kief - is just to smoke it. You can smoke kief like cannabis flowers, but it may be a little messy and tricky to deal with. Using a joint to smoke kief with buds is really convenient, to put some flowers in first, then add the kief and top to kief with some more flowers. This will put the kief in the center of the joint and help it burn more evenly when you smoke it
Content of THC up to 65%


Hash is any concentrate from the pressed resin of the plant. Many hashes are kief, just subjected to high pressures.

Hashish in weed clubs in the Barcelona photo

Method of producing There is a traditional way, which is still used in remote locations, in the historical motherland of hashish - India. Flowering plant press or rub between two hands and then forming the sticky resins into a small ball of hashish. Modern methods used the property of trichomes to become fragile under the low temperatures. When using the dry ice method, dry ice adding to plant material, then all mixed and sifted through a screen. In the bubble method, water in half with ice is poured into cannabis, all this is actively mixed, then filtered using a set of sieves. Then the resulting substance referred may be compressed into blocks of hashish
Way of consuming Way of consuming: typically smoking in a pipe, bong, vaporizer, or joints, where it is normally mixed with cannabis or tobacco, because pure hashish will burn poorly alone
Content of THC The range is very wide, from 4-18% in "street" hash made from wild growing cannabis, up to 65% in hashes made from high-grade marijuana


Melted cannabis resin in solid form. The all-natural extraction method fully transfers all properties of feedstock cannabis. The total absence of foreign substances in the extract.

What Is Rosin? The Cannabis Concentrate Everyone Is Talking AboutWhat Is Rosin? The Cannabis Concentrate Everyone Is Talking About


Method of producing Made by pressing two hot plates with plant material in between, under very high pressure and the temperature is about 200 degrees. Heating makes trichomes to go from it's crystalline state to a more viscous, so it melts and flows. As feedstock also can be used bubble hash
Way of consuming Dabbing, adding to any other way of smoking buds to increase potency
Content of THC 60-80%

Live rosin (frosin)

Likewise the rosin, but as feedstock fresh or freshly frozen buds used. Whereas full terpene profile of live uncured plant is transmitted.

Method of producing Duds frozen directly after harvest get out of the freezer immediately before the pressing, then, everything is happening like when regular rosin is made
Way of consuming Dabbing
Content of THC 50-70%


Hardest, glass-like type of BHO, very pure and potent but typically is not rich in terpenes.

Hardest in Barcelona photo


Method of producing Butane extraction
Way of consuming Dabbing
Content of THC 80%

Pull and snap/Taffy

BHO or rosin extract, very similar to taffy by consistency. Convenient to operate with. Product received by rosin process called "taffy".

Method of producing Butane extraction, rosin process
Way of consuming Dabbing, wrapping around joints, topping the bowl
Content of THC 60-80%


One of the best BHO extracts on the correlation of THC/terpenes, very potent and aromatic at the same time. It has a creamy texture similar to butter, easy to manipulate with.

Method of producing Butane extraction
Way of consuming Dabbing, adding to joints or bongs bowl with regular buds
Content of THC 80%


Have a little more dry texture than a budder, but still malleable. A lot like cake frosting. Badder=batter, it's just a different way of saying.

Method of producing Butane extraction; less often - rosin process
Way of consuming Dabbing
Content of THC 60-80%


One of the most common BHO on the market which has a consistency similar to... can you guess what?

Wax in cannabis club in the Barcelona photo


Method of producing butane extraction; rosin process
Way of consuming dabbing, vaporizing
Content of THC 60-80%

Sugar/Sugar wax

BHO reminiscent soaked sugar. Sometimes results from an error of producing regular wax.


Sugar wax in the Barcelona photo

Method of producing Butane extraction; can be the result of transformation other types of BHO while storage
Way of consuming Dabbing, vaporizing
Content of THC 60-80%

Crumble/Honeycomb wax

Another BHO extract whose name speaks for itself. Has a porous structure and tends to crumble when you operate it. Honeycomb wax has larger pores like a sponge.

Crumble-Honeycomb wax in Barcelona photo

Method of producing Butane extraction
Way of consuming Dabbing, vaporizing
Content of THC 60-80%

Live resin

BHO extract made from freshly frozen buds. Transmit the full terpene profile of the live plant.

Method of producing Butane extraction
Way of consuming Dabbing
Content of THC 60-80%

Sauce, terp sauce, High Terpene Full Spectrum Extract (HTFSE)

Subspecies of extracts with a focus on terpenes, which can represent more than 50%. Most often look like liquid honey or consists of two fractions: amber-colored liquid and transparent crystals in it.

Method of producing Butane extraction of dried or freshly frozen plant material
Way of consuming Dabbing, vaporizing
Content of THC near 50%


Viscous, sticky extract, resembling a tree sap.

Method of producing Butane extraction, rosin process
Way of consuming Dabbing, vaping, adding to joints or bongs bowl with regular buds
Content of THC 60-80%

Oil/CO2 Oil

Liquid extract, translucent with different shades of yellow, usually used in vape cartridges. Has a high level of purity as a rule.

Liquid extract used in vape cartridges photo

Method of producing Butane extraction, CO2 extraction
Way of consuming Vaping, adding to joints or bongs bowl with regular buds
Content of THC 80-95%


Almost pure cannabinoid, THC or CBD. Free of any substances like terpenes, waxes, chlorophyll, etc. Quality samples usually transparent and have no smell.

Method of producing Extraction with hydrocarbon or CO2 solvent with subsequent distillation in a fractionating column
Way of consuming Vaping, dubs, orally (under the tongue)
Content of THC 90-99%


Shiny crystals of chemically pure cannabinoid THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid), CBD, or CBDA (cannabidiolic acid).

Method of producing Extraction with hydrocarbon or CO2 solvent with subsequent purification
Way of consuming For medical purposes orally, adding to other concentrates for increasing of potency
Content of THC 99.9%

Moon rocks/Caviar

The "delicacy" of the cannabis world, moon rocks are buds covered with hash oil then sprinkled of kief. Caviar is the same thing, but sometimes without kief. Therefore any moon rock is caviar, but not all caviar is a moon rock.

Moon rocks/Caviar in the Barcelona photo


Method of producing Buds dipping in hash oil, then in kief
Way of consuming Bong
Content of THC over 50%

Rick Simpson Oil (RSO)

Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is a type of alcohol-derived extract created by marijuana activist Rick Simpson, which used it to heal cancer. It is pretty easy to produce, so it can be done even at home.


Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) is a type of alcohol-derived extract created by marijuana activist photo

Method of producing Ethanol extraction
Way of consuming Orally as sublingual drops or in capsules, rub in skin
Content of THC 20%


I would like to underline - cannabis concentrates are very potential and require to show restraint when using. If you will be consistent and will use your common sense when interacting with them you can enhance your cannabis experience. The average weed you smoke is in the 15% to 25% THC range, mostly extracts range in the 60%-80% of THC. Therefore, make sure you know what you're doing before you inhale. So, be sensible, and have a good time!

Carla Gallego
Author — Cannabis enthusiast, researcher and editor of Cannabis Guide Barcelona