Back in the day, cannabis consumers had very limited choices – an eighth of kind bud, a quarter of brick weed packed with seeds, sometimes hash. Occasionally, you’d come across some homemade pot brownies. But those days are in the past. Now, consumers in states that have legalized cannabis have a plethora of choices. Edibles of every description, drinkables, tinctures, patches, lengthy menus of multiple flower strains, capsules, sauce, sugar, wax, live resin, budder, diamonds, cartridges… the list goes on and on. Oddly, this has created a new dilemma for cannabis consumers: too many choices leading to confusion about what to pick. So, we’re here to break down your choices when it comes to cannabis concentrates, and to hopefully help you find your perfect match.
What are Cannabis Concentrates?
Cannabis concentrates are extracts from the cannabis flower that are processed into a concentrated form so they contain more of the desirable cannabis compounds (cannabinoids and terpenes) by weight than flower. Once the cannabinoids and terpenes have been removed from the plant material, the resulting solution can take a variety of forms. These forms allow patients and consumers to pick and choose their preferred texture of the concentrate product; they aren’t necessarily an indicator of how the concentrate will taste or effect an individual.
Concentrates can be consumed a number of different ways but the two most popular are vape pens and dabbing. Vape pens are often the best choice for those new to concentrates due to its discreet consumption, portability, precise dosing and ease of use. Many other concentrates are consumed by dabbing, a more advanced and potent consumption method that requires equipment such as a nail and dab rig. Often, people choose to dab because it offers a rapid onset, and more intense effect and flavor/taste profile. In both cases, the concentrated cannabis matter is vaporized, meaning it is heated to a temperature that transforms the cannabinoids and terpenes into vapor which is then inhaled.
Following is an overview of the various types of cannabis concentrates and what makes them unique.
Oil/Distillates – Cannabis oil and distillate can be created through various processes, but the end result is an oil or distillate that is vaporized and inhaled using a vape pen. Many consumers prefer to buy distillate cartridges and pair them with batteries for a convenient, mess-free consumption method. Distillates also allow for the isolation of certain cannabis compounds so you can find cartridges that are high in THC, CBD, Delta-8 or other cannabinoids. Always buy distillate cartridges from a licensed retailer, and ensure that your cartridge contains no additives other than cannabis-derived terpenes.
Crumble – Crumble has a brittle yet soft consistency that crumbles in your hand. Crumble begins as shatter that is then whipped and dried in a vacuum oven at low temperatures.
Sugar – Sugar is a concentrate with the consistency of wet sugar. The consistency allows for convenient and controlled dabbing with less mess.
Sauce – Sauce, sometimes called “terp sauce,” is a runny, terpene-rich concentrate with the consistency of tree sap or syrup.
Diamonds – Diamonds are faceted, diamond-like formations of isolated THCA (tetrahydrocannabinol acetate). THCA tends to be extremely pure (96% and higher), and when heated in a highly saturated solution, it naturally crashes out and forms faceted diamonds. THCA diamonds tend to have a faster onset and higher peak.
Shatter – Shatter is a potent concentrate that resembles clear, golden glass and is consumed by dabbing. The process starts out by slowly purging dry product in a vacuum oven and extracting the active compounds. Shatter is also the basis for other concentrates such as Crumble, Badder and Budder.
Badder + Budder – Badder and Budder have a creamy, frosting-like consistency. They are created by whipping shatter under low, even temperatures to incorporate air into the concentrate. The prevalence of air molecules dictates the texture density.
Wax – Wax has a dry, crumbly texture and a smooth consistency. Many prefer wax because it does not leave behind unwanted residue when dabbing.