Concentrates vs. Extracts

What is the difference between a Cannabis Extract and Concentrate?
Author: Gabe, FZT Astoria Budtender

Extract or concentrate, the difference between these products can often be confusing even for the experienced cannabis consumer. The easiest way to determine what kind of product you are getting is by examining the way the product was made. Let’s take a closer look at the differences.

What makes a concentrate a concentrate? A cannabis concentrate is any cannabinoid product that is made through:
1. A mechanical process.
2. C02 (carbon dioxide) without heat or pressure.
3. Or, that uses water, vegetable glycerin, vegetable oils, animal fats, isopropyl alcohol or ethanol.

What makes an extract an extract? A cannabis extract is any cannabinoid product that is made using:
1. C02 with high heat and pressure.
2. Or, uses a hydrocarbon based solvent to extract cannabinoids from the plant material.

For example, if you were to make bubble hash using bubble bags, ice, and water, the process would be mechanical and thus bubble hash would be a concentrate. This is because you are using the bubble bag as a “mechanical” tool to shake or separate the trichomes from the plant material.
Another example of a concentrate would be Rosin. Rosin is a fairly new technique developed within the last couple of years as an alternative to hydrocarbon based extracts. The process uses two steel plates which are heated up and a pressure to squeeze the fresh or dried flowers between the heated plates. This causes the essential oils and cannabinoids to separate from the plant without using a hydrocarbon. Since this process uses only mechanics and no hydro-carbons or C02, Rosin would be classified as a concentrate. Some other examples of concentrates include but are not limited to kief, traditional hash, full melt bubble hash, Rick Simpson oil, or QWISO (Quick Wash ISO-propyl) concentrate.

Extracts on the other hand are made using hydrocarbon based solvents.

Some cannabis consumers prefer Extracts over Concentrates for multiple reasons. Some of these include, but are not limited to, potency (as hydrocarbon based extracts generally have higher test results), ease of use (C02 based pen tips are very discreet when you’re on the go) and the preservation of certain cannabis terpene profiles.

One of the most popular extracts at the moment is Butane Hash Oil, otherwise known as BHO. This product is known as an “extract” because it uses the hydrocarbon based butane to separate trichomes and their resins from the plant material. After the trichomes and resins have been separated the extractor will then “purge” (physically remove) the butane from the freshly made oil. What your left with is a vaporizable oil that matches the profile of the flower you started with.

Butane Hash Oil is one of the more popular dabbable (smoked off a hot nail) oils being made in Oregon right now. This is mainly driven by the fact that butane is one of the more cost-effective hydrocarbons to work with while still maintaining a quality taste, flavor, and price consistency.

The easiest “Extract” to smoke is C02 Oils. This form of extract is made by passing liquid C02 through the cannabis plant material using a super critical C02 machine. This breaks down the trichomes and resins of the plant and allows them to pass off the plant materials with the C02. After this process, the extractor will use a combination of heat and pressure to separate and recycle the C02 from the final product. The final product is generally loaded into any one of the many E–Cig pen tips, which allows the consumer to smoke discreetly and without any sticky oil mess.
Even though this process uses mechanics (the C02 machine) it is considered an extract because it utilizes C02 with heat and pressure.

Some of the C02 companies will put their final product through an extra fractional distillation process to further refine the oil into specific mixes containing higher concentrations of specific cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, CBG.

Butane hash oil and C02 oils are the most prevalent “Extracts” found in the legal Cannabis marketplace, but other proprietary mixes can include hydrocarbons such as Propane or Hexane.

CONCLUSION
What is the difference between a Cannabis Extract and a Cannabis Concentrate? The easiest way to determine which product you are getting is by looking at how it was made.

Just remember, it’s a concentrate if:

1. It utilizes a mechanical process to remove trichomes from the plant. (Bubble bags, ice washer machines, screens, etc.)
2. It utilizes C02 without heat or pressure.
3. Or, if it utilizes water, vegetable glycerin, vegetable oils, animal fats, isopropyl alcohol or ethanol.

It’s an extract if:

1. It utilizes C02 with high heat and pressure.
2. It utilizes a hydrocarbon based solvent to extract cannabinoids from the plant material.

Next time you are in a dispensary make sure to browse to concentrates and extracts and put your new-found info to the test.