What are Cannabis Concentrates: A Guide to Extraction Techniques

You have probably heard about dabs, and someone vaguely explained how concentrates are made, but you’re still a little fuzzy on the specifics? Think of cannabis concentrates as an isolation or separation of the beneficial cannabis compounds from the plant – the goal being a pure, therapeutic combination of cannabinoids and terpenes. In laymans terms, this means your final product is 90-100% THC, whereas cannabis flower is more like 15-20% THC. This concentration of beneficial compounds allows the user to consume a far smaller volume to achieve the same effects. This article outlines the different extraction techniques used to make cannabis concentrates.

Cannabis concentrates can be divided into two main categories: solvent and solventless extractions. A solvent is a substance that dissolves a solid, resulting in a liquid solution. When we talk about cannabis concentrates, popular solvents include: butane, propane, CO2, and alcohol. Although water is technically a solvent, ice-water extractions are typically classified a non-solvent extractions in the cannabis world. Solventless extractions do not introduce any foreign substances (except for water).

Many people refer to concentrates by their consistency, i.e. shatter, budder or wax. However, the consistency of a concentrate alone does not indicate which extraction technique was used. The same extraction method can deliver a variety of final-product consistencies. The method of extraction and the starting material is far more important than the concentrate’s final consistency, as there are several variables that manipulate the consistency; some are in control of the extraction artist, while others are not.