Cannabis Concentrates 101

Terpenes Live resin cannabis

Cannabis Concentrates 101

Cannabis concentrates are often confusing even for long-time consumers, largely because they cover a wide range of products with differences in everything from the form they take to how they’re consumed. Concentrates, which generally have THC levels around 50%, but can creep as high as 90%, are gaining popularity for their potency. Comparatively, cannabis flower commonly contains between 15%-25% TCH. 

Solventless vs. Solvent Cannabis Concentrates 

Concentrates represent a broad category of cannabis products and the easiest way to distinguish between them is how the concentrate is made: either with solvents or solventless. Products are then further distinguished by the type of solvent used and the consistency of the final product. 

Solventless Cannabis Concentrates 

As the name implies, solventless concentrates are produced without the use of solvents. Rather, they’re created using heat, pressure, and water to extract cannabinoids and terpenes from plant matter. Unlike what you learned in high school chemistry, water is not considered a solvent, and concentrates made using water are considered solventless. The most common solventless cannabis concentrates are hash and rosin. 


Hash is the classic concentrate, dating back thousands of years. Traditionally, hash was made by rubbing buds together in your hands and rolling the resin left behind into balls or wads. Hash is made much more efficiently today using a variety of methods such as mechanized dry sieves, ice, and water. The use of water is a particularly popular method of making hash and the end product is commonly called “bubble hash,”  thanks to the way it bubbles when smoked. 


Rosin is made by applying heat and pressure to cannabis flower and results in a rich, potent, syrup-like material that you can smoke or dab. Rosin is popular because it doesn’t use chemicals in the extraction and delivers a flavorful, powerful product. Rosin is popular for DIYers—you can make it using a hair straightener—but you’ll also frequently find it at a dispensary near you.    

Solvent Cannabis Concentrates 

Chemically, a solvent is a liquid that dissolves a solid to produce a solution. In cannabis, solvents are employed to extract terpenes and cannabinoids from plant material which is then removed, typically through vacuuming, evaporation, or hand whipping. Because the solvents used to make concentrates are often volatile, production is best left to professionals. Your local dispensary should stock a wide variety of concentrates made using solvents. 

Numerous types of solvents are used to make concentrates—butane, CO2, propane, and alcohol are all common—and different solvents produce different end products. 

CO2 Oil

One of the most common concentrates, CO2 oil is used in vape cartridges and disposable vape pens. CO2 oil is made by applying pressure and carbon dioxide to separate cannabinoids and other essential compounds from plant material. 

Live Resin

CO2 is also used to make live resin, a concentrate made from just buds and fan leaves. Freshness is key (hence the “live” part), which is why live resin is made from cannabis frozen immediately after being harvested and kept frozen through extraction. Like other concentrates, live resin is potent and consumers love it for its intense flavor and aroma.  


Tinctures are made using alcohol as a solvent. Tinctures typically come in a small bottle and are administered using a dropper, which makes them a discreet, easy-to-transport, smoke-free way to consume cannabis. Tinctures are commonly delivered sublingually, or under the tongue, but you can also mix them into food and drinks.

Butane Hash Oils (BHO)

This is the extraction method that you’ve likely heard horror stories about someone trying to make at home—butane (the primary solvent) is highly flammable and BHO production is best left to the pros. BHO results in numerous products which are defined by their texture and consistency.

  • Shatter: known for its smooth, hard, translucent appearance and is noted for its similarity to glass. Shatter is generally a light or dark amber color and is easily broken into pieces. 
  • Crumble: often compared to a honeycomb and has a dull appearance. Crumble, as its name implies, is easily broken apart.  
  • Budder: also called “badder” and has a consistency similar to cake batter or a salve. Because of its malleability, in addition to being consumed using a dab rig, budder is sometimes spread on joints or blunts to up their potency.  
  • Sauce: super sticky and viscous, sauce’s consistency resembles that of marmalade. Unlike other BHO products, sauce contains two parts and possesses cannabinoid-rich crystals floating in terpene-rich oil. The end results in a potent and flavorful product. 
  • Wax: soft, gooey, and sticky, wax can come in a variety of consistencies, ranging anywhere from a slightly firm crumbly texture (similar to crumble) to a more sludgy quality reminiscent of budder. 

Cannabis Concentrate Dosing 

The majority of concentrates are extremely strong and work very quickly. This makes it a great choice for experienced users, but also makes it very easy to overdo it. When purchasing concentrates at your local dispensary, make sure you know the strength of what you’re buying and the size of a dose. Another option is to purchase pre-filled vape cartridges or disposal vapes, which make it easy to control the dose. 

Cannabis Concentrates at Lowkey Dispensary 

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