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Cannabis 101Strains & products

What are cannabis concentrates, oils, and extracts?

June 17, 2019
Cannabis concentrates, oils, and extracts offer many unique benefits that you won’t find smoking flower. From easy, precise dosing to clean and refined flavors, concentrates focus on the ingredients in cannabis that matter most. In this 4-part series, you’ll learn the fundamentals of concentrates, explore product options, discover how extracts are made, and more.


Cannabis oils, concentrates, and extracts—these all serve as umbrella terms under which sits a warehouse of different products: vape oil, hash, tinctures, dabs, CBD oil, and every other product dreamed up by cannabis chemists.

An oil, concentrate, or extract is any product derived from cannabis flower that is processed into a concentrated form, but each type of cannabis oil is unique.

But why bother with concentrates when you have tried-and-true bud? Flower may be good enough for you, but there are many reasons to explore the many options—and medicines—offered in extract form:

  • You don’t have to smoke extracts. Most consumers choose to vaporize or ingest concentrates for a smoke-free dose.
  • Cannabis oils are efficient. It takes less product to achieve the desired experience.
  • Extracts are refined. Essential oils and cannabinoids are separated from plant material to create a smooth, clean* inhale when vaporized. (*Keep yourself educated on how to find high-quality cannabis oil and avoid unreliable, poorly crafted extracts.)


Types of cannabis oil

In this series, we’ll explore the many cannabis concentrate options available to you (depending on your local cannabis laws). Here’s a brief list of broad extract types to familiarize you with what’s to come in this series:

  • CBD oil refers to non-intoxicating products that are popularly used to treat a variety of medical conditions. It’s most commonly sold as a tincture or in capsule form.
  • THC oil refers to intoxicating oils that are also popularly used medically, but also deliver euphoric effects. THC-infused oils come in many forms, but the most popular are solids that can be vaporized (called dabs), tinctures, and capsules.
  • Vaporizer cartridges are portable, easy-to-dose oil attachments that pair with a battery. It’s essentially an e-cigarette, but with cannabis.
  • Ingestible oils refer to activated oil that you can consume with food/drinks or in capsule form.

Find the right cannabis concentrate for you

A variety of different cannabis concentrate types on a white background.

(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Every extract serves a different purpose and consumer type, so we’ve broken our recommendations down based on your experience with concentrates:

  • New to cannabis concentrates? Part 2 of this series will introduce you to the most common cannabis oils and extracts, and provide product recommendations for inexperienced consumers.
  • Ready to graduate past tinctures and vape pens? Part 3 will introduce you to additional extract forms that you can vaporize, dab, or ingest.
  • Are you a true extract enthusiast? Part 4 will guide you toward cutting-edge concentrates perfect for the oil connoisseur.

Leafly Staff's Bio Image

Leafly Staff

Leafly is the world’s largest cannabis information resource, empowering people in legal cannabis markets to learn about the right products for their lifestyle and wellness needs. Our team of cannabis professionals collectively share years of experience in all corners of the market, from growing and retail, to science and medicine, to data and technology.

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4 part series

  • Etidorhpa

    Don’t do any of these! You’ll flip out and go crazy. Stick with low THC products with at least 5% CBD. Demoncrats want you delusional ; don’t be fools.

    • groovynaut

      Hmmm, interesting. I’ve used all the aforementioned concentrations—with 90+% THC—and I’ve yet to flip out, go crazy or even become delusional. Perhaps “demoncrats” are immune to such deleterious effects?? 🤔😂

      • FlunkedAgain

        I’ve yet to flip out, go crazy or even become delusional.

        I agree with you, but how do you know you’re not delusional? If you were, you wouldn’t know it. That’s the funny (ironic) thing about it.

    • Jeffrey

      Wow what a Jamoke thing to say !! You totally are clueless dude !!

    • jerry withers

      i am 73 , partaking of flower in one form or another since i was 16. To all Repubs, i have voted both sides & proud to say that i have 4 wonderful grown children. They all have families & range from MBA to high school drop out. JUST LEAVE POLITICS OUT PLEASE.

    • Ivan van Ogre

      Just stick with the decaf and you’ll be fine.

  • Lora

    Riiiiiight…it’ all political. 🙄

  • Lora

    I don’t know why my comment came to you…sorry🤭

    • Carl Comstock

      Long live Spider-Man

  • BruceIshikawa

    Stop replying to the dummy.

  • Terry Morris

    I am a manga man and proud of it! Don’t compare that fool to a manga manor women I use cbd it is great I Am here to learn more about its value leave your judgemental bullshit out of here Dudogger58

  • russ heathcoe

    Flip out ? I do believe you have beaten everyone to the punch……I’ve smoked , bonged , vaped….enjoy RSO and FECO . Still waiting for the ‘ flip out ‘ after 40 years . Relax and stop the bs.

    • Chris Escareno

      I flipped out once…the first time I smoked, I was also drunk

  • Very interesting article.

    Keep some some Vitamin C (500 mg) pills with you. If you are too high and are unable to handle the trip, pop (or better chew) a vitamin pill and wait for 10 minutes.

    You will start coming down and feel better. 🙂

  • rls4605

    I thought your name was ‘Regina Forlefley’. Ha on me.

  • dogem123

    When making a tincture; you do use Everclear to dilute if your tincture is “too strong” (LOL) right?

  • Nerissa

    I am 55 yrs old been indulging in weed since I was 11, I have never flipped out or hallucinated on weed, I have smoked and indulged in every form never have I had any side effect that I found dangerous. I have always maintained on jobs, school and have to say that I was able to concentrate better when doing any kind of project. I find that it helps me focus. I also like the fact that it helps with pain wonderfully, which is great because I am am allergic to 85% of the pain meds that are prescribed today. So I am grateful that it has finally became at least medically legal. It should have became legal way before alcohol ever did. You never hear of anyone dying from marijuana, but look how many people have died from alcohol poison. I think that the only reason that it has not became legal before now because they did not know how to monopolize on it. What idiots!!! I’ve always said if you can ‘t band it tax it .But I’ve also have come to the conclusion if it makes sense they just are not gonna do it . They had rather go around their tail hole just to get to their elbow.

  • This really good I love this information lots of smokers can’t really tell what cannabis is all about!!

  • The guide was good thanks much!!

  • hahaha some of us smoke everything..

  • lol interesting comments

  • AJ

    Use an indica (v. sativa).

    • Gabbie

      Thanks, AJ. My Sis said the sativa made her ‘paranoid’, so I’m looking towards the indica strains more. Our doctor actually talked to us about it. My Doc’s Mom uses cbd. I would still like to try cbd drops with THC….so I’m still researching. Thanks again for your reply.

  • Billie

    If you don’t want to smoke you can use the RSO oil or eatables as well there are different was to take MM. I’m a 3 time Cancer Survivor and I cant smoke I do use the oil and it helps me. Thank you have a blessed day

  • Erin Bennett Hulett

    I just taught myself how to use shatter cause I was tired of the same old same.
    But something strange just happened, I use a quartz banger, glass water pipe and I have only tried shatter from one dispensary. Today I tried a different place and must’ve misjudged my dose. After my first hit, my lungs felt like fire and immediately started coughing and sweating, then I got really light headed – so I had to sit down (so I didn’t pass out.)
    Everything is ok. I’m fine but what did I do wrong? Was the glass too hot? It didn’t look burnt it was a clear yellow, not even a thick honey color.
    Pls don’t be mean – I’m almost 40 & have no one to show me except YouTube LOL

  • Andy Cignarella

    Is there a difference between oils and distillates?

  • Rut Retjes

    I am using marijuana oil for a very long time now and I love it!