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Cannabis concentrates for experts

June 14, 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. 


 

In the first three parts of this series, you’ve learned the basics of cannabis concentrates, how they’re made, and the various types of extracts available. Now, we’re diving deep into the finer details that’ll help you grow into an expert of extracts.

Read on to learn more about achieving high-quality extracts with nuances that only a concentrate connoisseur can truly appreciate.

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How starting material affects concentrates

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(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

The overall quality of a concentrate ultimately depends on the cannabis from which it is derived. In other words, the source material being extracted defines the ceiling of quality and complexity. For this reason, many concentrate products will indicate the quality of the starting material, which we’ll explore below.

Trim run

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(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Trim run refers to concentrates that began as trim from a cannabis harvest—specifically, the loose leaves that are still covered with cannabinoid-rich resin. What would otherwise become waste is turned into great—and often affordable—concentrated products.

Trim is a popular starting material for hydrocarbon and distillate products because extractors can efficiently strip away the less desirable traits that trim might possess.

Nug run

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(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Nug run concentrates are extracted from cannabis flowers (“nugs”) that are grown specifically for extraction. Sometimes these are the smaller buds from a harvest (“mids”) , and other times extractors will use whole plants and large colas.

Products labeled as “nug run” are generally the result of hydrocarbon extraction and are considered higher quality. The resulting products are most often geared toward capturing strain-specific chemical profiles.

Related

How to Grow Cannabis for Concentrate Production

Live resin

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(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Live resin and other products labeled “live” (like live rosin) are concentrates that have been extracted before the cannabis plant has been dried or cured. Terpenes—the aromatic compounds that give cannabis its flavor—are so volatile, they’re known to dissipate even at room temperature. Working with a freshly harvested plant gives extractors the best chance of capturing robust terpenes and flavors.

To preserve these fragile terpene profiles, extractors will freeze and store freshly cut cannabis until it’s ready to be extracted.

Related

What are live resin cannabis concentrates?

Full-spectrum extracts vs. isolates

A cannabis concentrate can either be full spectrum, containing a vast array of different compounds, or an isolate, which is a precise formulation of a single ingredient.

Both have unique merits, but they provide wildly different experiences.

Full-spectrum extracts

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(Gleti/iStock)

Extracts labeled as “full spectrum” provide a mix of cannabis’ natural chemical compounds. These extracts often provide complex combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes in the natural ratio that the plant produces them. This results in robust flavors and nuanced effects.

Related

Full-Spectrum Extracts: An Inside Look at This Hash Oil

Isolates

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(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Isolates are pure cannabinoids like THCA and CBD in crystalline or powdered form. These solid, stable cannabinoids are isolated, with all other chemical compounds removed.

Instead of providing the full chemical profile that full-spectrum concentrates express, isolates consolidate specific compounds and offer consumers the highest potency and purity of an individual cannabinoid.

Isolate products make dosing more precise, offer a pure base ingredient to use in other cannabis products, and allow consumers to customize which compounds they consume.

Related

THCA and CBD Crystalline: Cannabinoids at Their Purest

Diamonds

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(Grant Hindsley for Leafly)

Diamonds are faceted, crystalline formations of isolated THCA. When THCA is isolated, the molecules collect and stack together, forming crystals.

Most products labeled as diamonds, rocks, stones, and gems refer to isolated THCA that has been formed within a raw extract, meaning no additional solvents are added to encourage crystallization.

Instead, the terpene fraction, the portion of the extract that is rich with terpene oils, acts as a naturally occurring solvent. Over time, the solid cannabinoid molecules separate from the liquid terpenes and leave behind rigid cannabinoid structures that look similar to quartz.

Occasionally you’ll see diamond-like products labeled with acronyms like HCFSE, short for high-cannabinoid full-spectrum extract. This means the product is nearly an isolated cannabinoid, but still retains a portion of the original terpene profile.

Related

In Photos: Watch Cannabis Diamonds Form at DabX

Sauce

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(Julia Sumpter/Leafly)

Sauce, sometimes called “terp sauce” or “the terpene fraction,” refers to a runny, terpene-rich concentrate. As cannabinoids and terpenes separate from one another, extractors are left with solid cannabinoid compounds and a watery mixture of the aromatic terpenes.

Sometimes sauce products are labeled with the acronym HTFSE, short for high-terpene full-spectrum extract. That means it’s a terpene-rich concentrate that still maintains a well-rounded cannabinoid profile.

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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

  • mysticwine

    How can I get any of this in wholesale quantities?

  • Ryan V

    RSO, or PHOENIX TEARS, areusually taken orally. About a rice grain size to start, just lick it off your finger. Unfortunately its hard to dissolve in practically anything, but alcohol will work. Vaping at low temps is also ok, but not recommended as RSO is alredy decarbed and normally alredy contains your cannabinoids in a desireable ratio, heating will change the cannabinoid content and alter the desired effects. The easiest way to medicate in my opinion, if you dont like the taste, is to purchace standard empty geletin or cellulose capsules(very cheap) that you can place your dose into and swallow. Hope this helps

  • I believe you’ll find that tinctures are goingto be much easier for yoou to mix in with a liquid to drink.

  • Eternal Sound

    mix it with MCT oil, will dilute the taste and help absorb it better along with a bit of sunflower lecithin 🙂

  • Jordan Bilyeu

    Put multiple rice-sized drops onto a piece of parchment paper and keep it in the freezer. When you want to medicate, take one of the frozen “rice grains” and swallow it quickly with water like you would a pill or supplement. Makes dosing and ingesting super easy, sans the nasty oil film on your teeth.