Coffee has espresso. Beer has whiskey. And cannabis has concentrates.
Tens of millions of cannabis lovers are spending billions of dollars per year on legal marijuana extracts in North America in 2020. Extracts give consumers options beyond simple flower buds.
Surging in popularity are extracts like wax, rosin, and live resin, as well as vaporizer cartridges and edibles. Concentrates enable tinctures, topicals, inhalers—the sky is the limit.
“It’s a monumental holiday.”
Extracts are so popular, they have their own holiday. While everyone knows 420, the 7/10 Oil Day holiday has surged in recent years as well.
“It’s a monumental holiday,” said Bradley Melshenker, founder of leading hashmaker 710 Labs of Colorado and California. “When I started seeing 710 years ago, I didn’t know what it was. A highway? An area code? And then I realized it was ‘oil’ spelled upside-down. And it was also my birthday, so I said, ‘Let’s just call this company ‘710 Labs.’ It’s been a fun ride.”
This year, Leafly celebrates the exhilarating world of extracts with daily appreciations of the most popular extract types throughout the 710 holiday: oil, wax, water hash, rosin, live resin, sauce, diamonds, budder, isolate, and more.
Dust off your high school organic chemistry skills, and join us on this mind-bending journey beyond buds. First up: oil!
Shatter was an early form of solid cannabis extract made from butane hash oil (BHO) that fell out of favor as consumers started chasing more terpy extracts.
Making good shatter is hard—only certain strains will set up as it. Batches can nucleate or “butter,” meaning they start to cloud over. A lot of wax is failed shatter that gets reheated and whipped.
In 2020, there’s a bunch of illegal shatter on America’s streets—so-called “sierra slabs.” You’ll also see plenty of legal shatter at high-end licensed stores.
With shatter, you can get a product that won’t degrade much over time, can have a lot of terps locked into it, and can test very low in residual solvents.
“To me it’s the most stable, high-terpene, potentially cleanest way of consuming BHO,” said hash author Greg Zeman. “It’s the perfect unity of extract form and function.
Plus, it looks cool. “It’s the aesthetic thing—you have this clarity, golden glass look that’s awesome.”
Well, we did it—12 days of dabs! Time for a tolerance break. See ya next year, and keep that glassware clean.
What’s your favorite extract ever? Recall it in the comments below—if you can.
Flan? Really? Now things are getting arcane, said hash author Greg Zeman.
Products like flan isolate cannabinoids and terpenes without volatile solvents. On the surface it has a creamy translucent flan appearance, but that’s not dairy—more like some cannabis goodness that smells otherworldly and begs to be dabbed at a low temp.
Processing solventless hash into something like this takes crazy amounts of manual labor, sometimes in freezer rooms with ice water, sieves, and novel mechanical agitators called sonicators, which knock frozen, brittle trichomes loose from the plant with sound waves.
“It’s a feat of craftsmanship that I would never pay for,” said Zeman.
But in the case of flan, we say: yes.
Budder (aka butter, batter, badder)
Light, creamy, white, translucent gold budders make 2020 tolerable—honestly.
Budder is often made with fresh-frozen material, packed with delicate terpenes, and has the consistency of chilled dairy butter or room temperature butter. It’s easy to dab, sticky yet workable.
Several years ago, something with a whipped, butter consistency might’ve just been poor, improperly purged butane hash oil. Not today, said hash author Greg Zeman. You see pricey budders in some of the best extract stores.
“I mostly associated butter and batter with whipped BHO, but some of these ones are truly like the word—a translucent ghee butter appearance. That’s the shit. When I see that I’m interested. If the nose is right, I’ll definitely dab it,” said Zeman.
In 2020, Moxie extracts of California upped the budder game with their Tiger King-themed Tiger’s Blood and Cool Kat Kush budders—very terpy, very clean. Similarly, Feeling Frosty achieves a butter consistency with their cold-cured hash rosin. Budders go for $90 a gram, and aficionados bring coolers to keep them cold on the ride home from the store.
Come back tomorrow when Leafly celebrates flan!
Kief (aka keef, keif, dry sieve)
Almost everyone has some kief in their house. Unscrew that grinder with the kief screen and behold what’s been accumulating over the past couple months—a light green/brownish/gold dust that is pretty much just trichome heads and plant debris. Sprinkle it back on top of your next bowl, and boom—off you go.
Hundreds of years ago, they dry-sieved cured cannabis buds and trim, knocking off the resin glands. The practice continues today. The purest kiefs are a light white powder, almost exclusively trichome heads, and kief can be heat-pressed to preserve terpenes.
Today, homegrowers can easily add dry ice to kief collected from harvest. Commercial kiefers yield mounds of the gold stuff, which can be found at a bargain in legal stores.
Come back tomorrow when Leafly celebrates budder!
Isolate weed sounds weird, but chances are, your dog’s on CBD isolate treats for all those fireworks explosions. Or should be.
Cannabinoids THC and CBD come in a pure, crystal, powder form that’s isolated from any other molecules in the plant—thus, “isolate.”
CBD isolate is big right now, which makes its way into legal edibles and drinks all over the world.
On the flipside, there’s hyper-potent THC isolate. Since 2016, brands like Guild Extracts have popularized this novelty with medical patients in California before legalization. Plenty of great THC and CBD tinctures use isolate, a different form than the rawer, more common distillate oil.
Isolate can get you uncomfortably high, but for what? “What are you trying to do with it?” said hash author Greg Zeman.
Today’s extract aesthetes hunt for terps—they want the essence of the whole plant. Cannabinoids and terpenes come together in the entourages effect.
But isolates’ role in medical cannabinoids is expanding. They’re precise, pure, and pass muster with drug regulators worldwide, allowing them to be used in edibles.
Come back tomorrow when Leafly celebrates kief!
A crazy thing happens when near-pure THCA is left alone in the dark—it starts to nucleate, or clump together into a crystal. Let those THCA crystals grow over time and you will get a type of cannabis extract called diamonds—the most blingy, baller extract of 2020.
THC diamond extracts are highly priced due to their purity and the time and labor involved in their production. Extract aficionados love them for their potency, brilliance, and bragging rights.
Diamonds are almost always found in and paired with terpene-rich sauce because THCA on its own has a one-dimensional effect—it takes terpenes to give THCA a stronger, longer-lasting, full-body effect.
Diamond dabbers typically crush up a tiny THCA diamond, mix it with terp sauce on a dabber, then place the dab in a low-temperature quartz banger to get high-quality flavors and effect. It’s a complicated process, but destroying the diamonds is part of the fun.
“Human beings have an innate fascination with gems and the allure of something incredibly potent,” said Greg Zeman. “I think diamonds are here to stay.”
Extract makers started growing diamonds in the past couple years as legal medical hash markets matured. With recreational taxes and regulations, diamonds were shelved for cheap, easy-to-make extacts that are equally effective. But in 2020, diamonds can be found in legal stores across the country.
Come back tomorrow when Leafly celebrates isolate!
America is starving for terpene-rich sauce extracts from coast to coast.
All the hype right now, sauce extracts have a mixed consistency of runny oil and chunky, potent THC crystals. Sauces can be a bit tricky to dose if you don’t have the right dabbing tool.
They go great in wax pens, as dabs in rigs, or even as a dollop on a bowl of flower to boost flavor and potency. There are even disposable sauce carts and sauce pens, which promise maximum terps and taste in every easy hit.
Way back in 2014, a saucy extract was a red flag for high levels of the solvent butane, left over from an incomplete purge.
But with stringent lab testing—especially in California since July 2018—we know butane levels are very low, under 500 parts per million (similar to background environment levels). That golden, gooey slurry is super-rich in terpenes, the aromatic compounds that give cannabis its flavor and taste. Terpenes also interact with cannabis’ main active ingredient THC, to form something greater than the sum of its parts—a full-spectrum experience.
Nowadays, extract lovers can find sauce from Oregon to Florida in legal and rec markets—with champion sauce shops like Raw Garden, or Beezle of California, and Artifact extracts of Oregon. Fresh-frozen live resins often make for the best sauces.
Sauce is almost always paired with THC diamonds, so stick around for tomorrow’s update. Sauce is boss!
Come back tomorrow when Leafly celebrates THC diamonds!
Revolutionizing the hash game in a matter of years, live resin is a very popular oil-like extract made with cannabis that is freshly frozen at harvest, instead of dried and cured for weeks.
Live resin can contain more fresh cannabis aromas and terpenes than dried, cured cannabis, leading to different effects. Live resin is increasingly common because making it saves time, and hence, cost as well.
“Most BHO now is live resin,” said Greg Zeman. “The cat’s out of the bag—it’s not that hard to make. With the mystique removed, people can just see basic economics. It makes good sense.”
You can find live resins across the country, from Raw Garden’s grams and cartridges in California to Michigan’s live resins.
Freshly cut cannabis plants have very delicate terpenes that will evaporate at room temperature and are mostly lost during 10-14 days of traditional drying and curing. Freezing and blasting that plant matter captures all those terps, resulting in smells and tastes that mirror walking through a ripe field of cannabis.
Shop live resin carts near you in Leafly’s concentrate marketplace.
The hottest dab in extracts in 2020—rosin—is made without any volatile chemicals, requiring just heat and enormous pressure on flower buds.
Squishing buds this way produces a translucent, potent, terpy, sappy resin that can be various colors: dark green for low-quality resin, all the way up to a whitish creamy gold in color.
Rosin is squashed in large quantities by leading manufacturers, or can be made at home with a hair straightener and parchment paper. Furthermore, the pure trichome heads from a bubble hash run can be pressed into a form of rosin that’s extremely terpene-rich, pure, and potent.
Feeling Frosty of California touts their cold-cured hash rosin STR8 organics X F/ELD Papaya rosin badder, which is made from washed trichome heads and is shelf-stable at room temperature for weeks, unlike many rosins, which you want to keep cold.
“People need to experience that fresh flavor two weeks down the road,” said Frosty, Director at Feeling Frosty.
Popular since 2016, rosins surged farther in 2019, as connoisseurs backed away from problematic BHO products, like THC distillate cut with additives and thickeners.
Today, edible makers are trying strain-specific hash rosin in edibles. Papa & Barkley will debut a rosin hash gummy in California mid-July. 710 Labs is also prepping a rosin-based edible for the Cali market, said founder Brad Melshenker.
“You can taste the strain and the effect is way more full-body than distillate,” he said.
Come back tomorrow when Leafly celebrates Live resin!
Bubble hash (aka water hash)
Mega-fans worldwide swear by this crumbly, light brown to dark brown, unpressed product of ice water agitation, screening, and drying.
Most often called “bubble hash” for the oily cannabis bubbles formed during the manufacturing process, it’s cheap and easy to make but can be extremely refined and very expensive.
High-end bubble hash quality is often measured in microns—like 90μ or 90-micron bubble hash—meaning hash filtered through a screen that is just 90 microns wide. Bubble hash can be heat-pressed into balls or patties for long-term transport, storage, or just personal preference.
Dry-sieving cannabis to make hash is hundreds of years old in India, but wet-sieving is synonymous with popularizer Mila Jansen and Marcus “Bubbleman” Richardson from the 1990s.
Butane hash oil briefly eclipsed bubble hash by 2012. “You had this separation in these camps—the solvent vs. the water extractors. But both sides sharpened each other up,” said Greg Zeman, contributing author to the 2018 reference book Beyond Buds, Next Generation.
Today, “bubble hash is in a renaissance,” Zeman said.
Next-level water hashmakers like Feeling Frosty will use fresh-frozen material and work in freezer rooms doing labor-intensive, low-yield, manual washes, and then press the resin heads into shelf-stable rosin.
With bubble hash, “the terps are on-point,” said Zeman. “It’s all about the resin head—it doesn’t have to be that complicated.”
Personal preferences dominate bubble hash.
710 Labs’ Brad Melshenker said his personal favorite is pure water hash consisting of just unadulterated trichomes. “Hitting it too hot will ruin it, but if you hit it at low temperatures, it’s the most flavorful, best body high you can get.”
Oakland, CA hashmaker and teacher The Dank Dutchess prefers bubble hash pressed and heated to decarboxylation, then aged; like the OGs did.
“It’s just the best—really. There is nothing that will hit you as hard as pressed hash,” The Dank Dutchess said.
Wax (aka crumble)
Super popular since the shatter era, wax, crumble, or BHO wax probably power more dabs than anything.
Wax looks and feels waxy. It’s pliable, white gold to gold in color, and often BHO (made with butane). It’s a staple in legal stores, where customers take it home to sprinkle on flower bowls or use with dab rigs. Just a tiny amount (a dab) is all you need to get very high. Wax also pairs with battery-powered, reloadable wax pens and e-rigs like the Puffco Peak. Unfortunately, illicit operators make a lot of unsafe wax as well.
“It’s easy to make, man,” said Greg Zeman, author of Beyond Buds, Next Generation. There’s a wide range of wax qualities and purities, so buy tested, legal, and reputable.
Zeman said many connoisseurs now prefer de-waxed extracts—removing waxes, fats, and lipids reduces harshness and harmful byproducts of burning wax. Wax also gets outshined by budder, Zeman said, but “can still be a good thing, if you let it purge correct and if you give it enough time.
See also sugar wax, which also results from whipped BHO and is more liquidy.
Oil (aka distillate)
Found most often in vaporizer cartridges, “oil” is a generic term for a wide variety of cannabis extracts with the viscosity and consistency of a thick plant oil. It’s often used in the term “butane hash oil,” or BHO.
Oil extracts are prevalent because they can be made at industrial scales. Think of the metric tons of CBD oil made through CO2 extraction, or the famed Rick Simpson Oil—a high-THC extract made using ethanol.
Oil can be a starting point, or an endpoint for a cannabis product, said Beyond Buds, Next Generation contributing author Greg Zeman. Zeman compares the manifold types of cannabis extracts to all the different types of candy that come from playing with sugar and heat.
“If you up your temperature or lower your pressure, there’s so many different textures and viscosities you can pull out of an oleoresin—from hard crystals to light translucent ghee butter,” said Zeman.
Cannabis oil can be low quality and inexpensive, all the way up to extremely high quality, pure, award-winning stuff like The Clear‘s “Lobster Butter” distillate, which comes back this 710 in all seven Connected Cannabis Co. locations in California. Since quality can vary, be sure to buy licensed, tested cannabis oils only.
With the Canadian edibles rollout last December, Illinois’ recreational cannabis opening in January, and the medical cannabis boom in Florida, cannabis oils have never been more prevalent.