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Cannabis 101: What Are Cannabis Concentrates?

Since they first took the cannabis world by storm in the late 1990s, cannabis concentrates have gone on to become one of its most exciting and ground-breaking areas to explore.

Compared with flower, cannabis concentrates—sometimes called “cannabis extracts”—offer a large increase in potency. But that’s not the end of the story. In recent years, hi-tech extraction methods have allowed cutting-edge producers to create concentrates that capture the true essence and complexity of the cannabis plant in ways never thought possible before.

The world of cannabis concentrates is big, and there’s a lot of competing terminology to keep straight. We’ll get you started on the right foot with this guide to the most common and important types, and share some useful information about how they differ from each other in their use and their effects.

The Difference Between Extracts and Concentrates

One of the most confusing points regarding cannabis concentrates is the divide between “concentrates” and “extracts.” Because while they’re often used interchangeably, they’re not quite the same thing.

Let’s start with extracts. As we’ll explore in greater depth in just a moment, extracts are created by withdrawing—that is, extracting—the active cannabinoids and terpenes from cannabis flower. Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD are the major “active ingredients” in cannabis, the natural compounds that impart the bulk of its effects. Terpenes are the “essential oils” that give each strain its characteristic aromatic and flavor profile (as well as imparting some very useful therapeutic effects as well). Extracts rely on chemical processes—typically through the use of a solvent such as CO2 or butane.

Concentrates is a broader term that can be used to include extracts but applies to any potent and concentrated cannabis product. In other words, all extracts are concentrates, but not all concentrates are extracts. Some concentrates rely on mechanical processes rather than chemical extraction. These could include the sifting that goes into the production of kief—the dried trichomes that appear as silvery dust on fresh cannabis flower—or the gentle heat and pressure used to make rosin, another concentrated THC product.

Cannabis concentrates 1

Having just pointed out the technical difference between a cannabis extract and a cannabis concentrate, we’re going to continue to use the term “concentrate” in this post as the umbrella term that can be used for any of the concentrated cannabis products we’ll cover.

How to Consume Cannabis Concentrates

Many cannabis concentrates are consumed in a specialized dab rig, a high-tech variation on a standard bong or water pipe. While some dab rigs incorporate an electric heating element, others require the use of a hand-held butane torch. You can learn more about them and how they’re used here.

Concentrates such as kief or hashish can be added to flower in joints or pipes to up their potency, or they can be consumed in wax pens and other vaporizers. You’ll also find concentrates in infused pre-rolls, for example.

With THC concentrations that can surpass 90%, it’s important to start slow, especially if you’re new to cannabis concentrates. Remember: You can always consume more cannabis, but you can’t consume less.

Hash, the Original Cannabis Concentrate

While concentrated THC products might seem like a modern invention, there’s one concentrate that dates back centuries: Hashish, or hash. These dense, sticky blocks range from dusty tan to nearly black. They’re made by first separating and concentrating the gooey trichomes that coat the cannabis flower. Once they’ve been mechanically separated and dried in this way, the trichomes are known as kief. The kief is then pressed into blocks of hash, an elegantly simple and time-honored form of cannabis concentrate.

Hash’s popularity has faded a bit with the introduction of newer cannabis extracts such as live resin and BHO, but it’s still a potent (and flavorful) way to sample a very ancient kind of concentrated THC.

Cannabis Extracts: C02 Extraction

C02 extracts are part of a class of cannabis concentrates made with chemical solvents to remove the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant matter. One of the most popular uses of solvent extractions is the oil packaged in vape cartridges, which is typically produced by C02 extraction. While not as nuanced as some solventless extractions are, it’s still a potent, effective, and shelf-stable product.

Cannabis Extracts: Hydrocarbon Extraction

Hydrocarbon extracts are one of the most prevalent forms of cannabis concentrates available. They can be made using solvents such as butane or propane, which are purged from the resulting extract before being processed into a final product. When you purchase products made using hydrocarbon extraction from a licensed dispensary like Green Goods, you can rest assured that they have been tested for safety and purity.

There’s a wide variety of these concentrates, ranging from sticky THC wax to gooey live resin and many others, all of them exhibiting different physical traits.

Popular Cannabis Concentrates

There is a truly impressive variety of cannabis concentrates out there, but here is a sampling of the ones our customers most often ask for.

Cannabis oils


Hydrocarbon extracts are solvent extracts but tend to preserve more of flavorful terpenes and potent cannabinoids than other solvent-based techniques. They include “shatter,” which takes the form of dried, translucent candy-like shards of cannabis concentrate.

Batter and Budder

Both batter and budder are creamy and smooth, resembling cake batter (or creamy butter, depending). Both add a smooth boost of flavor and potency when dabbed or added to flower. That said, both batter and budder are less shelf-stable than other concentrates and lose their creamy consistency and bright appearance over time. They should be stored in sealed and lightproof containers away from excessive heat and cold.

Live Resin

Live resins are a type of solventless cannabis concentrate made from flash-frozen cannabis flower. This method preserves an extremely high proportion of terpenes. As a result, the flavor of live resins is often described as “hyperrealistic.”


These soft and opaque cannabis concentrates are meant to be consumed in a dab rig or added to a joint or a bowl. Just as adding any concentrate to flower will do, THC wax imparts a big dose of potency and flavor.


Not to be confused with the “resin” we described above, rosin is a form of solventless concentrate that’s made using mild heat and pressure. This makes it one of the most popular—and safest—kinds of concentrate to make at home.


A very interesting product with a very interesting story, RSO stands for “Rick Simpson Oil” after the Canadian medical cannabis cultivator and activist who used cannabis during his bout with cancer. Many people undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer have found that cannabis concentrates such as RSO can help ease symptoms like pain, nausea, and loss of appetite. You can learn more about RSO here.

Explore the World of Concentrated THC with Green Goods!

We very much hope today’s post serves as an easy-to-follow introduction to cannabis concentrates. And this definitely isn’t the end of the story when it comes to cannabis concentrates: new products are continually hitting the market, including exciting and flavorful forms like “diamonds” and “terp sauce.”

We’d love to have the chance to explain them in more detail; start by finding your nearest Green Goods location. Stop by or shop online today!

Cannabis Concentrate FAQs

Is there a difference between extracts and concentrates?

The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they are not quite the same thing. “Concentrate” is a broad term that can be applied to any concentrated THC product, whereas extracts refer to extractions that are made using chemical solvents and any of the products made with those extractions. In other words, all extracts are concentrates, but not all concentrates are extracts. Other concentrates are made with mechanical extraction techniques, such as kief, hashish, and rosin, for example.

Are cannabis concentrates strong?

Yes. While the most potent flower tops out at around 30% THC, cannabis concentrates can often reach into the 90% THC range. This means they should be approached with care, especially by those unaccustomed to the effects of THC. As we always advise our customers: Start low, go slow.