Cannabis concentrates, as the name implies, are highly concentrated versions of flower and processing it in different ways to make things like RSO, shatter, bubble hash and more.
All concentrates start with the raw flower. Most recently the term live is being used to represent concentrates made from flower that was freeze dried after harvest rather than cured as we traditionally have done. Either cured or fresh frozen the flower is put through refining and concentrating processes.
Here’s an overview of common cannabis concentrates:
The most common first step to making a concentrate is to process the flower either cured or fresh-frozen but the best concentrates are made using only the parts of the cannabis flower that contain the compounds we want and as little of the plant matter as possible. The trichomes of the flower are shaken off of the flower and collected by very fine mesh until you are left with what can look like a pile of kief or weed-colored sand. At this point this concentrate called hash can be used as-is or in further processing to make different concentrates.
RSO and Hash Oil
RSO (Rick Simpson oil) is a concentrate made using flower and a food-safe alcohol or ethanol. The resulting dark green thick liquid or oil is used as a tincture. RSO is not only strong but helpful enough that no brief overview really gives it justice so I’m going to leave this topic as-is for now.
Distillate is a hash oil made with a chemical process resulting in a thick oil that can be used as a tincture, in edibles or as-is. When you buy a cart it’s most often distillate unless labeled otherwise. I’m not a fan of distillate so I’m going to skip details on this also.
Rosin and Resin
From flower cured, fresh-frozen or from bubble hash there are two overall types of concentrates called rosins and resins.
Rosin is created using no chemicals. Rosin is flower or hash pressed between two heated plates to express the cannabinoids and terpenes as a rosin or sap of yum. Making rosin can be as simple as squishing a nug between the heated plates of a hair straightener to an advanced temperature controlled hydraulic system that can press flower between multiple tons of heated force, slowly, and carefully.
I make rosin using a Dabpress. The timing, temperature and psi of the press plates are dependant on the strain being pressed and the material being pressed (flower vs bubble hash, etc.).
The process of making a resin can be dangerous. I suggest you do not try to make homemade resins without doing research and taking appropriate safety precautions.
Resin is made using chemical processes. Resins have names appropriate to their consistency like crumble, sugar, badder or shatter. Of these concentrates my favorite is shatter. Shatter is a thin candy-glass like layer of resin that as the name implies; will shatter into smaller bits when broken. This isn’t as bad as it sounds. Shatter can also be of the pull-and-snap type that will stretch and break off into a smaller bit when needed.
When I make a resin product it’s shatter. I have issues with the shatter-y nature of shatter but I do love it’s simple process and the quality of the cannabinoid profiles.