What is a Cannabis extraction or concentrate?
Although there is some controversy regarding the use of the term “extraction” when applying this concept to solventless concentrates – since some people claim that it should be called “separation” when no solvents are used – broadly speaking a cannabis concentrate is a product derived from removing resin glands – trichomes – from the green matter. These kind of cannabis-based substances have been manufactured and used for the past centuries, achieving stronger effects than the dried buds and also being very much easier to carry and trade than weed.
Nowadays, we can find several types of cannabis concentrates; some of them are made without solvents, while others are made by using chemical products – either polar or non-polar solvents – to extract the trichomes from the green matter. In this first post, we want to introduce you some of the different ways in which solventless separations are made, how are they called and which are their main features.
Solventless cannabis extractions
It wasn’t until recently, with the emergence of new advancements in heat extraction methods, where the market began to shift back in favor of the solventless hash consumer. Interest in heat extraction methods such as rosin proved to cause a profound effect within the community by reinvigorating the appeal for solventless extract innovations within legal markets, thus giving way to an entirely new generation of hash products. This rift in the cannabis concentrate paradigm can perhaps be measured most accurately by the sheer increase in solventless options available to consumers today.
There are several types of non-solvent extractions, in which trichomes are not extracted but mechanically removed from the buds/leafs, and then collected in different ways. We’ll make now a short brief description of the most popular solventless techniques, starting from the most ancient ones.
Charas (hand-rolled hash) is, probably, the first and most ancient technique of concentrating cannabis trichomes. The exact origins of this technique are uncertain, and the exact time and place where it was first developed remain unknown. Countries like India, Nepal or ancient Persia could be the birthplace of this technique, but there are not enough scientific evidences to prove it.
Dry sift is another ancient method of making top grade resin concentrates. As happens with the charas, the origins of this technique are unclear. What it is sure is that it originated either in Central Asia (Afghanistan) or Middle East (Lebanon) around 1.000 years ago. Nowadays, Morocco is the world’s main producer and exporter of sieved hash, with a quality far away from the ancient productions.
Rosin, being the game changer that it was, opened the door for several different new products. Solventless shatter, a type of rosin that maintains a stable and glass-like consistency, may resemble butane hash oil in appearance but was manufactured with nothing more than heat and pressure. Hash oil of this consistency is achieved both through the acquisition of certain genetics and the right combination of heat, pressure, and exposure period.
Water hash (bubble hash, IWE…) is made by using the same principle than dry sift hash, but using water and ice to remove the resin glands. Bubble hash seems to give better yields than dry sift, although many connoisseurs claim that the organoleptic properties of sieved hash are better than those of ice water extractions/separations.
Another variation of solventless hash oil is budder, also known as cake batter or a “whipped” rosin. These products were created by incorporating light heat and agitation to rosin. The result is a buttering effect that looks very similar to a salve or batter of some sort. Using this technique has been known to significantly increase the aromatic properties of the hash oil and also provide a new creamier texture that can be much easier to work with when dabbing.
Freeze-Dried Hash Oil Products
On the polar opposite end of the thermal spectrum are new products incorporating the use of sub-zero temperatures in their production. Freeze-dried hash oil products are made by utilizing sub-freezing temperature to keep trichomes in a perfectly suspended state in their degradation cycle, thus preserving valuable and volatile tepidness that would have been lost in almost any other extraction process.
As the concentrate market continues to expand, demand for solventless options will continue to inspire innovators to push the envelope even further in creating more exciting products for hash consumers. Expect to see many more products emerge that will inevitably push the boundaries of hash oil flavor, consistency, and effect even further.