Demystifying Cannabis Concentrates

By Bryan M. Vance (OPB)
Portland, Oregon Dec. 21, 2017 2 p.m.

If you're new to the recreational cannabis game, you may be overwhelmed by the idea of extracts and concentrates. But don't worry, we're here to help you make sense of the different terms and products available on the market.

A concentrate is any oil — which can be viscous or solid in form — that isolates the cannabis plant’s main chemical compounds, namely the cannabinoids THC and CBD. These are responsible for the plant’s psychoactive and physical properties. Concentrates are stronger than flower.


People consume concentrates via two main methods: vaping and dabbing. Methods for producing concentrates (and the terms used to describe the variety of oils) are greater in number.

Map: Oregon Cannabis Stores

This map shows all of the stores licensed to sell recreational cannabis in Oregon as of Dec. 13, 2017.

Data: Oregon Liquor Control CommissionMap: Bryan M. Vance

The Name Game

Wax, shatter, crumble, pull and snap: These terms describe an oil’s consistency. An oil that takes on a solid form at room temperature is often described as shatter because you can snap it. One that is sticky and gooey at room temperature is often described as wax.

Extractions And How They’re Made

CO2 oil
CO2 oil is made using expensive machinery that combines pressure and carbon dioxide to extract the cannabinoids from the flower. This type of concentrate often results in a runny oil that is routinely packaged in ready-to-use, replaceable vape cartridges.

BHO is a simplified term for butane hash oil, a form of hydrocarbon extraction that uses the flammable substance to strip the desired oils from flower. Professionally made BHO extractions should not leave behind any butane residue in the product.

Tinctures are a common form of cannabis concentrate popular in the medical marijuana community. A tincture is any liquid concentrate made through alcohol extraction. Tinctures are typically applied orally in the form of a few drops under a user's tongue.

Not to be confused with resin — the sticky black residue left behind from smoking flower — rosin is a form of solventless extract processed with just heat and pressure. Its consistency tends to be similar to BHO extracts, but many rosin users prefer no chemicals used in the manufacturing process.

Hash is a widely known form of cannabis concentrate typically made through pressure, though sometimes also made with the added use of ice water and agitation. It tends not to be as strong as extracts made with solvents. Some forms of hash can be smoked similar to flower.

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