Chances are good that if you enjoy cannabis, you have been hearing a lot more hype about extract products than specific strains lately. That’s because extracts provide an efficient way to enjoy cannabis while producing energizing effects as a result of a higher THC concentration.
Advanced extraction and preparation techniques also mean this stuff isn’t anything like the hash your grandad smoked that one time in Marrakech. These extractions are more potent than ever, and many no longer use harsh solvents like butane or alcohol to create an end product.
You can learn more about the most popular cannabis extracts available by reading on.
Kief is the simplest type of extract because most people unintentionally make it on their own while grinding or breaking up cannabis flowers. Kief is also a good starting point because it illustrates what most hash is: pure trichomes.
Trichomes are tiny hairs on marijuana plants that secrete large amounts of THC. You can see them on most designer strains of cannabis flowers these days since these plants have been cross-bred and grown to maximize their THC content. On the plant, trichomes look shimmery, almost like ice or sugar, but when they get knocked off, they take a small piece of the plant material with them.
This combination is what people call “kief,” and it looks like a dusty pale green or yellow powder. Most four-piece grinders have sieves and “kief catchers” on the bottom, allowing people to save up their kief, but you can also shake plants in a larger sieve box to create high amounts of kief.
Butane Honey Oil (BHO) and Rosin
Many popular extract products are created using a butane extraction, which we covered in a recent post about how cannabis wax is made. Depending on the raw ingredients, the extraction method, and other variables, the end product can have a number of different physical appearances indicated by their various common names: wax, earwax, honey, pull and snap, and shatter.
“Shatter” is the name of extracts that have been subjected to high heat during the purging process, creating a dense amber material with a glass-like sheen. Recent advances have been made where people have discovered you can even make shatter without solvent! This solvent-less shatter is made by placing cannabis flowers or other materials onto a heated press, similar to a giant hair straightener. The resulting product can then be processed or purified further.
These types of solvent-less shatter and “dab” products have been increasingly going by the name “rosin,” so the next time you see “rosin” or solvent-less extract on the shelves, you know that it offers a cleaner smoke.
Budder or Cake Batter
Some people are turned off by the toughness and brittleness of rosin, so they will lightly heat it and agitate it until it gradually turns into a gooey but liquid-like form. This product has been called “budder,” or “cake batter” referring to its consistency, and it also goes by “whipped rosin.”
While similar to rosin, it has a stronger aroma and is easier to handle when loading dabs.
Freeze-Dried Hash Oil
On the opposite end of hot pressing cannabis lies the cutting-edge technique of freeze-drying cannabis. Similar to how bubble hash or ice-water hash is made, freeze-drying causes trichomes to become brittle, making them easier to separate from the plant upon agitation. Unlike nearly any other method, freeze-drying rapidly preserves the trichome, retaining many of the organic compounds and aromatic qualities that become compromised by most other extraction processes.
This method of preparation can currently only be handled by a few state-of-the-art labs and it is still being perfected, but it represents one of the newest and most exciting frontiers for cannabis extracts.