The difference between Cannabis Extracts

When you visit a marijuana dispensary in Vancouver you will find a variety of concentrates available for purchase. So you’re probably thinking… What distinguishes the different types of cannabis extracts from each other? How are they made and what are these concentrates called. We’ll even cover the best ways to store them so they last longer.

So how are cannabis extracts made?

Most concentrates are extracted using heat and a solvent like CO2, butane, hydrocarbons, propane, water or alcohol. These solvents strip out the plants material and isolate the chemical compounds you want like THC and CBD. Each step of the extraction process is a delicate balance between art and science. The knowledge that goes into extracting oils is as complicated as growing a farm of marijuana plants. This is not something we recommend you try at home. If it’s done improperly it can be very dangerous. The worst case scenario is your experiment blows up your home. The best case is you get a dirty extraction with some solvents left behind. These chemical contaminants could cause some serious health risks later down the road. Professional extractors choose the closed extraction method. This is safer but requires more sophisticated industrial equipment. To protect your health make sure to leave this to the professionals.

Why do people use marijuana concentrates and who is it for?

Each of the different types of cannabis extracts are far more potent than any marijuana you have ever smoked. The most potent bud in the world weighs in at 30% THC. The best bud at most dispensaries in Canada is about 25 THC%. Most cannabis extracts range between 60 – 90% THC. That’s why they seem so pricey. Concentrates are great for those who need a powerful dose of potent medicine quickly. Patients dealing with chronic pain or extreme nausea say that dabbing can be one of the best ways to get immediate relief.

Concentrates are NOT for those who are new to marijuana. If 1-2 hits off a joint get you high as a kite, a heavy dose from any of the different types of marijuana extracts will flatten you. High doses can make you feel like you need to go to the hospital because of Intense hallucinations and an overwhelming feeling of anxiety. This is definitely not for novices. For newcomers start with a really small dab or share one with a friend. Taking more than your limit can result in an uncomfortable experience and, in some cases, passing out. A mild non-psychoactive CBD-rich extract would be a good choice for beginners. Hash and tinctures tend to have lower THC contents than other types of concentrates so that’s probably a good place to start.

Here are some of the most common types of cannabis extracts available on the market today.


Also known as pollen. Kief is commonly used to make hash. It’s the powdery crystals that cover your cannabis flowers. It sticks to the gloves of cannabis farmers and is scraped off to be used as another product. You can collect kief in a grinder and sprinkle it onto ground cannabis for more potent consumption.


Hash is a concentrate made by compressing the plant’s resin. Kief is collected and pressed together to form hash. Solvents may be used to more efficiently strip the plant of its crystals. The word “hashish” originates from the Arabic language. Hash has a long history but still remains a staple of cannabis culture around the world.

Live Resin

This is a newer extraction method that packs a flavorful punch. Buds are flash frozen right after harvest. This preserves the terpenes which provide the unique flavoring and smell of the marijuana plant. These can degrade as the plant dries out as the aroma molecules break down. This process makes for a very flavorful experience when smoking.

BHO (Butane hash oil)

This is an extremely potent concentrate popularly consumed by dabbing and other vaporization methods. Cannabinoids are drawn out of the plant using the butane extraction method. This leaves behind a wax that will either maintain its sticky consistency or harden up, resulting in a crumbly “honeycomb” or a glasslike “shatter.”
The THC content can be as high as 80%, BHO is a popular remedy for chronic pain.


A tincture is a liquid extraction available in a variety of flavors. It’s procured using an alcohol solvent. This pulls out many of the plant’s beneficial compounds. A few drops under your tongue may be a sufficient dose depending on your tolerance. This is another great way to medicate without having to smoke. This extract is absorbed into the bloodstream quicker but is often less potent than ingestible oils and edibles.

CO2 oil

CO2 oil doesn’t use butane as a solvent. It follows an expensive process that uses pressure and carbon dioxide to separate the cannabinoids from the plant material. It’s one of the most effective ways of reducing marijuana to its essential compounds.

This process leaves behind more terpenes, creating a more flavorful product. The result is an amber oil, perfect for vaporizer pens.

The primary benefit of using CO2 is for a cleaner extraction. Butane receives a lot of criticism because sometimes when it’s done improperly can leave trace amounts of the carcinogenic solvent behind.

Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) Phoenix Tears

A man named Rick Simpson treated his skin cancer using his homemade remedy made from marijuana. This cannabis extract is most commonly used by medical marijuana patients, especially for those with cancer or seizure disorders like epilepsy. To this day, Rick continues to use cannabis oils to help others with their medical conditions

You don’t need to dab or smoke RSO. This extract can be used orally or applied to the skin. Just simply squirt a tiny amount into your mouth with an oral syringe or place a little drop on a toothpick. You can place it under your tongue for faster absorption. Ingestible oils act like edibles, they take effect much slower than smoking and last longer due to the way they’re metabolized. If you’re interested in a smoke-free way to get your medicine this is a great option. Some are high in THC while others only contain non-psychoactive Cannabinoids like CBD.

RSO also known as Phoenix Tears is the essential oil from marijuana. It’s created by heating the cannabis plant with an alcohol solvent like everclear or isopropyl. The medicinal properties are drawn out of the plant leaving behind a tar-like liquid after the solvent completely evaporates.


Wax is an increasingly popular, super-potent marijuana concentrate. This extract comes in many different forms like shatter, honeycomb, crumble, sugar, sap, and oil. At the end of the day these are all different names for the same type of extraction just with different textures and consistencies. Most Industrial wax production relies on the butane for the extraction process.

The name wax refers to the softer, more opaque oil that has lost its transparency after extraction. It’s sort of an orangey-yellow color and has a waxy consistency.

This type will not work well with your hands as it’s really sticky. It’s known for getting on everything. You can smoke it by adding a little to a dab rig or crumble it over a bowl as a topping for an extra kick.


Shatter is a flat flawless amber glass that is stunningly beautiful to look at. A lot of people like shatter because it has the reputation for being the purest form of extract. The marijuana flowers go through a double extraction process. This removes almost all the fats from the oil leaving a pure hardened cannabis resin.

Shatter is one of the most common extracts for dabbing but be careful as this is one of the most potent. Make sure to wrap it in parchment paper as it’s very brittle and likely to shatter if dropped on a hard surface.

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