Ever since high-potency waxes and oils were introduced to the cannabis community, extract artists have been working tirelessly to perfect their craft—the result has been a marked upgrade across the board.
With these developments have come a slew of new classifications to describe them—live resin, rosin, shatter, the list goes on. And at times, it can be hard to keep track of the difference. Below, we go over the age old terms most connoisseurs are familiar with, and we dive in to some of the newer options available to patients today:
For many patients, kief is the initial venture into the vast world of extracts. Kief is simply resin glands from the cannabis plant containing high levels of cannabinoids and terpenes; the more unacquainted may recognize it as “the stuff that builds up under the screen in my grinder.” It requires no solvent to produce, and has been a staple as a bowl-topper for many years. Kief generally tests around 25 to 40 percent THC.
Today’s most commonly consumed hash is made by using cold water and ice to separate trichomes from the cannabis plant matter. This method has evolved from ancient techniques such as finger hash—created by simply rubbing buds between one’s hands until enough resin accumulates to scrape off. It can also vary in its consistency and overall aesthetics—it’s been known to be either chunky or granular, and a plethora of colors from light blonde to dark brown. Hash is expected to test from anywhere from 30 to 75 percent THC.
Bubble is a term used to refer to a high grade cold-water hash—it gets its name because a proper bubble should in fact bubble when heat is applied. It also incorporates the use of “bubble bags” in its extraction, which further assist in eliminating all unwanted plant matter from your medicine. Bubble hash can be used in conjunction with flower, or alone, in a hash pipe.
The crème de la crème of cold-water hash is known as a melt (or full melt). These top-quality hashes are, again, true to their name—they should fully melt into liquid when heat is applied, signaling the elimination of all plant matter and/or impurities. Patients who enjoy “dabbing” tend to gravitate toward melts–they can easily be “pressed out” into an easy-to-handle, dabbable form.
Rosin is the most recent development for extract enthusiasts—it separates the essential cannabis oils using simply heat and pressure, never introducing a solvent into the equation. Its appearance tends to resemble shatter—a bit tilted toward a pull-n’-snap consistency, with color hues ranging from a nearly-translucent gold to taupe brown. Rosin is usually consumed via vaporization—either in a cartridge or dabbed. THC levels tend to hover between 50 and 80 percent THC.
Wax is a sometimes all-encompassing term given to concentrates that are extracted using one of many solvents—most commonly CO2 or butane. Said solvents are then removed through a process referred to as “purging”; leaving behind only the most medicinally-beneficial oils. There are a countless number of names given to describe the various consistencies of wax (e.g., budder, crumble, shatter), and some patients find themselves partial to one over the others. For instance, patients who enjoy a malleable, easy-to-handle extract may have an inclination toward crumble—it’s dabbable, but also loads with relative ease into one’s vaporizer cartridge. Others may enjoy the pellucid appearance and glass-like consistency of a high-quality shatter—ultimately, it’s up to the individual. Wax is normally vaporized, but some veteran patients with high tolerances prefer to mix it in with their flower. THC content in waxes can range from 60 to 90 percent.
According to Business Insider, Live Resin has experienced more growth in the last year than ANY other cannabis product in Washington, where the study was conducted. It’s considered the pinnacle of extracts at the moment, but what exactly is it that makes live resin so different from other waxes? It’s made of fresh, frozen plant material, skipping the drying process completely. The benefit of this is that during the drying process, up to 60 percent of terpenes can be lost. These terpenes are not only pleasing to the palate, they also boast a multitude of therapeutic benefits. This means the scent of Live Resin medicine is extremely pungent and distinguishable—as one cannabis lab technician put it, the aroma of just one gram is equivalent to “a whole bag” of flower. Live Resin can range in consistency from sap-like to delicate crumble, and it usually boasts a pleasant golden tone. Expect live resin to test anywhere between 65 and 90 percent in THC.
Concentrates and the technology behind them have improved tenfold over the last decade, and there’s no reason to foresee that progress slowing, as more people become comfortable with the idea of legalization. As extraction techniques continue to evolve and unwarranted stigmas inevitably dissipate, expect more patients to gravitate toward these high-efficacy medications.