The most common concentrates and how they are made
When I started my career as a budtender three years ago, I don’t think I realized how minimal my knowledge about cannabis was. I knew the difference between strains and their effects, and I had begun my journey on discovering the connection between the way the plants smelled and the effects they had on my body (known as the Entourage Effect), and I had some basic knowledge on edibles, but I had never even heard the word “dab”, and I certainly didn’t have any idea what dabs were, how to do them, or the vast differences between the types of dabs there were. It is with that in mind that I wanted to shed some light on some of the basic terminology, types of extractions, and what to expect when purchasing concentrates.
To start, I’d like to break down the most common varieties that I’ve seen on the market. Please keep in mind that different states may have different regulations regarding extractions and how they can be made and sold, so your shopping experience may vary. Pound for pound, the most common extracts I see day to day trim run waxes and shatters, with nug runs and Live Resins being fewer and farther between.
Generally speaking, if you are purchasing any type of shatter or wax, you are probably getting a product that was extracted with either butane, propane, or a combination of both, and the trim or “sweet leaf” left over after harvesting from a grow. While some types of shatters and waxes are going to be of higher quality (such as “nug run” and “live resin” wax), less expensive concentrates are usually produced by professionals using specialized equipment to blast the trim from a harvest with liquid solvent (most commonly butane, propane, or a combination) to gather the leftover goodness from the leaves and turn it into a super potent consumable product, usually around 70-90% THC.
Nug Run waxes and shatters have essentially the same process as Trim Run, but rather than only using the trim left over after a harvest, extractors will blast the nugs that would otherwise be sent to dispensaries for sale instead of the trim. This results in a more flavorful and potentially stronger product than blasting trim. You can usually expect to pay a bit more of a premium for nug run vs trim run concentrate since the growers typically sell the nugs to dispensaries for flower consumers and blast the trim instead.
Live Resin concentrate is generally the most expensive type of hash that uses these methods, and is also considered to be the highest quality and the most enjoyable. While Live Resin isn’t any more potent than a typical shatter or wax, (in most cases slightly less potent even), it is significantly more labor intensive to create and it yields a much more enjoyable product. Rather than simply blasting the left over trim or the harvested nugs from a grow operation, to create Live Resin the growers must harvest the entire living plant, and then usually either immediately freeze it or blast it directly after harvest to capture the highest quality extraction possible. By using the entire plant as the extraction material instead of just the trim or nugs, Live Resin captures a much higher amount of terpenes, which are more or less the essential oils of the plant that give each strain it’s unique flavors and qualities, giving the consumers a richer, more flavorful dab.
Whether you call it shatter or wax, pull-and-snap or crumble, dabs or concentrate, I think it’s important to keep in mind that these products are typically very potent and, while generally safe to consume, they are incredibly dangerous and usually illegal to make if you do not have right equipment and a license to use it. So consume responsibly, respect your limits, and leave the extraction work to the professionals.