Extracts vs. Concentrates

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Hash is hash right?

There are so many cannabis products on the market today that some confusion is bound to occur. One of the points of confusion is over cannabis concentrates and extracts. While the terms “concentrate” and “extract” are often used interchangeably, the differences between the two are actually very important.

So what’s the difference?

Extracts are made using solvents. The solvents chemically extract the THC and or it’s components.

Concentrates are made through mechanical processes that isolate precious resin heads.


Some of the commonly used solvents are butane, propane,CO2 and ethanol. The resultant extract will have its own characteristics in terms of appearance, flavor, and potency based off of what solvent was used. The same methods can also produce wildly different results in terms of flavor and consistency depending on the quality and type of plant matter used, and also on minor tweaks in technique.

Shatter Pic

flower rosinBHO Shatter

Photo by Andres Rodriguez

CO2 Oil
CO2 Oil

CO2 Oil: Supercritical fluid extraction removes THC and terpenes from raw cannabis. Carbon dioxide and pressure are used to extract cannabinoids and terpenes. Using carbon dioxide as the solvent, the resulting extract is considered by many to be “cleaner” than butane or propane-derived extracts. This method results in a viscous, oily liquid. Sometimes thinned with VG/PG or PEG (a medical grade solvent) to increase viscosity. Moreover, CO2 oil is frequently found in vaporizer pens and cartridges.


Hydrocarbon Extracts


live resin
Live Resin

Live Resin: Live resin is a type of BHO, but it has become so popular that it really warrants its own entry on this list. The difference between live resin and shatter is how the flowers are handled pre-extraction.

Shatter is made from flowers that have gone through the typical drying and curing process.

Live resin, on the other hand, is made from fresh flowers that have been frozen. The result is a sticky-sugary extract that preserves more of the natural terpene flavor profile, much to the delight of dabbers everywhere. Terp sauce is another type of BHO high in terpenes, and is in a simi liquid form.

propane hash oil
Propane Hash Oil

PHO (Propane Hash Oil): The method is similar to BHO, except the solvent used is propane instead of butane. The final product is nearly always a budder. PHO runs at higher pressure during extraction, but a lower temperature during purging.

BHO (Butane Hash Oil): Made by placing plant matter in a closed column and washing butane over it and then the solvent is recovered. The solvent pulls THC, CBD and the terpenes. Which is poured out into a thin sheet and placed in a vacuum drying oven.

Afterwards a vacuum drying oven removes any remaining solvents. What’s left behind is highly potent. BHO may take the form of shatter, budder, sugar, sap, or snap ‘n pull or live resin.

Important note It’s very dangerous to try to make it at home (and illegal in Oregon).

Other Extracts



RSO (Rick Simpson Oil): Originally created by Rick Simpson to treat his own cancer. RSO is a full plant extract, using all parts of the plant. Made by soaking plant matter in either naphtha or isopropyl alcohol. Afterwards the plant matter is filtered out and the remaining alcohol is removed through distillation. The resulting extract retains a tar-like appearance once the solvents have evaporated. Usually applied topically or orally. This extract is highly sought after for its medical use and is rarely used recreationally.

Honey Oil
Honey Oil

HHO (Hexane Hash Oil)- Because hexane is highly non polar so, plant matter can be soaked in hexane without picking up unwanted water soluble compounds. Once the hexane has been purged you’re left with a product similar in appearance to shatter. The hexane extraction technique is not safe to do at home, hexane is very flammable, and its fumes are very dangerous.





Hash (aka Hashish): Hash has been around since at least 900 AD and has been made by hand, with different cultures developing their own techniques. Made up of compressed trichomes that have been separated from the rest of the plant. Trichomes are the resin glands of the cannabis plant and are highly potent. Many traditional techniques are still in use today, but modern technology has provided hash makers with innovative new ways of refining cannabis.

Hash is pretty much now made one of two ways using either water or done dry.

Hash – Dry Sift Method: Cannabis is first ran over a fine screen, then the resin is ran through to another finer screen that catches the gland heads and allows dirt and other particles to fall through. This process is repeated several times until all of the dirt and excess plant matter have been removed, leaving only pure trichomes. As this method is time-consuming and produces low yields, concentrates produced this way tend to be more expensive.

bubble hash
By Mjpresson (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Hash – Water Method: aka “Water Hash” or “Bubble Hash.” Even though water is a solvent, water extraction techniques are classed as solventless and the resulting products are concentrates.

Made by mixing plant matter with ice and water, stirring and trapping resin heads in a series of bags with different mesh screens on the bottom. Once separated the resin heads are dried, resulting in hash.

Rosin: Made by pressing cannabis while applying heat that expelling hash oil. Made from flower, kief, hash, or a combination.

Rosin appears more translucent than other concentrates and resembles oils and shatters that have been produced through extraction (solvent) techniques both in appearance and potency.

Terrible Garbage “Resin”

Do not confuse rosin/live resin with “resin,” the residue from smoke found inside pipes and other smoking devices. (Resin contains less THC than even flower and is not considered a concentrate or extract – it is a byproduct and a bad tasting one at that.)

For the desperate smoker “chamber pipes” make collecting resin easier. Real heads put a joint in the special chamber to get it nice and resinated for a special occasion.

Once your pipe had built up a nice layer of resin. Afterwards you’d scrape up all of the built up brick weed resin and smoke it. Oh, those were the days, brick weed and resin………