Similar to that orange juice concentrate in the back of your freezer, cannabis concentrates are the product of distilling down the most desirable parts of the plant. They contain all the cannabinoids and terpenes of cannabis flowers and none of the excess plant material. Ounce for ounce, marijuana concentrates have a far greater proportion of cannabinoids and terpenes than raw cannabis flowers.
Cannabinoids and terpenes are responsible for the effects, aroma, and flavors you might experience with any cannabis product. They are found throughout the cannabis plant in small, sparkling structures called trichomes. A cannabis concentrate is simply a condensed accumulation of these trichomes. Grab any high-quality cannabis flower and you can see them for yourself. These frosty appendages coat the entire surface of the plant, but they're particularly noticeable on the flower buds.
Concentrates let you experience the best parts of cannabis in a multitude of ways and they come in a variety of textures that can be consumed using several different methods. Depending on the final form they take, cannabis concentrates and extracts can be consumed on their own, sprinkled in a joint to increase the potency, or precisely incorporated in a batch of edibles.
You may have heard the terms concentrate and extract used interchangeably, but there is a subtle difference between the two. Extracts are a specific type of concentrate made using a solvent. So, while all extracts are concentrates, not all concentrates are extracts.
For example, vanilla extract is produced by using alcohol as a solvent to pull out the desired flavor component, vanillin, from vanilla bean pods. Alcohol may also be used to make a cannabis extract, as is in the case with Rick Simpson Oil (RSO). But other solvents may be deployed as well, like butane for Butane Hash Oil (BHO) and supercritical CO2 for cannabis wax extracts.
Concentrates made without the use of solvents are produced using mechanical or physical means to remove and gather trichomes. Rosin, dry sift, and kief are all examples of concentrates made without the use of solvents.
Since extracts and concentrates come in a variety of textures, you always can't tell them apart just by looking at them.
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