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A Guide To Solventless vs. Solvent-Based Cannabis Concentrates

Dabbable cannabis concentrates take many forms, but the main thing that separates them is how they are extracted. Some need the help of solvents, others don't. Here's everything you need to know about those processes. Created with CLSICS.
solventless vs solvent based cannabis concentrates

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The rise of cannabis concentrates is becoming more and more prevalent in the cannabis consumer market these days. There are more varieties than ever of dabbable products stocking the shelves of dispensaries as concentrates have become fully immersed as a part of cannabis culture.

However, these dabs are a bit intimidating for those who want to start using concentrates but aren’t sure about the process.

Whether you’re new to concentrates or have been enjoying them for years, we’re excited to help you find the right concentrate products for your cannabis consumption needs. It’s a new frontier in the world of cannabis so take some time to explore and discover!

What Are Cannabis Concentrates?

Once the cannabis plant is mature and ready to harvest. Professionals will pick and eventually trim the flower buds.

Hand-trimmed product usually stands out from the crowd because a more artisanal process promises the lack of unwanted plant parts in your flower bud. Things like stems or dead leaves are weight that you don’t want to be paying for.

But it’s a little bit different for concentrates.

Concentrates are cannabis-derived subproducts. They are made with cannabis extracts and can come in a wide variety of options.

A concentrate you have probably heard of before is hashish or hash for short.

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Photo by Elroi / Adobe Stock Photo

Hash has been around for centuries but as technology and cannabis knowledge progress, other concentrates have made an appearance in the scene. Among which rosin seems to shine the brightest.

Companies like CLSICS use full-spectrum live rosin in their products because they have recognized the distinction between a concentrate that’s  ‘just fine’, and one that uses a clean, pure, and incredibly efficient extract as the main ingredient.

That said:

By extracting specific compounds from the cannabis plant, companies are able to use these extracts to manufacture concentrates.

What Is Cannabis Concentrate Extraction?

Concentrate extraction is the method used to separate the targeted compound from the cannabis plant and other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. Which are all compounds that can be found in the flower.

Cannabis plants carry more than 113+ compounds called cannabinoids. Flavonoids, terpenes, and other compounds make up the remainder of the bunch.

solventless vs solvent based cannabis concentrates 3

Photo courtesy of CLSICS

Each cannabinoid is known for a particular set of effects and potential benefits on the body. THC is the psychoactive component while CBD and the other remaining cannabinoids are considered non-intoxicating.

Because we’re talking about micromolecular unions, extracting and separating one cannabinoid from the rest can be a difficult task.

Extracts like CLSICS live rosin only use heat and pressure for extraction. This results in a full-spectrum extract that contains a holistic composition of every compound found in the plant.

Targeted extraction results in the need to use solvents in order to separate one cannabinoid from the next.

Different Types Of Extraction Methods: Solvent-Based vs. Solvent-Free Concentrates

There is a wide variety of extraction methods. Which explains the wide variety of concentrates and extracts available.

Discussing each and every method would be a menial task and one that neither of us would like to get into right now. Possibly one that would require multiple articles.

On that note:

We’ll split up extraction methods into two main categories; solvent-based and solvent-free extraction.

Solventless Cannabis Extraction

Solventless extraction processes are the direct opposite of traditional solvent-based methods. These types of extraction processes don’t use any additives and are usually done by applying temperature and pressure to the plant.

Unlike solvent-based extraction, this list is much shorter and methods have a lot of similarities one from the other.

Rosin

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CLSICS rosin. Photo courtesy of CLSICS

Rosin is the most natural and quickly becoming the most popular extraction method. The same name is used to describe live rosin like the one you find in the CLSICS portfolio.

Rosin is made by taking raw cannabis and applying pressure and heat. This is done with specialized clamps that press on the plant material while their surface heats up. A honey-like substance will start to slowly drip from the plant. This sap-like material is then collected. This is the concentrate we know as live rosin.

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Dry Sift & Ice Water Hash

Photography by Georgia Love for Herb

Hash is one of the most popular, and definitely the oldest concentrate in the market today.

Dry sift hash is made by rubbing the plant with elbow grease and sifting it through a series of mesh screens. The remaining kief is then separated and clumped together.

Ice water hash is made by soaking the cannabis plant in ice-cold water. This mixture is gently agitated, allowing the trichomes to drop from the surface of the leaves. Because kief does not dissolve in water, it sinks and is then collected with a very fine mesh. This is the kief that is clumped together to make the finished Hash.

Solvent-Based Cannabis Extraction

Solvent-based extraction is done by soaking the plant in a chemical solution that helps dissolve the trichomes growing on the plant’s surface. Most of the cannabinoid content in the cannabis plant is found within its trichomes.

Once the process is finished, the solid residue is removed and the chemical solution is evaporated. Leaving only the cannabis extract.

Solvent-based extraction can be done using a variety of chemicals.

BHO & PHO

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Photo by Ayehab / Adobe Stock Photo

No, not a type of Vietnamese dish.

BHO stands for Butane Hash Oil and PHO stands for Propane Hash Oil. Both solutions are put through a closed-loop extraction process and make up the most common solvent-based extraction process. It’s easy to manage and affordable, so most concentrate products in the market use this method.

CO2 Oil

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Photo by Shannon Price / Adobe Stock Photo

CO2 oil extraction has a low carbon footprint when compared to other solvent-based options and provides some of the most reliable and consistent results. This method takes very high temperatures and pressures to pull off. CO2 oil is the most commonly used extraction method for extracts used on vape oils.

Alcohol

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Photo by marchsirawit / Adobe Stock Photo

Alcohol made a comeback in 2020, and apparently, that comeback is not specific to hand sanitizer.

Ethanol and isopropyl alcohol are used to replace other chemical solutions used in solvent-based extraction. In fact, alcohol is the solution used to make what is perhaps the oldest concentrate in the game; hash.

concentrateseducationguideslearn
March 17, 2021
Written by Simón Cartagena
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March 17, 2021
Written by Simón Cartagena

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