The popularity of cannabis concentrates is booming, hitting around three billion dollars in sales last year in the US alone. They’re likely to reach a staggering 6.5 billion dollars by 2025.
The reasons for their growing demand vary like the types of concentrate products offered. The different flavors and aromas, the psychoactive properties, and a greater diversity of sensorial experiences can be found with concentrates than with just dry flower.
What are cannabis concentrates?
Concentrates are the product of extracting the specific parts of the cannabis plant containing its most desirable properties and offering them in a compact form.
The part that’s extracted is the trichomes, or resin glands, which contain each flower’s unique profile of cannabinoids and terpenes. They come in a variety of flavors and aromas, levels of psychoactivity, and textures.
Some concentrates extract the flower’s resin glands using solvents such as butane and alcohol. These are sometimes referred to as extracts. Among the most famous are different types of cured resin and live resin.
Solvent-based concentrates can be more efficient at extracting the trichomes and retaining more cannabinoids, including THC, the chemical compound that makes you high.
But then there are solventless concentrates, which avoid the use of hydrocarbon chemicals, and instead use heat, pressure, or bags of ice for extraction.
They also contain a high level of cannabinoids, as well as terpenes, the chemicals endowing each cannabis plant with its unique flavors and aromas.
Kief, Dry sift, and Hash
When you use screens to snap off the trichome heads from a dry cannabis flower’s stalks, you get kief, also known as dry sift, which looks like green powder.
In fact, most weed grinders have a “kief” catching chamber. Depending on screen size, varying amounts of plant matter may end up being caught up in the mix.
When a lot of plant matter is mixed up with the trichomes, then kief is smoked by sprinkling it on top of bowls of flower or to coat prerolls. The going rate per gram for kief is between $5-$20.
But if you heat and compress a lot of that loose powder into small, solid clumps or blocks, then you get standard hash or dry sift hash.
Making dry sift doesn’t require much equipment or the use of solvents, it’s not time-consuming, and it’s relatively easy to do. The product provides an enjoyable high rich in flavor.
But despite the impressive terpene and cannabinoid concentration in dry sift concentrates, you’re still likely to end up with more unwanted plant material.
The price for industry-standard dry sift hash ranges between $15 and $30 per gram.
The quintessential solventless concentrate is a kind of resin called rosin. That one-letter difference means no hydrocarbons were used to extract the coveted trichomes. Instead, extract artists use pressure, heat, and maybe ice, depending on the product, as we’ll see.
Cannabis manufacturers can create as large a variety of concentrates from rosin by pressing regular flower, dry sift hash, and bubble hash.
By pressing the other concentrates to extrude rosin from it, you significantly boost the concentrate’s purity, keeping more of the desirable properties, and sifting out the unwanted.
Pressed flower: rosin chips
It’s not unheard of to make standard rosin by pressing dried flower or dry sift hash to make something called “rosin chips” because of the circular discs they resemble.
It’s widely thought that while flower-derived rosin is the cheapest to purchase, it also offers the lowest quality. Pressing flower results in a lot of the plant’s terpenes and cannabinoids getting lost.
Properly ground kief is often compressed into dry sift hash, which is then pressed further into these rosin chips. Not the highest quality product but still solid in flavor and smell.
Pressed hash: rosin budder, rosin sauce, and diamonds
But most rosin-derived products come from pressed, dry sift hash.
Rosin budder is when the extracted trichomes pressed out of either flower of bubble hash, are then whipped up.
Rosin sauce and diamonds (they come together), are a separation of the THC and terpenes, similar to a live resin sauce.
Rosin jam uses heat to separate the microcrystals of THCA from the terpenes.
Why you’d choose one over the other, as expected, is a matter of cost and personal preference. A citrus flavor might be more enjoyable as a jam to some people, whereas a pine flavor can be enjoyable as a budder to others. It’s highly subjective.
Rosin budder and sauce, derived from pressed dry sift hash, offer an excellent balance of price and quality. Able to be smoked or dabbed, it’ll do more than satisfy most cannabis lovers looking for a rich flavor combined with a good high at a fair price.
But to take things to the next level in terms of quality, taste, aroma, and psychoactive properties, we have to talk about bubble hash and jar tech.
Bubble Hash and Jar Tech
Bubble hash is a concentrate made using “bubble bags” with different-sized micron screens at their bottoms, layered upon each other in a bucket.
The process, known as an “ice wash”, begins. A batch of cannabis buds frozen upon harvest is submerged into the layers of bags filled with ice and water. Extract artists then proceed to carefully stir the frozen flower in the buckets.
This is a highly elaborate procedure whose purpose is to remove the coveted trichomes from the frozen buds without using solvents. The trichomes fall to the bottoms of the bags where they are retrieved and dried afterward.
Only the most refined cannabis trichomes make it through the bags with the smallest micron screens, without the stalks or any other unwanted plant matter. Just the good stuff.
And this is what’s known as the highest grade of bubble hash, also called full-melt bubble hash. When dabbed, it completely melts, leaving no residue in the banger, and is unlikely to burn, so the flavor is maintained.
Bubble hash is graded from 1 to 6, with 5 and 6 representing the highest, purest form of solventless cannabis concentrates in the industry. Next time you see 6-starred bubble hash at dispensaries, you know you’re potentially getting the best of the best.
Jar tech is made by sealing rosin in glass jars at warm temperatures to create a sauce-like consistency. YOu can also leave the rosin-filled jar in colder temperatures to create a thicker, budder-like substance.
Jar tech and 6-starred bubble hash sit at the top of the pricing list. They’re easy to manage like budder, but their terpene profile offers unparalleled richness.
Regarding bubble hash, the problem is that it can be a challenge to smoke or dab. One can easily overheat the bowl or the banger, burning the contents.
Instead of a delicious cannabis taste, you’ll get something that ends up tasting like burnt teriyaki. Enough said. 5 to 6-starred bubble hash can range from $50-$120 a gram. So use it right.
Cannabis connoisseurs consider 6-starred bubble hash the creme de la creme. Since its concentration of trichome heads is so high, the beloved entourage effect is higher—the balance of flavor, aroma, and physical and psychoactive sensations that together provide a unique, all-around cannabis experience.
But then there’s live rosin.
Live rosin badder or budder
Like standard rosin, live rosin is a solventless concentrate extracted using heat and pressure. The difference is that live rosin is made from flash-frozen cannabis flower and standard rosin isn’t.
What’s more, unlike standard rosin, rarely do you find live rosin made from just pressing a frozen flower. It’s neither ideal nor efficient, although it’s easy to do.
If you heat up frozen buds, due to all the moisture trapped inside of them, you’ll end up losing a considerable amount of the cannabis plants’ desired properties.
The method that delivers the most flavorful live rosin concentrate, considered a delicacy in the industry, is by pressing bubble hash, which, as you know, uses flash-frozen cannabis buds during its ice wash.
Once the higher grades of bubble hash concentrates are extracted, they’re pressed for further purity, giving you the artisan’s concentrate: live rosin.
From there, you can whip up or aerate the live rosin into the preferred consistency, budder or badder, which are essentially the same thing, and go for $35-$100 a gram.
The pros and cons of live rosin, 6-starred bubble hash, and jar tech
People love live rosin because of its chemical-free production and high levels of terpenes and THC. Making it is also much more accessible when compared to live and cured resin concentrates.
As with 6-starred bubble hash, and jar tech, the main drawback of live rosin is that it’s costly. You get less for your buck. Some 6-starred bubble hash and jar tech can range between $70-$120/gram.
One of their strengths is also their weakness: since these concentrates don’t involve solvents, their methods of extraction turn out to be more time-consuming.
Whether live rosin, bubble hash, and jar tech are more potent and richer in terpenes than solvent-based cured and live resin products is an ongoing debate.
One thing to keep in mind is that the quality of the concentrate also depends on the quality of the plant used. The richness and potency of a live rosin concentrate will reflect the properties of the original plant used.
Frequently asked questions about rosin and live rosin:
What's so special about live rosin?
Amazing flavor profile. Strong high. Solventless.
Does live rosin get you higher?
As of now, there’s no real way to say. It depends. The method itself doesn’t guarantee a product that gets you higher. It just guarantees the most accurate rendition of the original plant’s chemical profile.
A precise balance of the original plant’s terpenes and cannabinoids working together provides a more enhanced sensorial experience. Live rosin does a get job of capturing that and maybe likelier to get you higher.
What's the difference between rosin and live rosin?
The freezing of the plant when harvested.
How much does live rosin cost?
A lot of factors go into determining the price:
- the type of live rosin-based product made
- the plant strain and its level of terpenes and cannabinoids
- how well it was processed—one degree off or a minute too long can impact the quality of the final result
- how it was handled between each stage of production
There are many variables to account for that influence the cost. But in general, the price ranges from $35-$100/gram.
For live rosin badder, sauce, and jar tech, the price tends to range between $50 and $70.
Does live rosin taste good?
Delicious. Amazing. You really feel like you’re getting the best from the original plant.
Is rosin better than bubble hash?
If we’re talking about live rosin, then bubble hash is what you use to make it. If you’re talking about standard rosin pressed from dry flower or dry sift hash, then no.