Cannabis Extracts

The Ultimate Guide to Cannabis Extracts

Depending on the solvent quality and the extraction method you use, you can experience myriad highs from dabbing. Read to learn more.

Marijuana extracts, or dabs, are a potent and versatile way to get high. It comes in many different forms that yield various end products depending on the quality of materials used, marijuana strains, and extraction method.


A cannabis extract, or concentrate, is anything from wax, crumble, shatter, BHO (Butane Hash Oil), rosin, and alcohol based tinctures or any other usable form of cannabis which has undergone an extraction process. Solvents used in solvent-based extraction methods range from butane, CO2 , ethanol, hexane or propane. The main chemical constituent sought by extraction is THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol, and some extracts contain up to 80% or greater THC.

Since the FDA has found that there is no medicinal benefit of THC (THC vs. CBD), there are also CBD (cannabidiol) extracts which typically can contain up to 4% CBD and help with things like seizures, depression, lack of appetite, mood regulation, and can also help with sleep apnea, somnambulism, and insomnia.

Cannabis extracts are commonly known as dabs, and come in many forms with names like full melt hash, hash, trim run, nug run, honey oil and bubble hash. The quality of dabs is normally determined by how fresh the beginning material is, and thus how blonde the end product turns out to be, with the brighter colored and more transparent end results fetching more of a pretty penny when sold from dispensaries. Smell is also a big part of what determines quality, with fruity or citrus smells preferred. You don’t want it to smell like the solvent.

Extraction Methods

The two methods used in extraction for cannabis labeled marketable and usable by the end consumer are solvent-based and solvent less. If a solvent like butane, hexane, propane or CO2 is used then the extract is said to be solvent based.

If water, gravity, or a hopper or tumbler is used to separate off trichomes then the extract is called solvent less. Ultimately, meaning that when it is consumed by the end user there will be no residual remains of solvent in the final product.

Obviously, the solventless approach is the way to go as far as less potential adverse health effects due to residual chemicals. The essence of the plant is what is sought, and a rich, aromatic terpene profile can be more attractive than the scent of flower alone.

Butane Hash Oil: BHO


Butane hash oil is one of the more common cannabis concentrate extraction methods. In the past it has received some negative stigma due to the backyard operations known as “blasting”. However, with the legalization of cannabis in California and other states this process has gone from the back yard to a laboratory.

Further, BHO concentrates are a form of solvent-based extracts and can produce some high quality and flavorful concentrates. One major plus side to BHO concentrates is that it comes in a variety of prices affordable for everyone’s wallet.

How It’s Made

Cannabis trimmings are put into a glass tube or other holding container that is airtight from the front and open at the back end. Butane gas is passed through the densely packed plant material and what remains is a mixture of the original cannabis plant material as well as the oil sought. This mixture is allowed to dry with the butane evaporating off, and what is left is then sifted to obtain the final result: Butane Hash Oil.

BHO is more potent than cannabis flower, and is also more marketable to potential customers. As it is nearly impossible for all of the butane to evaporate off, BHO oil is known as one of the more dirty or impure concentrates, with a little residual butane always remaining in the finished product. As long as proper care is taken that the evaporation period is long enough the amount of residual solvent is decreased.

However, when done in a proper facility with real extraction equipment this process becomes much more involved and can yield excellent quality concentrate. There are people who blow themselves up trying to make this stuff, so either be prepared with the proper safety equipment and precautions and consult a pro, or don’t try this at home.

How to Smoke

When looking to consume BHO concentrate the best and preferred method would be to dab it on a quartz dab nail and dab rig. However, BHO can be consumed mixed in a joint, blunt, spliff, bowl with some cannabis flower, or in a vape pen for convenient consumption.

Common Amounts & Prices

BHO like other cannabis concentrates come most commonly in gram amounts. However, “baller jars” can be purchased with 1/8th, 3/4s, and rarely in half ounces. The price of BHO varies in coordination mostly with its quality, however just like with any product popular brand names get to add a little extra on top because they know it’ll sell anyways.

This does not mean that popular name brands don’t have good products, they are popular for a reason. BHO can be bought at prices from $20 to around $70 a gram. A good price to ensure that you get quality with out breaking the bank would be in the $30 and $40 price range.

Top Brands

  • Raw Garden
  • West Coast Cure
  • Loudpack
  • Nug

Propane Hash Oil: PHO


Propane hash oil or PHO is very similar to its butane counter part BHO. It is a solvent based extraction method that when done properly can yield some quality concentrates. Propane is less popular as it is a newer solvent being used to extract cannabis concentrates.

How It’s Made

Propane hash oil is made in much the same way with propane substituted for butane, only with propane instead of butane, there is no residual solvent, it has a relatively small load ratio, and it can be recovered quickly, making for faster production. Since it is highly flammable, a sparkless room and other safety gear are a must. Maintaining a high pressure at the evacuation end of the extraction tube with propane is a must, with 80 or higher PSI being sought.

How to Smoke

Just like any other concentrate, PHO can be consumed in a variety of methods. The preferred method would be to dab the product off a dab rig and nail. However, it can also be mixed in with a bowl or joint or put in a vape pen for convenient consumption.

Common Amounts & Prices

PHO can be most commonly purchased by the gram, but there are also “baller jars” that can contain up to a quarter ounce for cannabis consumers who don’t want to worry about running out. The price of PHO varies just like any other concentrate and can be found from $20 all the way up close to $100 a gram.

Carbon Dioxide Extracts: CO2


CO2 concentrates are made using carbon dioxide as the solvent instead of butane or propane. Carbon Dioxide concentrates are generally harder to make, but yield much tastier and cleaner concentrate than other solvent based extraction methods. CO2 based concentrates are a step up from the butane and propane counterparts. Anyone looking for a tasty dab of cannabis concentrate should definitely consider CO2.

How It’s Made

Don’t want any solvents at all, or the vapors from petroleum or its derivatives? Try CO2 oil! When CO2 is frozen it turns solid, making dry ice! When using dry ice to obtain CO2 and allowing the pressure of sublimation to push the gas through a condensator, compressor, separator, heating chamber, and finally to the business end or extractor bottleneck.

CO2 extractors freeze and compress the gas into a supercritical cold liquid state. This is dry ice. Because of the lack of heat used in the extraction process, CO2 is ideal for extraction without denaturation of isolated compounds, namely THC and CBD.

The pressure is first raised when the CO2 gas is run through the compressor, condensator and separator; then the temperature is raised up above freezing by a heater. The room temperature gas is then passed through the end of the extractor making high grade CO2 hash oil.

How to Smoke

CO2 concentrates are most commonly consumed by dabbing the extract on a quartz nail attached to a dab rig. This method allows for the least amount of wasted product, giving the consumer the full experience of the concentrated cannabis. Other ways of consuming CO2 extracts is on a joint or bowl or in a vape pen for convenient on the go vaporization without the need for a torch.

Common Amounts & Prices

Just like all concentrates the most common amount CO2 is sold in is a gram. However, larger quantities of up to a quarter of an ounce can be purchased. CO2 extracts are a bit more pricey than it’s BHO/PHO counterparts. Look for CO2 to start at $30 a gram and get close to $100 a gram.

Top Brands



Cannabis extracts that us alcohol as the solvent are a great option for cannabis consumers. The alcohol extraction process allows for companies to create concentrates like THCA crystals. This is a more cost effective method when compared to other extract methods. It is also safer to work with in the right conditions when compared to propane or butane.

How It’s Made

Using alcohol to extract Hash Oil is simple and yields relatively more than BHO, propane, or CO2. First the alcohol, which should be above 91% and should NOT be grain alcohol, is poured into a receptacle with cannabis wrapped tightly in a coffee filter. The cannabis is allowed to sit in the container and is gently swirled around or agitated until the resultant liquid becomes a bright green color.

Then, the coffee filter is squeezed out without being torn, and the liquid is placed in a glass baking pan in front of a fan in a dustless room until the alcohol evaporates off leaving a sticky, green, clean burning substance known as alcohol extracted hash oil.

As an added bonus, instead of using cold alcohol in the beginning, a little bit of dry ice can be added to room temperature alcohol with the “teabag” of cannabis trimmings floating around being agitated by the bubbling of the dry ice in the alcohol, and then the rest of the process can be followed to the T and will yield the same end result.

How to Smoke

Alcohol based concentrates are most commonly consumed by dabbing the extract on a quartz nail attached to a dab rig. This method allows for the least amount of wasted product, giving the consumer the full experience of the concentrated cannabis. Other ways of consuming any type of extract is on a joint or bowl or in a vape pen for convenient on the go vaporization without the need for a torch.

Common Amounts & Prices

The most common amount for any type of concentrate sold is by the gram. However larger quantities can be found up to a quarter of an ounce. The price range for alcohol based cannabis extracts are about the same as other solvent based cannabis extracts. They can be bought from $20 up near $100 per gram.

Isolate Dry Sift


Dry sift is one of the most pure forms of cannabis concentrate. This method involves no solvent to create a pure cannabis concentrate. Isolate Dry Sift is the trichomes of the cannabis removed from the flower. These trichomes are full melt and can be vaporized like a dab. This is one of the cleanest dabs you can take.

How It’s Made

This method, also called dry hash, in essentially kief. It is trichomes removed from dried cannabis Flowers by pushing them back and forth over a series of screens with a flat glass pane beneath. This produces clean hash with a nice terpene profile and doesn’t contain any residual solvents at all, since none were used in its manufacture.

Dry sifting is ideal for making hash in colder climates, as the colder temperatures allow for the crystalline trichomes to be more easily pushed through the screen without becoming sticky or gummy, and clogging the screen itself. Although this process is a bit screen intensive, and requires for the screens to be washed after being heated time and again, it is a viable way to make a versatile hash powder that can then be pressed and melted into tasty dabs.

How to Smoke

The most effective way to smoke dry sift is to dab it. This method ensure the least amount of wasted product allowing for a more full vaporization of the cannabis concentrate. You could also top a bowl nicely with some dry sift, or sprinkle it on the inside of a joint to take it to the next level.

Common Amounts & Prices

Most cannabis concentrates are commonly bought by the gram. Larger quantities can be found, but are more rare. The price of solventless cannabis concentrates is much different than the solvent based counterparts. Look for Isolate Dry Sift to start at $50 and go over $100 for a gram. The price of this concentrate speaks to its quality.

Ice Water Hash


Ice water hash is another top quality solventless cannabis concentrate. This concentrate is sought after by those who are looking for a clean dabbing experience. Those who enjoy dabbing ice water hash enjoy the full flavor of the strain they are smoking on uninterrupted by any form of solvent to alter the strains terpene content.

How It’s Made

Ice water hash, also called bubble hash, is a more rudimentary way of pressing cannabis trichomes into hash bricks. Several layers of micropore filters, similar to the screens used in the production of Isolate dry sift hash, are used to push trim and broken bud material through, being thus agitated with ice and water and allowed to soak for a period of 2 hours or more.

The trim is then pushed through the various sized of micropore bags, leaving excess water in the holding reservoir and varying grades of hash sticking to the screens on the bottom of micropore bags. Normally up to 12 bags are used varying in sizes between 275 and 40 microns. Each bag will have a different grade of hash within it. The hash is then scraped off the screens with a spatula and placed on clean parchment paper to dry.

How to Smoke

Most often, ice water hash is dabbed on a quartz nail and dab rig. This process ensure that the concentrate is vaporized properly giving the consumer the full potency of the product. However, ice water hash can also be added to flower in the form of a joint, blunt, or bowl to increase the potency of the natural cannabis flower.

Common Amounts & Prices

Most cannabis concentrates are commonly bought by the gram. Larger quantities can be found, but are more rare. Solventless cannabis extracts are more expensive than other cannabis concentrates. The price of ice water hash can be double that of some bho concentrate. A gram dosage of ice water hash can be found from $60 to over $100.



Rosin is a very popular solventless cannabis extract. This type of concentrate involves heat and pressure to essentially juice cannabis of its THC and terpenes. Rosin is a great form of cannabis concentrate for those who want to taste the purity of the strain they are smoking.

Rosin allows for the natural flavor of the cannabis to shine through. This solventless cannabis extract is for those who really enjoy the flavor of cannabis, but are looking for a clean extraction method.

How It’s Made

Rosin hash is made by separating the concentrate from the plant matter through heat and pressure using what is called a rosin press. Rosin is dabbable and tastes great, but does not contain harsh solvent residues, and therefore it is one of the healthier options for those who wish to consume marijuana products medically or recreationally.

First a piece of slick sheet or parchment paper is used to enclose the cannabis flower material, then it’s squeezed between the heating pads of a hair straightener that has been preheated to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Firm pressure is required for a minimum of 30 seconds. The beginning material is then removed from the paper and either saved for further extraction or processing, or discarded.

The leftover material is already activated THC, so it can also be used to make tea or edibles. There should be rosin stuck to the outside of where the nug used to be, which is then sealed within plastic. This type of dab is clean and does not contain excess solvents.

How to Smoke

Rosin is most commonly consumed by dabbing it on a quartz banger attached to a dab rigs joint. This method allows for the consumer to get the most out of their cannabis concentrate, allowing for the full effect of the potency to go unwasted. Rosin can also be placed on the top of a bowl or mixed in with a joint or blunt. It all comes down to how you prefer to consume your cannabis concentrates.

Common Amounts & Prices

Most cannabis concentrates are commonly bought by the gram. Larger quantities can be found, but are more rare. Some companies sell “baller jars” that contain up to a quarter ounce in them. Rosin like other solventless cannabis concentrates is pricey. It starts at about $60 per gram and can go over $100 for a gram.

Top Brands

Final Thoughts

Hopefully this guide sheds some light on the various ways that cannabis extracts are created, and what quality and potency can be expected from the resultant extract. Most of these extraction methods are for well-versed professionals.

It’s not wise to attempt these techniques on your own without previous knowledge and experience. The safest methods above are dry sift and rosin. If you’re keen to try extracts, those would be the only ones to try at home.

Remember that knowledge is power, and use your power wisely. Happy dabbing!

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