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Saturday March 5, 2022

By Michael Walters

Cannabis distillate inside of a vape cartridge Education

If you’re a fan of cannabis concentrates, then you have probably heard of distillate. These highly refined products are incredibly popular among all types of consumers due to their purity, potency, and clarity. However, not every distillate product is created equal. Some companies are capitalizing on the curb appeal of distillate by producing subpar or impure products, resulting in an overflow of iffy distillate on the market.

So, how can you be sure you’re buying quality distillate every time you visit the dispensary? The answer is easy with a little due diligence. Understanding products from a procedural level can help you differentiate between who’s simply turning trash into cash and who’s actually producing artisan cannabis distillate.

An Overview of Cannabis Distillate

For anyone who doesn’t already know, cannabis distillate is a highly potent form of cannabis concentrate that is ultra-refined through a distillation process. Because of the refinement techniques used, distillate can reach up to 99% potency and is known to be one of the strongest concentrates on the market. Even better, because of the high heat used during distillation, distillate products are fully activated and can be used in a variety of ways such as oral ingestion or topical application.

cannabis distillate
Distillate is one of the most popular cannabis concentrates on the market.

Similar to the way shatter and live resin gained notoriety in their heydays, distillate too experienced quite the influx in consumer demand over the past few years. In fact, the current popularity of distillate has created a high saturation of brands creating products to support the growing trend. And while more options is generally a good thing for a consumer, it does make it more challenging to sift through the varying levels of quality and find a superior brand and product.

Because of the high saturation of distillate products on the market, it’s becoming increasingly important to seek out quality from a consumer standpoint. There are many great products out there, but as with any trend, there are some businesses out there seeking to capitalize on hype. 

This leads to inferior products that do not provide ideal effects or experiences.

What to Look for in Quality Distillate

When it comes to identifying top-tier cannabis distillate, the devil is truly in the details. Sure, some products may look decent appearance-wise, but if a high-level of refinement is not achieved, consumers risk dealing with harsh hits that may be composed of potentially dangerous solvents

It’s always a good idea to examine four specific aspects before making a purchase: color, clarity, potency, and brand credibility.

While these indicators do not guarantee your product will be high-quality, a quick inspection at the dispensary for these characteristics will almost certainly help you avoid low-grade products.


The color of quality cannabis distillate is, among other things, highly indicative of how refined a product really is. It’s important to note that there are several different shades of color found in quality distillate but generally a light, amber-yellow hue is a good color to look for. Anything that’s too dark or has a green or black tinge should be avoided.


As with diamonds, clarity in cannabis distillate is of utmost importance. Because distillation is ultimately a refinement process, any flaws in clarity directly correspond with issues in the extraction and distillation process.

high-clarity cannabis distillate
Look for cannabis distillate that has high-clarity free of any cloudiness or discoloring.

High quality distillate should be fully translucent and not cloudy in any way. If you can look through your distillate and clearly see what’s on the other side, then it’s usually safe to say you are dealing with a product that has minimal lipids, waxes or impurities.


Depending on your personal preference and tolerance to cannabis, potency can be a bit of a variable factor. Most distillates range from 85-99% in overall potency so be sure to take a look at the cannabinoid content before purchasing. Raw distillate with low potency won’t necessarily be low in quality, but you may need more to feel desired effects.

Brand Credibility

One of the most important aspects in choosing a quality distillate product is the brand that produced it. Awareness of brand credibility plays a crucial role in selecting top-tier distillate products. Finding a brand who puts out a product you can rely on will help build brand loyalty and give you peace of mind that you are purchasing clean, effective products every time.

Is Distillate Better?

Is distillate better than other cannabis concentrates because it is refined and produces such a high THC percentage? The answer to this question has less to do with quality and more to do with what you are expecting to get from your oil.

If you are looking for pure THC and/or a reasonably priced activated oil to make edibles, distillate is the best oil for you; however, if you are looking for a more complex high, distillate is not going to be your best option. Cannabis is made up of hundreds of different compounds (cannabinoids and terpenes) that work synergistically to give you an experience.

The concentrates that have a more diverse terpene and cannabinoid profile are going to produce a more robust effect when consumed. Terpenes not only play a vital role in the direction of the experience, they also play a role in the  longevity of the experience as well. In short, the best oil is going to be the one that best meets your needs.

Downfalls of ‘Bargain’ or Low-Quality Distillate

While several brands have proven to be effective in both quality and purity, there are many other brands out there who are trying to gain market share with lower-quality products. This over-saturation of bargain products reinforces the importance of buying quality products from both an efficacy and a health standpoint.

As touched upon briefly above, lesser-refined distillate has the potential to contain impurities such as waxes, lipids or even solvents.

These impurities can lead to harsh dabs, poor flavor and possibly impact a consumer’s health. And when it comes to your health, choosing the perceived safer option is always a no-brainer. You may have to spend a little more at the point of sale, but you will be saving your lungs and your body from any discomfort.


In the later months of 2017, Colorado saw flower sales drop below 50% market share for the first time in history – mainly due to the rise in concentrate popularity. As this trend continues to spread across legal states, expect to see more and more extraction companies popping up. 

While this will create more concentrate diversity, be on the lookout for low-quality products and always be sure to remember the keys to quality cannabis distillate. Doing so will keep you and your friends safe, satisfied and, most importantly, feeling only desired effects.

Have you tried cannabis distillate before? Comment your experience below!


Michael Walters Michael Walters

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse with a degree in Writing and Rhetoric, Michael started his journey in the cannabis industry managing content, communications, and technical writing for one of Colorado's largest dispensary chains. In 2016, Michael pivoted to the ancillary sector to become PotGuide's Content Manager and was responsible for overseeing all of PotGuide’s editorial endeavors and content marketing strategies. Now, Michael is PotGuide's Director of Content & Marketing, focusing his efforts toward new educational content and exciting media endeavors.

With a life-long passion for cannabis knowledge and education, Michael devoted himself to becoming a subject matter expert on marijuana at an early age. Now, Michael has worked in the marijuana industry for over four years helping break down negative stigma and promoting safe cannabis practices. An avid consumer himself, Michael has worked tirelessly to improve content marketing strategies for cannabis businesses and is devoted to creating meaningful content that is useful to a wide variety of marijuana consumers. Follow Michael on LinkedIn and Instagram for updates and insights.

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