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Saturday July 7, 2018

By Andrew Ward


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. Despite the wide variety of products and consistencies, however, at their core level, concentrates can be broken down into two categories: solvent-based and solventless.

Both solvent-based and solventless concentrates have a place in the market and fill a demand. But which is right for you? The answer was a bit more straightforward a few years ago. However, now, as a particular solventless option shows its immense abilities, one choice could prove itself the leader of the pack.

Let’s take a peek into the solvent and solventless concentrate markets to see how they stack up. For more information on cannabis extracts, be sure to check out our Complete Guide to Concentrates!

Solvent-Based Products

Both solvent-based and solventless concentrates are hot topics of interest among consumers. Customers love the positive effects of cannabis concentrates – sometimes reaching over 90% THC efficiency. In addition to increased potency, cannabis fans love how concentrates of all varieties maintain and bring out the terpene and taste profiles of its starting material.

Live Resin
An example of terpene-rich live resin sauce extracted via solvents.

Solvent-based concentrates are the most common form of concentrates on the market and typically involve propane, butane, CO2 or ethanol to strip cannabinoids and terpenes from marijuana flower. Commercial extraction operations utilize closed-loop systems to ensure minimal risk for explosion or chemical exposure. Final products vary depending on the solvents an extractor chooses as well as the processing techniques used after extraction (i.e. purging methods, curing, etc). From a consumer standpoint, your choices can range from a number of characteristics, such as consistency, color and taste.

The Rise of Solventless

While solvent-based products are currently the most common, many people are switching to solventless these days for a number of reasons – primarily because solventless products are perceived as a healthier option due to the lack of chemicals used during extraction. Plus, many people believe that without any chemicals involved, the end products are in their most natural state with their chemistry unaltered from any solvents.

Similar to the organic cannabis movement currently happening within the flower market, there appears to be a solventless hash revolution occurring, with more consumers and connoisseurs seeking out top-shelf solventless products to experience the true essence of the plant and concentrate.

Rosin is sought out by consumers for its increased purity and natural cannabis experience. Jared Rojo

Generally speaking, the solventless process is more challenging to produce in mass quantities than solvent-based extractions and takes longer to create, too. Solventless hash-making is becoming a true art form, with top extractors leading the pack with innovations and new products. Most commonly, solventless products are produced via agitation methods where resin glands are extracted through either ice water baths (bubble hash) or heat and pressure (rosin).

Solvent-Based vs. Solventless Products

If you’ve ever been to a cannabis dispensary, odds are you’ve seen a variety of cannabis concentrates. Familiarizing yourself with the options available can help you spend less time at the dispensary and more time consuming your products and having a great experience.

Solvent-Based Extractions

There are many different solvent-based products available for purchase at dispensaries and which one you choose is mostly up to personal preference. If you like concentrates that are easy to use and malleable, perhaps a wax or shatter is best. And if you want increased flavor and robust terpene profiles, you may want to try out some live resin or sauce. No matter which option you choose, each will provide you with a unique cannabis experience! Take a look at some of the most popular solvent-based products on the market, then click the links to see how they’re made!

Cannabis vape cartridges have also gained a lot of popularity over the past few years and many of them are now made with distillate for its low residual solvent levels and consistency. Isolated cannabinoid products also come from solvent extraction, and produce some of the most potent products on the market. By breaking the plant down to individual cannabinoids, producers can isolate precise cannabinoids and facets of the plant. Doing so has allowed for stronger medical grade CBD products which benefits an array of patients today on the legal market.

Solventless Extractions

Solventless extraction produces high-quality, flavorful concentrates that can leave virtually no residue behind when dabbing. Check out some of the most common solventless products on the market, then click the links to see how they’re made!

Out of all the solventless products on the market, bubble hash and rosin are perhaps the two most accessible options at dispensaries today. Bubble hash also is one of the best products to use when pressing high quality rosin and solventless hash oil (SHO). Solventless products are also legal to create at home if you live in a legal state. In fact, home rosin presses are gaining popularity, allowing consumers to create their own rosin without using a flat iron.

Rosin Press
Rosin presses are a great way to make high-quality solventless hash oil. PurePressure

In addition to its stellar reputation, rosin also stands out for its ability to mimic virtually any product on the market, even solvent-based ones! From rosin sauce to rosin budder to live rosin to non-solvent THC-A and rosin crystals/diamonds, rosin can replicate and provide more options for consumers. Now, they can enjoy their favorite products without worrying about any residual solvents or contaminants.

So, What Should You Choose?

Ultimately, the choice between solvent-based and solventless products boils down to the consumer. Solvents serve a purpose and help create products that solventless methods just can’t match at this time. The worry over toxicants in products and the potential for catastrophic DIY accidents are both legitimate in solvent-based products but both can be minimized by buying from noteworthy, commercial extraction companies.

With solventless options, you are likely to get better flavor profiles while avoiding any solvents. The healthier choice appears to indicate that solventless is the way to go. However, the marijuana concentrate market evolution is sure to progress in the years to come. For now, the best idea is to go with your personal preference after considering all the factors around product safety, flavor and potency.

What’s your favorite type of cannabis concentrate and why? Comment below!


Andrew Ward Andrew Ward

Andrew Ward is a Brooklyn-based cannabis writer and creative. His work has appeared on Benzinga, High Times, PROHBTD and several other publications and brand blogs. He has covered the cannabis space for over three years, and has written professionally since 2011. His first book, "Cannabis Jobs," was released in October 2019. Connect with Andrew on LinkedIn to stay up to date.

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