Cannabis Concentrates Explained 

what are cannabis concentrates

In the days of yore, folks looking to medicate with cannabis were really only given a couple of options. Either you smoked hash or cannabis. If you felt like getting real adventurous, you might be able to source a home-brewed extract through less than savoury avenues. However, cannabis legalization has made these clandestine efforts a thing of the past. These days, MoM dispensaries are stocked full of concentrates galore. It can be hard to know which one is right for you, with many different avenues to explore. Every product is very different, and they all have vastly different effects. 

So how do you choose? Well, you could play a rousing game of “let’s try one of everything,” but we wouldn’t recommend that. Especially if you are a beginner. Instead, we’ve taken the liberty of doing the research for you in this two-part series, breaking down everything you need to know about cannabis concentrates. First, let’s talk about what a concentrate is exactly and how they differ from your trusted joint.

What are cannabis concentrates?

Concentratescannabis diamonds are different ways CBD and THC have been extracted from the cannabis flower. Every flower has compounds like oils, cannabinoids, and terpenes that can be extracted and made into different products. These products are the various kinds of cannabis concentrates you see on the shelves at your local dispensary. While you can get similar effects from smoking a cured flower, a concentrate is far more potent, smooth, and contains many active compounds like cannabinoids that give you the high and terpenes that provide you with flavour. 

The form a concentrate takes depends on the method of extraction used and the type of heating agents required to decarb the cannabinoids. With all the advances science has made in extraction methods, it’s never been easier to get the high you want when you want it. Now that we’ve established what a concentrate is let’s dive into some of the different types of concentrates you can find at your local dispensary.


Sauce is a solvent-based extract that focuses on high terpene and cannabinoid content giving you a potent high and a smooth flavour. It can be made from any strain of flash-frozen or cured flower. A sauce made from a fresh frozen flower tends to have a more robust flavour profile as it contains more terpenes than that made of a cured flower. While most concentrates aim to integrate terpenes and cannabinoids into a uniform colour and texture, the goal of sauce is to allow the major cannabinoids to crystallize and separate from the terpenes. This gives it its “saucy” consistency, similar to marmalade. While this creates a potent and flavourful concentrate, this also makes for an inconsistent experience. Because the terpenes and cannabinoids are separated, there is no way to distribute them throughout the final product evenly. This means that one dab of sauce might contain more terpenes or cannabinoids than the very next dab. However, some of the most potent concentrates on the market come from the sauce-making process when isolating the crystalized cannabinoids.


Diamonds are the isolated crystalline structures that form when making sauce and have a mostly solid, slightly runny texture. This is because even after being isolated from the terp sauce, there is residual sauce that remains to coat the diamonds. This remaining terp sauce gives the diamonds a strong flavour profile while the diamond extract creates an incredibly potent high as it is the crystalline form of pure THCA. It is important to be aware of companies that advertise diamonds as “pure THC” as it is actually pure THCA. This means that while diamonds can give you a strong high, they need to be exposed to heat in order to convert THCA to THC. This means that diamonds need to be consumed by either smoking, vaping, or dabbing.


Wax has a soft consistency, sometimes referred to as budder, crumble, or frosting. Its texture can range from that of butter, cake icing, or sticky candle wax. When it comes to your average cannabis smoker, this is usually the first concentrate that flower smokers sample before they dive into the world of oils and distillate. It is extracted using solvent-based methods like most concentrates, with the most significant differences happening towards the end of the extraction stage. During the cool-down process, it is whipped for several hours to create a creamy consistency. Like most other concentrates, wax is also heat-activated, so you can spread it onto a joint or blunt or dab to consume. 

THC Distillate

One of the most popular forms of cannabis concentrate is THC distillate. This oil has been stripped of all other materials and compounds except for one specific cannabinoid that is highest in THC content. With no flavour or aroma, distillates can be used in a variety of ways.  They can be used topically or in a vape. Distillates are also favoured to mix into edibles. It’s also important to note that while all distillates are oils, not all THC oils are distillates. This means that oil can only be considered a distillate if all materials and compounds, like terpenes, have been removed. There are other kinds of cannabis oils on the market that have not undergone this process and therefore cannot be considered distillates.


Typical heat-based extraction methods can destroy volatile terpenes leaving you with a product that has less flavour and aroma. HTFSE, or High Terpene Full Spectrum Extracts, uses an extraction method that focuses on preserving terpenes above all else. This extraction form is favoured amongst people who prefer a strong flavour profile in their cannabis concentrates. Live resin and sauce are concentrates that utilize the HTFSE method.

From terpene sauce to diamond extract, to THC distillate, and more, we have only just begun to scratch the surface of this whole new way to experience cannabis.  When it comes to the new and exciting ways science has managed to step up your high; there are several other types of cannabis concentrates that we haven’t even touched on yet. One thing is for sure; these concentrates aren’t your grandpappy’s hash oil. Come back and check out part two of our deep dive into cannabis concentrates, where we will discuss shatter, live resin, and more!




* * All views expressed here are from a third-party source and do not necessarily represent the entity of Salish Trails itself. This blog post is intended to be used for informational purposes only.