A few years ago, the only types of solventless cannabis extracts made without butane were cold water hash, kief, and what's often referred to as old world pressed hashish, which is the dark “brick-like” hash.
Now the selection isn’t so sparse anymore. There are many types of solvent-less concentrate available today, such as rosin, budder, and freeze-dried hash, all of which provide a quite potent and aromatic smoke.
Rosin is a natural solventless concentrated extract of plant material. It’s made by applying a certain temperature and amount of force to secrete the plant sap.
Rosin can be made from various starting materials, such as freshly harvested cannabis buds, water hash, kief, and even trim. You often see your highest yields with recently harvested cannabis. Most rosin extraction artists prefer cannabis that has been harvested within 2-6 weeks. The golden rule of extraction is you get what you put in; generally, the terpene profile is further drawn out during the extraction process, giving you a phenomenal aroma and taste.
Depending on the starting material and procedure used, rosin can vary greatly in color, opacity, and consistency. Some rosin has a sappy texture while others are more stable and malleable and even appearing in a snow-like consistency. It can range in color from dark brown to clear or beige.
If you wish to have an easier to manage concentrate, you might want to look at budder. Budder is a whipped version of rosin, which is far easier to utilize when smoking or dabbing. Making rosin into budder is actually quite simple; just constantly stir your existing rosin with a warmed dab tool. This process draws out even more aromatic properties of the rosin often bringing out the optimal profile of the material.
There are also freeze-dried hash products that are made by preserving and extracting cannabis trichomes in a sub-zero extraction method. This leads to an expensive solventless concentrate due to the challenges in the extraction process, which is still in the early developmental stages.
A solvent is usually a chemical, such as butane, propane, or other elements, that is used to extract the crude material for further processing. These solvent-based products are often regarded as “shatter”, “terp sauce”, “live resin”, and “THC diamonds”, along with a plethora of other names. All of these concentrates have their own method of extracting the material and feature a solvent to bind to the cannabis to produce the desired results. Often solvent-based dabs are a more cost-effective form of a concentrate.
A recent and interesting progression in extraction technology is supercritical C02 extraction, a process to obtain concentrate without solvents that end up contaminating the final product, leaving it with no negative impact on the environment. Supercritical extraction takes all of the C02 vapors out of the final concentrate; however, this is still a solvent-based product.
Shatter on left, Wax on Right. Photo by Andres Rodriguez
The THC content of all of these processes varies upon a number of things from starting material, the equipment, and methods used.
Budding Health Concerns
It’s to be noted that there is still not enough scientific research on the health benefits and risks of each extract type. That being said, solventless concentrates like rosin are often regarded as the healthier alternative to solvent-based dabs due to their lack of chemicals and being a 100% natural byproduct of cannabis. Cannabis lovers choose solventless dabs over the alternative not only because of the enhanced flavor profile and overall smoking experience but also due to the lack of many potential health risks that accompany solvent-based dabs, such as ingesting butane and other byproducts. Solvent-based dabs generally have a harsher throat burn and often accompany an artificial or chemical like taste, whereas solventless dabs are usually a more aromatic flavor profile of the plant’s natural terpene.
People with respiratory issues like asthma and heart conditions should steer clear of solvent-based dabs if possible. There are plenty of testaments from dabbers who claim that they experience breathing issues among other side effects; however, when they switch to a solventless concentrate, a notable improvement is observed. Solventless concentrates provide not only a naturally terpene enriched smoke but also a cleaner and healthier alternative. Being able to press your favorite strain and take a nice dab or put it in a joint with it makes for a wonderful experience.