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What are Concentrates?

Classifying Concentrates

Solvent Based Extraction

What's on the shelf?

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What are Concentrates?

Concentrate products are highly concentrated forms of marijuana. All concentrate products are extracted from cannabis dry leaf in some form. Concentrates are produced with a variety of extraction processes to yield a more potent product that retains all the aromas, flavors, cannabinoids, and depending on the type of concentrate, terpenes of the original strain, while all other excess plant material is discarded. This is done by isolating the trichomes of the flower, which contain all the cannabinoids and terpenes of the cannabis plant. 


Concentrate or extracts can be an umbrella term that describes an assortment of products on the shelf. Because of different production methods and a wide variety of end products this can lead to confusion from patients on what they are purchasing. A basic guideline is that concentrates will come with higher potency, and there will be an indication of the strain used and the type of concentrate in the name. If a concentrate is named Cherry Diesel Live Sugar “cherry diesel” is the strain and “live sugar” is the type of concentrate. The primary method of consumption for concentrates is dabbing. This is simply the process of vaporizing cannabis concentrates in a temperature-controlled dab rig, similar to a bong (this is why you will hear concentrates sometimes referred to as “dabs”).

Classifying Concentrates

Like with all cannabis products, grower/processors will all utilize different methods to produce their concentrates. They look to find the perfect balance between completing and replicating a complex scientific process and using artisanal touches to make their concentrates both unique and consistently the best product they can be. The distinction between concentrate products will come from the details in how they are produced. These result in differing textures, potency, and composition. Below is a listing and description of different categories of concentrate products and the distinction between them. 

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Solvent-Based Extraction

As mentioned above, solvent-based extracts make up the majority of concentrate products on the shelf at PA dispensaries. This extraction process has many detailed variations when getting into the specifics: solvents used, material being used for extraction, desired end product, etc. But before you can understand the specifics, it is helpful to get a basic overall picture of the process first so you can better understand the product. Because of the involvement of solvents in the extraction process, marijuana extraction should only be performed by experts in a laboratory grade setting.


The most common solvents used in cannabis extraction are hydrocarbon gases such as butane or propane. Growers utilize hydrocarbon solvents in a closed-loop extraction system that involves high-grade industrial equipment. This a complex chemical process done in a contained laboratory grade setting. The following section is a basic outline of how a closed loop process for solvent-based extraction produces concentrates.

How Marijuana Concentrates Are Made

What's on the Shelf?

The PA market has a wide variety of concentrates that can take shape in different forms, textures, and viscosities. Different growers will utilize different techniques and make their own adjustments to the intricacies of the process to yield a unique concentrate product. Producing quality extracts is a rigorous scientific process. But this process still has room for artisanal touches that can make the difference in the flavors, aromas, and potency of the end product. Growers shooting for the highest quality concentrates know how to find this balance and consistency when producing high-grade concentrates at scale. Below is a breakdown of some of the more common solvent-based concentrate products patients will find in a dispensary.