Cannabis Extracts: A Simple Crash Course in 3 Steps

The explosion of the cannabis market has provided us with a bevy of products. From the countless different forms of edibles to topicals to cannabis extracts, there are more products on the shelves than most consumers have time to research.

With this in mind, we’re here to provide you with this helpful guide to cannabis extracts- a somewhat daunting line of products for the novice consumer.

We’ll cover:

  • some background on extracts & concentrates
  • the major cannabis extracts available today
  • the best practices for safe use

Let’s get to it!

Cannabis extracts vs. concentrates

Using a dab rig on some Moxie cannabis extract.

Both extracts & concentrates have the same focus- separating the most desirable resins in cannabis from the flower.

While people tend to use the terms cannabis extracts & concentrates interchangeably, there’s actually a key difference between the two.

To put it simply, extracts are made with solvents while concentrates are made via mechanical processes.

Products like kief, hash and rosin are considered concentrates because the process to make them focuses on mechanical methods that isolate & consolidate cannabis resins.

Anything from kief catchers in your grinder to Bubble Bags to rosin presses will produce concentrates because they don’t use solvents.

Extracts use solvents to extract (get it?) these resins with things like butane or alcohol.

Cannabis extracts are generally stronger and considerably less user-friendly to produce.

You could say that all extracts are concentrates though not all concentrates are extracts.

What are some of the major cannabis extracts available today?

A few of the extracts produced by Cresco.

As we previously mentioned, there are a plethora of extracts on the market & new processes continue to be utilized to make products with different features.

Whether you’re looking for something to put in your dab rig or hash oil for a joint, there’s truly an extract for every occasion.

This isn’t meant as a be-all and end-all list, but it should give you a decent starting point.


Shatter is a cannabis extract which is typically flat in appearance.

Shatter is one of the most highly sought after cannabis extracts on the market because it’s incredibly easy to work with. It looks like a fine piece of glass which is usually clear to amber in color. Shatter is made through butane hash oil extraction of dried flower which undergoes a secondary filtration process called winterization that removes more impurities.

Live resin

A close look at some live resin.

Live resin is also made through butane hash oil extraction, but the flowers that are utilized in the process are not dried & cured. The fresh flowers used in a live resin are frozen with liquid nitrogen prior to extraction. The thought behind using fresh flower is that live resin carries more of the terpenes which are lost in curing. The end result is a stark contrast to shatter as live resin is typically opaque & sticky. Live resins that are more granular in appearance are referred to as sugar.


Wax is typically opaque with many different varieties.

Waxes are also made through BHO extraction, but they do not undergo winterization which retains more of the waxy materials from the flower. Like live resin, these are typically opaque & thicker than shatter. Goopy wax is often called budder while drier wax is referred to as crumble.


Sauce is a cannabis extract which is highly liquid.

Sauce is a full spectrum extract– it has all of the cannabinoids found in the plant. It’s similar to a live resin in that it can use frozen fresh cannabis during extraction, except its consistency is more along the lines of a liquid. Sauce can be very potent, but its main draw is the high presence of terpenes which gives it an unparalleled taste.


The cannabis extract RSO typically comes in syringes.

Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) was formulated by Canadian engineer, Rick Simpson. After watching a documentary on the benefits of cannabis in cancer treatment, Simpson developed a cannabis extract to treat cancerous bumps he developed on his arm. The process for extraction uses dried flower (usually indica) & alcohol and compared to many of these other methods- it’s fairly easy to produce. The end result is dark in appearance, mostly used as a topical or tincture & not prevalent among recreational users.

Can I make my own extracts?

OutCo's cannabis extract lab.

While you might think that making your own cannabis extracts could be your best route, it’s typically a good idea to leave it to the professionals for three main reasons: cost, experience & safety.

Cutting corners on any of these factors could cause some fairly serious issues.

Cost is a major contributing factor whether you’re considering the amount of flower, requisite materials or hardware you’d need to properly produce some of these extracts.

Experience plays a huge part in making sure the extraction process is carried out correctly in a clean environment.

Safety is paramount as some methods deal with volatile materials that could result in a dangerous situation if handled improperly.

Due to this, it really is better left in the hands of licensed producers like OutCo, Cresco, Moxie or Crown Genetics because they operate with these considerations in mind using lab-tested flower.

Wrapping up

We hope this post has given you a decent foundation for your journey into cannabis extracts.

As always, if you have any questions or want some more info on what we have on hand, don’t be afraid to ask our budtenders– they’re more than happy to help.

Drop us a comment below & stop by our shop to see what’s on the shelves this week!