New To Cannabis Concentrates? Here Are The Basics

Are you thinking about trying cannabis concentrates for the first time? Concentrates can be intimidating for many. Between choosing a type of concentrate, knowing what kind of equipment you need, and understanding how to dose concentrates for an optimal high…it can be hard to navigate.

Whether you’re using vape cartridges, syringes, live resin, or any other type of concentrate, the Spark team wants you to have the best experience possible. We’ve put together some basics so you can feel safe, comfortable, and confident when trying cannabis concentrates for the first time.

What Are Cannabis Concentrates?

“Cannabis concentrates” or “cannabis extracts” are umbrella terms for any product that is made by extracting cannabinoids directly from cannabis buds or flowers. These products are made using all sorts of cannabis strains and a wide variety of extraction methods. Some concentrates have an incredibly high THC (the cannabinoid that provides psychoactive effects), others are high in CBD (a cannabinoid associated with medicinal benefits of cannabis without the high).

How Potent Are Concentrates?

Potency depends on the concentrate you are buying, but it’s safe to assume any concentrate will be more potent than any cannabis flower you’ve smoked. Some concentrates can have up to 99% THC compared to cannabis flower which usually has 12-25%.

Types of Cannabis Concentrates

Cannabis concentrates come in a lot of forms, something that can be confusing for people when they walk into a dispensary. The difference in concentrates really comes down to the extraction method used to make them. Different methods result in different potency, taste, smell, and texture.

Here are some of the most popular types of cannabis concentrates:

CO2 Oil

As the name implies, Carbon Dioxide is used to extract cannabinoids from cannabis plants for CO2 Oil. Using CO2 is a cleaner extraction method than using solvents like Butane and results in a better terpene profile.
CO2 oil is commonly seen in vape pen cartridges like ours. At Spark, we offer high quality CO2 oil cartridges made by a few great Oregon brands, including our partner, Voyage Concentrates. Their process begins with high quality cannabis that is grown on a sustainable farm in the volcanic arc region of Oregon. They extract the oil using a supercritical CO2 process in a state-of-the-art facility where they can manage and control every aspect of the production. Voyage’s CO2 process allows terpenes to stay in tact more than other extraction methods, providing you with a full flavor profile and high potency.


Cannabis Distillate is one of the most potent concentrates on the market, with some registering 99% THC. Distillate is a very clean, clear concentrate option. Most Distillate producers achieve this clarity by vaporizing THC and CBD, then consolidating the vapor by passing it through a cooling system; this process is repeated and results in a very clean concentrate, free of all solvents.

Spark carries Voyage’s Epic Distillate Cartridges and Syringes, which are created by putting Voyage CO2 Oil through our spinning band distillation method. Then, cannabis-derived terpenes are removed from the CO2 extraction and reintroduced to the distillate. In the end, we have clean, flower-like flavor from the original CO2 oil.

Cannabis Distillate is an excellent option for medicinal patients and/or experienced cannabis consumers. Distillate can be ingested by orally with sublinguals or tinctures, transdermal topicals, infused in food, dabbing, or vape pens.

Live Resin


Live Resin is a newer form of Butane-extracted concentrate, marked by a sort of grainy texture. Live Resin is made by flash freezing freshly harvested, uncured cannabis and keeping it frozen throughout the extraction process. This is a key difference from other BHO concentrates that are made from dried, cured buds rather than fresh frozen whole cannabis flowers. Fans of Live Resin say it has a great terpene profile, aroma, and taste.

To ingest Live Resin, you will most likely need a dab rig. Ensure an enjoyable experience by starting with a small dose at 300-400 degrees.

Shatter or Wax

Shatter and wax are both very popular concentrates for dabbing, and probably what you picture in your head when you think about cannabis concentrates. These come in a sheet-like texture similar to the color of honey. High quality shatters and wax can register around 80% THC. You can add a small amount of wax or shatter on top of a bowl, in a joint, in a refillable vape pen, or with a dab rig at a low temperature.

Top Tips For Using Cannabis Concentrates

Always Ask For Lab Results Before Buying
“Treat your cannabis like your food” is a good rule of thumb. Don’t you want to know what you’re putting in your body? Why would you treat cannabis any differently?

Any reputable dispensary or concentrates producer will lab test their products for quality and make those lab results available to their consumers. At Spark, we don’t stock any product on our shelves that hasn’t been lab tested. You can always feel free to ask one of our knowledgeable budtenders for lab testing results on any of the products we offer. Asking for a copy of the lab report before purchasing will help you make sure there are no solvent residuals from CO2, butane, hydrocarbons, alcohol, or harmful additives.

Start Slow
Always remember that cannabis concentrates are highly potent. Even if you consider yourself an experienced flower smoker, dosing too much of a concentrate can still end in an intense and unenjoyable high. When first starting with concentrates, start with small doses until you are comfortable enough to slowly increase the amount.

Dab At The Right Temperature
If you choose a concentrate that requires dabbing, temperature can make all the difference for a nice high. Dabbing at too high a temperature can cause a super intense high and be harsh on the lungs. Since many terpenes have a boiling point around 300-410 degrees fahrenheit, high temperatures can also diminish the terpene profile and flavor. A low temperature dab is considered to be around 500-600 degrees fahrenheit.


About the Writer

Tricia Cleppe is a freelance cannabis content strategist and writer. She previously worked as Senior Manager of Marketing for New Frontier Data, a leading cannabis data & analytics firm. She began her career in cannabis as a Digital Strategist for the LA-based cannabis non-profit Spark The Conversation, on whose board she sits.

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