As cannabis gains more and more recognition as a versatile medicine, the interest for cannabis extracts doesn’t cease to grow.
Thanks to advanced technologies, new types of extracts are being introduced almost every year.
Before Canada and certain states in the US started legalizing cannabis, consumers were left with nothing but dried flowers, hash, and tinctures.
While hash undoubtedly falls into the concentrates bracket, it’s still just hash.
Then, we had the 20th-century growers who started to experiment with soaking flowers with solvents — that’s how the BHO extraction was born.
BHO was a true milestone for cannabis extraction technology as it paved the way for the world of concentrates as we know it today.
After the invention of BHO, engineers and researchers worked together to come up with more advanced extraction systems, perfecting the end product as well.
Modern-day extractors that cost upwards of $10,000 do most of the extraction process alone — you just need to collect the end product.
Some of the most popular concentrates at this moment are full-spectrum cannabinoid extracts, terpene sauces, and CBD isolates.
Let’s elaborate on these forms of concentrated cannabis.
A Primer On Full Spectrum Extracts
Cannabis extracts can take many different forms and various consistencies which both depend on the way the plant material is processed. Before we discuss the different types of full-spectrum extracts, let’s briefly cover the extraction process first.
Cannabis oil can be sourced from both hemp and marijuana. Most extracts you’ll see in dispensaries are made from marijuana plants, although CBD oils are rapidly gaining popularity these days.
Extraction means that all the valuable compounds from the cannabis plant are stripped from the flower with a solvent. Most common solvents include butane, propane, or CO2.
Once the extractor has collected the resulting fluids, they discard the plant material, and all they’re left is crude oil.
As the name suggests, full-spectrum extracts contain the whole range of beneficial cannabinoids, terpenes, and other phytochemicals from the sourcing material — without the non-therapeutic compounds, such as lipids and waxes.
You can also find broad-spectrum extracts, which carry everything listed above save for the THC.
A full-spectrum extract will have THC, CBD, CBC, CBN, CBG, and other terpenes and cannabinoids. Depending on the strain or the type of plant, the dominant cannabinoid is THC or CBD.
We distinguish two types of full-spectrum extracts: High Terpene Full Spectrum Extract (HTFSE) and High Cannabinoid Full Spectrum Extract (HCFSE). The first carries mostly terpenes and some cannabinoids, while the other has reversed ratios of these two.
What is High Terpene Full Spectrum Extract (HTFSE)?
HTFSE is better known to cannabis users as terpene sauce or terp sauce. This extract is made from the concentrated terpenes and terpenoids which float up because they’re noticeably lighter than cannabinoids.
HTFSE is very runny and oily, so they don’t give the user much room for manipulation when it comes to consumption methods. They often come loaded into vape pens or removable cartridges that you can attach to the battery of your vape.
Since HTFSE consists mostly of terpenes, they are packed with various flavors, which allows you to experience the essence of how cannabis plant should taste.
But, that’s not the end of the benefits offered by terpenes.
Aside from being responsible for the fragrances and flavors of weed, terpenes also enter synergy with other molecules in cannabis which triggers effects unique to each strain.
In order to be considered a full-spectrum extract, the terp sauce must be simultaneously made with HCFSE — otherwise, it’s just a broad-spectrum product.
Some terp sauce producers are selling broad-spectrum terp sauce mixed with cannabis distillate as full-spectrum extracts, but that’s not how full-spectrum terp sauce is made, so always make sure to ask your vendor how the extract was made.
What is High Cannabinoid Full Spectrum Extract (HCFSE)?
HCFSE are also referred to as THC diamonds because of their appearance. While you might think that THC diamonds are transparent and colorless, these extracts are actually at least a bit yellowish.
A THC diamond is made by pulling cannabinoids from the crude oil, using the same process as HTFSE. The key difference here, though, is that HCFSE contains all the cannabinoids with some terpenes.
THC diamonds are extremely potent, mostly clocking at around 90%.
Both HTFSE and HCFSE are usually consumed with a dab rig or vape pens, providing the user with a powerful high which is better suited for experienced consumers rather than newcomers.
The Science Behind Making Full-Spectrum Extracts
Multiple sources describe terp sauce and diamonds as just aged live resin. The extraction begins with extracting frozen cannabis using the classic BHO method.
Once the crude BHO has gone through winterization, laboratories usually set it aside for a few weeks so it can age there. Scientists call this process nucleation, because, during this time, heavier particles in the extract fall to the bottom of the collector, while the terpenes float on the surface.
The heavier parts are used to make crystals. Once they get separated, you receive both terp sauce and THC diamonds.
So, simply put, yes, terp sauce is cured or aged live resin. Rather than drying and curing cannabis for a few weeks, the plant material is flash-frozen to preserve the highest terpene content possible. Then it’s set aside to age after a standard BHO extraction process.
The end product contains up to 60% terpenes. THC diamonds, on the other hand, are tested at 90% THC and up.
Full Spectrum Extracts vs Isolate
Isolate is a term describing substances that contain one molecule. If you manage to separate CBD from the other molecules, you end up with CBD isolate.
This product can be made from marijuana and hemp, but it’s never a full-spectrum extract. This means it comes without certain benefits offered by whole-plant products.
Full-spectrum extracts produce the so-called “entourage effect”, meaning that all molecules present in the cannabis plant work better together than each of them in isolation.
In other words, a full-spectrum extract has a greater therapeutic potential than isolate. One of the few advantages of isolate-based products is that they don’t have any taste or smell, so they’re more versatile in the end. Full-spectrum products are less processed, so they carry the natural smell and flavor of cannabis, which might not appeal to everyone.
Have you ever used a Full Spectrum Terpene or Cannabinoid Extract? What’s your experience with this form of cannabis? Share your thoughts in the comments!