Wax, Sugar, Budder, Crumble, Shatter, Trim Run, Nug Run, Live Resin… What does it all mean? With the growing popularity of BHO, or butane has oil, concentrates it’s a good idea to know what’s available so here is a quick overview of the basic types of BHO concentrates.
What are BHO concentrates?
There are methods for making cannabis concentrates such as hypercritical CO2 extractions, dry sift resin collection and ice water hash but the most common commercially available concentrates are Butane Hash Oils. These concentrates are often created by loading the cannabis into glass tubes and blasting butane gas through the plant material. The butane acts as a solvent stripping the resin glands containing THC and other cannabinoids as well as terpenes, pigments and other oily components of the cannabis from the plant material. The oils and butane are filtered and collected from the end of the tubes into shallow pans. The oil/ butane mixture is then purged, ideally using specially designed purging ovens so temperature and time can be precisely controlled, to evaporate the butane liquid leaving only the BHO concentrate.
Wax or Shatter? The basic division.
It is through the myriad of variables that occur in this process that the resulting wax will obtain the attributes to classify it with a name. The most basic breakdown is that of shatter or wax. Shatters are concentrates that have retained a crystalline structure allowing light to pass through so that the resulting shatter is lightly translucent to nearly transparent. Wax, on the other hand, has lost it’s crystalline structure either through purposeful manipulation or agitation during the purging process or, by accident or some unwanted disruption in the process of making shatter. Wax concentrates are opaque but the texture of these concentrates can vary drastically. So the basics on concentrates is that if you can see through it, it’s shatter, if you can not see through it, it is wax.
The many faces of wax.
Inside of the Wax category there are various consistencies and textures that give it classifications. Some of these may be subjective classifications and there are regional variations on nomenclature but here are the basics of wax.
- Sugar Crumble: Sugar crumbles are signified by the crystalized surface of the wax and the crumbly texture. Light refracts off the sometime gritty wax giving it an often beautiful appearance and the crumbly texture makes it easy to handle and keeps it from being very sticky to the touch.
- Wax Crumble: Wax crumbles are very similar to the sugar crumbles in the consistency of the body of the wax. The difference is on the surface and sheen. Wax crumbles have a smooth almost slick surface, though not quite sticky they tend to be more creamy than than sugar crumbles.
- Budder: The smoothest and creamiest of the wax family is the aptly named Budder wax. Budders are very creamy and silky and often with a very rich deep yellow color. Budders are perhaps the cream-of-the-crop when it comes to wax concentrates.
Shatter, a class by itself.
Shatter concentrates are usually referred to simply as shatters despite that the consistency can vary from a thin oily consistency to a brittle glass-like hardness depending on temperature, humidity and other factors. Shatters are primarily defined and sometimes judged by the translucent properties of the BHO.
- Hash Oils: Liquid hash oils, which are translucent, are sometimes used in edibles manufacturing but may not be a result of butane solvent extractions. Also, propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin is sometimes added to BHO shatters to create eCig oils such as seen in DankTanks and oPens, but it may not be accurate to classify them truly as a liquid shatter.
- Solid Shatter: Commonly shatters are a very sticky like taffy like to a hard and brittle consistency. It is often thought that the darker the shatter is in color means that the quality is proportionately bad but this is not necessarily true. A very high quality shatter made from Grandaddy Purple for instance could easily be darker than a lower quality product made from a lighter colored strain. For instance these two shatters are made by the same company, the shatter on the left is a lower cost product line that is very a good one and the one on the right is a higher quality, more expensive Nug Run. Even though the color is much darker, the shatter on the right is the better of the two.
More than color or consistency, it is often the material that is used in making the concentrate that determines the strength, flavor and overall quality of the end product. Most BHO concentrates fall into one of the three following material categories.
- Trim Runs: Trim Runs are the most widely available concentrates and are usually not labelled as such. A concentrates is generally expected to be a Trim Run unless otherwise noted. These concentrates, wether shatter or wax, are blasted using trim, leaves and the shake plant material. These concentrates may have less concentrated amounts of cannabinoids such as THC or CBD yet more flavors from the abundance of plant material in the tubes when extracting.
- Nug Runs: Nug Runs however use the actual bud of the cannabis plant which contains a stronger concentration of mind altering cannabinoids rather than the second rate trim materials. Nug Runs are often labelled as such or in the case of the previously mentioned shatters, Nug runs are a separate more expensive brand from the same manufacturer.
- Live Resin: Considered by many as the Cadillac of concentrates is the Live Resin. Although many think, because the price is usually expensive, that Live Resin is stronger or more pure than other concentrates but again that may not be the case. Live Resin means that the concentrate was made with fresh, green, uncured cannabis either within 24 hours of being harvested or from fresh frozen material. Extracting from the green plant retains much more of the terpenes, or flavors and aromas of the plant in the concentrated form. Live Resins are very flavorful and aromatic and give a more clear flavor profile of the source cannabis but that has little effect on the potency. However, it does seem that the few people who do manufacture live resin for sale, such as Vamp and Gold Coast Extracts seem to really know what they are doing and often produce very high quality concentrates.