CULTURE
What's the Difference Among Weed Dabs, Extracts, and Oils?
Dabs. Extracts. Concentrates. Shatter. Wax. Oils. Sauce. Live resin. Rosin. Diamonds. Isolates. Distillates. Let’s be bothered with semantics for a moment.
Published on April 1, 2019

Dabs. Extracts. Concentrates. Shatter. Wax. Oils. Sauce. Live resin. Rosin. Diamonds. Isolates. Distillates. And the list goes on. But what do all these weedy buzz terms mean, exactly?

For folks new to the legal cannabis scene, all the various product types can get… complicated. It doesn’t help, either, that there’s a lot of overlap between these terms. So let’s start with the basics.

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Extract: An Action and an Object

The word “extract” refers to two things. The first is a process that removes chemical components from the cannabis plant. The second is the product created by the process, referred to as “extracts” or “an extract.”

For example, take raw cannabis oil: a black resin with the consistency of cold maple syrup. One “extracts” this oil from the plant, then it’s processed and sold as “an extract.”

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Oil: The Base for Everything Else

“Oils” refers to ultra-concentrated cannabis extracts, like the raw cannabis oil mentioned above. Raw oils are usually extracted with ethanol, typically Everclear. They also go by a lot of names, like Rick Simpson oil (RSO), Phoenix Tears, or full-extract cannabis oil (FECO).

Raw oils contain the highest concentrations of cannabinoids like THC and CBD, as well as terpenes and other waxes naturally produced by the plant. But burning these oils tastes like crap, and they leave behind a persistent residue, so dabbing, vaping, or smoking FECO isn’t ideal.

To inhale concentrates, processors usually take some additional steps to clean up FECO goo. Inhalable versions usually start with a FECO extracted with solvents like butane, propane, or carbon dioxide.

To make matters more confusing, inhalable products are also called “oils,” and they include things like shatter, wax, and distillates. More refined oils veer toward the luxury end, like rosins and live resins.

Randy Robinson
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Based in Denver, Randy studied cannabinoid science while getting a degree in molecular biology at the University of Colorado. When not writing about cannabis, science, politics, or LGBT issues, they can be found exploring nature somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Catch Randy on Twitter and Instagram @randieseljay
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