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Solventless Extractions: What Are They, How Are They Made, And How Do You Consume Them?

Added 14 August 2023

The cannabis industry is very dynamic, with innovative techniques popping up every other day. As a user, you can enjoy everything from flowers to concentrates. Companies involved in the process of making extracts, also known as Extraction Artists, have contributed a lot to the industry. 

When we talk about extracts, there are two types: solvent and solventless extracts. As the name implies, extracts made using chemical solvents are known as solvent-based extracts whereas those that are made without solvents are called solventless extracts. 

Solventless extracts are particularly popular because they offer an amazing way to consume concentrates without the involvement of chemicals. Many people assume that solvent-based extracts are stronger than solventless ones, but that’s not true because even solventless extracts offer purity, authenticity, and unparalleled sensory experiences. 

Gone are the days when you had to rely on extracts made using solvents like butane, propane, or CO2. Sure, they are effective as well, but there are some concerns regarding the residual solvents that may remain in the final product. 

Solventless extracts, on the other hand, don’t have any such concern and the final product is pure and devoid of contaminants if done correctly. They harness the plant's properties while maintaining its terpenes, cannabinoids, and other compounds.

In this article, we'll explore the fascinating world of solventless extractions, and how they are made. If you’re looking to know more about them so you can purchase them, then this one’s for you. Take a deep puff of your dry kief and hop on the ride as we delve into it. 

Evolution of Extracts

Evolution of Extracts

Cannabis extracts have come a long way since their inception. Back in the day, you could find Charas that was hand-rolled. Over time, the industry has evolved with sophisticated practices that offer much more than you could hope. Modern techniques are a combination of innovation, clinical exploration, and mastery of Chemistry. In short, Extraction Artists are creative and know a great deal about how to preserve the goodness of the plant while delivering highly potent products. 

As mentioned earlier, you’ll find both solvent-based and solventless extractions intriguing but the only factor that separates the two lies in the way they are made. Both processes, especially solvent-based extractions, need extensive laboratory equipment. Sure, you can make most solventless extractions at home, but you’re more likely to enjoy extracts made by professionals because they are experienced and use high-quality starting material, to begin with. 

Extracts produced nowadays are named according to their physical attributes. For example, wax looks like shiny wax while shatter looks like it could break into a million pieces. No matter how they look, though, the extracts are judged based on the techniques used to create them. Although most extracts have similar THC percentages, they exhibit variations in terms of their cannabinoid profiles, melting behaviors, and visual appearances. 

Modern extracts can be classified into solvent-based and solventless concentrates as you already know. Typically, solvents like butane, CO2, propane, and alcohol are used as solvents. Interestingly,  despite the fact that water itself can be classified as a solvent, extracts made using water are called solventless extracts. 

Today, extracts are made keeping the consumer in mind. What better way to get a quick burst of cannabinoids in a short while? Of course, flowers also offer a great high and are medicinally beneficial as well, but both recreational and medical users will benefit from extracts mainly because they are the purest form of the plant. For instance, while a recreational user will appreciate an extract with more than 50% THC, a medical cannabis user will also love extracts containing high amounts of CBD and THC too if that’s what’s needed to help with their ailments. 

What is Solventless Extraction?

What is Solventless Extraction?

Solventless extractions, as you already know by now, are nothing but concentrates made without involving chemical solvents. This approach focuses on extracting important substances such as cannabinoids and terpenes from the marijuana plant without making use of solvents like butane, propane, etc. 

Traditional solvent-based extractions are great too, but they sometimes leave residual solvents in the end product. Of course, most companies take utmost care to ensure their products are free of any contaminants but if you have lingering doubt, solventless extractions are great as they let you enjoy cannabis concentrates with peace of mind. 

The best part is that solventless extracts, despite what you may have heard, are as good as solvent-based extracts as they rely on processes that preserve the purity of the extracted compounds. 

Cannabis consumers that wish to stay clear of any possible dangers associated with solvent-based extracts prefer solventless concentrates. In addition, these extracts are believed to be more natural and rich in terpenes, cannabinoids, and everything else the herb can offer. Most importantly, these extracts preserve the aroma and flavor of the strain used to make them. However, the downside for companies involved in these processes is that the yield is typically less than solvent-based extracts and also demands intensive labor and time. 

But, before you think of purchasing any solventless extracts, keep in mind that although they are much more natural and safe, the quality of the end product still relies on variables such as the starting material used, the techniques used for extraction, and the methods for post-processing. 

Solventless extractions have become quite popular in the cannabis industry and companies use various techniques to create them. For example, one usual method entails using ice to reduce the temperature of the buds to sub-zero temps. The manufacturer chills the buds for various reasons. First, it makes the trichomes brittle and break away from the buds easily. 

Secondly, the chilly temperature preserves the terpenes and prevents them from disintegrating. After the buds are chilled, they are agitated gently to separate the trichomes. 

As the artists don’t use any chemicals, the essence of the plant remains undisturbed. This essentially means that you will enjoy the taste and smell of the strain used to make the extract. And this is where solventless extracts have an edge over solvent-based extracts as solvent-based extraction techniques may sometimes alter the natural terpene and cannabinoid profiles of the plant

Although most people assume that solvent-based extracts are more powerful, solventless extracts are not only more potent but pure as well. This is great for anyone concerned about the chemicals involved in solvent-based concentrates. 

The extraction artists pay a lot of attention to the type of starting material they procure, as it’s the single most important factor that determines the quality of the final product. Typically, they use buds they grow themselves or source them from local farms. Indeed, the buds should have a lot of trichomes, to begin with, or they won’t produce top-quality extracts. 

In addition, low-quality buds will also produce low yields, which is bad news for the artists, so they do everything possible to start with premium material. 

Superior-quality cannabis ensures that the final product is full of flavor, which is why they are so popular among cannabis users. Extracts such as Rosin and Full-melt Bubble hash are almost always in demand, thanks to their purity. The fact that they are very similar to solvent-based extracts makes them even more attractive to consumers. 

Types of Solventless Extracts

Solventless extraction techniques have given rise to a variety of captivating cannabis concentrates, each distinct in texture, composition, and sensory experience. Here’s how most of these extracts are made:

1. Rosin


Rosin is super popular, thanks to its phenomenal taste, potency, and purity. Extractors use the rosin tech extraction technique and apply pressure and heat simultaneously to extract resinous trichomes that are chock full of terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids. Ultimately they are left with a concentrate that preserves the essence of the plant without using any chemical solvents. 

Here’s how Rosin is extracted:

  • Selection of Premium Herb

Using top-quality starting material is crucial to produce potent rosin that gives you a bang for your buck. The artists select flowers that are coated in trichomes from tip to bottom, making them rich in cannabinoids like CBD, THC, and terpenes as well. However, most extractors use kief or hash to produce rosin, and they contain lots of trichomes so the end product is as juicy as it gets. 

  • Preparing the Material

Before the artists start the process of extraction, they make sure that the starting material holds the right type of moisture. Meaning it shouldn’t be too dry or too wet as wet herb can introduce steam during the process, ultimately affecting the product’s quality. 

  • Application of Heat and Pressure

Rosin extraction relies on the basic premise of using heat to liquefy the resin present in the trichomes, so the artists can squeeze it out of the plant material. Professionals use expensive sophisticated rosin tech machines, but you can make it at home using a simple hair straightener. First, the material is made into a “puck” so it’s easy to extract the resin.

  • Rosin Press

Next, a rosin press is used to apply heat and pressure to the puck. There are various types of rosin presses including manual, hydraulic, and pneumatic presses. Basically, it’s used to get the optimal combination of pressure and heat to coax the resin out without degrading the cannabinoids and terpenes.

  • Extraction 

The procedure is successful only if there’s a perfect balance of pressure and heat. If you warm the puck too much, it can degrade the terpenes. Conversely, if it isn’t hot enough or too cold, you’ll not get a good yield. This is where extraction artists shine as they have years of experience in nailing the perfect combination to get the best results. 

  • Collection and Processing

The extraction artists collect the rosin from the parchment paper. Sometimes, it may still include some plant material or impurities. It is then processed further through rosin pressing techniques where they apply heat and pressure again and reshape the concentrate and eliminate any unnecessary material. 

  • Storing

The end product is a sticky transparent substance that can vary in its appearance. Sometimes, rosin looks like sap but it can also look like shatter at other times, depending on the type of extraction techniques used. Typically, rosin is stored in a cool, dark place to preserve its potency and flavor.

There are various types of rosin and they are classified according to the way they are made. Here are a few types of rosin:

Flower Rosin

Rosin made using cannabis flowers or buds is called flower rosin. However, rosin made using flowers may contain a lot of plant material including oils and fats at the end, so the extractors process it further. Still, some users state that the flavor is inferior to other types of rosin. The advantage is that it’s faster to make flower rosin and it also produces a better yield compared to rosin made from kief. 

Dry Sift Rosin

This is something you can produce easily at home. First, you will have to chill the buds a bit so the trichomes can be separated easily. Next, you break down the buds and place them on several screens with varying sizes. The yield you get at the very beginning is full of trichomes and considered premium. You can continue to sift but the quality deteriorates as you keep going further. 

Hash Rosin

Remember how kief is used to make rosin? Well, hash rosin is made using kief. First, the extractors prepare kief using ice water to make the trichomes brittle. Next, they are placed in screen bags, again, of varying sizes, to collect the trichomes. It is then pressed into small blocks, which is nothing but hash. 

Finally, the hash is placed in a rosin press and the resin is collected. Rosin made using hash is super potent and considered top-notch stuff, which is why it’s so popular. You will have to be skilled with years of experience to produce hash rosin as it takes quite a few attempts to create the stuff. 

Live Rosin

Live rosin is perhaps the most popular extract among all types of rosin. The procedure to make live rosin is very similar to rosin, but a few changes make the concentrate stand out. Just like you’d make basic rosin, heat, and pressure are used to make live rosin, but the game-changer lies in the starting plant material's preparation — it remains uncured before trichomes are harvested. 

In addition, what makes live rosin so incredible is that it involves uncured flash-frozen cannabis. This live frozen material is used to make bubble hash. Although live rosin isn’t as “live” as live resin, which is another type of extract, live rosin does an impeccable job of preserving the terpenes and cannabinoids of the plant as the bubble hash dries sufficiently before it’s pressed. It’s safe to say that live rosin is the best among all types of rosin as the taste and potency are simply out of the world. 

And, if you’re wondering what distinguishes live resin and rosin, the difference lies in the starting material that’s frozen. Live resin is made using solvents while live rosin is created using solventless techniques. 

Rosin Jam

To make rosin jam, the extractors convert rosin into “diamonds”. First, the extractors make live rosin and press it with high heat. They store the mixture in an air-tight container immediately. Next, they apply some heat again to allow any excessive terpenes and lipids to evaporate, forcing THC to transform into diamonds. 

THCA diamonds are pretty popular and are made using solvents. Typically, the potency exceeds 90%; however, it can be made without using solvents as well, as mentioned above. What makes rosin jam a better product is that there’s no fear of solvents lingering in the final product and it seamlessly combines artistry and potency, allowing you to enjoy it without a worry in the world.  

Rosin Sauce

Like rosin jam, rosin sauce also acts as an alternative to live resin that’s made using solvents. Rosin sauce is more complicated than any other type of rosin, as it’s challenging for even extraction artists to create it. 

First, since the extractors cannot dewax the slurry before crystallizing it, it demands an extremely pure starting material. In addition, they need to be equipped with specialized tools that induce the formation of crystals. This intricate amalgamation of purity and technique tells you how various dedicated people in the cannabis industry strive hard to deliver what their customers want. And, they can do so without using any chemicals. What’s not to love?!

2. Kief


Kief is a powerful marijuana concentrate that includes the resinous trichomes that cover the buds. If you’ve ever grown cannabis, you may have noticed sugar-like crystals forming on the buds. These are nothing but trichomes that appear like little strands of shiny hair covered in gleaming crystals. You can use a magnifier to see how beautiful they are. 

Plus, trichomes contain high concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes — the very compounds that make cannabis so desirable. So, since kief is nothing but a mixture of trichomes, you can bet that it’s one of the purest forms of marijuana you can consume. You can either use it as a stand-alone product or combine it with other extracts for a powerful experience. However, tread carefully before mixing extracts as it can take you on a wild trip if you’re inexperienced. 

Here's an overview of how kief is made:

  • Trichome Collection

First, the extractors start by collecting the trichomes from the buds using various methods depending on what works for them. 

  • Dry Sifting

One common technique extractors use is called dry sifting. This is done by agitating the trichomes very gently using meshes or screens of various sizes. As they sift the buds, the trichomes separate from the dry herb and fall on the screens. 

Some extractors prefer to collect kief by hand. They rub the buds on a clean surface, causing trichomes to detach and fall. Then, they collect the trichomes and process them further.

You can do this at home too. All you need is a grinder if you don’t want to purchase screens. Place the buds in the grinder and grind away. Over time, the trichomes will collect in the pollen collector if your grinder has that provision. As long as you use a grinder with at least three chambers, this should work. If you use flowers with a generous coating of these precious trichomes, you’ll have a good yield in no time, ranging from a few days to weeks. 

The quality of the kief they collect depends on the amount of trichomes present in the dry buds. In addition, plant maturity and the techniques they would have used to collect the trichomes matter too. Cannabis strains with a high trichome content will yield more kief, resulting in a potent concentrate.

  • Processing and Storage

The kief they finally collect may still contain some plant material or other impurities. Therefore, to refine it further, the extractors run the kief over various sieves or screens to eliminate anything that’s not needed. The refined kief is then stored in a cool, dark place to maintain its potency and freshness.

3. Bubble Hash

Bubble Hash

Bubble hash or ice water hash is a solventless marijuana concentrate that is a favorite among cannabis users for its purity. To make it, the extractors use cold water and mechanical agitation to allow the trichomes to detach from the herb, ultimately resulting in an extract that’s potent and rich in terpenes. The name "bubble hash" stems from the bubbles that develop when heat is applied to the concentrate. 

Here’s an overview of how bubble hash is made:

  • Selection of high-quality marijuana buds

Again, the extractors start with high-quality cannabis buds to produce premium bubble hash. Needless to say, the buds they select will be full of trichomes as they provide a better yield in a short time. 

  • Preparing the Material

Before they can extract the concentrate, the extractors freeze the herb to sub-zero temps. This allows them to preserve the trichomes that are full of cannabinoids. After all, the efficacy of the final product depends on the taste and potency, so extractors choose strains that can produce handsome yields and does what it promises on a recreational and medicinal level as well. 

  • Coldwater agitation

The extractors then blend ice water with the buds in micron or bubble bags that work as sieves. Micron bags come in various sizes and the finer the product, the better it is. Then, they agitate the plant material for quite a while until the ice melts. Agitating the material will let the trichomes detach themselves and fall off. Then, they repeat the process several times, although the quality deteriorates with every repetition. 

  • Filtering and Collection

The extractors carefully scrape the screens for trichomes and collect them. The resulting product is called Wet Hash. Now, they need to let it dry as it’s wet, so they spread it out to dry and cure, allowing excess moisture to evaporate. This step is crucial to achieve the desired consistency and potency of the final product.

  • Further Processing (Optional)

While many companies don’t do this, some extractors process the hash further to make it a bit more solid. They induce heat and pressure and press the wet hash to create blocks. This is done to remove any remnants of moisture and extend the shelf life. 

  • Storage 

The final product of bubble hash is a concentrate with a sandy or granular texture, varying in color depending on the strain used. It can be stored in a cool, dark place to maintain its potency and flavor. 

4. Dry Sift

Dry Sift

Dry sift is another form of kief but it takes it to the next level as it involves intricate screening procedures to ensure the trichomes are intact. Extractors use various techniques including both mechanical and manual means to achieve this. 

They use micron screens of varying sizes and repeat the process several times to collect more yields. However, as you already know by now, the first extraction is usually considered premium as repeating the process will include more plant matter. 

Also, don’t forget that extractors test the quality of their products extensively, whether it’s solvent-based or solventless, and you can choose whether you want premium or slightly inferior concentrates.

Dry sift is nothing but highly refined kief so you can expect various grades from premium to the less-premium ones. For instance, while full-melt is considered top-notch containing most of the trichome heads, half-melt may contain a mixture of trichomes and some plant matter. Kief comes last as it has a higher amount of plant matter, thereby making it slightly less desirable than the premium extracts. 

Dry sift is incredibly fine and often appears beige in color. Like kief, you can consume it on its own or sprinkle it on joints. You can also include it in edibles but you must tread cautiously as dry sift is already super potent and you don’t want a bad trip that can mess things up. 

Best Ways To Consume Solventless Extracts

1. Dabbing


Dabbing is one of the most popular ways to consume cannabis concentrates. Not to be confused with the form of hip-hop dancing, dabbing, when you’re talking about cannabis, involves heating a dab rig's nail or banger to the appropriate temperature and then applying a small amount of solventless concentrate onto the heated surface. 

Since the rig is extremely hot, the extract vaporizes immediately upon contact, creating a smooth and tasty vapor that you can breathe in. Dabbing is way too common among extract enthusiasts or those that have a lot of experience with extracts. However, if you’re new, you should dab a very tiny amount to prevent any adverse outcome. Remember, concentrates are extremely strong and a single puff can make you more high than smoking an entire joint. 

Many users prefer dabbing as it allows you to control the temperature precisely while ensuring that you get to taste the terpenes and cannabinoids in their purest form. As the terpenes and other goodies are vaporized instead of burning them like you would when you smoke a joint, dabbing offers a clean and potent experience.

2. Vaporizing


Concentrate-specific vaporizers such as pens or portable vapes have revolutionized the industry. Whether you want to vape a concentrate like hash or dry herb like buds, you can choose vaporizers and use them accordingly. Many devices allow you to do both, which is a better investment as you don’t have to spend separately for each device. 

These devices are designed in such a way that they vaporize the extract at specific temperatures you can control easily. As you aren’t burning or combusting the herb or concentrate, you can expect amazing flavors. In addition, it is beneficial even for your health as you avoid the risks associated with smoking cannabis. 

3. Sublingual Consumption

Sublingual Consumption

You can consume certain solventless extracts like rosin jam and live rosin sublingually. Just place a small amount of the extract under your tongue and allow it to get absorbed rapidly through your mucous membranes. 

You can also expect immediate effects (not as fast as vaporizing or smoking, though) as it bypasses the digestive system. This discreet method offers an alternative way to experience the concentrate's effects without inhaling.

4. Add it to Joints

Add it to Joints

This is a classic and one of the most simple ways to enjoy certain concentrates. First, start preparing the dry herb for your joint as usual, and then sprinkle extracts like dry sift, kief, or powdered hash on the dry herb. Then, mix it all up, roll your joint, and enjoy!

Or, you can add layers of concentrate as you fill in your joint. This won’t be possible if you don’t make a cone first. Thus, purchase joint cones or make them yourself and add the dry herb and concentrates in layers to enhance your experience. Not only will the combination be super tasty but it will be extremely potent as well. 

5. Edibles and Tinctures 

edibles and tinctures

Solventless extracts can be integrated into homemade edibles. As the extracts are already decarboxylated during the process of extraction, you can add them to oils, butter, or alcohol without having to worry about heating them to activate the cannabinoids. This enables you to craft your very own custom-infused edibles that you can enjoy at any time. 

6. Topical Applications

Topical Applications

Solventless extracts can be used for topical applications by including them in lotions, balms, or salves. As cannabinoids may provide relief in localized regions when you apply them topically, adding extracts to creams will enhance their potency and help you in a better manner. For example, whether you have sore muscles or knee pain, cannabinoids are known to help alleviate the pain, so adding potent extracts is indeed a great way to reduce pain without experiencing the psychoactive effects of cannabis. 

Summary: Solventless Extractions: What Are They, How Are They Made, And How Do You Consume Them?

The world of solventless extracts is incredible and the best part is that you can make any of them at home. Of course, purchasing them from extraction artists or even dispensaries will offer a better experience as they have access to specialized equipment that controls everything with precision; however, you can still try these at home. 

Remember, the outcome will depend on whether you use premium herb coated with trichomes or not. Otherwise, you will end up with sub-par extracts that don’t offer a potent experience and you won’t be able to get much yield either. 

Consuming extracts is a surefire way to experience the potent high cannabis has to offer. If that doesn’t interest you, you can go for CBD extracts that are made without using solvents. There are way too many solventless CBD extracts that can help you. 

Whether you seek immediate effects, a flavorful experience, or targeted relief, these methods showcase the versatility of solventless concentrates and their ability to enrich your cannabis journey. From the precision of dabbing to the creativity of infusing, each approach reflects the landscape of the cannabis industry that just keeps evolving with time.