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Updated: Jul 15, 2019

Feel like you know a little more of the terminology when talking about Cannabis extracts.

As legalization shifts forward and we learn more about the plant and how best to enjoy it, a whole collection of new words and scientific terms have made their way into mainstream cannabis culture and it can be hard hard to keep up.

Here’s an overview of some terms, each in their own way associated with terpenes (the compounds that give cannabis its tastes and smells) from the scientific stuff to the slang

BHO: An abbreviation for “butane hash oil”; can refer to any number of concentrates derived from butane extraction; also can refer to raw, unpurged, liquid solution of butane and extract bubble hash.

Closed loop: An extraction approach that recycles the extraction solvent and contains the process inside a closed system, as opposed to open blasting.

Crystalline: Refers to the molecular structure of a solid; the more orderly that structure is the more it will resemble a crystal. This is the natural state of “pure” cannabinoids, which are solids, and which can be purified and refined using recrystallization processes.

Decarboxylation: the removal of a carboxyl, which is a carbonate molecule (COOH). When carboxyl molecules are attached to the THC molecule, it is called THCA, or THC acid. In this form, THC lacks most of its psychoactivity. Decarboxylation removes the COOH acid molecule, leaving behind THC. Mild heat is often used to convert THCA to THC. This happens during drying, vaporization and smoking. Some decarboxylation happens naturally as marijuana cures and ages.

Diamond mining: Also known as “Jar Tech,” this is a simple process for recrystallizing freshly extracted BHO; this process works best using live resin.

Distillate: The refined high-cannabinoid extract produced by distilling concentrates; increasingly the most popular option for filling vape pen cartridges.

E-nail: An electrical heating element for a banger or nail attached to a temperature controller, allowing for consistent, targeted temperature dabs with no need for a torch; apart from a quick swipe of a Q-tip, there is no downtime between dabs.

Live resin: BHO produced using live or flash frozen live material; the higher terpene content makes it an ideal choice for producing sauces, sugars and other BHO consistencies that rely on recrystallization.

Nucleation: A natural separation process that occurs in all mixtures; in cannabis concentrates, this means the separation of the cannabinoid solid from the terpenes, which are natural solvents and fundamentally liquid.

Oil: A catch-all term that refers to any cannabis concentrate produced through solvent extraction, not generally used for hash or rosin.

Open blasting: The original BHO extraction process; filling a tube with weed, blasting butane through the tube and collecting what comes out the other side for purging; not actually as dangerous as often presented, but more or less a non-starter in the current regulatory climate.

Oxidation: The action of oxygen when it unites with another substance chemically. This happens quickly in fire, but also takes place at a much slower pace at room temperature. For marijuana and its products, oxidation is deterioration. The oxygen in air interacts with marijuana to reduce its THC content.

Purge: The act of removing a solvent from a solution, as occurs during BHO or CO2 extraction.

Resin glands: General term for all trichome types on the cannabis plant.

Rosin: The refined product of applying heat and pressure to raw buds or hash.

Rosin tech: A mechanical extraction or refinement process for buds and hash respectively; heat and pressure are used to coax a potent, flavorful, full-spectrum product that is dabbable.

Shatter: A highly regarded type of BHO characterized by its translucence and its brittleness at room temperature; can range in consistency from “true” brittle shatter (like golden or amber glass) to a sappy snap n’ pull consistency.

Solvent: A substance that dissolves another substance, creating a solution — water is the most basic solvent in the universe; because cannabinoids and terpenes are oils, solvents used to extract them include alcohol, petroleum-based liquids and liquid CO2.

Subcritical: CO2 extraction done below the critical temperature and pressure point of carbon dioxide when it turns to liquid.

Sugar: In this context, refers to “terp sugar,” which is a sandy, granular variation of BHO that has a damp appearance and consistency from terpene saturation.

Supercritical: An unusual phase that occurs when a substance is held at or pushed past its critical point when it changes from gas to liquid or similar. A supercritical substance has different characteristics (solubility, diffusivity) than the same substance has as a liquid or a gas; it is considered a “cloud.”

Winterization: In bio-industry, the act of removing waxes from an oil, usually through the application of cold temperature.

Of course this is far from listing all of the terp terms, but at least now you have a good running start. :)

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