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The terminology used in the cannabis extraction field can be confusing for non-chemists. Although every weed extractor has the same goal (i.e., extracting cannabinoids from cannabis), they have different ways of accomplishing it. The techniques and technologies an extractor uses to make their products will alter the potency of their final product. 

For instance, there’s a subtle difference between THC distillate vs. extract. While both products share many properties, some consumers may prefer one item over the other. It’s worthwhile reviewing the key features that distinguish THC distillates from extracts to make an informed decision. 

THC Distillate vs. Extract — What’s The Big Difference? 

For simplicity’s sake, it’s best to think of THC distillate as a super refined THC extract. Confusingly, THC distillate could be considered a “THC extract,” but not every THC extract qualifies as THC distillate. What makes THC distillate so unique? Manufacturers must put their THC distillate through another round of purification that involves high heat and condensation. 

To make THC distillate, extractors need to heat their cannabis extract in pressurized containers at THC’s specific boiling point. Technicians then capture all of these THC vapor compounds and condense them into the final vial of “THC distillate.”

While THC distillates could have slight traces of secondary cannabinoids, they won’t have the same abundance of compounds found in less-purified full-spectrum THC extracts. However, please don’t mistake THC distillate for THC isolate. The latter product is a powdery or crystal-like substance with zero flavors and ~ 99 percent THC content. By contrast, THC distillate has a thick & sticky consistency and ~ 80 percent THC. 

The phrase “THC extract” is a rather broad term that could include ultra-purified THC products like distillate or items like butane hash oil, THC shatter, or live resin. Even if you press THC rosin at home with a hair straightener, that’s technically a “THC extract.” Any THC-containing product that had to go through some type of extraction — whether solvent-based or solventless — qualifies as a THC extract. 

Therefore, you can’t rely on the phrase “THC extract” to tell you a lot about how manufacturers made your product. You should always take plenty of time reviewing how a company made its THC extract to ensure it fits your preferences. Of course, please also double-check your THC extractor will provide detailed third-party lab results to know exactly what you’re consuming.

How Do People Choose Between THC Distillate vs. Extract? 

Since distillate has a higher THC concentration than many other cannabis extracts, it’s ideal for experienced users who want heavy-hitting experiences. THC distillates don’t have as much taste as terpene-rich extracts like live resin, but they’re not as flavor-depleted as THC isolate. 

Please remember that “THC extract” is a broad category that includes many THC-containing products. If you’re new to “THC extracts,” you should review products with a relatively low THC concentration before jumping to extreme THC substances like distillate oil. Some customers also recommend starting with equal THC/CBD extracts to reduce the risk of paranoia if you’re new to using these refined substances.