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3 Reasons Why You Should Prefer Dark Extracts

Dark Extracts Cannabis Now Magazine
Photo by Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now

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3 Reasons Why You Should Prefer Dark Extracts

Most people have a preference for light colored concentrates, here are some reasons to join the dark side.

If you’ve ever gone shopping for a cannabis extract you have probably seen how much variety there is. Light or dark extracts, clear or opaque, gooey or hard and brittle; there are a lot of options.

Personally, I’ve always loved darker concentrates. But when I started working for an extract company, I realized what a bad reputation dark extracts have. The dark concentrates that I strongly preferred were going for far less money than those that were more light and clear. The market clearly preferred light extracts and buyers at dispensaries all had the same message, “If it’s too dark, it won’t sell.” But why? Could it be that we don’t have much reason to prefer light colored concentrates beyond visual bias?

Humans are actually very particular about color in items we consume. It is part of how we tell if something is safe. If something has a strange color, we don’t want to risk that it has gone bad so we avoid it. In food marketing, this has led to artificial dyes for a variety of common foods. Oranges are dyed to a vibrant orange, butter to the perfect creamy yellow. Flour and eggs are bleached to achieve the ideal white.

In our current extract market, there is definitely a similar bias towards extracts that are clear and light in color. The myth is that color is a marker of quality, and the lighter the color — the purer and more refined the extract is. Still this myth doesn’t hold up to the scientific facts — there is no real correlation between light color and quality. In fact, there are a variety of reasons to prefer darker concentrates.

Less Processing – Less Solvents

Extracts are made through a variety of processes, and those processes can affect the resulting color. The process used to achieve clear transparent shatter usually involves solvents like BHO and when those solvents are removed, the temperature must be kept low. This means that it is more difficult to purge the remaining chemical solvents and more likely to be residual solvents left in the extract. That isn’t to say that there are no clean clear extracts, but according to cannabis testing company, Steep Hill Labs, there is an increased likelihood of contamination.

Completely solventless options like rosin or water hash are guaranteed to be solvent-free (because no chemical solvents are used in the process) but they tend to be darker in color.

Feels like the Flower

Darker concentrates contain more of the plant. Some see this as undesirable and strive to isolate everything but certain cannabinoids like THC or CBD. Still, many find that when the plant is processed down to this level, you get a much different high than what you would have experienced with the original cannabis flower. While we have identified a large number of efficacious compounds in the cannabis plant, we have also found that these compounds are enhanced when combined. This is called the entourage effect.

When cannabis flower is smoked, there are many different chemicals in the plant all working together in synergistic ways to provide the complex profile of that particular strain. Extracts with more of the plant leftover tend to give a medicinal experience closer to the flower itself. Why strip away everything that we were enjoying in our joint?

Dark Extracts Deliver a Grounded Body High

Darker concentrates also provide a more grounded body high; unlike the high from clear and extremely concentrated THC (which tends to be a very cerebral and energetic). While effects vary from strain to strain, dark color tends to come either because of the type processing or because the plant itself was dark. Indicas and more sedative hybrids tend to have a darker color than sativa varieties, so often the more sedative plants produce darker concentrates. Keeping more of the dark plant matter with less processing also tends to keep more of the “heavy” effects. If you are looking more for the sedative, calming, pain relieving side of the medicine, darker concentrates are much more likely to provide.

Cannabis is all about personal preference and there are definitely people who prefer the effects of lighter or more processed extracts. But light color doesn’t always mean quality, and for some, it could mean the exact opposite. Patients looking for concentrates with the feel of flower or a more grounded high should put away “the clear” and find something dark and minimally processed. Darker isn’t always better, but it certainly can be.

TELL US, do you prefer light or dark extracts? Why?

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. sucha knowitall

    December 21, 2018 at 1:33 am

    The author presents his argument so confidently it’s easy to ignore the fact it’s is based entirely on b***s*** and anecdotal evidence. The color of a concentrate is mostly decided by the maturity of the trichromes at harvest, the age of the material at the time of extraction and how it was stored. Read a book

  2. Thcforums

    September 9, 2018 at 11:02 pm

    Has anyone ever taken Into consideration the maturity of the Tricombs?? pre mature buds have clear tricombs a more head high.. (see through shatter) cloudy tricombs (blonde shatter/gold) and last but not least fully matured amber tricombs.. (dark amber hash or dark wax.. i would say they have everything to do with the color of that shatter/wax… also The micron screens your using . I’ve made plenty of shatters throughout and I’ve noticed certain little things.

  3. Nick Scali

    April 5, 2018 at 11:15 am

    I bought a trainwreck a mo ago. 2day I bought a trainwreck and the oil color is MUCH lighter

    • Rick Bunner

      June 7, 2018 at 10:24 pm

      Had decent clear shatter few weeks back , put in a request for anot her taste but I got dark brown sticky (tar) texture . Smells strong and its pretty good.

  4. Nicholas

    March 29, 2018 at 7:50 am

    Its not just about how dark your concentrate is, it also depends on the colour of it. Is it a green oil? Or a brown/black oil, bright yellow honey or an amber/orange. These colours all reflect the extraction/distilation method (differences between going after thc+cbd or wider variety of cannabinoids and terpenes), solvent used (more if people are experimenting with new solvents that might have coloured residues), temperature purged at (cbg boils in the 50’s deg celsius), how much light came into contact with the shatter during the whole proccess as well as your starting product (bud, shake or raclaiming residue). The darkness/tansparency can however reflect how well your concentrate is purged. Waxes are often waxes when shatter is not purged properly and solvent has formed hydrogen bonds with the cannabis essential oils, hydrogenating them and locking the hydrocarbon solvent in the cannabis concentrate, otherwise a shatter becomes wax because it has biodegraded to that point and it is waxing up as a result of oxidation. Brown/black oils have next to no medicinal value when smoked because they have such little fuctioning cannabinoids and terpenes as they have been burnt, turned to tar and maybe even denatured from being overheated in the extraction process, thats why the black colour is there. Green oil just reflects that you extracted chlorophyll with your essential oil, which is not good, the smoke from chlorophyll/green plants causes headaches in many people since it doesn’t burn completely and produces carbon monoxide as a result. The best shatter is shatter that are yellows and oranges and i say that because that is the colour of thc,cbd and many of the essential oils (terpenes and cannabinoids) that you’re after (most of which are not dark coloured). People shouldn’t try making shatter expecting it to be good without having knowledge in chemistry, and you can’t really be a shatter judge without some chemistry knowledge either. You can judge the taste of shatter but since butane is tasteless in that small of quantities, you can’t actually fully grade a shatter’s purge based on taste, you can notice if it wasn’t purged or purged nearly enough to be what many consider smokable though

    • Richard

      May 9, 2018 at 6:17 am

      This is more of the “marketing” mentioned in other posts. Nicholas, you need to do more research on dark oils before you make statements that people seeking knowledge may think is accurate.
      Firtly, chlorophyll can be removed naturally (essentially the same way a plant uses it) and processed correctly, dark oils have not been exposed to temps that will combust/vaporize cannabinoids/terpenes.
      If you’ve tried to make dark oil and see inadequacies, it more likely to be your method and validation, than a reflection on the potential quality and efficacy of the the oil.

  5. Anthony Mandich

    February 4, 2018 at 8:42 am

    The shatter we just had processed is an opaque mahogany color when viewed without an illuminating light source such as a light box. Held up to the light however, the mahogany morphs into the prettiest and brightest pure golden amber color you’ve ever seen. At room temperature (70°) it remains non sticky and very pliable. Once the temp is lowered (early morning) the product stiffens up and breaks apart in several small sharp pieces at the slightest attempt to test its pliability. One normal size hit for a novice is roughly the equivalent of smoking a good sized joint of premium flower to your head all at once. Prepare for a high unlike anything you have lived through prior to your first time. A life changing experience and something you are not apt to forget. Ever.

  6. Travis

    October 10, 2017 at 9:50 am

    I have found that, lighter usually tends to taste better. I smoked darker for almost 2 years before I ever had anything light. Since I have moved to Maine I have been smoking the lighter and I love it. I do like rosin, but if I have a choice, I’m going with some light crumble or shatter all day

  7. Mike

    July 22, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Big companies push clear distillate because they mass produce 100,000 cartridges a week and take literally tons of Nor Cal outdoor garbage trim and need to distill the hell out of it to reach a sellable product.
    Then they market the f out of it so now the market is brainwashed into wanting lighter oil.

    It’s marketing 101 but honestly a lot of stoners don’t think that hard to figure it out. Or have inside industry knowledge.

    • Becky Dougan

      April 21, 2018 at 7:21 pm

      I totally agree!! I see carts going for $60 per g??!!. Crazy! I’m fairly new to extracts, and decided to start at the lowest $ and work up if necessary. The most I’ve spent on a g b4 tax is $20. And that was so so compared to some cheap stuff. I just hit some BhoChelly that’s 72% Cherry Ak-47 … $15 per g b4 tax and it is a F*ckin good hiiiiigggghhhh!!!!!

  8. Johnny Blazeit

    June 1, 2017 at 7:46 am

    This is a trash article. Rosin is almost always light colored, same with most clean extracts. You only want the part of the plant that contains thc, cbd, and terpenes. You don’t want anything else from the plant because it’ll just combust on you and introduce carcinogens you don’t need to your system. And the kind of high you get is completely linked to the terpenes not color.

    • Sien

      January 11, 2018 at 11:43 am

      What The shit? I produce rosin for dabs as well as for vape cartridges with both trash and bud and it comes out different colors. Light gold down to deep brown gold..
      Im sorry but this article is spot on.
      I love when people say this and then take a hit and get floored and then say they will never doubt me again..
      People are stuck with the brainwashing that BHO created. As long as the finish product does not smell like burnt popcorn you’re good.

      So many people eat with their eyes first. But the taste and high makes up for it..
      But liked I said… people have questioned it at first but now know why not to believe the hype.

      What medicine do you know that looks good?

  9. Radic

    May 28, 2017 at 3:24 am

    Hi Dr E
    Thanx for the great article, Gotta love every word.
    Different extracts have different medicinal qualities that suit different body types and different ailments. True.
    All the phyto cannabinoids, THC, CBD CBC, CBG, CBN and all the 90 or so other phyto cannabinoids are tasteless, odorless and 100% clear
    so the clearer the extract, the richer the phyto cannabinoid content. ok
    All the yummy flavors, smells and all the stunning colors come from the terpene and flavonoid content.
    Terpenes and flavonoids are found through out the plant kingdom so all their medicinal qualities are well documented and available online. Yes they certainly do add to the entourage effect and that is a very effective way to target ailments and negate any unwanted side effects.
    Medicinal cannabis therapy can be tailored to suit any body type, to treat any symptom, with an improved quality of live outcome.
    Gotta love that

    • Greg Dinning

      January 19, 2018 at 12:32 pm

      true that, and as Sien says they come in different shades. I personally grow a Blue strain and my rosin (pressed) is dark red/purple indoors and outdoors translates to an emerald green. thickness as well makes a huge difference, ablb is a lot darker than a pressed medallion. great article.

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