The Top 5 Terms New Dabbers Need to Know

Eric Vlosky
Last Updated at
9:36 am
December 20, 2023

Chances are if you love cannabis products as much as we do, you’ve been bombarded with deceptive marketing messaging, confusing terms, or things your friends have said that don’t make a ton of sense at first pass. If you’re new to dabs or high end products, this article is for you and even if you’re a seasoned connoisseur, we think you might still learn something new. After having quite a few people hit us up asking for clarification on some of the top misunderstood terms in the industry, we figured it was time to set the record straight. 

Single Source

Definition: an extracted product whose cannabis has been propagated, cultivated, and processed all in-house at one facility from start to finish, typically with very meticulous care.

The term single source is proudly used by many vertically integrated cannabis operators because it denotes that they did everything necessary to create your concentrate from scratch. This usually means that the brand deliberately sourced its genetics from a reputable breeder, carefully selected the best phenotypes of that strain, cultivated the cannabis, and then processed it into its best possible format based on its characteristics. Single source cannabis products are especially prized in the world of solventless concentrates, such as live rosin, rosin vaporizers, and speciality full melt hashes since they tend to be very high quality in many cases.


Definition: a  concentrate, vaporizer, or edible created with pure cannabis resin that was extracted from the plant without the use of chemical solvents, such as hydrocarbons, CO2, distillation, or ethanol. Solventless extraction methods include dry sifting, ice water washing, rosin pressing, and hand-made hashish. These products are available in many different textures and styles.

The word solventless carries weight and typically a price premium whenever it’s denoted on a product because it means that the starting material used was not extracted using chemicals acting in the capacity of a solvent. Why does this matter? It’s due to the fact that those solvents mentioned previously are often (but not always) used to make a consumable product with low quality trim, cannabis flowers, or hemp. When these inputs cannot pass testing due to mold, pests, or heavy metals, solvent-based methods are employed to avoid material loss. Solventless methods of extraction on the other hand do not remedy such problems, so you know that if your cannabis or hemp product was made with solventless techniques, the starting material at a minimum passed mold and contaminant testing without the need for further refinement. That’s why we only review solventless concentrates and vaporizers specifically. To learn more about the different kinds of solventless products you can buy, make sure to check out our guide on different hash and rosin textures.

Solvent Free

Definition: a cannabis concentrate, vaporizer, or edible that was created using solvent-based chemicals such as hydrocarbon, CO2, ethanol, distillation, or ethanol which has had all of its residual solvents purged to undetectable levels. 

Sometimes processors and brands try to pass off “solvent free” products as “solventless” ones, but there is a very important difference between the two. Typically solvent free extracted products, which is typically a vaporizer or edible, are made from low quality cannabis trim or food grade oils that may not have been able to pass state testing. This is not always the case, but it is a very common scenario. When the chemical solvent used to extract the resin is purged completely, typically in a vacuum oven or centrifuge, it can be marketed this way. When you see the term solvent free it subtly indicates a significantly different level of quality compared to its authentic solventless counterpart. 

Full Spectrum

Definition: a cannabinoid-based product that contains a variety of natural cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other organic chemicals that originate from the plant Cannabis sativa

Perhaps the most abused term in all of cannabis, not just dabs, is the phrase full spectrum. The words “full spectrum” are plastered wall to wall by almost every brand out there (including way too many hemp and CBD companies). It’s become the default signaling mechanism that marketers attempt to use to communicate latent product quality. This is because full spectrum alludes to the entourage effect, which is the concept that individual cannabinoids and/or terpenes don’t provide nearly the same therapeutic or recreational benefits as consuming many different ones at once does. It’s both meaningful and meaningless at once depending on what you are consuming, as most cannabis products technically fall into this category. What actually matters is the quality of that mixture of compounds and ultimately how it makes you feel. While there is no exact established number of cannabinoids and terpenes required to officially rise to the level of full spectrum status, virtually all dababble concentrates (apart from isolates) do.

Live Rosin or Resin

Definition: a type of concentrate, such as a solventless rosin or a hydrocarbon-extracted resin, which is made using only fresh frozen, never dried cannabis. By using freshly preserved cannabis buds, live concentrates retain the original, delicate aroma and flavor profiles of the live plant, which are highly sought after by connoisseurs (particularly solventless ones).

Even though grams of concentrates come in a massive variety of different textures and thousands of strains, it is the live ones that are virtually always the highest quality in their respective classes. This is because when cannabis plants are at peak ripeness in the garden, their terpene profiles tend to carry special, yet very volatile metabolic fingerprints which can only be faithfully deserved by freezing the buds immediately after harvest. Frozen cannabis contains large amounts of moisture, so by using solventless or hydrocarbon extraction methods, processors can carefully remove the plant’s resin while leaving the inert organic matter and water behind. If you’ve ever encountered a flowering cannabis plant in person, its legitimately floral character is immediately noticeable and distinctly different from how it will smell once it’s dried and cured. This essence is what “live” concentrates attempt to capture and intensify.

Are there any other terms you want clarity on? If so, make sure to drop us a line and we’ll make sure to cover it in a future article.

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