The terms “extract” and “concentrate” are synonymous with potency. Brimming with THC, they’re famous for their ability to deliver an intense, fast-acting high. That said, you might have noticed that a lot of cannabis extracts are short on flavor and aroma.
The problem is that terpenes—the organic compounds that give each strain its distinct flavor profile—are largely destroyed by the traditional high-heat extraction process. One solution is to add terpenes to your finished concentrate. Another is to consume a high terpene full spectrum extract or HTFSE.
This post covers all the HTFSE basics and more.
What are high terpene full spectrum extracts?
High terpene full-spectrum extracts (sometimes called “sauce”) are a particular type of cannabis concentrate. They’re full-spectrum, meaning they contain all the essential ingredients found in the cannabis plant—cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids—minus the lipids and fats.
That alone sets them apart from traditional extracts, which tend to contain very high quantities of THC but not much else. While great for getting acutely stoned, these old-school concentrates don’t do much for your palate; they also lack many of the cannabis plant’s therapeutic benefits.
Full-spectrum extracts are preferred by users seeking a more refined, nuanced, and natural experience.
HTFSE vs HCFSE
Before proceeding, it’s necessary to distinguish HTFSE from high cannabinoid full-spectrum extracts (HCFSE). They’re similar: both are full-spectrum and both are produced using advanced methods. But whereas HTFSEs emphasize terpenes, HCFSEs place the emphasis on THC.
To be more specific, HTFSEs contain as much as 50% THCa and somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-40% terpenes. Conversely, HCFSEs contain substantially higher THCa levels (up to 90%) and fewer terpenes, though the terpenes are still very much present.
High cannabinoid extracts also have a grainier texture than high terpene extracts, which tend to have a runny, sauce-like consistency. Hence the nickname.
The main advantage HTFSE has over HCFSE is that it more closely resembles a raw cannabis plant. By consuming a high terpene full spectrum extract, you’re benefiting from the entourage effect—that all-important interaction of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.
Is HTFSE live resin?
Sometimes. First, let’s explore how these modern cannabis concentrates are produced.
The process begins with the procurement of high-quality cannabis rich in terpenes and cannabinoids. If you use low-grade bud, expect to end up with a subpar extract.
Oftentimes, but not always, the buds are subjected to a flash-freezing process. This helps preserve the fragile terpenes and thus the plant’s natural flavors and aromas. The result is fresh frozen flower, as opposed to flower that has been dried and cured.
At this point, primary extraction can begin. The essential components are separated from the plant material using a solvent with a low boiling point, such as butane. Meanwhile, waxes, fats and lipids are filtered out. (Note: this process requires sophisticated laboratory equipment; it’s not something that can be done at home.)
The final step involves exposing the concentrate to low heat, which has the effect of removing the solvent that was used during primary extraction. The heat must be low enough that it does not degrade the terpenes.
So what about live resin? Here’s a rule of thumb: a high terpene extract is considered live resin if it is made from fresh frozen buds. If it is made from dried and cured buds, it is not live resin.
Does HTFSE get you high?
As noted, high terpene full spectrum extracts routinely contain 50% THCa. By comparison, the most potent cannabis strains in nature—Wedding Cake, Sour Diesel, Chemdog, etc.—usually feature around 20% THC.
So yes, HTFSEs have more than enough potency to get you high. As with other concentrates, the heady effects of high terpene extracts will come fast and thick. The precise characteristics of your high will vary depending on which strain your extract is made from.
In any case, you’ll want to make sure you’re sitting down for it.
How are HTFSE carts made?
The most popular way to consume HTFSEs is via dabbing. For this you need a dab rig—a bong-like device optimized for concentrates. Dab rigs are widely available online; they’re also a fixture in modern head shops.
Dabbing is not without its drawbacks, the main one being that it’s relatively complicated. It requires specific equipment and accessories, plus a know-how that most people don’t have.
A common error novice dabbers make is to overheat their concentrates, which ruins the whole experience. By using too much heat, not only are you wrecking the flavor of your extract and making your dab rig harder to clean—you could also be generating toxic chemicals.
For that reason, a lot of people prefer to use an HTFSE cart. That might sound complicated, but it’s actually just a portable vape pen pre-loaded with a high terpene extract. It functions like any other vape cart: once activated, it automatically heats the HTFSE sauce to an ideal (low) vaping temperature, preserving the rich flavors and aromas imparted by the terpenes.
Like other vape devices, HTFSE cartridges come in various shapes and sizes. Because we’re talking about cannabis, they also come in a variety of strains and strengths.
There’s not one type of cart that stands above the others. With that said, if you’re new to the world of high terpene extracts, a 1000mg HTFSE cart is a good jumping-off point. It contains a sufficient amount of sauce without being too bulky.
When selecting a HTFSE cartridge, pay close attention to the ratio of cannabinoids to terpenes. Again, a higher terpene content translates to a more complex and robust flavor profile, and more closely approximates a live cannabis flower.
You will also be obliged to choose a strain. Common options include Chemdawg, Triangle Kush, Great White Shark, and Girl Scout Cookies. If your favorite strain isn’t available, go with one that has a similar quantity of THC and a comparable terpene makeup.
For too long, cannabis concentrates have revolved around cannabinoids—THC in particular—at the expense of the plant’s other vital components. The ascendance of high terpene full spectrum extracts represents a changing of the guard. The people have spoken.