With cannabis becoming legal in more places, it’s becoming available in more and more forms. You’ve probably heard of cannabis extracts and may have even used them. But if you don’t know exactly what they are or how they work, here’s a simple guide. 

What is Cannabis Extract? 

Cannabis extract is the essential oils, cannabinoids, and other chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. These are removed from the plant and suspended in a consumable form, whether for smoking, vaping, in making edibles, or something else. Some forms of cannabis extract are incorporated in topical applications so you can apply them in lotions or balms. 

How Do You Use Cannabis Extract? 

There are many ways you can use cannabis extract. The most common ways are smoking, vaping, and eating. 

One of the benefits of using cannabis extract rather than bud is that you generally use less of it. What’s more, you can also achieve more exact dosing thanks to the concentrated form.

What Should You Know About Cannabis Extract?

If you’re new to cannabis extracts, tread carefully. These are forms of cannabis concentrate and as such, are much more potent than bud. You might find yourself going overboard without careful dosing and getting too high, causing vertigo, nausea, or other side effects. 

In other words: dose carefully and go easy until you find the right combination of ingredients. 

Common Types of Cannabis Extracts 

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You’ll find many types of cannabis extracts. Here are a few of the most common. 


 Wax is a form of live or cured resin that is turned into a waxy form through the application of heat. It is used in dabbing. Some of the benefits of using wax is being able to use smaller amounts to achieve your desired high. 

Sugar and badder are two other forms of cannabis extracts that are used for dabbing. These get their names thanks to their unique textures and appearances, but in essence they are very similar to wax. 


Shatter is a form of cannabis extract that is made by drying or curing the flowers of the marijuana plant. The result is a hard, shiny, glasslike substance that, like glass, will shatter if dropped. It is generally used in dabbing, with similar benefits as wax. 


Resin is the extract that comes directly from the cannabis plant — in basic terms, it is the sticky stuff you’ll find right on the bud. You can use resin in many forms, including live resin, cured resin, and dried resin. This is one of the most versatile cannabis extracts, since it is used to make many others. 


You’ve probably heard of essential oils from fruits and flowers. Crude oil is basically the same thing from the cannabis plant. You can’t consume oil on its own — it requires more processing to help it break down and make it consumable in other forms. 


Distillate is crude oil from the cannabis plant, further distilled and refined. This is another incredibly versatile cannabis extract. You’ll find THC distillate and CBD distillate, which isolate the various plant compounds to achieve different psychoactive effects. 

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Distillate can be consumed in many ways, including smoking, vaping, or ingesting via edibles. You have probably encountered distillate in vape pens. On its own, it is mostly flavorless, but it can be combined with other essences and flavors (which is why you’ll find a million and one vape flavors).

What is the Best Cannabis Extract?

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There’s no single answer for which extract is the best. For most people, it comes down to personal preference, including your dosage and how you like to consume cannabis. 

Some of the above extracts are used for food and drink, including making edibles. But you can also make your own edibles with bud, such as this firecrackers weed recipe. 

Bear in mind that using bud in an edible (firecrackers or otherwise) requires you to decarboxylate the flower to activate the plant compounds, including THC. That’s one advantage that edibles made with cannabis extract have over edibles like the firecrackers weed recipe — those processes have already been done for you.

Finding the Best Cannabis Extract For You

As with most cannabis products, finding the best cannabis extract for you is all about testing the waters. Try a few different types, learn how to dose and use them, and see how they affect you. Everyone’s usage is different, so enjoy the process!