A Comprehensive Guide to Packaging Concentrates
There are so many concentrates in the cannabis market, it’s hard to keep track of them all! With acronyms like BHO and PHO, they almost sound like a language from another planet. Even more alien to most entrepreneurs are smart ways to package these products that most effectively display their uniqueness.
What are concentrates?
Concentrates are potent products created from the essence of the cannabis plant. Examples include oils, terpenes, tinctures, and shatter. In recent years, the concentrate market has exploded thanks to new extraction methods. Other methods or more specifically some solvent have been dubbed as outdated or “harsh.” The viscosity, or thickness of each concentrate, is defined by the modality of extraction and what, if any, additives are used in the product.
To be a cannabis packaging expert, you need to familiarize yourself with the outcomes of each extraction method. This allows you to design packaging that is ideal for both the consumer and the processing facility.
To help you better understand concentrates, here is a break down of important terms and their respective categories:
- BHO- Butane Hash Oil
- PHO- Propane Hash Oil
- EHO- Ethanol Hash Oil
- RSO- Rick Simpson Oil
- Ice Water/ Bubble Hash
- Dry Ice Hash
- Moroccan Hash
- Lebanese Hash
- Dry Sift
- Live Resin
Types of Cannabis
- Trim Run
- Nug Run
- Live Resin
- Snap & Pull
- Budder/Cake Batter
Due to the overwhelming amount of concentrates on the market, we’ll focus on what’s currently the most popular and what we expect to trend in the coming months.
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Vape Pens and Cartridges
Typically vape pens and cartridges are filled with CO2 or Distillate oil. Distillates have gained traction in recent months due to the purity of the product. How do they get this way? Distillates go through a second refinement process, eliminating a significant amount of debris or “contaminants”.
Packaging recommendation: Both CO2 and Distillate oil are similar in consistency and can be packaged in similar conditions. If you’re a brand that sells both of these oils, keep in mind that using the same packaging and design could cause confusion on the sales floor, leaving customers with incorrect products, and no way to return them!
Photo: Pax on Instagram: @paxvapor
One of the most innovative designs in the vape cartridge category comes from Pax. The Pax Era, for example, is a sleek, modern design that makes an already discreet method of consumption even more so. This little baby is also app and Bluetooth enabled. Cannabis consumption is all about user experience and Pax has been able to capture that in one of the most popular methods of consumption next to flower.
Photo: FlavorTek Instagram: @flavortek
Live resin is quickly becoming the trendiest concentrate on the market -- and with good reason. Conceived by William Fenger “Kind Bill” in 2013, live resin utilizes the entirety of the plant during a process of freezing the cannabis to subfreezing temperatures both before and during extraction. This process preserves the trichomes, which house the terpenes of the plant. Terpenes are responsible for the flavor profile of your cannabis in addition to the effects promoted. The viscosity on this particular concentrate varies widely depending on the extract artist, however, through market research we’ve found that the sugar to jelly consistencies on this product is preferable to consumers.
Packaging recommendation: Like most concentrates, Live Resin stores well in a silicone-lined or glass container. This leaves the lid opaque for consumers to see the quality of the product without losing any of it by sticking to plastic. Since the huge draw of this product is that it is "alive" or still has living aspects of the cannabis plant, we suggest storing this product in airtight storage and refrigerated. Refrigeration is the best way to preserve the terpene profile once extraction has been completed.
Photo: X-tracted on Instagram: @x_tracted
This is by far the most popular form of concentrate currently on the market. I’m sure you’ve seen a “Dragon Ball” or two on social media -- these are the giant orbs of concentrate that look like golden crystal balls. The versatility of distillate makes its consumption methods nearly endless. This form of concentrated cannabis has had all of its terpenes removed in the distillation process. The distillate is flavorless in its natural state, however, some companies choose to reintroduce terpenes after the distillation is complete. Distillation activates THC, converting it to delta-9 THC, allowing it to be consumed as a sublingual, edible or by way of inhalation (dabbing).
Packaging recommendation: Distillate is most commonly stored in needleless syringes, which ironically is one of the worst ways to package it. Syringes are favored because they make it easy to consume a specific dose, garnering expected results. Instead, consider packaging this product in glass jars. If a syringe is preferred despite its crude associations, place it within a box or case. The more shelf space a product takes up, the more likely a product is to stand out against its competitors.Related: Concentrates, Edibles, or Topicals: Which Business is Best for You?