The truth about sugared up shatter/BHO

Most people these days already know about concentrates/extracts like shatter, rosin or bho. But the fact that it can “sugar” up is not familiar with everybody. Sometimes, it takes time for an extract to start “sugaring” so some people just don’t get to experience it. However the opinions about this process are divided and many discuss the reason for this to happen. We tell you why!

What does “sugared” shatter/rosin/bho looks like?

Well, to keep it simple: Sugaring is some kind of process in a cannabis extract that will lead the extract to a sugary-like structure. Some batches/strains will do this and others don’t which makes it even a bigger mystery. Many people are discussing the cause of this proces and their theories are very different! Some say it’s the condensation build up in the extract while others having doubts about the extraction process itself. Most people dislike the extracts that are sugared up and dispensaries often sell them cheaper then normal. However others are quite positive on them. We would say it’s a matter of taste!

But what’s really the cause of sugared Rosin/BHO?

The transformation from a smooth/sleek extract to some “sugar” is caused by specific, fatty compounds that are found in plants. These compounds will end up in your extract and are able to start a reaction which, in the end, results in a sugary structure.

This process is called: Polymorphism or “nucleation”.

Nucleation means that lipids and other contaminants (The compounds) in your extract are seperating themselves from the cannabinoids they have blend in with. The blending of cannabinoids and other contaminants occurs in your extracting proces, we call this homogenization, which is like the opposite of nucleation). Once seperated, these lipids are starting to attract each other and form their own crystal-like structures. 

But what exactly are these lipids?

If you didn’t know: Lipids are fats, waxes and fat-soluble vitamins found in the trichomes of (cannabis) plants that will eventually end up in your extract. Based on genetics some strains have higher lipid levels then others. So an extract from strain “X” could sugar up way faster then others as they contain more lipids which start the nucleation process faster. 

These lipids are always looking to revert back to their orginal state once triggered. So they are starting to attract each other and form bigger crystal-like pieces in the soft extract. This makes it look a bit like sugar. Cannabinoids and terpenes don’t have this characteristic so they will stay the same wich leads to Firm, hard structures mixed with soft liquid like cannabinoids.

Every strain has their own amount of lipids and other contaminants. This makes that the nucleation process varies per strain a lot! If you want to avoid sugared up extracts, it’s a great idea to test multiple strains and find out which contain less lipids. Then work with that one!

Multiple facts about nucleation:

  • Nucleation can be triggered by multiple causes. This means that something in it’s environment changes and starts the nucleation process. Things like: Temperature, humidity or a longer time being exposed to fresh oxygen. So proper storage is very important if you want to avoid this!
  • Some strains have higher lipid levels in their trichomes then others. More lipids will cause the trichome head to get a more stable, waxy structure. Extracts made of strains with lots of these lipids are tend to suger up faster.
  • Trichomes always contain multiple terpenes and some of them are called: hydrophilic. This simply means that they attract water and other liquids. I’ts possible that these terpenes attract liquids in the extraction process or storage which could speed up the nucleation process.
  • There is a method to remove these lipids from your extracts that is called: Winterization or “dewaxing”. This also happens pretty often with hash because these lipids often cause a harsh, sharp and unpleasant smoking experience. Dewaxing your extract will decrease the chance of nucleation remarkably but it’s not a guarantee. Next to that it improves the taste and quality of your extract.

Many people don’t like an extract thats is been sugared up but there isn’t really anything wrong with it at all. Some cannabis connoisseurs even prefer to consume sugar then normal wax. Why? Well because depending on circumstances, it could taste much better. There isn’t any terpene loss like in winterized products. However this is really depending on the strain, genetic profile and extraction method.

Conclusion:

We have learned that the nucleation process is the cause of a sugared up extract. This process can be triggered by multiple things that are all depending on what strain you used for extraction + what method you used to extract the cannabis. Some strains will never start to sugar and some will always do (even after dewaxing them), it’s up to you to find out.

If you wan’t to avoid sugared extracts, you should store it properly in a sealed container in a cool, dark, dry place. This will hold-off a premature nucleation process as long as possible. However this won’t always do the thing and you could still end up with sugar if it contains lot’s of lipids.

We recommend: Don’t worry too much about sugared wax, it’s safe to use and perfect to dab! 


Want to share your experience with a sugared up extract? Feel free to leave a comment below!

3 comments

  1. Leah Reply

    I love sugary shatter! It doesnt snap everywhere when you try to scrape up a dab and sometimes it tastes way better!

    • admin Post authorReply

      Yes thats true! The opinions about that are very different, but we think it’s just a matter of taste!

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