Cannabis Concentrates: A History

cannabis extractions
Written by Cara Wietstock

Cannabis concentrates have been used since the prehistoric ages, let’s explore some primordial extraction methods.

Just before the dawn of the recreational age cannabis, concentrates began to boom in the underground culture. Huge dabs were taken off of slides and half of the smoke was lost. But we were dabbing pure extracts, and at the time that was so cool. Now we’ve evolved, but if this evolution has happened this quickly I wonder where we started. Let’s take a look at the history of cannabis concentrates dating back to the days of dry sieving.


For thousands of years botanically infused anointing oils and decoctions have been used in religious and ceremonial rites. The cannabis plant and its components are mentioned as medicine in ancient Asian texts. Cannabis is also often found during archaeological digs of various cultures, time frames, and regions. In the most ancient documents, cannabis buds were thrown directly onto hot stones to infuse the steam. Another popular form of ancient cannabis concentrate in “bhang”, the oldest known cannabis edible. Prominently brewed in the Indian subcontinent, “bhang” is a cannabis drink.

To our knowledge, the first hashish comes from the valleys between India, Nepal, and Pakistan. This area created a method of creating resin from dry cannabis flower that ends with us packing the material into a tight ball.


Another popular way that our ancestors made hashish was through the method of dry sifting. Buds are sieved either by hand or through a motorized screen. They are then heated and compressed which results in resin glands, or kief. Even back then, the issue with making these concenrtates from cannabis was how to dissolve the lipophilic resin without deteriorating its precious Phyto components.  

cannabis concentrates

Ice water separation is a more recent method of making hashish that requires low labor. There are constantly new techniques being developed, but it all seems to have started with hashish. What is your favorite type of extraction or cannabis concentrate? Do you make hashish or extractions at home?

About the author

Cara Wietstock

Cara began working in the retail cannabis industry of San Francisco, CA in 2011 and continued in that sector for years. In 2015 she dedicated herself to writing full-time. Her passion for the written word and deep respect for the healing properties of the plant have brought her to Terpenes and Testing magazine. She now helps keep us on the cutting edge of scientific cannabis discovery as the Editor-in-Chief of the print publication.

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