Cannabis 101: What Is Full-Spectrum?
Updated: Feb 27
Think of a rainbow with all the colors, even indigo. That’s full-spectrum.
For Chemistry, full-spectrum means an extract that retains the complex profile of naturally occurring therapeutic compounds (cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, etc.) found in the cannabis plant. We’ve filtered out the fats, waxes and chlorophyll to create a dynamic and flavorful experience.
There are many definitions out there, and it can be hard to understand the differences between full, broad, or whole spectrum. The language isn’t always the same between products in cannabis, hemp, or otherwise. Yet, the common thread they all share is an attempt to keep together what the plant produced.
A full-spectrum extract can be produced in many different ways. There is no perfect technique, but each method is likely to produce a slightly different end product based on the conditions used. It’s science after all.
Most products on shelves today are made using isolated or highly purified major cannabinoids like THC or CBD compounded with natural (from other plants) terpenes or hopefully cannabis-derived terpenes–oftentimes at unnatural ratios.
How are Chemistry’s extracts different? First and foremost, they’re made differently, thoughtfully, and carefully. Our gentle extraction method utilizes liquids under no pressure compared to others that use gases under high pressure, but no love lost to our friends with CO2 and butane. To each their own, no need to tear each other down for our differences, right? We need more love and respect.
Our ideal extract is an amplified version of the flower we started with; and is always 100% cannabis-derived and additive-free. Stay True to the Plant!
For example if our flower starts with 20% THC and 0.5% myrcene, our final extract should have THC and myrcene in that same 40:1 ratio but increased to about 80% THC and 2% myrcene. All the components should be about 4 times greater than our starting flower in a similar hierarchy. This complex profile (basically its chemical fingerprint) is what makes a strain. More cool data and graphs on that soon.
Almost all full-spectrum extracts undergo some post-processing or simple refinement–but not distillation. In our opinion, distillate is practically the opposite of full-spectrum. What is distillate you ask? Not to be blunt, but it’s when cannabis oil has been distilled. Think distilled spirits (e.g., vodka and gin), however cannabis distillation conditions are MUCH MORE extreme than spirits. To distill cannabis oil, it takes a serious amount of heat (THC boiling point: 315 °F), and a very strong vacuum–way stronger than your household Dyson–to boil (err, vaporize) cannabinoids. It’s a cool machine and process but it rips apart all the components that our beautiful Mother Nature worked so hard to put together. One other problem with distillation is that you cannot preserve the acidic cannabinoids like THCA and CBDA, and those molecules are special too.
That chemical fingerprint we mentioned earlier can certainly look different depending on a variety of factors, even for the same strain. Meaning, everything from weather, to soil, to farming practices can alter the fingerprint of a strain from season-to-season and location-to-location. Think wine and terroir. A cabernet grown in Sonoma is going to be different than one grown in France.
Don’t worry, there’s more. The timing of harvest and how you treat the plant after harvest can also play a major role in the profile of the ultimate extract. Cannabinoid levels may vary depending on how early or late a plant is harvested. Timing can also affect the terpene concentration. Much like other plants, cannabis plants produce a number of different terpenes–they are what gives the plant its unique aroma and taste. For example, something high in limonene is more than likely going to be citrusy and delicious.
Almost done, we promise.
Finally, products can feature a live or cured terpene profile. Live means from freshly harvested plants, which are often frozen for transport to the processing and extraction facility, also known as fresh-frozen (a little insider knowledge for ya). While cured means to carefully dry and preserve the plant, making it stable in a jar, smokable in your favorite glassware, or twisted up in paper.
You can have live or cured full-spectrum products, and to us, most live resin is live full spectrum. But watch out, some live resin products (especially cartridges) are mostly distillate with a small portion of live resin or live terpenes added, which sacrifices the full-spectrum entourage effect. This is why our products are always 100% full-spectrum. As of now, we’ve only released cured products, but get excited because we’ve got some new tricks up our sleeves to bring some live profiles into the mix. Stay tuned.
That about wraps up Full Spectrum 101 with Chemistry.
Stay Colorful! 🌈