For many dabbers, a sugared up concentrate is a fate worse than death and signifies the passing of a once fine hash oil into stale crusty oblivion. But is crystallization of solventless rosin really a sign of a dab past its best? Or is there more to the story? Let’s investigate sugaring up: rosin and crystallization.

What is Sugaring Up?

Sugaring up, or more simply crystallization, is a process that tends to occur to cannabis concentrates over time. The varying constituent parts of cannabis trichomes, like cannabinoids, terpenes and waxy lipids begin to separate, turning a once beautifully clear and uniform appearing concentrate, into an inconsistent sugary, or buttery mess. 

Rosin in its nucleation form. (u/kindasfck – Reddit)

In fact, this process is also referred to as “buttering out”, or “auto-buttering” depending on the resulting consistency of your concentrate. For example, if your dab turns into a sugary consistency it has sugared up, or if it turns into a butter like consistency it is said to have buttered out, or auto-buttered. However, a single process lies at the heart of all these outcomes, right at the start of crystal formation: nucleation.

Sugaring Up: A Bad Reputation

For many concentrate heads, sugaring up has become a tell-tale sign that a dab is past its best, and that they should walk the other way and buy a better looking concentrate. This attitude has become so common that dispensaries will often offer sugared up, or buttered out concentrates at a discount, knowing that customers prefer to put their money down on nicer looking dab. 

It seems then that the stigma of crystallized concentrates has been born out of the dispensary scene. After all, if you’re going to buy concentrates then you’re going to want to get the best quality for your money, and that usually means shelling out for the nicest looking product.

But is Rosin Crystallization Really a Bad Thing?

Despite its bad reputation, the reality is that rosin that has begun to crystallize doesn’t really make rosin worse. And even though dabbing it certainly isn’t bad for you in any way, why do most people avoid it?

In general, it seems to be a simple aesthetic preference, most folks just prefer the look of beautifully clear and uniform concentrates, and anything else is a no go. However, for us rosin heads who typically make our own concentrates, sugaring up or buttering out doesn’t seem to have the same stigma attached to it, and some rosin makers are even using the process to their advantage.

Crystallization and Rosin Curing 

New practices like rosin curing to make solventless sauce or jam are finding a use for this maligned process. Far from turning their noses up at the sight of a murky looking dab, rosin curers are actually using nucleation and crystallization to produce even better concentrates. 

The difference in just thirty six hours! (u/oh-shazbot – Reddit)

They claim that nucleation, far from being detrimental to your concentrate’s quality, can actually improve the overall taste and experience of dabbing rosin. If you’re interested in learning more, then be sure to check out our Curing Rosin: Everything You Need to Know article which converse the subject in depth.

Sugar Rosin

Today, the tide seems to be turning with regards to dabbers attitudes and concentrate consistencies, especially when it comes to solventless rosin. Sugared up, or buttery concentrates aren’t the ugly ducklings that so many thought they were. 

In fact, they’re far superior to concentrates that have been de-waxed to prevent nucleation from occurring. Preservation techniques like dewaxing tend to strip away terpenes in the process, ruining the flavor and aroma of your dab. 

Because of that, some producers are even embracing crystallization and making sugary rosin into its own thing, with some dispensaries offering crystal-ladened rosins. It seems it won’t be long before the stigma of sugaring up has ended, because most dab heads can agree: concentrates are best left the way they are, sugar and all.