Originally published July 22, 2021
Content updated January 23, 2024
We all love a pre-roll. And we all love a concentrate. So it makes sense we all love infused pre-rolls.
Whether it’s kief, bubble hash, distillate, rosin or whatever, let’s explore the various types of infused pre-rolls and how these highly sought after and increasingly popular infused pre-rolls are made.
Infused Pre-roll Popularity
According to the most recent report on the subject from cannabis analytics firm Headset, the “Connoisseur/Infused” category now accounts for 42.3% of pre-rolls sold in the U.S. and 32.6% or pre-roll sales in Canada, with more infused products being released all the time.
In our most recent white paper on the state of pre-rolls we learned that infused pre-rolls is one of the fastest-growing sub-categories in the segment, jumping 22% in the US and an astounding 1426% (that’s not a typo) in Canada, due in part to Health Canada clarifying its regulations to allow their sale.
Other variables factoring into the popularity of infused pre-rolls include the consumer drive for higher potency products., the drop in flower and concentrate prices in mature markets and advances in automated pre-roll machinery that make it easier and more efficient to produce infused pre-rolls at scale.
In response to this rise in popularity, dispensaries are stocking a wider selection of infused pre-rolls today than ever before. You can find them rolled in kief, painted with oil, infused with a little shatter or wrapped around a line of concentrate to create the popular “hash hole” style pre-roll. They even come in a variety of interesting shapes and sizes.
Check out more great pre-roll statistics in our latest Cannabis Pre-Roll Industry white paper.
Making infused pre-rolls
The idea of making your own infused pre-roll is fun, but the process can be difficult and frustrating — especially if you are trying to produce them on a large scale! As a consumer, it’s a lot more convenient to just buy it in its final form. As a producer, the answer is found in automating the process of infused pre-roll manufacturing.
There is a lot that goes into making the perfect infused joint. So, let’s take a deeper look at how infused pre-rolls are produced.
How Are Joints Infused
In short, all infused pre-rolls are just regular pre-rolls that have had cannabis concentrate added to them to increase their potency and/or flavor. They are differentiated by the types of concentrates that are used and how those concentrates are incorporated into the joints.
Any concentrate can be used to create an infused pre-roll; however, it is important to understand that the choice in concentrate (and the placement of the concentrate) will determine how an infused pre-roll gets created and how it will burn and taste.
External Application – How to infuse pre-rolls with distillate and kief
One of the most common ways to infuse a pre-roll is by applying a concentrate to the outside of a joint. This is a straightforward process, but it does require some preparations.
Before a concentrate can be applied to the outside of a joint, its viscosity must be reduced. In other words, something needs to be done to make the oil thinner so it can be better manipulated. There are a few different ways to accomplish this. Botanical or artificially derived terpenes can be added to both help thin out the oil as well as add some flavor. Also, like the oil in vape carts, a cutting agent can be added to thin the oil out.
The temperature of the oil also impacts its viscosity. As the oil is heated, it becomes more fluid. The issue here is that heat will also degrade cannabis, so be careful to ensure that the oil is only heated as much as needed and for as short of a time as possible. The terpenes present in cannabis and concentrates are called volatile organic compounds and the “volatile” refers to how sensitive they are in terms of evaporating very easily. With too much heat, you will destroy the terps left in your concentrate. Heat can also degrade cannabinoids, reducing your potency numbers.
The reason that distillate is the most common oil used to create infused pre-rolls is because of its high potency, and the way it is produced. Whereas other types of cannabis oils are prized for their terpene and cannabinoid profiles (any type of heat being avoided), distillate is created by using heat specifically to isolate THC. In other words, you do not have to worry about maintaining the chemical complexity of the oil through production. Distillate is also the cheapest and most widely available type of concentrate.
Because of its lack of chemical diversity, distillate is often considered a low-quality concentrate; however, its ability to drastically increase potency and its ease of use makes it ideal for easily infusing joints. Plus, you can always add terpenes and flavors to the oil, so distillate just makes a lot of sense.
A vacuum oven is crucial for being able to bring the oil up to an appropriate temperature without degrading it. Once out of the oven, place your oil on a heating plate or candle warmer to keep it warm and ensure that the oil stays easy to use throughout the production process.
Once heated, the cannabis oil can be painted onto the outside of the joint with a food-grade brush. Once the oil has been applied, roll the oil-covered preroll in kief. This not only adds potency to the product, but it also makes it less sticky and, therefore, easier to handle, both for packagers and consumers.
It’s also wise to work on non-stick surfaces, like a silicone mat, to keep your application tools from sticking to everything they touch.
Pro Tip: It may sound obvious, but make sure the kief you are using is actually kief. Kief is the collection of trichomes that have been sifted off cannabis flower—not the flower itself. It typically has an amber color. Ground flower is not the same thing, though it is sometimes sold as kief. Budtenders and customers will be able to see and taste the difference, so save the ground flower for the inside of the joint.
Pros & Cons – Pre-rolls infused with kief dust
The benefits of infusing pre-rolls in this manner is that the consumer can see the concentrate they are smoking, and they look pretty on the shelf of a store, particularly when packed in a premium glass pre-roll tube. The process is also pretty low-tech, so there isn’t a lot required to get the job done.
On the downside, the process of creating the infused pre-roll and smoking the pre-roll are inefficient. It is hard to find consistency in the application of the oil and kief, and there is something to be said about the amount of cannabis concentrate that gets lost in the process. Also, by putting the concentrate on the outside makes the joint burn more harshly. You also get a lot of side stream in the smoke, i.e., the concentrate is being vaporized/burned off the end before you can inhale it. This can drastically impact the felt potency of the product.
Internal Pre-Roll Infusion
Concentrates can also be added to the inside of the joint. This can either be done by mixing the concentrate with the ground flower before it is rolled, placing a line of concentrate in the center of the flower before it is rolled (hash hole), or by being injected it into a pre-rolled joint, through the center, after it has been constructed.
When mixing concentrates with the flower, the goal is to get the concentrate and flower as homogenized as possible. In other words, you want to make sure that there is an even and thorough mix. As time passes, the concentrate and flower will begin to naturally separate. So, if you plan on storing your concentrate and flower mix, make sure you give it a good mix again before turning it into a joint.
One way to ensure a good mix is our Infused Flower Mixer, which uses a dual centrifugal action to fully mix any substances in minutes, including flower with any type of concentrate. The Infused Flower Mixer is the perfect addition for pre-roll manufacturers looking to expand their pre-roll or speed up production of infused pre-rolls. Pre-roll companies can literally just pour a concentrate on their flower and the Infused Flower Mixer handles the rest, using physics to make sure the two substances are properly and fully mixed and ready to be placed into pre-roll cones, reducing the steps necessary to create perfectly infused pre-roll joints.
But similar to infusing pre-rolls on the outside of the joint, if you are not using a Infused Flower Mixer attention needs to be paid to the viscosity and general malleability of the concentrate you are putting into the joint. Some concentrate, like kief and shatter, are easier to manipulate when it is cold and crumbly. Other concentrates, like distillate, will be easier to mix with flower when warmed up.
How to infuse a pre-roll with Bubble Hash
One of the easiest and oldest methods of infusing a pre-roll or joint is to mix in hashish or bubble hash with your flower before rolling. Hashish is made by collecting the kief – the trichomes – from flower and then pressing it into bricks using heat and pressure. The result is a potent and stable concentrate that can be smoked on its own or crumbled into small chunks and added to other smoking methods, like on top of a bowl or mixed into a joint.
Bubble hash is just hashish that is created using ice water to freeze and remove the trichomes before pressing. And while it can be rolled into snake-like rods and placed into the center of a pre-roll or joint prior to rolling, simply crushing it into particles and mixing it thoroughly with your flower before rolling is the most common method to mass producing these potent and flavorful pre-roll joints.
How to infuse a pre-roll with distillate or live resin
Extracts like distillate or live resin can also be used for internal infusion. Both concentrates are made using solvents to extract the trichomes from the plant. Distillate is a pure form of THC with a very high potency while live resin is made specifically from plants that were flash frozen at harvest to keep the trichomes and terpenes in tact. So while distillate strips the flavor from the concentrate, live resin is exactly the opposite, often maintaining the aromas and tastes of the strain used to create it.
In either case, the best way to infuse a pre-roll joint with these concentrates is to thoroughly mix the concentrate with the flower before packing it into your pre-roll cone. Because of the viscous, sticky nature of these substance, it’s important to heat the concentrate on a candle warmer before mixing and then to mix the two substances rigorously to ensure all of the flower is coated properly.
Again, a great way to do that is with a machine like the Infused Flower Mixer, which can do it in minutes with no mess.
Once your flower and concentrate are one, pack it like any other pre-roll, but be aware that if you are using machinery, you will need to do a complete cleaning run to prevent your machines from getting gummed up by the concentrates.
How to infuse pre-rolls with BHO
Butane Hash Oil is another comment concentrate that specifically uses the gas butane to extract the THC from the plants. It creates a gooey, golden substance that is often used for dabbing, though like distillate and resin, it can be used for infusing pre-rolls when heated first and mixed fully into the flower prior to packing.
How to infuse Pre-Rolls with Hash Rosin
One of the more popular and visibly appealing methods of infusing pre-rolls is what’s known as the “hash hole,” usually made with Hash Rosin, a solvent-less contrate made through extreme pressure and heat.
Instead of mixing the concentrate with the flower, a rod of concentrate is placed in the center of the joint and is surrounded by the flower as it is rolled together. As you may have guessed, hash or rosin it typically used in this method, as it is easier to handle than cannabis oils. As the pre-roll joint burns around it, the concentrate is vaporized, leaving the hole down the center that is popular on social media posts.
Pros & Cons – Internally Infused Pre-Rolls
Similar to the externally infused pre-rolls, it is difficult to remain consistent with how much concentrate is in each joint, and, if the joint were to sit too long on the shelf, the concentrate can begin to separate from the flower and bleed into the paper—not a universally loved look for a pre-roll. This can also cause the preroll joint to burn unevenly.
Mixing concentrates into flower can also slow down machinery. So, if you use pre-roll machinery as part of your production process, be aware that the infused ground flower will move slightly slower and your pre-roll grinders and cone filling machines will require more frequent cleaning. Using mixed material that is cold will keep the infused flower material moving best, as the oil will be less sticky and likely to gunk up.
On the bright side, you have zero limits when it comes to choosing a concentrate. If you can figure out how to mix it with the flower or create a place in the center of the flower, it will work. How well it burns is going to be a defining characteristic of its quality. So be mindful of what concentrate you are using and how you are implementing it into a joint.
How to make flavor infused pre-rolls
Infusing your pre-rolls with concentrates helps boost potency and, most likely, sales, but pre-roll manufacturers can also infuse their pre-rolls with flavors to give consumers yet another reason to keep coming back to their brand.
The main way flavors are added is through the addition of terpenes, the molecules that give plants, including cannabis, their distinctive scents and tastes.
In the world of concentrates, distillate is among the most popular, but while distillate is a high-potency THC addition, the process of distilling the THC down removes all of the terpenes from the oil, leaving a potent but flavorless oil that many producers counteract with the re-introduction of terpenes.
There are two main types of terpenes used in the cannabis industry: Those derived from cannabis and botanical terpenes, which are not. Botanical terpenes, despite not coming from cannabis, are still the same terpenes, chemically, as those found in cannabis since terpenes are simply molecules that give plants their scents. The difference is that when using botanical terpenes, finding the right mixture of terpenes to re-create the distinctive funk of a cannabis strain can be complicated, though not impossible.
Reintroducing terpenes, however, must be done carefully, as it is another oil being added to the flower. First, you must heat your terpenes to reduce viscosity and make it easier to mix. The easiest way to do this is to add the terpenes or terpene blend to your distillate or concentrate and mix them altogether.
Again, this is where the Infused Flower Mixer can save producers tremendous time as the oils do not have to be perfectly mixed or even flowing for the Infused Flower Mixer to work its magic. Because of the dual centrifugal action, the oils are heated and then perfectly mixed with the flower so it’s ready to go into your pre-roll cones.
Beyond the addition of terpenes, there are other, simpler ways to add a touch of flavor to your infused pre-rolls. Instead of using ultra-refined rolling papers, for example, packing your infused flower into a hemp wrap blunt cone or a botanical blunt cone, like the Goji berry blunt cone, adds flavor notes to the experience, without having to alter your flower.
Flavor crush balls, which come in a variety of choices from menthol to fruits and beyond, can also be added post-packing to enhance the flavor of a pre-roll, however the taste from a crush ball often dissipates fast so they are better for smaller prerolls, like dogwalker mini cones, than for full-gram King Size cones.
Another easy way to give customers a taste of something different is to use a flavored wood filter tip, like the sugar- or vanilla-infused wood filter tips. The difference between wood filter tips and other flavor-infusing methods is that when you use a wood filter tips, the flavor stays on the lips – where the filter hits – and does not at all interfere with the flavor of the flower used in the pre-roll.
BONUS: How to make your own Jeeter-style infused pre-rolls
One of the most popular infused pre-rolls on the market comes from Jeeter, based in California and made using both an internal and external infusion to add potency and give the prerolls a distinctive look and feel.
Plus, Jeeter uses a hand-rolling method that you can follow at home to make your own Jeeter-style infused prerolls. Inside the pre-roll, Jeeter uses liquid diamonds in its California and Michigan markets and a distillate oil in Michigan to infuse its prerolls and add flavor and potency.
Diamonds are a cannabis concentrate made of concentrated THCA, isolated and crystallized into a highly-potent, semi-transparent crystalline structure. They are usually dabbed. Liquid Diamonds are made by melting the high-potency THCA crystals a pure oil, usually flavored with terpenes since by themselves, diamonds do not have a taste.
To make your own version of a Jeeter or Baby Jeeter (the smaller, dogwalker size) pre-roll, you will need to get a high-potency concentrate like diamonds and heat them before mixing with your flower as would with any other homemade, internally-infused preroll.
But then Jeeter ups the ante by dusting the outside of its pre-rolls in kief, adding another layer of potency and flavor.
To duplicate the process at home, simply take your diamond-infused pre-roll, paint the outside with a distillate as detailed above and then roll that in kief. It’s a bit of a process – and it can get messy – but the result is a highly potent blast of flavor both in and out of your preroll that makes it easy to see why these are so popular.
Hand-Crafted vs. Automation in infused pre-rolls
Before infused pre-rolls were common in cannabis shops, if you wanted an infused pre-roll, you had to either roll it yourself or spend a good chunk of change to buy one. Hand rolling is time consuming and not particularly cost effective for mass production; however, it does offer the creator the most options when it comes to creating the perfect infused joint, and as we’ve seen, it can lead to a popular and well-received pre-roll product. The only real limitation is the imagination of the one creating it.
There is a market for hand-crafted items in the cannabis industry; however, like any other industry, hand-crafted items carry a premium price tag because of the time- and labor-intensive process to produce these products.
So, what’s the solution for companies scaling up their processes and needing to produce larger quantities of infused pre-rolls to keep their customers coming back? Simple: Automation.
Instead of being limited to infusing each joint by hand, businesses now have the option to speed up the process using automated pre-roll machines. Pre-roll and pre-roll infusion machines can take pounds of cannabis and, within a matter of hours, turn them into thousands of infused pre-rolls. In other words, they can really help boost production and scale an operation quickly.
How to scale infused pre-roll production
If you are looking to scale your production of infused pre-rolls, an automated pre-roll infusing machine is the solution!
The process starts by getting the pre-roll infusion machine loaded with pre-rolls and concentrate. The pre-rolls are arranged inside a circular wheel. These wheels have a maximum capacity of 20 and can be adjusted to fit your exact size of pre-rolls. The concentrate is stored in a specially designed reservoir to make sure it stays at the optimal temperature. Just pre-warm the concentrate in a vacuum oven and the infusion process is ready to go in minutes.
This automated infused preroll machine comes with a touch screen, which allows you to not only control the exact amount of concentrate that gets infused, but the exact location as well. You can set the desired length of the infusion, as well as where it starts and stops. For example, you can tell the machine to infused a 30mm rod of cannabis oil, starting 20mm from the bottom of the pre-roll. When the machine gets going, the oil is fed through a medical-grade needle and into the center of the pre-roll.
This machine has also been designed to be easily run and calibrated by a single operator, cutting down on labor costs and man-hours. Plus, it outputs all your production data into an easy-to-read format, so you can keep track of production and optimize your process for maximum efficiency.
The result is a consistent infused pre-roll product that can be re-produced in quantity and quality, easily expanding your pre-roll line to capitalize on the hottest trend in the pre-roll sector and keeping your customers coming back again and again.
Designer infused pre-roll cones
Finally, what’s the point in producing high-quality infused pre-rolls if your customers can’t tell them apart from a non-infused pre-roll?
Consider using a designer filter tip to label your cones as “infused” so that there’s no confusing your premium product for a standard pre-roll cone. Made with the same ultra-fine, European-sourced rolling papers as all of our cones, these designer cones feature a black filter tip emblazoned with the word “Infused” and are guaranteed to stand out from the crowd.
Available in all sizes, from the 70mm, 0.3 gram “dogwalkers” to the 84mm half gram, 98mm 0.75 gram and 109mm full gram variety, and in your choice of refined white or natural brown paper, branding your joints as “infused” will not only cut down on confusion but brand your infused pre-roll joints as the ones to look for! Plus, they’re also perfect multipacks!
If you would like a virtual or in-person demo of this amazing automated infused pre-roll machine, or the simple-to-use Infused Flower Mixer that can perfectly mix any concentrate with any flower, contact the Pre-Roll Experts at Custom Cones USA today and see how easy it is for you to expand and scale your pre-roll business by adding infused pre-rolls to your product line!
Kief, bubble hash, distillate, rosin! However you infuse it, people love it when you take something great and layer on something even more amazing.