Updated: Dec 15, 2019
Hash, or Hashish, is an ancient cannabis concentrate that can be smoked, vaporized or eaten and has been a popular intoxicant across many cultures for centuries. Hash is made by separating the psychoactive trichomes, of the cannabis plant, and consuming them in their concentrated form. Trichomes are small hairs that form on the outer surface of the cannabis plant. These little hairs act like glands, which contain the highest content of THC and terpenes on the plant. Originally, hash was made by rubbing one’s hands across the plants to accumulate the sticky trichome resins on the fingers. The resulting oil was scraped off and dried to produce a dark brown hash. Today, scientists have developed new methods of extracting hash from cannabis plants, providing some of the cleanest and most potent highs available on the market.
Over the past ten years, cannabis concentrates like hash oils, shatters, and rosins have become standard features on dispensary shelves. With legalization and advances in technology, scientists have been able to isolate and extract the most desirable chemical compounds from the cannabis plant. With so many different options available, it can be difficult to know which cannabis concentrates are best for you.
Electronic Vaporizers or Dab rigs are the two most common ways to consume cannabis concentrates. Handheld vapes and desktop vaporizers are often compatible with both dry herb and Cannabis concentrates like shatter or wax. Small amounts of cannabis concentrates, known as “dabs” can also be vaporized using a glass water pipe called a “dab rig.” Dab rigs use a heated “nail” to vaporize the hash oil at the optimal temperature (315-450°F) for the purest flavor, and smoothest hit. These unique bongs heat up the liquid hash oil to the point of vaporization without combustion, to give you the cleanest hits without producing the harmful smoke produced by burning the plant material.
Cannabis concentrates can also be added to edibles to produce highly potent and precisely dosed cannabis-infused products. Many of today’s most popular edibles are created using some form of cannabis concentrate. If you enjoy smoking cannabis flowers but want to intensify your smoke session, add cannabis concentrates to your weed. Sprinkle some bubble hash atop a bowl or twist some wax around a joint, to try indeed. Most importantly, find the method that is most comfortable and enjoyable for you.
Solvent Based Cannabis Concentrates
Cannabis concentrates are made by extracting the highly potent cannabis oils (trichomes, THC, terpenes and other cannabinoids) directly from the marijuana plant. The process of extraction varies from method to method. Solvent-based methods involve dissolving the trichomes of the plant using chemicals like butane, CO2, or ethanol. The resulting mixture is heated to evaporate any remaining solvent leaving behind the pure hash oil. Solventless methods use agitation or heat to manually separate the trichomes from the plant matter producing a highly concentrated product that is 100% Cannabis.
There is concern that long term use of solvent-based extracts can cause harmful effects to the consumer. The fear is that trace amounts of butane or propane may stay in the concentrate. The bottom line is this… high-quality extractions strive to create products that leave no trace of the solvents used during extraction. Quality assurance testing sets the bar high for concentrate cultivators. Make sure that your concentrates are coming from a trusted source.
Butane Hash Oil
Butane hash oil, or “BHO” for short, took the cannabis world by storm. Budder, buddha’s ear wax, crumble, pie crust, honeycomb, and sap are names given to describe different textures and consistencies of concentrate. Different levels of moisture and agitation will produce waxes of different textures and consistencies. Weed scientists quickly tweaked the process a thousand different ways to produce hash oils of different textures and consistencies.
How is BHO made?
BHO is created by blasting pure butane through ground cannabis plant matter, extracting just the cannabinoids like THC, terpenes, and flavonoids. Cannabinoids like THC are responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis while terpenes provide most of the flavors and smells associated with concentrates. Separating the oils from the plant allows the user to consume higher percentages of THC in smaller doses. The major downfall of BHO is the potential presence of residual solvents in the final product. Trace amounts of butane left behind can irritate the lungs and cause potential health problems long term. Other non-toxic solvents may provide a healthier alternative.
The Dangers of making BHO at home
The butane fumes created through this process are highly flammable and explosive, making this process highly dangerous outside of a lab. In the early days of BHO, a few backyard scientists accidentally blew themselves and their houses up in the pursuit of the liquid gold oil. Please don’t attempt to extract at home.BHO can take the form of shatter, wax, crumble, or budder. These products will look very different from one another, but they all similar in effect. Shatter is a clear concentrate that looks similar to hard candy. Shatter gets its name from its crumbly texture and tendency to shatter under pressure. Shatter is the most challenging form of BHO to make because it must be kept very still during the process. Agitation is what causes the molecules to become cloudy. Wax is soft, sticky, and darker than shatter.
Propane extraction produces a similar end product to butane although propane concentrates tend to be soft and buttery in consistency. The process for producing propane hash is similar to butane, though propane evaporates at lower temperatures resulting in a smoother texture. Propane solvents preserve different levels of terpenes than butane hash which means that the same weed processed both ways will result in different flavors. For this reason, many concentrate manufacturers use a combination of propane and butane for extraction to preserve more of the true terpenes.
Live Resin is made the exact same way as BHO except that it’s made with fresh flowers that are promptly frozen after harvest, to retain their terpenes. The cannabis buds are kept frozen throughout the entire extraction process. Live resin is extracted in labs with specialized extraction tools. Through a process of chilling butane, while passing it through the frozen cannabis buds, the trichomes maintain their structure, making it easier to remove the butane from the solution and purify the concentrate. The final step in the process uses water to warm the extraction, evaporating any residual solvent. The final product is an extremely pungent and flavorful wax that will tingle your nose and titillate your senses while you take a dab.
Terp sauce is a new type of BHO product that is extracted to preserve the full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes. Terp sauce has an incredibly high potency due to the “entourage effect,” an increased high caused by ideal combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes. Terp sauce contains crystals of undissolved THC-A which when dabbed convert to THC for even more intensity.
Liquid CO2 is a non-toxic solvent used to extract cannabinoids like THC and CBD, and terpenes from cannabis plants. CO2 oil is made by exposing the bud to Liquid CO2 under extremely high pressure. The extraction process preserves fewer terpenes than BHO resulting in a less pungent taste-making CO2 oil an excellent option for making edibles. Although CO2 oil tends to be less potent than butane hash oil, CO2 solvent evaporates entirely from the finished product, reducing the risk of inhaling any residual solvent. CO2 oil is the concentrate most commonly used to fill vape pens. Although this extract is less flavorful than BHO, CO2 oil manufacturers can reintegrate the original terpene profiles into the finished product giving the vaped oil a more satisfying flavor.
Which kind of Solvent Based Dab Concentrate is Best?
The kind of concentrate that is the best is the one that has been made with the best bud and processed to remove the maximum amount of solvent and is most enjoyable to you. Due to shatter’s structure and stability it’s the longest lasting BHO concentrate available. Other concentrates can degrade over time and eventually become unusable. One potential disadvantage of shatter is that its brittle nature can make precise dosing a bit more difficult. Wax, on the other hand, is softer and more pliable allowing you to select precisely the size dab you’re looking for. To find the one that suits you, we recommend experimenting with different types. The psychoactive effects will be in line with the particular strain of cannabis that the product is made from, but when selecting a concentrate pay close attention to the potency and flavors as well. Choose a few of your favorite strains and fire up your dab torch, for science!
THC-A Crystalline is the purest form of THC-A extraction, coming in at 99.997% pure. These cannabis crystals closely resemble other high potency drugs, but only in their looks. It’s colorless, flavorless, and lacking in the flavorful terpenes that cannabis concentrates usually contain. THC-A is the non-carboxylated form of THC, meaning the psychoactive properties have not been activated in these crystals. In its pure, unheated form, it won’t get you high, but if you were to take a dab you may reach new heights, that would surprise even the most expert dabbers.
This medical grade concentrate is opening new doors for medical patients, and providers alike. It could even be the future for edible companies looking for fast-acting effects of THC without any of the cannabis flavor. Crystalline is produced in a lab using a complicated process, mixing isolated cannabis concentrates or plant material with various solvents to extract the crystals. This extraction process removes all plant matter, including chlorophyll, plant oils, waxes, and terpenes before evaporating the solvents every step of the way, in a rotary evaporator leaving only the purest form of THC-A crystal.
Solvent-less Cannabis Concentrates
Until recently the options for solvent-free extracts were slim. Kief, bubble hash and old school pressed hash were the only concentrates on the rolling tray that didn’t contain the Butane or CO2 in the extraction.
One day, a bright household cannabis scientist placed a few nugs onto wax paper and pressed them in their mom’s hair straightening iron, and rosin was born. At least this is how I imagine it happened. The discovery of pressed rosin changed the game for the solvent-less concentrates market. The ability to create stable rosin from plant matter and heat opened the door for new products to be imagined, and new concentrates to dab with.
Before tackling the ins and outs of the newest technologies in solventless concentrates, let’s take it back to the basics. The yellow-green powder at the bottom of your grinder is called kief. Those tiny particles of trichomes contain high levels of terpenes and THC. Kief is essentially the basis of every hash and concentrate, this is the extracted plant material before it gets processed.
Try sprinkling kief, the most basic form of a concentrate, on top of a bowl pack or throughout a joint or for an extra potent punch. Roll your joints and nugs in oil and powder them with kief (also known as cannabis caviar) for twaxed joints and or moonrocks, respectively. Prepare yourself to blast off. Try pressing your kief with a straightening iron to make your removepure mely rosin, or even add it to your cannabutter.
If you want to collect larger amounts of kief, separate it from your bud with a process known as dry sifting. Using silkscreen materials, kief can be manually extracted in a larger scale with manual agitation. By stacking 3-4 different sized mesh screens, you’ll be able to separate the kief from the finest particles or plant material. The highest quality of dry sift is called “full melt”.
Ice Hash is created using a process of separating trichomes from buds by freezing them, soaking them in ice water and agitating them manually with screened “bubble bags”. For this reason, Ice hash is also known as bubble hash. This arduous process yields a pure hash that is solvent free. Full-Melt Ice hash will melt down into a golden liquid known as ice wax.
I mentioned before that the first rosin press began with an at home experiment with parchment paper and a hair straightener, it’s true, even larger quantities of rosin were produced using a modified tee shirt press. Heat and pressure are all you need to extract rosin from your cannabis buds. This process yields a yellow honey-like substance that can be used by dabbing. Professional extractors use high-pressure presses to remove large quantities of rosin from each nug.
As the cannabis concentrates market continues to grow, cannabis innovators will continue to develop new techniques to create the most flavorful and face blasting extracts. With new products being introduced all the time, this list will only get longer. In the meantime, recreational cannabis users and medical patients alike will continue to enjoy the benefits of concentrated marijuana. For cannabis users, this is indeed an amazing time to be alive.