Ever wonder how your favorite cannabis concentrates are created? Here’s a quick rundown of the most common methods of extraction!
Ice water hash and bubble hash are two different names for the same type of concentrate. In order to make bubble hash, hash makers take cured cannabis plant material and freeze it in order to loosen the trichomes, which contain the highest concentration of cannabinoids in the plant. Then the trichomes are separated from the extraneous plant matter by placing them into mesh filters known as bubble bags and hitting it with ice water while agitating or tumbling. The plant matter is put through a series of these filters (typically ranging between 50-250 microns), the size of the filter (Lines Per Inch or LPI) decreasing each time to remove any extraneous plant material, as eventually, only the cannabinoid-rich trichome heads can pass through the filter and nothing else. This leaves you with a potent, light-colored hash that is untouched by solvents.
Rosin, on the other hand, is produced using heat and pressure. Using technology conceptually similar to a panini press or a t-shirt heat press, nug is placed in between two heated surfaces and the press is then closed, squishing the terp-filled rosiny goodness from the bud. If done correctly, the rosin can have similar potency and greater terpene content than any solvent-extracted concentrate, except once again, this dab is completely clean of residual solvents. This process is so simple and safe because of the lack of volatile solvents that it can be replicated at home using simple materials such as a hair straightener on its lowest heat setting, parchment paper, nug, and heat-resistant safety gear. Just place the nug in the paper and squeeze the bud in the straightener until it releases the rosin. Then remove any leftover plant material from the rosin, and dab away!
Supercritical CO2 extraction has previously been used by food and herbal supplement industries for purposes such as decaffeinating coffee and extracting essential oils from botanicals. In layman’s terms, all that “supercritical” means is that the CO2 has been cooled to transition it into a liquid state and placed in a pressurized environment to lower its boiling temperature–think of a pressure cooker allowing you to cook your food more quickly and at lower temperatures than traditional heat sources. Once in a supercritical state, the carbon dioxide is pumped across cured cannabis in order to extract active plant ingredients, such as THC and CBD. The beauty of CO2 extraction is that the solvent itself can be placed in different states of matter (i.e. solid, liquid, or gaseous), to perform targeted extraction–“fractioning”– of various cannabinoid compounds and terpenes. The supercritical fluid CO2 passes easily through the plant matter and gently dissolves the membrane of the trichomes, thus extracting the various active compounds that naturally occur in marijuana. It also tends to be a safer solvent than other types because it is naturally less volatile than butane and propane, and since CO2 is a molecule naturally occuring in our bodies and one which evaporates at room temperature, it does not leave behind the trace amounts of toxic residuals in other solvents. https://canna-pet.com/what-is-co2-extraction/ (diagram of sc-CO2)
Butane Hash Oil extraction or BHO extraction requires cured product and the drier the butane (or propane, another type of hydrocarbon solvent like butane) the better. N-butane, a form of the solvent, is water soluble at room temperature, and when the plant isn’t fully cured (i.e. the plant still contains moisture), this moisture can result in the absorption of some of the n-butane, resulting in a darker concentrate. A good rule of thumb is the darker a concentrate, the more residual solvent it contains.
Some of the most popular types of dabs–wax, shatter, sugar, distillate–are manufactured using BHO extraction. During the process, cured marijuana is placed in a large glass cylinder and blasted with heated butane, which eventually forces the plant material to release oils, resins, and terps, which are all collected in a separate container. But before the concentrate can be consumed, it has to be purged of the solvents. Hashmakers do this by heating the solution in hot water to just below the boiling point, causing butane bubbles to form and then pop, releasing the residual butane into the air and out of your dabs.
FSE or Full Spectrum Extraction produces live resin, the choice dab of cannasseurs from coast to coast. FSE is usually extracted using butane, though you can use propane too, though that’s where the similarity to standard BHO ends. When creating live resin, hashmakers take the freshly harvested cannabis (i.e. live plant matter) and flash freeze it by hitting it with near-freezing cold solvents. Because the plant is frozen, similar to the bubble hashmaking process, many of the trichomes are released as they freeze, meaning fewer solvents are required for extraction. Now, the full spectrum part of FSE refers to the fact that these dabs retain a wide spectrum of THC and other beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes, making these dabs some of the tastiest, cleanest, and most balanced concentrates around.
And there’s your rundown of basic hash making principles. The more you know!! Now get dabbin’!