This article was originally published on Flowertown, and appears here with permission.
Hash, or hashish, has been around for centuries. Hash is made from resin taken from mature female cannabis plants. Cannabis resin is a sticky substance akin to tree sap, produced by resin glands. These ripe resin glands, or trichomes, contain all the aromatic terpenes and cannabinoids that facilitate our enjoyment or therapeutic use of cannabis.
Collecting this resin and compressing it into hashish is a centuries-old tradition in places like Morocco and India. Today’s modern hashish-making techniques have brought hash to legal cannabis markets everywhere. Cannabis connoisseurs enjoy its flavor and potency — the effects of hash are much stronger than smoking cannabis flower, as the concentration of cannabinoids is much greater.
Cold-water hash extraction
To make hash, the sticky, resinous trichomes are separated from the plant using a variety of methods. Dry-sifting separates the trichome glands by filtering them through a series of screens. After repeated sifting and collecting of the resin (also known as kief), it’s ready to enjoy.
Cold-water hash, also known as ice-water, solventless, or bubble hash, uses ice and water to knock the trichomes free from the plant. As the ice water chills the plant material, the trichomes, which are not water-soluble, become brittle and snap off. The resin is filtered from the water. When dry, it can be cured and smoked. This is water hash.
The cold-water hash making method was popularized in the 1990s, largely due to famed hash maker Mila Jansen, a.k.a. the Hash Queen, who designed a line of pollinator bags for straining ice-water hash. In recent years, commercially extracted hash using solvents like butane has pushed aside water hash on dispensary shelves. However, water hash makers have refined their methods, and top-quality water hash is now being sold as “solventless wax,” reflecting the consumer demand for chemical-free cannabis products.
What are the steps to making cold-water hash?
There are several ways to make cold-water hash if you’re interested in making it yourself. Hash-making expert and cannabis guru Ed Rosenthal outlines six methods to DIY hash-making on his website. You can use ready-made bags, coffee filters, or even a blender. Whether you’re making your own cold-water hash, or purchasing it from a professional extractor, the steps to cold-water extraction are the same:
- Plant material (which can include leaf, trim, buds and shake) is immersed in ice water
- Chilled water and plant material are gently agitated
- Trichome heads freeze and break off from the plant
- Resin-filled trichomes sink, separating from the plant matter
- Water is filtered, and resin collected
- Resin is carefully dried and pressed
The end result is flavorful, aromatic water hash, with no solvents or extracts.
What are the benefits of cold-water hash extraction?
It’s free of solvents and chemicals.
Many cannabis concentrates are extracted using butane, propane, ethanol or CO2. Cold-water hash is free of solvents — only water and filtration are used.
It’s safe to make.
It’s next to impossible to seriously injure yourself or anyone else making water hash, since the process doesn’t involve any flammable materials or machinery that solvent-based extractions require.
The cold-water extraction method preserves all the beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes of the plant.
High-grade water hash can be smoked on its own or with flower, or using a pipe designed for vaporizing concentrates (also known as an oil rig or dab rig). It’s also great for making edibles.
Many people are delighted by the unique, full-spectrum experience of potent, natural hash. If you’re new to consuming cannabis in hash form, ask your local budtender for ice-water or solventless hash — or try making your own! A note for novice consumers: the effects of hash, which is a potent cannabis concentrate, are much stronger than smoking cannabis flower. Go low and slow, and enjoy your hash experience as a responsible cannabis consumer.
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