Cannabis concentrates have soared in popularity in recent years. They offer an extremely potent way to consume marijuana and come in a variety of forms.
The high demand for concentrates has led many people to consider making their own at home. The major downside to this is that most forms of concentrate require the use of solvents, such as ethanol or butane, to extract the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant material.
These solvents can be extremely dangerous when mishandled. They can also cause contamination of the end product if they are not fully evaporated after extraction. So, what if you want to make cannabis concentrate without the risk?
Fortunately, it is entirely possible to make concentrates such as hash without using solvents at all. The process is not only safe but also reasonably straightforward providing you have a few basic pieces of equipment to hand.
What is hash?
Hash comes from the word hashish which means “grass” in Arabic. Hash is a cannabis concentrate made from fresh resin glands (trichomes), also known as kief, that have been separated from the plant matter of a cannabis flower.
Hash is created through mechanical means such as heat and pressure or by mixing it with water. Then it is formed into a brick, bar, block, or ball.
Historically, hash has been around for a long time. Indians have known how to make hash for centuries. In fact, they rubbed cannabis with their hands until the friction and heat coated their hands with the plant’s resin. Then, they rolled the resin into balls called “charas.”
How to make hash?
Once you have collected enough kief in your grinder, you can start thinking about how to make hash and about how to use it. Here are some easy and safe ways to make hash without using solvents:
Dry sift is probably one of the simplest ways of making hash there is. It requires very little in the way of skill, and you only need a few basic items to make your own high-quality hashish.
The dry sift technique uses friction to separate trichomes from your plant material. Trichomes are the resin-producing glands that cover the buds of the female weed plant and are laden with cannabinoids and terpenes. When these are separated from the plant matter, they form a dusty substance known as kief.
This can then be pressed into balls or blocks to produce a form of hash which is exceptionally pure. Dry sift hash is said to have a great flavor as well as a high cannabinoid content. Here is what you need to make your own:
- Dried and cured cannabis bud or trim
- A set of micron screens
- A plastic card or scraper (an old credit card will do)
- Disposable gloves
How to make dry sift?
First, you need to set up your micron screens. These are made of fine mesh, with the diameter of the holes indicated by the micron count. The screens with the largest holes have a higher micron count. A set of dry sift screens usually contains 4–6 screens starting with a micron count of at least 200 and going all the way down to 60.
Stack your screens in ascending order so the one with the lowest micron count is on the bottom and the one with the highest micron count is on top. Wear your gloves to avoid getting sticky hands and put your plant material on the top screen. It is a good idea to break large buds up into smaller pieces to make them easier to handle.
Rub your buds or trim back and forth across the screen for a few minutes. Try to use smooth, steady movements and do not apply to much pressure. You want to create friction to break off the trichomes, not push the plant material through the screen.
After doing this for a few minutes, lift the top screen off the stack. You should find a layer of kief collected on the next screen down. This can be smoked as it is, but for a purer product, you will want to separate it further.
Use your plastic card or scraper to gently move the kief back and forth across the second screen for a few more minutes. When you lift this screen, you should find another layer of kief collected below. This will be purer and of higher quality than the previous layer.
Keep repeating the process for each screen in the stack. By the time you get to the bottom screen, you will have a product which is extremely potent and pure.
Use your scraper to transfer the kief from each screen into clean glass jars. You can keep the different grades of kief separate or try mixing them together. Although a mixed product will be less pure, it may contain a better mix of terpenes for improved flavor.
You can use your dry sift as it is by sprinkling into a joint, vape, bowl, or bong. Alternatively, you can fold the kief carefully in a piece of baking parchment and apply heat (a set of hair straighteners is ideal for this job). This will press your dry sift into a block of hash that is easier to handle than the powder itself.
The idea behind bubble hash (also known as water hash or ice hash) is similar to that of dry sift. It uses friction to separate trichomes from plant material, but rather than dry screens, bubble hash uses bags which are filled with water and ice. To make bubble hash at home, you will need:
- Cannabis flower or trim (fresh or dried)
- A set of micron “bubble bags”
- 2 x 5-gallon buckets
- A mixing tool
- A plastic card or scraper
How to make bubble hash?
It is possible to make bubble hash using dried or fresh plant material. If using fresh, place your buds in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before starting to make the trichomes more brittle.
Set up your micron bags in one of the buckets. Like the process for making dry sift, you want the bag with the lowest micron count on the bottom and the one with the highest micron count on top. Fold the tops of the bags over the bucket to secure them.
Fill the top bag with layers of ice and plant material. The more ice you use, the better. Pour in enough water to cover the plant material and ice.
Stir the mixture vigorously. You can do this manually using a stick, although this is very labor-intensive. Some people use a hand mixer or a household drill with a paddle attachment.
After stirring for 10–15 minutes, lift out the top bag and squeeze the plant material to remove the liquid. Set this aside in your second bucket.
When you lift out the remaining bags, you should find a layer of trichomes collected on the bottom of each. Scrape these off using your plastic card and set them on the screen that came with your micron bags to dry. Again, the product that you collect from the bottom bag will be the highest quality. You can keep each grade of hash separate or mix them together if you prefer.
Repeat the process if necessary, to maximize your yield.
Once dried, scrape your bubble hash into clean glass jars to store. Use it as is or form into blocks using the method listed for dry sift.
Charas is one of the most traditional ways of making hash without solvents. It is popular in Northern India, Nepal, and Pakistan, and all you need to make it is some weed and your hands. For this reason, charas is sometimes also known as finger hash.
Although the process of making charas is simple, it can be both time-consuming and messy. However, it produces a potent product and is fun to try at least once. To make charas, you will need:
- Fresh cannabis flower (it is best to use bud which is 2–3 weeks away from being mature)
- Strong dish soap and vegetable oil for cleaning your hands
How to make charas?
Before starting to make charas, ensure that your hands are really clean. Use unscented soap and rinse thoroughly.
Select a medium-sized bud with a piece of stem still attached for support. Squeeze lightly and roll the bud gently and slowly between your hands. The more slowly you roll, the higher quality your end product will be, so be patient.
After a few minutes, you will notice a build-up of resin on your palms. When you have collected as much resin as possible, discard the bud.
Continue to rub your hands together so that the resin begins to form a stick or a ball. Store charas in an airtight container and clean your hands using a mixture of dish soap and oil.
Charas is traditionally smoked in a clay pipe called a chillum. However, you can add a thin strand to joints or spliffs, or use in a bowl, bong, vape, or dab rig.
Best strains for making hash
To make the best quality hash, you will want to choose a strain that produces large amounts of resin. Generally speaking, indica strains are better for this, although there are exceptions to the rule.
Look for flower that has plenty of sparkly trichomes. Some of the best strains for making hash include:
- Hindu Kush
- OG Kush
- Hash Plant
- Northern Lights
- White Widow
How to smoke hash?
Hash may be used in a number of ways. Traditionally, hash has been consumed orally, either as a solid or infused into a beverage such as the traditional Indian drink bhang. Hash may also be smoked, either on its own or as a way to accompany traditional cannabis flower.
Some varieties of hash that have the ability to melt may also be vaporized on a hot surface, known as “dabbing”. When dabbing hash, screens are often used due to the fact that some resins leave carbon residue and will not melt completely, or at all. On the other end of the spectrum are high-quality hash oils (not to be confused with solvent extracts), such as full melt dry sift and full melt ice water hash, which have the ability to melt completely onto a nail, leaving zero residue.
When first learning how to use hash, consult with your budtender about the equipment you have at home to see what products are right for you. To get started with smoking or vaporizing hash, you will need some sort of smoking device, such as a pipe or dab rig, possibly a dabber tool, and a heating mechanism like a butane torch, depending on which route you take.
Always remember that hash effects will be much stronger than smoking cannabis flower. Hash oil potency can range from low 40% to over 80%, depending on factors such as extraction technique and quality of starting material.