Hash is a real treat for most cannabis lovers. Hashish is a cannabis concentrate which delivers a rich intoxicating smell and a blissfully indulgent effect. For some people, there is nothing quite like it. A small lump of hash is delicious on its own in a bong. Or you can add some hashish to a joint to turbo-charge the effects. There are lots of ways to make hashish, or other cannabis concentrates. But one of the simplest and most natural ways to make hash is simply using ice and water. The only special equipment required is a set of hash bags which can be bought online. You put these over a bucket and add ice, water, leaf/buds, and stir.
Hash is a generic term used for the compressed resin glands which have been removed from the cannabis plant. Anyone that has grown cannabis will be familiar with ‘scissor hash’ which accumulates on the scissors during harvest. Cannabis is coated with oily trichome resin glands which contain the cannabinoids. One simple way of making hash is to roll buds between your hands. Your hands become sticky as the resin glands transfer from the buds to your skin. This resin can be scraped off the hands and rolled into a ball of hash. It’s not the most efficient use of your buds though, and there are some more modern and effective ways to convert buds into hash.
When cannabis buds, leaves, and harvest trim are churned around in ice-cold water the resin glands drop off the plant material into the water. From there they can be collected in special hash bags. It’s important that the whole process is conducted at low temperatures. The water should contain plenty of ice, ideally, it should be around 0ºC. The water and ice mixture is prepared in a large container, often a clean plastic tub or clean plastic bin. Inside the bin, you need to place your hash bags. One of the original Dutch hash bag brands is called the Ice-O-Lator series. They come in various sizes, for personal or larger scale hash production. The hash bags contain mesh nets with specific size gaps in the net e.g. 160, 120, 73 and 25 microns.
As the ice mixture of plant matter is stirred/agitated, the trichomes fall off and fall through the various nets in the hash bags. As the illustrations show, each bag collects its own grade of hash. For most hashish connoisseurs, it is the hash from the finest mesh, usually the 25-micron hash bag, which is most highly prized. That’s because only the smallest trichome heads are able to pass through the previous hash bags and reach the final bag. This means very little plant /leaf material gets through. Under magnification, the hash looks like a massive collection of trichomes all squashed together.
The heaviest hash yields will often come from the hash bags with larger diameter gaps in the mesh netting. As the trichome resin glands are separated from the plant material they settle progressively and fall through from one hash bag to the next. These ‘hash particles’ settle progressively through each hash bag according to the size of the netting. The larger particles are collected in the initial 160 and 120-micron bags. Only the smallest trichomes reach the finest mesh 25-micron bag for collection. These finest grades of the hash are often very light in colour due to the absence of stray pieces of leaf material. The ‘lower’ grades of hash, collected from the 160 and 120-micron bags are still joyously potent but may be a slightly darker color due to the relatively higher amounts of green plant material which sneaked through the larger hash bag nets.
The plant material should also ideally be pre-frozen. The higher the quality of the starting material, the more hash you will make. If you start with good quality shredded buds you will make more hash than you could make from poor quality trimmings. It’s important that the plant material is well shredded before you put it in the ice-cold water bath. Otherwise, the resin glands are not all available for removal. Some people peel buds open with their fingers to expose the inner layers. Others use scissors.
The finely prepared plant material is slowly added to the stirring bath of iced water. The bath temperature is monitored, and a wooden or plastic spoon is often used to stir the mixture. The cooler the temperature, the more efficient the trichome removal. More ice is added if the temperature rises, ice can be bought at most supermarkets. Because the THC, cannabinoids, and terpenes are largely insoluble in water the process is efficient. In fact, many hash fans claim the intense taste and flavors from water hash are retained thanks to the low temperatures used in the process. The only waste is the residual trichomes left on any plant material e.g. if large buds were put in the ice water without being peeled open or grated first.
The longer you allow for the stirring process the more trichomes you will be able to collect. Allow yourself half an hour or more, ensuring that the temperature stays cool and the mixture is constantly stirred to maximise the chances of removing all the trichomes. Make sure the buds are peeled apart otherwise no amount of stirring will remove the trichomes from the centre of the bud. And at the end of your stirring session, many hash makers allow the water to settle for 15-30 minutes or so. Longer for larger containers. This extra time allows the resin glands to settle sequentially through each hash-bag according to their size.
With capacities upwards of a Kilogram of plant material, many automatic hash making machines make large scale hash production very convenient. Many coffee shops, social clubs, and dispensaries report that hash is coming back in fashion. This is probably due to the overall increase in popularity for cannabis concentrates. These auto hash making machines resemble top-loading washing machines, and they take all the hard work out of hash production. These automatic devices contain the hash bags and agitate the plant/water/ice mixture with jets of bubbles from the side. If you make serious amounts of hash then a Bubbleator machine makes life much easier. Simply adjust the settings for the amount of agitation and the length of the wash, sit back and relax. At the end, the bags are easily removed from the machine, and the wet hash particles can be scraped off and dried. Modern techniques for drying the wet hash includes freeze drying and the use of vacuum chambers for accelerated drying.
Many seasoned hash experts like to use filtered water. Converts to filtered water include the ex.tractor team from Barcelona, who kindly supplied the pictures showing some of their recent hash production which is destined for the best Barcelona social clubs. Filtered water is free from minerals, such as inorganic salts which can be abundant in hard water areas. Filtered water helps produce extra pure hash and is a connoisseur touch.
Some hash makers add carbon dioxide pellets to the water to help it stay really cold during a long hash churning session. These can be bought from catering suppliers or even online, just search ‘dry ice’. Just a few CO2 pellets sprinkled into the mixture can really ensure ice-cold water temperatures.
Most people simply scoop the slurry of wet hash particles from each hash bag and scrape it off onto a sheet of greaseproof paper or silicone pad to dry slowly over a couple of days. This allows the water to evaporate naturally, leaving behind the powdered hash particles. Hash connoisseurs often label the hash, according to the size of the mesh used to produce it and the cannabis seed variety used. Avoid exposing your hash to high temperatures, it easily gets sticky and squishy.
Some people like their hash in powdered form, this makes it easy to sprinkle into a joint or vaporizer. Other people love to roll their hash into a traditional ball. Some people roll hash into thin tubes which they lay inside a joint. This will sizzle and supercharge the potency as well as giving a penetrating hashy scent when the joint is lit.
Yes, one easy way called ‘dry sifting’ allows you to make hash without water. A device called a Pollinator tumbles your dry buds inside a tube. The trichomes are mechanically loosened and fall off the buds. Again this requires the buds (or leaf material) to be well shredded in order to allow the trichome removal. It’s quick, easy and convenient to make hash using the dry sift technique. And the equipment is available in a range of sizes to automate the production process. The trichomes are shaken free from the plant material and collected as a fine light powder which can be rolled into a ball if required.
The simplicity of producing a cannabis concentrate using nothing more than ice and water has all the natural attractions. There are no solvents involved and no impurities which can be added. Hash is a cannabis concentrate which is easy to make. And for many hash lovers, nothing has quite the same rich aroma and overpowering narcotic effects. The good quality hash will always be popular with recreational and medical cannabis users and growers. One of the benefits of growing your own cannabis at home from feminized or autoflower seeds is that you can easily produce a surplus harvest. Many home growers convert their surplus buds into cannabis concentrates such as cannabis oil, shatter, BHO or hash. Homegrown cannabis has some great advantages, being able to make your own hash collection is one of them.
January 11th 2019