Hashish is a concentrated conglomeration of "bubbles" that contain the most potent ratio of pure cannabinoids produced by the marijuana plant.
These bubbles sit on top of a stalk like a golf ball sits on a tee. In cannagriculture lingo, this natural contraption is called a "capitate-stalked resin gland," also known as
Cannabis also produces un-stalked resin glands that grow flush with plant surfaces, but the taller capitate stalked variety are the most desired by cannabis breeders, smokers and photographers.
As marijuana flowers mature, the glands produce resinous substances unique to marijuana. This resin swells and expands to form round, clear capsules that glisten like crystals.
Most cannabis consumers smoke resin glands only as part of leaves, flowers and other plant tissue, but an increasing number of pot people are learning that separation of resin glands from other plant material, and the smoking of glands as hashish, is a "harm reduction" method that allows them to ingest cannabinoids without inhaling undesirable by-products of whole plant combustion.
Traditionally, hashish has been made by placing resinated plants on screens and sieves, and then shaking the plants so the resin glands fall off and are gathered as powder. Sometimes this raw powder, often called "kif," is smoked fresh. More frequently, the powder is pressed or rolled to form hardened cakes of resin.
Pressed hashish comes in a wide variety of shapes and colors. Indeed, hashish is a pliable base material for cannabinoid sculptures and small art pieces that double as durable cannabinoid carriers.
In Laurence Cherniak's Great Books of Hashish series, and the exemplary single volume Hashish! by Robert Connell Clarke, gorgeous photographs show hashish bowling balls, snakes, Frisbees, cones, bricks, coins, tubes, bullets, cubes, and other artistically-formed items.
The shapes are attractively functional; visual stimulation is also provided by colorful insignias of origin that are tattooed, stamped or carved into specialty hashish.
During marijuana's re-emergence onto the world stage in the 1960's and 70's, countries like Afghanistan, Nepal, India, Lebanon, and Morocco were known as hashish havens. Westerners flocked to these countries, creating cannabis tourism along the "Hippie Trail."
In Haarlem, Holland last year, I talked to a Dutch Hippie Trail sojourner who shared some eight-year-old Lebanese "Blonde," and "Red" hashish with me while fondly recalling the glory days in Lebanon's Bekka Valley during almost four decades ago, when European and North American hashish hippies helped wizened desert farmers cultivate tens of thousands of acres for hashish production.
His hashish tasted like pepper, cedar and ginger, was surprisingly moist and potent, and had lovely coloring ? sienna red, and honey blonde. His stories had the ring of truth and memorable days gone by.
The Dutchman told me strange tales of long-ago Lebanese cannabis cooperatives, where hashish gathering sometimes took on a sexually hedonistic aspect. He claimed that during gland gathering adventures in remote areas, beautiful young girls, "selected because they had lush pubic hair," meandered through the cannabis fields on hot late summer afternoons, grinding their swelling pudenda against sticky resinous flowers.
The girls were soon covered in resin glands, which were removed from their skin and hair using specially-shaped tools, and smoked immediately. The taste of the girls' sacred musk infused into the resin powder like a damp natural perfume.
The Dutchman explained how smokers of "goddess hashish" believed that girls' sweat contained substances which symbiotically combined with cannabinoids to potentiate a stronger high. And some of the gatherer goddesses found that cannabinoids penetrated hair and skin to create a burning inner high so intense that it resembled, or triggered, orgasm.
Today, there are newer methods for making hashish and the beautiful girls are optional, but hashmaking in the Bekka Valley isn't very fun anymore.
The Lebanese and Syrian governments, with funding from the United States and the United Nations, have eradicated hundreds of thousands of acres of sturdy marijuana every year since the mid-1990's.
The eradication programs, usually carried out by military troops and bulldozers, have resulted in widespread poverty for farmers, who say marijuana is one of few profitable crops that can be grown in Lebanon.
US and UN drug warriors promised farmers monetary compensation for their losses, but the compensation has not materialized, and even though the Lebanese government vows to continue eradication efforts until "nobody will even think of growing cannabis in the Bekka Valley," hashish farmers say they'll continue planting pot crops as long as they have seeds.
Similar defiance and examples of the geopolitical significance of hashish are found in US-ravaged Afghanistan.
Even though the US and UN gave the country's Taliban government millions of dollars in 2001 to reward the Taliban for its drug war against marijuana and poppy cultivation, marijuana farmers have persisted in growing Afghani marijuana for hashish production, a tradition going back at last four decades.
Cannabis Culture was honored to publish exclusive photos of the last "Northern Alliance" Afghani hashish slates to be exported from Afghanistan before 9-11-01; at the time, our sources in Holland and elsewhere speculated that US military actions against Afghanistan, and the new puppet government installed in Afghanistan by the US, might forever end the hashish trade (CC#35, The geopolitics of Afghani hash).
Yet, freedom has bloomed again in the Afghani desert. Sources say that in October, 2002, crops of eight foot tall pot plants are interspersed with cotton plantations lining roads around Mazar-e-Sharif, a Northern Afghanistan city that has a variety of marijuana named after it.
The entire Mazar region has apparently been replanted with marijuana, which Afghani farmers and processors make into tasty mid-grade hashish that sells for $125 a kilo in Afghanistan. Farmers who grow only legal crops, such as cotton, get $1 per kilo for their efforts.
By the time that $100 kilo of Afghani hashish gets to Dutch coffee shops where most of the beleaguered nation's hashish is sold, it nets nearly $10,000 retail.
Resin glands are amazing things. They're the size of the head of a pin, resilient, and easy to work with. They're also amazingly diverse, varying in size, color, weight and density. These facets can be exploited to make a wide range of exciting hashish products.
Twenty years ago, an American cannadude named Sadhu Sam noticed that mature resin glands sink in water. He popularized a hashishmaking process that involved placing whole marijuana or sieved resin powder in water. The water is shaken or stirred. Heavier resin glands sink, while immature resin glands, plant debris, dirt, and molds float above the desired glands. The floating unwanted material is skimmed off; the primo glands are gathered, dried and pressed to make "water hashish."
Within ten years of Sam's discovery, Dutch pioneers like Mark Rose, Baba Bob and Mila publicized new methods of concentrating resin glands, using sieving machinery like the Pollinator, along with ice-water extraction methods.
Water hashish, pollinator hashish, and ice hashish sizzled in the minds of cannabis connoisseurs as the cannabis product got stronger and stronger. Researchers discovered a new technique, using a series of screen bags in ice water to separate resin glands from raw cannabis and adulterants. The resulting product is called bubble hashish because it bubbles when flame is applied to it. It is one of the strongest, purest, cannabis products in the world.
Whereas whole marijuana might contain as much as 20% cannabinoids, and sieved primo hashish is about 50% cannabinoids, bubble hashish has been measured at nearly 63% cannabinoid content. The only product containing a higher percentage of cannabinoids is hashish oil, but oil often contains traces of harmful adulterants used in the production process.
Bubble is so strong that Dutch connoisseurs have nicknamed it "hippie crack."
And now, onto the world hashish stage has stepped a young Canadian whose mission is to bubbleize the entire planet.
His name is "BubbleMan."
My first encounter with bubble hashish was at the Dampkring coffee shop in Amsterdam.
I was in an upstairs office with Dampkring manager Eric and bearded marijuana guru Soma, photographing Soma's budacious organic buds.
Unbeknownst to me, Eric loaded Moonshine bubble hashish into the bowl of a large glass bong. I was standing up holding my Nikon when he passed the bong to me. I took a large hit of silky white vapor, noticed the unusual taste, then a wave of cannabinoids hit me like a freight train.
It was all I could do to lay the camera on Eric's desk as I collapsed on the floor.
Eric was selling Moonshine bubble hashish for about $25 US per gram, and I later went downstairs and eagerly bought five grams of whitish cubes of glands. The bubble got me high every day for six weeks. It only took a small pinch, approximately 1/3 of a gram, to send me into the upper atmosphere.
My first encounter with BubbleMan was in Canada at the wedding of Renee Boje and Chris Bennett. I noticed a tall, good-looking guy surrounded by wedding guests, some of whom were slumped over on chairs or holding on to each other in paroxysms of hilarity. Others were genuflecting in front of him, as if he was the Pope of Dope. Behind him was a beautiful woman and one of the pudgiest, cutest babies I have ever seen. It turned out that they were his wife and child.
"That's BubbleMan," a friend whispered. "He has killer hashish. Watch out!"
BubbleMan affably introduced himself and his family while handing me a small glass pipe and lighter.
"Watch it bubble," he said, a sly grin on his face. "If it doesn't bubble, it isn't worth the trouble."
It bubbled, and I doubled, over that is, and sat down fast, while other guests laughed amiably.
Thus was my introduction to one of the most honest, intelligent, idealistic young businessmen in the cannabis industry.
"This isn't about money, ego, or just getting more stoned than ever before," he explained later. "This is about harm reduction, finding the best way to deliver cannabinoids, and exploring the limits of pot purity.
BubbleMan has an activist's heart, even though his main way of expressing it now is by marketing the world's most popular set of screened bubble hashish production bags.
Several years ago, before he became BubbleMan, he was one of Canada's premier industrial hempsters. He also grew medical marijuana and donated it to the Vancouver Compassion Club, and was a quality control expert who helped the club procure organic biopot and weed out inferior herb contaminated by chemical fertilizers, sprays, molds, and other unwanted bugaboos.
"Bubble bags helped me do detective work to find out how plants were being grown," he said. "I'd make some bubble out of what I thought was bioweed, untreated. But then I'd taste and smell sulfur on the bubble. It was a fumigant called "Defender" that growers were spraying on their buds to prevent powdery mildew. The sulfur in it penetrated the glands. You couldn't even wash it away. I threw batches of bad bubble over the deck and the bubble bags I made it with were sulfurized too. I had to destroy them."
A passion for resinalysis and glandular purity is a mystical, obsessive quest that has led Bubble Man to make hundreds of batches of bubble hashish from dozens of varieties of marijuana.
He has gathered and assayed resin glands from leaves, flowers, stems, branches, from buds at all phases in the maturation process, from glandular trichomes to unstalked glands ? he has even tested the cannabinoid content and inhaleability of trichome stalks by themselves!
BubbleMan sells a customized six bag kit that allows hashishmakers to produce two to five types of hashish from each batch of raw material. The pore size of each bag's screen is gradated; different size resin glands are deposited screen by screen during the bubblemaking process. Gland size indicates glandular maturity, plant variety, type of cannabinoids contained in gland, and ultimately potency.
In traditional hashishmaking processes, whole plants are threshed over sieves or screens. The bubble process utilizes whole plants too, but bubble can also be produced using trim leaves, flowers, seed bracts, and sifted resin powder.
"Every bubble session produces unique hashish," BubbleMan says. "With bubble, you can even process moldy marijuana, using the screens and water to separate the mold from the glands. You can turn trash into stash. Plant parts that used to be thrown away or turned into compost can be processed in bubble bags to make high quality bubble."
The bubble process produces a rainbow coalition of hashish varieties. Colors include red, white, maroon, lime green, yellow, orange, black, golden, and even translucent.
"This is an amazing way to honor hashish," BubbleMan says. "You can create an artist's palette of hashish of varying types, tastes, potencies. You can change the taste and feel of bubble by how you cure and age it. The sky's the limit."
It took me a while to learn to use bubble hashish properly.
I got over the initial falling down shock of it early on, but there were other challenges.
For one thing, bubble is so much stronger than regular marijuana that you only need to smoke a tiny amount of it to get super high.
It's tricky to roll joints full of bubble, although some people form bubble into hollow cones or snakes, using the cones as a rolling paper, or lighting the snakes and inhaling them like a joint.
Bubble is too powerful for most novices or once-a-month smokers, and it either bubbles or catches fire when you light it. It doesn't ignite and stay lit like marijuana or less pure hashish does.
It's easy to go through $55 worth of bubble in just a few minutes, mainly because it's hard to cut and place such a small amount of material into a bowl all by itself; you tend to put in more than you need, and are lucky to get more than two or three hits before it's gone. Sometimes, you're forced to place the bubble on a bed of whole bud just to keep it from slipping down the neck of a pipe.
Unless somebody in your group has a large supply of bubble, it's not really the easy social ritual cannabis product like a joint or a bong full of whole cannabis is. But there are powerful reasons for using bubble hashish; primary among them: "harm reduction."
When whole marijuana is combusted, cannabinoids are activated, but combustion also produces a variety of irritating and damaging constituents that don't get you high.
"Bubble doesn't have anything but cannabinoids," says BubbleMan. "You're not getting any of that other stuff. You're not smoking vegetable matter; you are smoking pure psychoactive content. It saves your lungs, and gives you a clearer high."
The economics and practicalities of becoming a bubblehead have to be carefully analyzed. It takes a lot of raw material to make bubble hashish; the process is best suited for growers, who usually have oodles of leaves and stems left over after manicuring their buds. For people who can afford or obtain only small amounts of retail-priced marijuana, does it make sense to bubble?
"There's cannabinoid content in whole marijuana other than in resin glands," BubbleMan explains, "but not anywhere near as much in comparison to the glands. If you take an ounce of pot and make three grams of bubble, you're getting three grams of pure cannabinoids that you would have had to smoke an ounce to get. You'll get higher faster, without wasting your breath on plant material that is in some cases practically devoid of cannabinoids."
Another bubble benefit, BubbleMan says, is ease of concealment and transport. Some bubble is so volatile that it must be kept in a freezer, but well-pressed bubble hashish that has been properly dried, cured and formed is so concentrated and portable that a postage stamp-size piece of hashish, equivalent in stone potential to a couple of ounces of pot, can be carried across borders and in other mobility situations with minimum risk.
"This is the ideal marijuana product of the 21st century," BubbleMan says enthusiastically. "It answers health concerns, purity concerns, and security concerns all at once."
Make it bubble
Making bubble hashish is very easy. You'll need ice and water, at least a few ounces of cannabis, a couple of buckets, some paper towels and cardboard, patience, two to four hours, and attention to detail.
BubbleMan says his six bag kit is superior to all other bubble bag kits and resin extraction devices on the market, and he doesn't present this assertion in a way that smacks of obvious self-promotion or exaggeration.
He demonstrated for me, using a competitor's bag kit, how the BubbleMan bags get more glands out of marijuana that his competitors' bags will. This testing showed that the BubbleMan bags got an average of 50 to 100% more hashish out of a comparable specified amount of standardized pot than did devices marketed by his competitors.
Is it all worth it?
I've found that bubble hashish has spoiled me, but it's a nice way to be spoiled. Once I learned to titrate dosage and analyze bubble's effects, I concluded that its high is favorably different from the high produced by buds and other hashish.
The harmful by-products of combusted whole plant and less pure hashish are missing, and missing also are the by-products' effects: tiredness, clouded mind, irritated respiratory tract.
The bubble high is more uplifting, cleaner, with less burn-out, fewer side effects.
And it is marvelously easy to transport; a cube the size of a one dice will provide many highs and is virtually undetectable by nark dogs and other fascist animals.
BubbleMan laughs when I tell him that some people call him a cannabis snob. He prefers to think of himself as an altruist, helping to lead the world to more efficient use of psychoactive cannabis constituents.
"I'm part of a long tradition that goes back centuries," he said. "I give phat praise to all people who've made hashish, especially Mila and other Dutch pioneers. Some hashish, like the 'soapbar' crap in England, is polluted garbage. The people who make or sell that are poisoning their customers. But it's just like the entire marijuana industry. There are two types of people in this business: those who bring honor to the cannabis scene and are generous and ethical, and those who only take. My goal is to give as much as possible."
A few weeks after learning the craft of making bubblehash from the master, I was at a friend's house, preparing to help him make his first batch of bubble hash.
We organized the tools of the bubble trade: 5-gallon buckets, organic ice, bubblebags, blender, spring water.
First, we watched BubbleMan's video on Pot-TV. Then my friend, a courageous outdoor grower, brought out leaf and bud. We put it in a bucket with the bubblebag that had the largest pore size of 220 microns, stuck an electric blender into the icy mix, stirred the iced cannabis with a wooden spoon, let it rest half an hour, then pulled the bag up and out of the bucket.
Resin glands and everything else smaller than the bag's pore size went through the bag screen along with the now-green water, leaving the rest of the plant matter behind. We put the next bubblebag in a different bucket. This bag had a smaller pore size of 190 microns. After running the resinated green water through it, the bag's screen was covered with resin glands and other contaminants too big to fit through the pores.
We repeated this process four times with bags that had successively smaller pore sizes of 160, 73, 45 and 25 microns. Each bag stopped or passed different-sized material. By the time we had gotten to the last bag, the one with the smallest pore size, the water was almost clear again.
With a magnifying glass we examined the five lumps of material we had collected from our bags.
Material from larger-pore bags included occasional pollutants like tiny hairs and leaf fragments. Material from the midsize-to-smallest pore bags was pure resin glands.
BubbleMan had explained to me that marijuana resin glands are infinitely variable. In general, he said, Indica marijuana produces larger resin glands than Sativa, and mature marijuana produces bigger resin glands than immature plants.
Gland size indicates cannabinoid ripeness, profiles, ratios and potency. Thus, every bag in the bubblebag kit ? other than the first bag ? produces a different type of hashish. The type of hashish varies from bag to bag, from plant to plant, from session to session.
A bubble bag kit is a marijuana microbrewery, capable of making one of a kind hashish with every bag, every time the ice hits the glands!
BubbleMan gave Cannabis Culture the exclusive news that he just added a new intermediate pore-size bag to his kit. This seven bag kit provides even tighter quality control, and the possibility of making six hash types per session!
When you've got your precious piles of glands, BubbleMan says, be aware that pressing and crushing glands to make hardened bubblehash breaks the glands open and starts them on the bad road to cannabinoid deterioration.
For maximum longevity, it is best to put your precious glands uncrushed onto paper, cardboard or some other neutral desiccant, let them dry and cure for at least five to seven days, and then store them in a dark, cool, dry place.
And as my grower friend found out when he took his first hit of pure sweet bubblehash: bubble is worth the trouble, and organic ice can make something very nice!
? Bubblehash video: www.pot-tv.net/shows/603