Making hash is an ancient art. The first proto-human who rubbed her fingers together after handling a mature cannabis bud was making hash in much the same way it is made today. Although the process of removing the resins from cannabis have become more refined, the essence has remained unchanged for millennia.
Making hash is the process of extracting and preserving the psychoactive resins from the cannabis plant. These resins are found primarily on tiny glands called trichomes, which under a magnifying glass look like mushrooms – a head on top of a stalk. These trichomes are part of what gives cannabis buds their “frosty” appearance.
Trichomes are most heavily concentrated in the flowering buds of mature female cannabis, but smaller amounts can be found in the leaves and trim of both male and female plants. The leaves and trim are usually unpleasant to smoke and therefore discarded, but they contain upwards of 10% of the plant’s total resin production, and throwing this away is a waste of potentially potent plant material.
Home-made hash is becoming an increasingly popular way for ganja gardeners to maximize their harvest, and produce something a little different and special compared to the same old big bags of bud! This article outlines some of the most popular and easy ways to make hash. We have not included techniques that would require solvents like alcohol or isopropynol.
There are many ways to make hash. Flat screening and blender hash are relatively easy and inexpensive, but the final product will contain more contaminates than drum machine and bubble bag hash, which require some financial investment. No matter the method, hash makes great use of scraps.
THC levels vary in different plant strains, but the most potent hash is one made entirely of gland heads. Most hash contains gland heads and stalk as well as contaminates. Contaminates, whether vegetable matter or otherwise, lower the potency.
The leaves, trim and other plant material that is often thrown away is called “skuff.” Your finished product is only as good as the raw materials you start with, so take the time to inspect your skuff. Frost on your leaves is not proof enough that it contains THC, get a magnifying glass and look for that mushroom-like gland. If trichomes are not present, discard the leaf as it will only add contaminates to your hash.
Don’t alter your skuff in any way, if possible. Crushing or grinding it in advance will only damage the trichomes and increase contaminates. Generally skuff should be dry, but not too crumbly. The texture of the skuff is more important when using flat screen or drum machine methods.
Flat screening removes the trichomes by rubbing the skuff over a fine steel or silk screen. This is a very simple process but the quality of hash is very dependent on the skill and patience of the maker. The principle behind this method is that the trichome heads are of a fairly consistent size, so that when applied to a mesh of the appropriate size, the trichome heads will pass through but other plant matter will be left behind.
You’ll need a flat screen. Screens can be bought from printing supply shops for $10 to $30, depending on size, or you can make your own. To make your own, fasten four pieces of wood together to form a frame, then glue screening to the bottom. Small hole screens are best, between 125-137 lines per inch.
You’ll also need a piece of glass or a mirror to collect trichomes, a credit card or something similar for pushing, and of course skuff.
Skuff used for flat screening should be dry, but not too dry. If your skuff is really crumbly, too much vegetable matter will pass through the screen.
Put the screen on top of the mirror or piece of glass and place the skuff on the screen. Using the card, gently push your skuff back and forth across the screen. Using minimal pressure on the skuff produces the best hash. The first layer of powder that comes through will be the most pure and potent.
Because the skuff must be in contact with the screen to remove the glands, it is almost impossible to get a pure hash through flat screening. For this reason, some people choose to pass their skuff through an old pair of panty hose or a screen with slightly larger holes first. This produces a mixture of trichomes and small bits of plant material, which is then transferred onto the small holed screen. The screen then only needs to be tapped to let the glands fall through and be separated from the vegetation.
Flat screen hash generally contains more contaminates than any other method. However, it is the simplest and cheapest way for the home gardener to make use of scraps.
A drum machine is cylindrical, like the inside of a clothes dryer, and is electrically powered. Inside the drum is a screen which the skuff is slowly tumbled against. It’s much the same principal as flat screening, except the drum machine tumbles the skuff instead of rubbing it. Drum machines can be bought, or if you are handy, plans can be found to build your own.
The most popular drum machine is the Pollinator, developed by Mila, a pioneer of Amsterdam’s hashmaking community. She has developed machines in a variety of sizes to handle different quantities of product.
The drum screen should be 125-137 lines per inch like the flat screen. Lightly fill the drum with dry skuff (remember not too dry) and turn machine on low. Let it run from a few minutes for up to one hour ? the shorter the time, the more likely you are to get only gland heads. You can collect the hash-powder and then run the machine again to produce a lower grade of hash. Depending on the quality and quantity of original material, you can do this a few times, with each grade containing more contaminates.
If your skuff contains a lot of larger leaves, you may want to put a rubber ball into the drum after the first collection to help rub the surface against the screen.
Unlike the previous methods which use screens to filter the trichomes, the blender method uses the principle that the resin glands are heavier than water, while other plant material is not.
The blender method uses water, ice and agitation to dislodge the trichomes. Ice-water makes the trichomes brittle, causing the resin glands to solidify and become easy to snap off. The glands are heavier than water so they sink to the bottom when separated, while the plant material floats.
To make hash this way you’ll need a blender, ice cubes, a reusable metal coffee filter or silk screening, a large glass jar and paper coffee filters.
Fill the blender about half-way with skuff, then cover with cold water and add a tray of ice cubes. Blend for 45 seconds to a minute ? the mixture will become green and frothy, like a smoothie. Pour this mix through the metal coffee filter into your glass jar. Run more water through the filter to make sure you haven’t missed any trichomes.
Once your jar is full, put it in the fridge to settle for a minimum of 30 minutes. You 0should be able to see a white or blonde coloured substance settling on the bottom of your container ? those are the trichomes. Carefully, so you do not disturb the trichomes, pour off or siphon off about two-thirds of the green water.
If you have more skuff to process, do it now and filter into the container you just drained. Return to the fridge, allow to settle and siphon again. When you have processed all your skuff, add a few ice cubes to the container and let settle one last time.
If you want to increase the purity of your product you can carefully put this settled mixture back into the blender for a final mix and separation. This may or may not be necessary depending on your preference.
Pour the final mix of water and trichomes through a paper coffee filter. The water will pass through the paper but the glands will not. Drain well and allow to dry. You now have dried resin glands ready to be pressed into hash.
The ice-water filtration technique has quickly become a very popular way to make hash. This method combines the best of the screen and blender methods, using ice-water to make the trichomes brittle and agitation to knock the heads off, then straining the mix through filters for increased purity.
Hash made in this fashion is sometimes called “bubble hash” – because it is so pure that it bubbles when heated! Well-made bubble hash is a very potent product ? a tiny piece will produce enough billows of smoke to get a small crowd high.
The two main commercial ice-water filtration systems available are “Bubble Bags” from Fresh Headies and the Ice-o-lator, another product developed by Mila. Both operate on the same principle of using cold water and filtering bags to isolate trichomes. You can also make your own kit by acquiring mesh of the appropriate sizes and carefully sowing it into bags of strong material.
In order to make bubble hash you’ll need a kit with filtering bags, two impeccably clean five gallon pails and a hand mixer. The exact method can vary depending on which system you’re using, but the essentials are the same. The Ice-o-lator uses two filters to screen out contaminates, leaving the trichomes caught in the second filter. The bubble bag kits from Fresh Headies contain either three or six colour?coded bags, and allow you to simultaneously make different grades of hash.
To start with a bubblebag kit, place your skuff into one of your five gallon buckets. Use up to 100 grams of dry skuff, or double that weight if it’s fresh or wet.
Because ice makes the trichomes brittle, add plenty – at least six ice cube trays. Then fill up the bucket with cold water. Leave a few inches at the top so you don’t splash too much when mixing.
Use the hand mixer to blend continuously for 15 minutes to one hour or more. Mixing longer will produce a higher yield that will be slightly less potent. The mixture will become green and frothy. You should take breaks every so often to let the mixture settle.
When done mixing, allow the mixture to settle for at least 30 minutes. If the ice has melted, add more. If possible, put the pail in the freezer, or outside if you live in a cold climate ? you want that water to stay cold!
Now put your “work bag” into your second bucket. This bag should have a screen size between 200 and 250 microns, the one from Fresh Headies is 220. Pour your frothy green mix into the work bag in the second bucket. Slowly lift out the bag and squeeze out the water. Set aside the work bag with the green matter for a second rinse.
Now you have a bucket full of green water which contains many trichomes, as well as other contaminants. Everything that was smaller than 220 microns is in that water.
Arrange the other bags inside of the now empty bucket. Put the bag with the finest mesh in the bucket first, then place the bags with larger screen sizes inside the first one. With the Fresh Headies three bag kit you put the 25 micron bag in first and the 73 micron bag inside of it. You’ll get fine hash if you just use one bag with a screen size around 73 microns.
Now you carefully pour the green water into the bucket with the bags. Then you slowly lift out each bag in succession, being sure to give them time to drain. If you’re using a 25 micron bag it will drain very slowly ? be patient. Squeeze out the excess water from each bag after it is drained.
You will now have a brownish sludge at the bottom of the bags. Remove it with a credit card or spoon to a plastic bag. Blot the sludge with a towel to remove excess moisture, and let it dry out for at least 12 hours. You might want to wait up to a week for it to fully dry and cure, if you are that patient! Be sure that your product is entirely dried so as to avoid mold problems later on.
You’ll get less product from the 25 micron bag, but it will have a unique and potent affect when consumed. Bubble bag creator “Bubble Man” speculates that these are the smaller trichome heads ? not immature, but simply the smaller heads associated with Sativa strains. He argues that Indica strains have larger trichome heads, and that Sativa strains have smaller heads on longer stalks. Crosses between these two types doesn’t produce medium sized trichomes, but rather a mix of the large and small. This theory seems to be borne out by results, but much more research needs to be done.
Now go back and give the green matter in the work bag a second rinse, to be sure that you get out every last trichome!
The yield from 200 grams of skuff is around 6 to 20 grams, with an average yield around 10 grams. The quantity of hash produced depends in large part upon the quality of your original material.
The previous four techniques leave you with a product that, once dried, resembles sand. This “sand” is actually a collection of trichome heads and stalks. In Holland, these heads are referred to as “pollen” or “polm,” which can create confusion as the trichomes are clearly not a “pollen” as defined by the english use of the word. Because it is a powder and a potent cannabis extract, this raw product is also sometimes jokingly referred to as “hippy crack.”
The final step to making hash is to turn this powder into a solid mass. This can be as simple as rubbing small quantities between your hands to produce a ball of resin, as our ancestors did thousands of years ago. (Unlike our ancient ancestors, you should wash your hands first!)
Another way is to press this powder into a bar or cake. The powder should be completely dry before pressing. If it stored damp it can become moldy, ruining your precious product. So be sure it is totally dry! If you put it into the freezer for a while the water inside will coagulate on the surface as ice and can then be blotted off.
To press you’ll need heavy plastic wrap, cardboard, newspaper, a frying pan, a heavy rolling pin and a tile or marble surface for rolling.
Cut the cardboard to the size you would like your finished bar to be. Make a bag around the cardboard, then remove cardboard. Fill the bag with dry trichomes, seal and wrap in several layers of wet newspaper. Place bundle in frying pan on very low setting. Turn your bar often and unwrap to check if all the trichomes are melted. Don’t let the newspapers dry out or catch on fire!
Once melted, remove from frying pan, leave wrapped in newspaper, and transfer to the rolling surface. Using the rolling pin, press and roll from the center out. Continue doing this all the way around your bar for 30 to 45 minutes.
Unwrap newspaper and allow to cool in freezer for at least one hour. Then unwrap from your plastic. You now have some awesome hash!
Hash can be smoked, eaten and even taken as a suppository if you are so inclined. If your pot products are intended for cross-border travel then turning your buds into hash is a smart way to maximize your smuggling efforts.
By making fine hash you have become part of a tradition that dates back into pre-history. Take pride in your work, and you will be rewarded with the head-stash of the gods!
? Mila, the Pollinator Company: Cornelis Trooststraat 37, 1072 JB, Amsterdam; tel 00-31-20-470-8889; email [email protected]; web www.pollinator.nl
? Fresh Headies, PO Box 474, Lions Bay, BC, Canada, V0N 2E0; tel 1-866-635-8464; email [email protected]; web www.bubblebag.com