Making hash oil can be fun, but it can also be hazardous to your health. The oil or hash itself is not dangerous, it’s the explosive solvents that are often used to make them.
Butane is one of the chief culprits. Butane is commonly used to make hash oil using a method that involves injecting the butane into a sealed container with bud so the solvent can absorb cannabinoids.
The solvent/cannabinoid mix is captured, and then the butane is evaporated from the mix, theoretically leaving only pure pot product behind.
During the process, even a single spark can set off an explosion. Butane, which is heavier than air, can flow out of leaky containers and pool invisibly, awaiting the lighting of a cigarette, joint or bong. It can also travel unseen along surfaces until it reaches a source of ignition and explodes. Because butane displaces oxygen, it can even cause asphyxia if it fills up a room.
The allure of butane is that it is cheap and easy to get. There are relatively safe products on the market that use butane, like the Honeybee Extractor, but extreme caution must always be taken with butane and other solvents, regardless of the method used.
An experienced hash oil maker offered Cannabis Culture readers a few tips:
“Never use butane, or any solvent, in an enclosed, unventilated space. Outdoors is best, but lots of fans and open windows can also work. Put fans right at the windows and ensure that there is nowhere the gas can pool. The more air flow the better.”
The anonymous oil maker added that you shouldn’t heat your product to speed evaporation of the solvents, and to be sure to stay well away from any sources of ignition. “Remember that any small spark can be a source of ignition, and this includes a cell phone, a refrigerator, or any other electrical device.”
The expert also advised doing residue tests on various brands of solvents before using them, as some contain toxic chemicals that could be left behind after the evaporation process. “They don’t make butane with human consumption in mind,” he explained.
“Better yet,” concluded the expert, “get a Bubble Bag or Ice-o-lator, which use only water, and leave the hash oil extraction labs to the experts.”
While cops seize upon oil lab explosions as another example of cannabis’ supposed harm, it is well to keep in mind that butane has also been known to explode in disposable lighters, canned flat tire re-inflation devices, and even during transport in large tanks, causing numerous deaths. Keep yourself alive, and don’t give authorities more reason to demonize the weed. Make your oil or hash safely!
In October 2003, Reverend Donny Appleby, a med-pot activist and Church of the Universe clergy member, killed himself when he tried to make hash oil medicine to treat his HIV.
Appleby, who had a legal exemption from the Canadian government, was denied funding for his pot under health care, and had to eat from dumpsters behind restaurants to collect enough money for grow equipment. He tried to make the most of what pot he had, and his choice of extraction methods was dictated by his income. Friends suspect that he may have lit a joint after injecting butane into a homemade plastic container filled with bud. The explosion blew the door off his bathroom, and he received burns to 75% of his body, scorched his lungs beyond repair, and died later in the hospital. This was a tragic loss to the pot activist movement in Canada.
In February 2004, a home in Eureka, California, exploded with a blast so intense that it knocked three walls from the building and shot window glass and frames 20 feet from the residence. Before disappearing, the would-be weed oil merchants told firefighters that the explosion followed an attempt to fry an egg on a gas stove. More likely, the gas stove detonated solvent from their weed oil extractor.
In March 2004, an Alberta man barely survived an explosion after trying to make hash oil on his stove. When he went to move the “cooker,” solvent likely leaked from his equipment and was ignited by the stove. He was left with scars on 80% of his body, including his face. In an unusual act of compassion, even the police admitted that he had suffered enough, and declined to press charges.
Certain simple precautions could have prevented all these accidents.